This Week in the Watershed

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Adequate funding is imperative if states are to meet clean water commitments. Photo by Bradley Striebig.

In a climate when budgets are tight, and debt is mounting, investments in the future are often viewed as unattainable luxuries. Immediate demands are given priority. Shortsightedly, environmental conservation measures often fall victim to the budget ax.

Just a few weeks ago, Pennsylvania announced a new "reboot" to improve water quality in the Keystone State. This reboot, an acknowledgment that Pennsylvania is behind the ball on meeting its clean water commitments, focuses on increased compliance and funding. Details of the plan include increasing the number of farm inspections, accelerating the planting of streamside buffers, and addressing the challenges of polluted runoff from urban/suburban areas by updating permit requirements and implementation plans by local governments.

As we said when the plan was first announced, paying for implementation of the plan represents a funding challenge. However, investing in clean water pays dividends. Conservation practices not only improve water quality, but can improve farm production and herd health, reduce nuisance flooding in communities, improve hunting and fishing, beautify urban centers, and even clean the air. What's more, a 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing Pennsylvania's clean water plans will result in an increase in the value of natural benefits by $6.2 billion annually.

In light of the smart investment to clean the Keystone State's waters, we were disappointed to learn that Governor Tom Wolf's 2016-17 budget proposal lacks the funding to implement the new clean water Blueprint. With roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania damaged by pollution, the need for a strong investment is not a trivial matter. We will continue to fight for clean water throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and keep the pressure on Pennsylvania to meet its clean water commitments.

This Week in the Watershed: Funding Blunder, Toxic Waste, and Flooding Threats

  • A coalition of environmental groups is appealing a decision allowing two coal ash ponds to be drained into Chesapeake Bay tributaries. (Bay Journal)
  • Flooding is a constant threat faced by the Hampton Roads community. Turns out, natural infrastructure might be able to help. (WTKR—VA)
  • When considering responsible parties for toxic waste, chemical and energy companies are usually blamed. A new analysis, however, reveals another industry dumps more toxic pollution by volume into U.S. waters than any other industry. (Think Progress
  • On the heels of a recently announced "reboot" to improve water quality in the Keystone State, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's 2016-17 budget proposal lacks the funding to implement the new clean water Blueprint. Unless the Commonwealth invests more in clean water, Pennsylvania will not meet its clean water commitments. (CBF Press Release—PA)
  • The poultry industry has changed drastically according to one poultry farmer. And many of the changes are bad for local water quality. (Bay Journal News Service)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

February 16

  • Annapolis, MD: The inaugural Annapolis "Save the Bay Breakfast" will feature an update on the current State of the Bay and the hottest topics affecting the future of the Bay and its rivers and streams in this year's Maryland General Assembly session. We hope you will join us, and other fans and friends of the Bay, for good food for the body and mind. Click here to register!

February 18

  • Richmond, VA: Join the CBF Hampton Roads office for a special "Lobby Day" in the state capital. Participate in the legislative process from the inside out. Meet your representatives, see the delegation in session and committee, and raise your voice for water quality issues in your community. Interested? Contact Tanner Council at tcouncil@cbf.org or 757-622-1964, ext. 3305.

February 25

  • Charlottesville, VA: Enjoy an intimate dinner to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with music provided by Michael Coleman and Butch Taylor. Savor Bold Rock Cider, Rappahannock Oysters, and live music before a seated dinner of freshly prepared wildfowl and game by Chef Tomas presented with a selection of Spanish wines. Proceeds from this event benefit CBF. Click here for more information and to buy tickets!
  • Richmond, VA: Enjoy tasty sweets and sweet knowledge at CBF's Desserts and Discussion, where we'll learn about different aspects of our local waterways! This month's topic is wetlands and their importance to water quality. Bring a dessert to share with the group and win a prize for the most delicious contribution! CBF will also provide coffee, tea, and other drinks. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Greening Up Virginia's Eastern Shore Homes

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In the small bayside town of Harborton, Sue and Bill Mastyl's home stands as a reminder that green home features are not only good for the environment, but also good for your wallet. For example, when they installed a solar power system and new hot water heater in 2009 they got back a whopping 50 percent of the cost through a combination of federal and state tax credits. They also got tax credits when they installed a new geothermal heat pump a few years ago.

