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February 2012 Feed

More of the Chesapeake Bay's Troubled Oysters Are Surviving, Survey Shows

OysterGood news for oysters in Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay, following last week's good news about oysters from Virginia. More oysters in Maryland appear to be developing resistance to diseases that once decimated the bivalves. Results of a Maryland Department of Natural Resource fall oyster survey show the highest survival rate for oysters since 1985, according to the state agency.

The 92 percent survival rate — the percentage of oysters found alive in a sample — builds upon last year high number of strong spatset (number of baby oysters), which was the highest since 1997.

“Although our fight to restore a thriving oyster population to the Chesapeake Bay is far from over, our continued commitment to renewing this iconic species has begun to pay off,” said Governor Martin O’Malley in a press release. 

Continue reading "More of the Chesapeake Bay's Troubled Oysters Are Surviving, Survey Shows" »


Virginia Measure Could Make Pollution Trading Work

State capitol
The Virginia legislature is poised to sharpen the edge of a big tool in the Commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay restoration tool box: pollution credit trading.

Two identical bills (Senate Bill 77 and House Bill 176) making their way through the General Assembly would widen the state’s existing pollution trading program to include more traders and establish clearer rules to ensure accountability and transparency.

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Chesapeake News and Events

Our historic bivalve could be the next comeback kid… 

 Oysters

In Virginia, there is good news about the iconic Chesapeake oyster!  The 2011 harvest of 236,000 bushels is ten times what it was in 2001.  With a dockside value of $8.2 million and positive ripple effect for other industries such as restaurants and shucking houses, it is clear that our native oyster can provide not only clean water and habitat but a powerful job-creating economic engine as well. 

In other Bay news… 

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New Video Makes Case for America's First Offshore Wind Farm

The Maryland General Assembly is debating legislation this session that would give a boost to the propsed construction of wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean east of Ocean City. Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration is advocating –- for the second year in a row -- for what could be America’s first offshore wind farm.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and several other environmental, public health, and labor organizations are strongly supportive of the proposal because of its potential for creating jobs and clean energy.  Watch the video to understand why.

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The Illusion of Wetlands "Restoration"

Large wetlands signWetlands were once seen as wastelands -– swampy, mosquito-ridden barriers to economic development good only for draining and filling.

But during the latter half of the 20th century, scientists began to discover that wetlands are actually among the most productive places on earth.  They are breeding grounds for birds and fish. Wetlands filter water; absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants; and protect shorelines from storms and floods.

Federal and state laws since the 1980s have granted some protections to wetlands. But federal and state agencies routinely permit developers to destroy wetlands under the condition that they pay for the construction of artificial wetlands to replace the acres that will be paved.

But do these wetlands replacement schemes really work?

A new study concludes that manmade wetlands are almost never as good as the real thing. Artificial wetlands produce, on average, 26 percent less plant life than natural wetlands even a century after they’re built, according to a study by Dr. David Moreno Mateos the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University and Dr. Mary Power of Berkeley.  An example of a failed wetlands restoration project can be seen in the picture at top of a "Wetland Protection Area" sign in the middle of dry, mowed grass and rocks beside a road in Frederick County, Maryland.  

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The "Most Anti-Environmental" Congress in History

CantorLegislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that attempted to strip funding for Chesapeake Bay pollution limits was among the reasons the League of Conservation Voters today labeled the 112th  Congress “most anti-environmental” in history.

EPA was under assault in several bills last year, and environmental regulations in general were (falsely) painted by lawmakers as “job killers.”  For the truth about how environmental regulations create jobs in the Bay region and beyond, click here.

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a fall agenda just before the House returned from its August recess in which he laid out plans to gut ten so-called ‘job-killing regulations,’ most of which are critically important to protecting public health and the environment,” LCV wrote in its annual report card.

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The Bay Offers Glimpses of Amazing Creatures

Humpback whale
Two of the Chesapeake Bay region’s more unusual critters made headlines this week.

Humpback whales are turning up in remarkable numbers along the Virginia coast and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, thanks apparently to mild winter weather that has kept their favorite food (bait fish) closer to shore.

While the whales are not rare visitors to the Virginia coast – they migrate annually from Greenland to the Caribbean to spend winters in warmer waters -- it is unusual for so many of the behemoths to be congregating in these parts. The Virginian-Pilot reported this week that more than 30 different individual whales had been identified off Virginia Beach, where typically only five or six individuals are seen.

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Chesapeake News and Events

An armored fish gets more protection...

 Sturgeon copy

The Atlantic sturgeon, which migrates through the Chesapeake and up some of its rivers to spawn, was just designated as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.  Though it was illegal to catch this ancient species before this declaration, the new designation will afford sturgeon further protection from other threats such as by-catch.   

In other Bay news… 

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Maryland Governor Proposes Doubling Sewage Treatment Funding and Reducing Septic Pollution

Omalley“The less you use, the less you pay.”

This fair and conservation-minded approach to doubling Maryland’s funding for sewage treatment plant improvements was touted by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in his annual “State of the State” address today before the General Assembly.

O’Malley also renewed his call for legislation to curb suburban sprawl and reduce what he called “the growing problem of septic pollution from large scale housing developments …that threaten the Bay, and also threaten the very future of Maryland agriculture.”

The governor deserves great praise for having the courage to tackle both of these tough issues –- upgrading the state’s sewage treatment systems, and cracking down on high-pollution residential septic systems –- during economically hard times, when fees and regulations of all kinds are under political attack.

Continue reading "Maryland Governor Proposes Doubling Sewage Treatment Funding and Reducing Septic Pollution" »