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March 2008

Balancing the Climate Crisis Against Maryland's Need for Jobs

The following Letter to the Editor was published in the Baltimore Sun on February 29, 2008

It was disappointing to see The Sun encourage delay on fighting global climate change ("Striking a balance," editorial, Feb. 26).

One thing we've learned from Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts is that if we don't set specific, incremental goals, no one is held accountable and little progress is achieved.

The Chesapeake Bay region is at severe risk from pollution and climate change, and the time for action was yesterday. Today we are playing catch-up, and tomorrow will be too late.

The federal government has failed to produce meaningful climate change legislation, and just last week, Rep. Chris Van Hollen told a meeting of concerned citizens in Annapolis that the best way to hold federal feet to the fire was for the states to move forward with climate change legislation.

The Global Climate Change Solutions Act is just such a bill.

It is designed to make fundamental, incremental reductions in carbon dioxide levels that will help avert imminent damage to the state and to solidify Maryland's role as a national leader in carbon reduction.

The state's carbon reduction goals are not overly ambitious.

Six states have set goals in the 80 percent to 90 percent reduction range, and 26 states have adopted lesser limitations.

And there are economic upsides. "Green jobs" can provide an economic boost at the same time that pollution is reduced.

There is no doubt that climate change is here, affecting local rivers, streams and the bay.

There is no doubt that rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms threaten coastal populations.

There is no doubt that we need to reduce pollution, now.

We need the road map, specific goals and milestones provided by the Global Climate Change Solutions Act.

William C. Baker
President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation


March 5 - Fight for Clean Water and Clean Energy

Put a big red circle around the date March 5 on your calendar.

04_19_12_prev The Clean Water Network has declared March 5 as National Clean Water Phone Congress Day. The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to act this year on what could be the most important clean water legislation in 35 years: The Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421).

This bipartisian bill is needed now to ensure that all of the nation's streams, headwater tributaries, wetlands and other waters remain protected from pollution by the federal Clean Water Act. It will reaffirm that the Clean Water Act was intended to protect all of the waters of the United States, from big rivers to small streams, and from the Great Lakes to remote wetlands. 

So limber up those fingers and and call your U.S. Representative between 9am and 6pm EST. Tell him/herto support clean water by getting behind the Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421). For more information about the bill and how to contact your representative, download this message from CWN.

Rally with O'MallyIf you live near Annapolis, you'll want to limber up those legs and walk or ride to Lawyer's Mall (across from the State House) to Rally with O'Malley for green jobs and a clean energy future. Join Governor O'Mally, the Alliance for Global Warming Solutions, CBF, and others at 10am on March 5 to thank the Gov. for his support of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 and to stand with him in asking the General Assembly to pass this bill!


Return Home

Frank Rohrer by guest blogger Frank Rohrer, stream buffer specialist in CBF's Pennsylvania office.

Back in December of 2007, I made the trip to the gently rolling hills of southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for my annual deer hunt on the family farm. Since I moved north to the mountains of Clinton County, PA over three years ago I don’t get back to the farm much.  Each visit is special because I’m always overwhelmed with childhood memories of baling hay, feeding cows, driving tractors, hunting deer, and fishing in the stream…ah the stream!

As a youngster much of my free time (which is very little when you grow up on a dairy farm) was spent fishing, flipping rocks, catching crayfish, and looking for salamanders in and along Stewart’s Run and a small, meandering tributary that flowed through my grandfather’s farm. What a great way to be introduced to the outdoors. I didn’t know it then, but each time a trout swallowed my bait in that little stream I was actually the one getting hooked on a love for all things outdoors.

So much has changed on the farm during the thirty-two years of my life. My grandparents are long gone now, but Dad keeps the farming tradition alive though much less intensively. The milk house now sits silently through long winters and hot summers. Cows no longer enter the barn for their evening meal and the chores are far fewer. Yes, tobacco still hangs in the shed, corn still grows in the fields and heifers graze in the pasture, but the days of intensive farming for the Rohrer family are now gone. 

Of all the changes I know of on the farm, one of the biggest has been the stream itself. Back in 2002, when my wife Kathy and I lived in the little cottage along the stream, Dad decided to build stream bank fencing and plant trees with CBF’s Farm Stewardship Program. Of course, since I just happened to work for CBF as a stream buffer specialist, I was a major influence with that decision!