Running energy-efficient systems that rely mainly on solar power, the couple's electricity bill adds up to only about eight dollars in an average month. When you factor in the quarterly renewable energy credits they get, by the end of the year they sometimes even end up making money!

"People think that things like solar and geothermal can only be done when you build new, so I'm constantly trying to reinforce that they can be added very easily to any type of building, as long as you have the right location," says Sue Mastyl. "I also try to emphasize that low-hanging fruit like energy-efficient windows, weather stripping, insulation, energy-efficient appliances, turning down the thermostat, remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room—all of this can have a huge impact."

Home improvement tax credits are available for all types of projects, from boosting insulation to adding high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. It's worth checking out if a renovation qualifies next time you undertake projects around the house.

In addition to these credits, "energy-efficient mortgages" let homeowners borrow money for improvements. These loans can cover more pricey upgrades that otherwise might not be affordable, like installing double-pane windows or HVAC upgrades. Since heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy used in the average American home, these investments will help you stay comfortable and save money in the long run.

Janet and Haydon Rochester never thought their 1907 Onancock home would be the focus of so much local buzz when they started renovations a year ago. Their traditional Eastern Shore house is in the process of undergoing a complete renewal with an emphasis on energy-saving upgrades. 

While from the exterior the Rochester place looks like a traditional Eastern Shore house, numerous subtle upgrades have made the dwelling much more energy efficient. Many are simple improvements that have made a big difference in cutting down on heating and cooling costs. Windows are all double glazed and coated to reject heat, while the roof is a highly reflective material that keeps the house cooler during the summer. Beefed up insulation, along with aggressively sealing and caulking all cracks, has also made a big dent in energy loss. Low water toilets and shower heads add up to savings in the water bill. Interestingly, these renovations have actually enhanced the traditional character of an older home.

Of course, there are plenty of other benefits to undertaking energy-efficient upgrades. First and foremost, they lead to cleaner air and water for all of us. Using less energy at home often means burning less gas, coal, or oil. Burning those fossil fuels produces pollution that not only contaminates the air, but as a result of rain storms also ends up in local rivers, creeks, and the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting down on energy usage can mean a reduction of nitrogen oxides in our air, which are a significant source of nitrogen entering the Chesapeake. 

So by undertaking these upgrades you both help improve the environment and support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the plan in place to clean up the Bay.

The greening of towns up and down the Shore now has a new meaning—people are increasingly integrating green-building design elements into their homes and recognizing their personal impact on our environment. 

—Tatum Ford, CBF's Virginia Eastern Shore Outreach Coordinator


State Must Invest in Its New Clean Water Plan

The following first appeared in the York Dispatch.

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The brook trout, which flourishes in clean, cold water Pennsylvania streams, stands to benefit tremendously if the Keystone State's new "reboot" succeeds. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Pennsylvania has unveiled a new strategy for cleaning up its polluted waterways, and it will take the necessary investments from leaders in Harrisburg, and a unified effort across the Commonwealth, for the plan to succeed.

While this "rebooted" effort establishes a framework for success, it is just the first chapter of a long story.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) acknowledged that it alone cannot provide and protect clean water as called for in the new plan.

The plan's success requires a comprehensive approach involving the farmers, businesses, and homeowners. Resources, leadership, and commitment from Governor Tom Wolf and the legislature are essential to get Pennsylvania back on track toward its clean water goals.

Of the nearly 2,000 miles of creeks, streams, and the Susquehanna River that flow through York County, 350 miles are polluted. Agriculture is the source of pollution to 160 miles of waterways, and urban and suburban runoff is responsible for pollution in 130 miles of York County waters.

In 2010, the Bay states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set pollution limits that would restore water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, and each state developed its own plan to meet those limits. This came after more than 30 years of failed restoration commitments.

The states also made two-year milestone commitments to take specific actions to ensure progress toward reducing pollution. The goal is to implement 60 percent of practices to restore local water quality in the Commonwealth by 2017, and 100 percent implementation by 2025. Unfortunately, the state will not meet its 2017 goal, as acknowledged by DEP Secretary John Quigley.

Roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania have been damaged by pollution. Efforts to reduce nitrogen and sediment pollution from agriculture and urban polluted runoff are off-track by millions of pounds.

The new plan defines six immediate and longer-term actions designed to get Pennsylvania back on track.

