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Photo of the Week: The Clydesdales of Rock Hall

Clydesdales_ByRonLandonPhoto by Ron Landon.

"[This photo] was taken in January when we had a deep freeze . . . We have lived on the shores of the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay from May through October for some 20 years now. The Bay means everything to us: a semi-annual home, beautiful scenery, a peaceful way of life in retirement, and our little 'slice of heaven.'"

Ron Landon

 

Ensure that Ron and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint! 

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, 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!


Howard Residents Come out to Support Stormwater Fee

Stormwater
Stormwater strikes! Photo by Amelia Koch/CBF Staff.

The following appeared on ColumbiaPatch late last week.

How heartening it was to listen to Howard County residents urge the County Council on Tuesday evening to approve a proposed storm water fee. You heard that right--people enthusiastically supporting a new government fee.

Howard residents joined a growing chorus of residents around the Bay who are demanding local governments do the right thing for local creeks, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, Anne Arundel residents also turned out en masse Tuesday night to support a proposed stormwater fee in that county. And only this past week the city of Charlottsville, VA, approved a stormwater fee.

These voices are a welcome counterpoint to some politicians and special interests bent on scuttling Bay progress. Frederick County, for instance, has requested the state legislature exempt it from a law requiring the state's most populated counties to dedicate some level of dedicated funding to fixing storm water problems.

We all dislike paying more for anything. Yet residents young and old, businessmen, teachers, students and others, came to the microphone at the Howard County Council Meeting to support the proposed new fee that will be dedicated to maintenance and improvements of the county's $600 million stormwater system. 

"We care about what happens to God's creation. We care about unemployment in Howard County, and we care about our youth," said the Rev. Robert Turner, pastor of St. Johns Baptist Church in Columbia, and a member of P.A.T.H., People Acting Together in Howard.

Turner said about 100 people came with him to the council meeting from P.A.T.H. People acting together. Cooperation. That's the key, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, whose recent State of the Bay Report showed a 14 percent improvement in the Chesapeake's health index, largely as a result of cooperation between government, businesses, and citizens in recent years.

Proposed by County Executive Ken Ulman, the bill before the Council would enact a fee based on the amount of a landowner's impervious surface: $7.80 per 500 square feet of impervious surface. The owner of a home with 2,640 square feet of impervious surface would pay $39 per year (5 x $7.80).

The proposed legislation also includes one-time, partial reimbursement to landowners, and an annual credit of as much as 50 percent off the fee.

Mostly out of sight, runoff is a problem few know about, until it floods your basement, or gives you a stomach ache. In a former time, trees, wetlands, and other natural features slowed the flow of rainwater, and filtered out any pollutants. The more we pave over our landscape, water from storms flows quicker and in greater volume into nearby creeks and rivers. As it does, it picks up pollutants, and also dirt because it erodes streambanks. This nutrient and sediment pollution is the prime cause of the Chesapeake's ill health.

Several high school and college students who built "rain gardens" around the county last summer to manage runoff, and also educated about 200 residents about the problems with stormwater, testified at the Council meeting in favor of the fee. They said retrofitting the stormwater system, especially with "green infrastructure" creates jobs when few are available.

Other speakers emphasized that the runoff problem already is having severe economic impacts. Delaying improvements will only allow those impacts to worsen.

John McCoy, representing the Columbia Association, said his group spent $13 million to dredge sediment out of Columbia lakes. That dirt was scoured from eroded stream banks and the developed landscape further upstream of Columbia and then discharged into the downstream lakes. Properly engineered and maintained storm water systems upstream would prevent this problem in the future.

"No one likes new fees. However, we are faced with a big task that years ago we didn’t even know was a problem," said Cathy Hudson of Elk Ridge, and vice chairman of the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board. "We can pay these fees now and slow down our stormwater, or we can continue to pay millions to dredge our lakes, to fill our sinkholes or to restore our crumbling stream banks."

Gayle Killen of Ellicott City said runoff from developments built upstream of her have created such flood problems that the very shopping district and tourism of the historic river city is threatened, not to mention homes all along the Patapsco and its tributaries. 
Many speakers emphasized an ancillary benefit of the fee. The credit system will give homeowners an incentive to learn about, and do something about, runoff problems right on their property.

"This is not a problem government can solve by itself," Hudson said. "We need each one of us to go home and slow the flow of rainwater off our property."

Not everyone spoke in favor of the proposed fee. Several farmers said they should be exempt, because farms by nature have long driveways, barns, and other out buildings that would be considered impervious surface under the bill.

Ted Mariani, a farmer who said he spoke for a group of farmers called Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County, said he might be charged as much as $1,500 for impervious surface on his farm of nearly 200 acres, even though a tiny fraction of the farm is developed.

Another person opposed to the bill, Salvador Cosentino of Columbia, said the federal and state Constitutions prohibit such government actions.

But those views seemed in the minority Tuesday night. In fact, several speakers asked the Council to increase the size of the proposed fee to make it more in line with some nearby counties also considering storm water bills.