Newly planted buffer So, that year we hired contractors to build 5,400’ of fence, install three livestock crossings, and plant 575 trees and shrubs. The fence and crossing set up allow the livestock to cross the stream and drink in various locations, while at the same time it keeps them out of the majority of the riparian areas. This allowed the streambanks to revegetate and helped to keep the stream cleaner. When my grandfather still milked cows, the livestock had full access to the entire stream and the banks were severely eroded, the water was often muddy, and there was no fish or wildlife habitat at all. In total, 5,820’ of streambanks have been restored and 5.3 acres of forested riparian buffer have been created.

Since I only get back to the area a few times a year, I don’t always get time to check out the buffer that I had put so much care and effort into several years ago. This year as I was hunting I decided to take a leisurely stroll along the buffer to really see how it was faring. Although there were trees that didn’t survive, I was so proud to see that there were many trees growing—quite a few of them were well above my six foot tall head. Some ash, maple, and tulip poplar stretched more than twelve feet above the ground.  Dogwoods and viburnums were thriving as well, providing cover and berries for birds and other wildlife.

The thing that struck me the most was the numerous songbirds that were along the stream. A tremendous diversity of birds flitted about all around me as they grabbed seeds from the tall grass, landed on the growing trees, and swooped down to the water. Chickadees, tufted titmice, sparrows of all kinds, and more. The stream buffer has gone from a grazed area with little habitat to a birder’s paradise in a very short time. Being a birder, I was thrilled.

As I walked and gazed over the pasture and farmstead, I was awed by the memories that flooded me…the big hill that we would ride our plastic and metal runner sleds on every winter, thinking nothing of running back up to the top and doing it all day long just as I’m sure my Dad did when he was young…the “deep hole” as we have always called it, where every year the neighbors and Dad and I would gather during the dawn hours of April’s opening day of trout season to try to hook those brown, rainbow, and brook trout, which were courtesy of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission…the old stone farmhouse built in the 1700’s, where every day my grandmother would make grilled cheese sandwiches for my grandfather and I as we rested from the morning barn chores…bringing in new born calves from the meadow as their mother trailed along behind…baling hay in the sweltering 100 degree heat of August…harvesting corn in the much cooler days of November as a hint of old man winter blew into the air…and of course, those delicious dinners served by my grandmother as the family gathered around the coal stove on those snowy Christmas days.  My simple buffer tour had stirred up so many memories from a 120 acre piece of ground! 

As I neared the end of my walk, my mind gradually got back to the real task at hand—hunting deer! One year I filled my deer tag right there in the buffer (I was doing my part to ensure those new trees would survive) but my luck was not to be this year. I went back north that weekend without a deer but I took home something more valuable—new memories and the knowledge that the stream that hooked me so many years ago was healthier than it has been for several generations. As I left the farm that day, I realized that my career today with CBF has brought me full circle with my childhood of yesterday.

To learn more about streamside buffers in Pennsylvania, you can contact the Chesapeake Bay Foundation at 717-234-5550.  If you live in Clinton, Centre, or Lycoming Counties, PA, you can contact the author directly at 570-295-6164.


Farewell to Jane Cooke

Photo_2767_20070813 CBF lost a devoted and tireless volunteer when Jane Cooke passed away last month. After a long career with the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Jane jumped in with both feet when she began volunteering with CBF in 2006. She wholeheartedly took on a couple of major projects: organizing CBF’s “Film, Food, Farms and the Bay” at the Sunrise Farms in Gambrills and working on behalf of CBF as the volunteer conference coordinator and registrar for the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council’s “Turning a New Leaf Conference” in November 2007. Jane easily spent hundreds of hours on these two projects alone.

Forward thinking and with a big smile, she was always anxious to learn more, whether it was about the Chesapeake, locally grown food, or native plants. In addition, she devoted time and energy to her family, community and her church. CBF’s 2007 Volunteer Annual Report will be dedicated to her memory.


A Very "MARI" Anniversary

The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) recently celebrated its one year anniversary. During MARI’s first year, the coalition of more than 50 conservation, businesses, and government partners successfully raised more than $1.4 million to support the creation and monitoring of artificial reefs for fish habitat throughout Maryland’s waters.