The Commonwealth intends to significantly increase the number of farm inspections and establish a culture of compliance. At current DEP staffing levels, it would take almost 57 years for each farm to be inspected just once. The DEP will use conservation district staff and its own staff to accelerate its inspection rate to meet the EPA recommendation of inspecting 10 percent of farms annually. DEP inspected less than 2 percent of farms in 2014.

A voluntary farm survey, conducted by a partnership of agricultural entities, seeks to locate, quantify, and verify previously undocumented pollution reduction practices that have been put into place. The plan also establishes a Chesapeake Bay Office within the DEP in order to improve management focus and accountability.

The new plan also calls for accelerating the planting of streamside buffers, the most affordable solution for filtering and reducing the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution.

The plan addresses the challenges of polluted runoff from urban/suburban areas, including updated permit requirements and implementation plans by local governments, and the development of innovative financing opportunities.

If this new plan has a weakness, it is in identifying sustainable funding sources. According to a Penn State study, it will cost nearly $380 million per year, or $3.8 billion over the next 10 years, to implement just the agricultural practices that would get Pennsylvania back on track to meet its clean water goals for 2025.

If Pennsylvania is to make progress in providing and protecting cleaner water, the Commonwealth must invest in the new plan, in Governor Wolf's 2016-17 budget and in the legislature's follow-through. A new Growing Greener initiative would be a down payment for such efforts, but more resources will be needed.

Investing in clean water pays dividends. Conservation practices not only improve water quality, but can improve farm production and herd health, reduce nuisance flooding in communities, improve hunting and fishing, beautify urban centers, and even clean the air.

A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing Pennsylvania's clean water plans will result in an increase in the value of natural benefits by $6.2 billion annually.

Adequate funding and technical assistance are critical to the success of this plan. The Governor and legislature must step up and ensure that the Commonwealth lives up to the clean water commitments it made to fellow Pennsylvanians.

Clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Healthy families, strong communities, and a thriving economy depend on it.

—Harry Campbell, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director

Clean water counts. Lend us your voice and urge our leaders to implement Pennsylvania's new clean water plan, and to clean up York County's rivers, streams, and swimming holes.


Photo of the Week: My One and Only

Photo by Dennis Raulin.Photo by Dennis Raulin.

In honor of Saint Valentine and his official day a mere six days away, we started thinking—what's the most romantic creature in the Chesapeake region? Is it the seahorse that dances and twirls with its mate, intertwining tails and changing colors as they spin? The jellyfish that, in pure Shakespearean tragedy, promptly dies right after spawning?

We'd like to think it's the osprey. The osprey that mates for life and returns each year (often traveling thousands of miles) to nest in the same area where they were born and to be reunited with their one and only. As true with many relationships, ospreys develop a strong partnership as they build their "home" or nest together. As they continue to play house, females lay eggs, which they incubate for one to two months. The devoted parents stick together and feed and care for the nestlings for 40-55 days after hatching until they learn to fly. 

Very soon these osprey will begin their migration north for the spring and summer, many settling into nests in the Chesapeake Bay region—what's often called the "osprey garden" as it has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world. We can't wait to see these lovebirds again. 

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


This Week in the Watershed

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Fairness is a principle that virtually everyone endorses. Synonyms for fairness include justice, equality, and impartiality. These virtues are at the foundation of an ethical, righteous, and moral society. When fairness isn't present, people tend to get angry, feeling they have been exploited, abused, and manipulated. With this backdrop, we can't help but look at how poultry litter is handled in Maryland and come to one conclusionit's not fair.

Currently, large poultry companies require farmers who grow chickens under contract to dispose of the birds' litter at their own expense. Taxpayers also help foot the bill, with subsidies provided to the small farmers to transport some of the manure. Meanwhile, the massive poultry companies making record profits are getting off scot-free.

This week the Poultry Litter Management Act was introduced with the support of more than 50 legislators. The bill would require poultry companies to take responsibility for manure produced by their chickens. Farmers would still be able to keep and use any manure for which they have a state-approved plan.

The consequences of excess poultry litter are severe. While some manure can be applied to fields as fertilizer, many of the fields are over-saturated with phosphorus, and the excess nutrients runoff into local rivers and streams, ultimately reaching the Bay. The Maryland Department of Agriculture recently estimated about 228,000 tons of excess manure are currently applied to crop fields in Maryland.