Michael Harrison, representing the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, said rather than setting a relatively low fee that would be used initially for studying the problem, the fee should be higher and devoted immediately to on-the-ground projects.

—Tom Zolper
Maryland Communications Coordinator, Chesapeake Bay Foundation


Learn more about the challenges of stormwater and what you can do to help on our website.


State Should Declare Susquehanna River "Impaired"

SMB_119mm_Susquehanna_ShadyNook_08152012 001
A diseased smallmouth bass. Photo courtesy of the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

This letter to the editor originally appeared in    The Patriot-News earlier today. 

The Susquehanna River—one of the nation's longest and most important rivers is in trouble. Scientists and anglers have for several years been reporting unprecedented incidents of diseased and dying smallmouth bass in the Lower Susquehanna. 

This nearly 100-mile stretch of river, spanning from Sunbury to the Maryland border, has long been a destination for anglers seeking the smallmouth. Unfortunately many experts and anglers now speculate that current conditions in the Lower Susquehanna may lead to the possible collapse of this once-renowned fishery.

We believe the federal Clean Water Act is clear—when a problem of this significance is found in our waters, it warrants listing it as an impaired water body. Our organizations last fall joined the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in petitioning the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to include the Lower Susquehanna on the state Impaired Waters List. Doing so would galvanize state, federal, academic, and nonprofit resources to not only study the problem but, importantly, to devise a detailed plan to fix it.

DEP has not supported listing the River as impaired and has not included the Lower Susquehanna in its final Impaired Waters List, which was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January. This issue is now in the hands of EPA.

In the meantime, DEP and other state and federal agencies have committed to continue to study the River, and we commend them for that. However, we call on DEP and the other agencies to collectively commit to a clearly defined public engagement process that provides updates on the study and the progress, and to publicly share their data and findings throughout the process.

We all benefit from a healthy river through livable communities with strong local economies, protected human health, increased property values and recreational opportunities. We all benefit from a healthy, vital Susquehanna River.

—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Liz G. Deardorff, Director, American Rivers' Clean Water Program - Pennsylvania

Visit our website to learn more about this critical issue and to urge EPA to declare the lower Susquehanna as impaired!


Photo of the Week: "It Was That Beautiful"

ByMichaelRedmondPhoto by Michael Redmond.

"A winter Bay photo taken from Red Point, Maryland, looking across the Flats to Havre De Grace at 2 a.m. with some ice on the water. Thirty-second exposure. No Photoshop or Instagram. It was that beautiful...I am a life-long lover of the Bay and supporter of [CBF's] work."

—Michael Redmond

Ensure that Michael and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, 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!


A Model for Conservation Practices on Amish Farms

 

Raymond king farm LS Lamonte Garber
Raymond King's home and farm. Photo by Lamonte Garber/CBF Staff.

Rambling across a scenic 75 acres in Lancaster County is the home and farm of Raymond King. King honors the Amish farming traditions that have inter-connected his family and community for many generations. At the same time, he is building on those traditions by incorporating conservation practices that will benefit his farm and the creek that runs through it for generations to come.

 

One such practice is the use of no-till planting techniques, which have been used on the farm since 1979. No-till has kept the soil in place and the crops in good condition. Contour strips also add extra benefit and improve crops. 

Working through CBF's Buffer Bonus program, and in partnership with NRCS and the Lancaster County Conservation District, King was able to plan and construct a variety of on-farm conservation improvements that will do for the rest of his farm what the no-till and contour strips have done for his fields; improvements like the construction of a new manure storage facility, a stormwater collection system, streambank fencing and crossings, and the planting of streamside trees and shrubs.   

Wendy Coons, Soil Conservation Technician for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has been working with King for two years. "When we first met," Coons says, "he wanted to better deal with barnyard runoff, and he also wanted to improve his manure storage capacity. He wanted to be able to store excess manure for up to six months, thus allowing him to get through the winter without having to spread it onto his fields. We got all of that work, plus a whole lot more done on the farm." 

Additionally, very important to any on-farm conservation improvement effort is having the required conservation and nutrient and manure management plans, which King now has. 

King says, "I'm particularly glad to have a certified nutrient management plan. I had previously been broadcasting nitrogen, which, I learned was wasting time and money. The plan saves me both by showing me the correct amount of nitrogen to apply, when to apply it, and exactly where to apply so that the plants get the most benefit. My nitrogen lasts a lot longer and I'm saving money.

Raymond King farm manure storage Lgarber
Manure Storage. Photo by Lamonte Garber/CBF Staff.
CBF hopes to demonstrate that on-farm conservation practices are very achievable within a community that has traditionally avoided interaction with government and outside groups. Lamonte Garber, CBF's Pennsylvania Agriculture Program Manager, says "Raymond's farm really addresses all the conservation needs that we might find on a Plain Sect farm and beyond. More and more farmers are willing to fence cattle out of their streams, but Raymond has restored a wider, forested buffer through the CREP program. He is even considering the option of permanently preserving the buffer to protect it for future generations. That commitment is to be commended."