“Creating fish habitat not only helps to restore the Chesapeake Bay, but also benefits recreational opportunities and our local economy,” said Bill Goldsborough, Maryland Artificial Reef Committee Chairman and Chesapeake Bay Foundation Fisheries Program Director.

Individuals can help with reef projects across the State by “buying a ton” via a tax-deductible donation to the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative was created in early 2007 to raise funds to facilitate development of marine habitat enhancement projects. For more information visit www.ccamd.org/MARI/MARI_home.htm.


Upcoming MPT Special Reveals Critical Area Flaws

Little Dobbins Island As the Maryland General Assembly meets to debate new, stricter regulations on Chesapeake Bay waterfront development, Maryland Public Television (MPT) will air a new program that examines Maryland’s Critical Area Law.

"Weary Shoreline," a documentary about the failure to enforce Maryland's Critical Area law, airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday night. For a preview of the show, check out Tim Wheeler's post on the Baltimore Sun's News & Environment blog.

One prime example of the Critical Area law's "death by one thousand cuts" is back in the news. Just last week, David Clickner, owner of Dobbins Island, resurrected plans to build a 4,500-square-foot home, septic system, and road on the island--plans which violate Maryland's Critical Area law but which Clickner has received variance approvals for from the state.

Fervent discussion over HB 1253—set for General Assembly debate February 28 (the day after Weary Shoreline’s premiere)—is expected. Among several proposed changes to this controversial law, the bill mandates that new development (including houses, outbuildings, decks, patios, driveways, landscaping and swimming pools) be even farther away from the bay shoreline than the current 100 feet. Instead, the inner Critical Areas shoreline buffer would be expanded from 100 feet to 300 feet.


Chesapeake Bay Guitar Project - February 2008 Update

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February is well under way, and we’ve made quite a bit of progress on the Chesapeake Bay guitars. Craig has been working on the inlays for the first two necks. The first inlay, just completed, is titled “Ladies' Night” (left) and depicts several mature female crabs, or ‘sooks,’ swimming through eelgrass.  The second inlay, still under construction, (right) is titled “Heron Sunset.” This inlay shows a silhouette of a heron at sunset on the headstock and has a close-up of a heron among the cattails on the fingerboard.

The guitar bodies are coming along as well. I’ve completed construction of the first two guitar bodies, and am just waiting on the completed necks to finish the guitars. The “Ladies' Night” guitar has Peruvian Walnut back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. The guitar bindings are flamed Western maple. The “Heron Sunset” guitar has Brazilian kingwood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. The guitar bindings are ebony.

Craig has designed the inlays for the next two guitar necks. The first is titled “The Fisherman” and depicts an osprey catching a fish. The other, titled “Future Matters,” shows a male seahorse, indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay, giving birth to baby seahorses. We should have some photos of these in the next month.

We have set the date for the guitar festival for May 17, 2008. It will be held at Emory’s store, the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe, in Catonsville, from 12-4pm. There will be a number of guitarists featured at the festival, and we’re hoping for some original songs related to the Chesapeake Bay to be performed. More information about the event will be included in the Spring 2008 edition of CBF’s “Save the Bay” magazine.

If anyone has any questions about the project or the guitars, please contact Emory at Appalachian Bluegrass. His contact information can be found on his website www.appalachianbluegrass.com.

It’s back to building, but I’ll continue to post the project progress, passing on our status and any news.

   

David MacCubbin

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The debate is hot in PA

Pennsylvania newspapers are filled with articles about municipalities who are frustrated about the costs of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. The cleanup is federally mandated--but unfunded, and if a 2010 deadline for meeting these mandatory water quality standards isn't met, the federal government could come down harder with even stricter standards. But local jurisdictions don't know how they're going to come up with the hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to comply. CBF has joined the call for the Rendell administration to provide funds to municipalities struggling to meet sewage treatment upgrade requirements.

If you live near Harrisburg, you might want to attend tonight's panel discussion on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and its effects on sewage bills. The discussion will be held from 5 - 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn West, 5401 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg. Panel participants include Kathleen McGinty, secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection; John Brosius, deputy director of the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association; and Scott Wyland, lawyer for the Capital Region Council of Governments.