These excess nutrients cause algae blooms that threaten public health; harm aquatic life like blue crabs, oysters, and fish; and create an enormous "dead zone" in the Bay. Throughout Maryland, residents and businesses are making sacrifices to help clean our waters. Stormwater management fees help fund upgrades to stormwater treatment plants and reduce polluted runoff, homeowners and businesses reduce runoff through installing rain barrels, and dog owners "scoop the poop," as a shining example to Maryland poultry companies. As Senator Richard S. Madaleno stated, "Everyone must do their part to mitigate pollution into our state's iconic natural treasure." We couldn't agree more.

Tell your elected leaders today that you support the Poultry Litter Management Act—and they should, too.

This Week in the Watershed: Poultry Poop, Dead Fish, and Crab Pot$$$

  • Maryland has lost $1 million in federal funding for oyster restoration due to the delay in the Tred Avon oyster restoration project. The Hogan Administration inexplicably asked for the project to be delayed in late 2015. The loss of funding also puts in jeopardy federal funding for future years. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A tragic fish kill in Maryland is directly tied to the onslaught of polluted runoff. The kicker? Only days after the death of 200,000+ fish, the County Council where the fish kill took place voted to cut funds to reduce polluted runoff. (CBF Press StatementMD)
  • The Poultry Litter Management Act was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this week. If passed, the bill would require big poultry companies to be responsible for the manure produced by their chickens. Currently, the manure is the responsibility of small contracted farmers. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • This year's "Bay Barometer" from the Chesapeake Bay Program reveals that the Bay is making progress in several areas, but there is still work to be done. (Daily Press—MD)
  • Rescuing empty oyster shells from the trash can saves a valuable tool in oyster restoration efforts. A county executive in Maryland wants to further incentivize oyster recycling efforts. (Capital Gazette—MD)
  • Shortly after Pennsylvania released a new plan for cleaning up the Keystone State's waterways, the EPA restored $3 million in program funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. (CBF Press Release—PA)
  • With Maryland and Virginia legislative sessions in full swing, there are plenty of Bay-related issues being addressed. (Bay Journal
  • Turns out that all the plastic that is landing in the ocean has extremely negative consequences for baby oysters. (Washington Post—DC)
  • We love this editorial in support of the Poultry Litter Management Act. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A recent poll revealed that Virginians highly support funding for conservation and clean water, considering projects on these environmental issues top-spending priorities even when the state budget is tight. (Richmond Times-Dispatch—VA)
  • A program to retrieve abandoned crab pots has proved to be a worthy investment. (TakePart)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

January 16-February 6

  • Across Virginia: Help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's rivers by participating in CBF's Grasses for the Masses program. Participants grow wild celery, a type of underwater grass, in their homes for 10-12 weeks. After 10-12 weeks of growing, participants will gather to plant their grasses in select local rivers to bolster grass populations and help restore the Bay. Workshops are being held throughout Virginia. Click here to find one near you!

February 6

  • Salisbury, MD: Join CBF at Poultry Litter Management Act information session to learn more about this important legislation and what you can do to help. Coffee and pastries will be served! Please RSVP to Hilary Gibson at hgibson@cbf.org or 410-543-1999.

February 8-11

  • Western Shore, MD: Join us at one of our upcoming "State of the Bay" legislative briefings for an evening of information, discussion, and action. Learn about the current "State of the Bay" and your local waterways. Dive deep into the issues at play in the current session of the state General Assembly—including the Poultry Litter Management Act—and what you can do to be involved in those decisions. Information sessions are being held in Towson (2/8), Ellicott City (2/9), College Park (2/10), and Severna Park (2/11). Click here to register!

February 16

  • Annapolis, MD: The inaugural Annapolis "Save the Bay Breakfast" will feature an update on the current State of the Bay and the hottest topics affecting the future of the Bay and its rivers and streams in this year's Maryland General Assembly session. We hope you will join us and other fans and friends of the Bay for good food for the body and mind. Click here to register!

February 18

  • Richmond, VA: Join the CBF Hampton Roads office for a special "Lobby Day" in the state capital. Participate in the legislative process from the inside out. Meet your representatives, see the delegation in session and committee, and raise your voice for water quality issues in your community. Interested? Contact Tanner Council at tcouncil@cbf.org or 757-622-1964, ext. 3305.