Through the Buffer Bonus Program and all of CBF's watershed restoration work, CBF strives to create "clusters" of forested buffers and conservation improvements like those on King's farm on connected reaches of streams, in order to maximize impact. To do so means getting neighbors on board.

Ashley Spotts, CBF Buffer Specialist in Lancaster County, worked with King throughout the process and is encouraged by his willingness to install these conservation practices and his mindset toward sharing what he has learned with his neighbors and others. "As with any farming community, people learn about new techniques by watching what happens on their neighbors' farm and by talking to each other. We are encouraged by the prospect of installing a streamside buffer on a farm just downstream from Raymond. The neighbor has seen the changes happening next door and is now considering conservation practices on his farm."

Raymondking lgarber
Photo by Ashley Spotts/CBF Staff.
Wendy Coons continues, "I consider King's farm a success story because he 'gets it' [conservation] and wants to pass on what he has learned about conservation to other farmers."

The end goal of CBF's efforts is the restoration of entire stream systems--restoring water quality, bringing back fisheries and aquatic life, and in some cases even removing streams from the state impaired waters list.

King's farm is a model for conservation improvements. The work done approximates what will be required of all farms in order to meet our clean water obligations for Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay. It also demonstrates the benefits achieved through the collaborative efforts of agricultural and county agencies, nonprofit organizations, and conservation programs like Buffer Bonus.

—Kelly Donaldson

Conservation practices implemented on the King Farm:

  • a new manure storage facility; 
  • barnyard waste and run-off collection system;
  • stormwater collection system, including gutters and downspouts;
  • milk house waste rerouting system takes milk waste to newly constructed manure storage pit;
  • streamside tree planting of mixed native shrubs and trees;
  • streambank fencing and stream crossing;
  •  cropland terrace; and
  • grassed waterway.

Special thanks and credits to:

Mr. King and his family

Jim Saltzman, Kara Kalupson, Greg Heigel, Lancaster County Conservation District and Wendy Coons, Natural Resource Conservation Service: The dedicated staff from the Conservation District and NRCS provided a variety of technical services for this project including the design and construction oversight for the new manure storage facility, and other barnyard improvements. Staff also developed the overall conservation plan for Mr. King’s farm.


Raeann Schatz, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency: The streamside buffer established on Mr. King’s farm was made possible through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Raeann Schatz is the FSA point person for CREP in Lancaster County, and her role is integral to achieving on-farm and water quality improvements. Meeting with farmers on their farms, and walking them through the program requirements and incentives has lead to a better understanding and increased interest in CREP in the Plain Sect communities of Lancaster County. Special thanks to Raeann for her efforts.


Chris Sigmund, Jeremy Weaver, TeamAg, Inc.: TeamAg is an agricultural consulting firm based in Ephrata, PA, and is a valued partner in our Buffer Bonus Program. Chris and Jeremy had early discussions with Mr. King regarding the creation a forested stream buffer on his farm. 


Photo of the Week: Sunrise on Back Creek

IMG_1350Photo by Doug Esposito.

Annapolitan Doug Esposito captured this moment on an early December morning leaving Back Creek and headed out to do some fishing. The trip resulted in a 45-inch rockfish! (See photo below.)

Ensure that Doug and future generations continue to enjoy early morning fishing trips like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint! 

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, 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!

Doug rockfish


A Legacy to Save the Bay

Danny Bowles.jpgIn life, Daniel "Danny" Bowles was a loving father, son, husband, brother, and loyal friend. Now, after his passing, those who love him are committed to ensuring his legacy lives on.

After he passed away in 2011 at the age of 37, Danny's family and friends created the Daniel Bowles Memorial Foundation to raise money in support of causes that he believed in. As an avid crabber, fisherman, and boater, Danny had a special place in his heart for the Chesapeake Bay.

Recently, on what would have been Danny's 39th birthday, his friends and wife, Genine, visited CBF's Merrill Center to make a donation to CBF in his memory. The donation represented the proceeds from the highly successful Daniel Bowles Memorial Bull Roast held last October, which was attended by 150 of his closest friends and family. This annual event is just one way Danny's family is keeping his memory alive.

Memorial donations like these are vital to CBF's continued success in our efforts to save the Bay. If you would like to learn more about how you can memorialize a loved one with a gift to CBF, visit our website or call us at 410/268-8816 (or 888/SAVEBAY).

—Brie Wilson


Photo of the Week: We're Back!

RonLandonPhoto by Ron Landon.

"Snow geese along Maryland Route 298 near Kennedyville, Maryland.

We have lived on the shores of the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay from May through October for some 20 years now. The Bay means everything to us: a semi-annual home, beautiful scenery, a peaceful way of life in retirement, and our little 'slice of heaven.'"

—Ron Landon

Ensure that Ron and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, 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!