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Student Challenge Promotes Water Quality Understanding

2-5-2016 10-45-43 AMNow through March 1, high school students have the opportunity to study and map nutrients in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay watershed as part of the Visualize Your Water Challenge. The Grand Prize winner gets $2,500 (wow!) and a chance to head to San Diego in June for the Esri Education GIS Conference. Through this challenge, we hope that students learn more about water quality issues in our area and what they can do to combat them. For nearly 40 years, we have strived to show these water quality problems to more than a million students across the region through meaningful, hands-on education experiences. Now, through this challenge, students can take what they have learned out on the water with us one step further through interactive digital mapping technology. Below, high school teacher Mr. Kelly W. Garton talks about the value of this challenge. 

For the past 20 years, I have taken my Advanced Placement Environmental Science students to the Potomac River with Chesapeake Bay Foundation. There is simply no better way for me to provide a perspective on environmental issues affecting the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. By using the Water Quality Index, a 100-point scale that summarizes results from a total of nine different measurement (Dissolved Oxygen, Fecal Coliform, pH, BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand), Temperature difference, Total Phosphate, Nitrates, Turbidity, and Total Dissolved Solids), we have been able to evaluate and discuss environmental issues concerning the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

Over that 20-year timespan, I have seen signs of improvement in the water quality. For example, we now get lower readings of both Phosphate and Nitrate in the river and we see increased biodiversity. Unlike years ago, it is now common for us to see a breeding pair of bald eagles near our Nation's Capital. 

This contest would be a great visual to show that, although there is still a lot of work to be done in restoring the health of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, there is data to support the claim that progress is being made. 

—Mr. Kelly W. Garton, 
Walt Whitman High School,
Bethesda, MD

Ready to start the challenge?! Click here.

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An example of what students can create through ArcGIS software.

Cheers for Regional Stormwater Plan

The following first appeared in the York Daily Record.

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Reducing polluted runoff dramatically improve the health of local waterways. Photo by Neil Everett Osborne/iLCP.

York County has again taken the initiative to address clean water issues. Based on support from residents, the county commissioners approved moving forward with a study of how to establish a stormwater authority.

York County would join about 1,500 communities in the United States that are taking more cost-effective steps to better fund and manage polluted runoff and nuisance flooding. This often occurs in developed areas such as malls, housing developments, roads, and parking lots.  In doing so, the county will help itself and the rest of Pennsylvania get back on track toward meeting clean water commitments.

In 2010, the Bay states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency set pollution limits that would restore water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, and each state developed its own plan to meet those limits.

The goal is to implement 60 percent of pollution reduction practices to restore local water quality in the commonwealth by 2017, and 100 percent implementation by 2025. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania will not meet its 2017 goal. Statewide, efforts to reduce nitrogen and sediment pollution from agriculture and urban polluted runoff are off track by millions of pounds.

About 350 miles of the nearly 2,000 miles of creeks, streams and the Susquehanna River that flow through York County are polluted. Agriculture is the source of pollution to 160 miles of waterways, and urban and suburban runoff is responsible for pollution in 130 miles of York County waters.

The commonwealth recently released its plan to "reboot" efforts to get Pennsylvania back on track, including addressing stormwater pollution.

Comprehensive stormwater management of the scale York County is considering offers three major advantages.  First, it allows communities to "start at the source" of the pollution problem, not just where it is showing its greatest impacts. Second, by working collaboratively communities can leverage expertise, equipment, and other resources to get the best results at the least cost. Third, pollution reduction practices that preserve and restore nature's ability to capture, filter, and infiltrate rain and snowmelt into the ground are often more effective and cost less than traditional practices. They also clean the air, reduce heating and cooling costs, and beautify communities.

With a countywide stormwater authority that addresses regular flooding from uncontrolled runoff that inflicts human, economic, and property damage, York County is again at the forefront of clean water efforts.

York County was the first county in the commonwealth to adopt the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's "Clean Water Counts" resolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Keystone State.

York County residents are also participating in the CBF's "Clean Water Counts – York" effort, raising their voices through phone calls and signing a petition, asking Gov. Tom Wolf and legislators to support the commonwealth's new plan to reduce water pollution.

In the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation, the York County Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan involves 43 municipalities to better reduce pollution at lower cost.

Earlier this year, the Planning Commission finalized a countywide watershed plan that analyzes strategies and targets the pollution-reducing practices most appropriately suited for York County. The primary goal of the plan is to aid municipalities, citizens, and businesses in determining how to most efficiently reduce pollution from urban and suburban runoff.

By taking the lead in collaborative stormwater management, York County continues to demonstrate that clean water counts. It is a legacy worth leaving future generations of York countians.

—Harry Campbell, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director

Clean water counts. Lend us your voice and urge our leaders to implement Pennsylvania's new clean water plan, and to clean up York County's rivers, streams, and swimming holes.


Photo of the Week: A Place of Solace

ImageLone heron enjoys sunrise over the Chesapeake at North Beach, Maryland.

The Chesapeake, for me, is a place of solace to find quiet from the hustle and bustle of life in the D.C.-Baltimore region. I only wish there were more public access points along the Bay.

—Bob Garrigus

Ensure that Bob and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

 


Farmer Spotlight: Whitmore Farm

Picture 1The opportunity to purchase a farm gave Maryland native Will Morrow a final push into a mid-life career change. From a residential landscape design firm in D.C. to the hills of Frederick County, Morrow credits his interest in eating well in the city to spurring him into organic- and pasture-based farming. 

Despite the weeds and abandoned structures, Morrow invested in a 30-acre farm property in the Valley and dedicated himself to restoring the land to its previous splendor. Upon purchasing the land in 2003, Morrow established Whitmore Farm as a way of honoring the successful pioneer years of Benjamin Whitmore and his family. The property, which lies within the Monocacy Watershed, is bordered by Toms Creek and now serves as a Certified Organic Production.

Morrow notes that a large part of the farm's success—both environmentally and economically—is approaching the business with a consumer perspective: "We were the people shopping at farmers' markets in the city. We were the people seeking out and eating at restaurants that sourced locally. So, as a producer, I was familiar with the venues I wanted to sell at. I was also comfortable navigating the tight urban landscape for deliveries. And, I knew my buyer well. I was selling to myself."

Picture 2Morrow works to emphasize sustainable agricultural practices while he raises acres of crops and livestock. The farm specializes in both Heritage and American breed pasture-raised livestock for lamb, pork, and poultry for eggs. Morrow's philosophy toward animals is not only evident in the pasture-raised system but through his Livestock Guardian Dogs, a team made up of five rescued Great Pyrenees and a central Asian Shepherd.

In addition to his pastoral operations, Morrow is always looking for new ways to improve the sustainable production of the farm. He remains steadfast in his philosophy that ". . . part of our farm's mission is to use sustainable ag practices that respect the land and provide healthy food to our customers."

Picture 3The small but mighty farm raises grass-fed and finished lamb, pastured pork, and pastured eggs. In addition to the livestock and poultry productions, Whitmore Farm is also home to a sustainable and certified organic produce operation. Morrow grows an assortment of tomatoes, peas, arugula, beets, carrots, and flavorful figs to distribute to restaurants and sell at farmers' markets.

What's more, Morrow is a huge advocate for clean water. During an interview with the Baltimore Sun in November, he stated that the American Farm Bureau Federation was "on the wrong side of history" when it and its allies petitioned the Supreme Court to review their challenge to Chesapeake clean-up efforts.

Picture 4"As I get older, I tend to focus more on the long view," says Morrow. "Society, culture, and values are not static. They evolve over time . . . people farming today farm differently than their parents did and different still from the way their grandparents did. To think that we have reached the apogee in farming and that our current agricultural system is beyond reproach is naive and arrogant. The Farm Bureau is ignoring the science and values that most of the farmers I know hold dear. The status quo is not acceptable. The sooner they accept that, the sooner we can focus on the solutions."

A staunch believer in the power of education, Morrow has hosted numerous field days and informative trips for teachers as well as served as president of the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Board. "Education is key for the next generation of farmers," he says. Appropriately, CASA's mission is to provide education, networking, and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed—something Morrow does every day on his farm in Frederick County.

—Text by Kellie Rogers; Photos courtesy of Will Morrow

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.

 


Photo of the Week: After the Blizzard

Sunrise after Blizzard Jonas 01232016 FBSunrise after Blizzard Jonas rolled through.  

This was taken on Crab Alley, which I'm thankful to call my home. Every season on the Chesapeake Bay is a wonderful opportunity to take in the breathtaking views. Sometimes you just have to get up early enough to enjoy them!

—Cindy Williams Sigmon

Ensure that Cindy and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!