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Photo of the Week: Feeding My Soul

IMG_0329_(2)Sunset from Virginia Beach's First Landing State Park. Photo by Jeannie Winters.

"The Chesapeake Bay is a place I escape to, and I always find it to be beautiful from the beach in Cape Story by the Sea, regardless of the weather. I always have my camera with me whether walking or kayaking and the sunsets, seagulls, sandpipers, pelicans, and osprey keep me busy snapping away. Oh, and the beach dogs, and ships, and pound nets, and the fish and rays and turtles you see (unfortunately) in them, the goldfinches, and yellow crowned night herons in the dune grass, and of course the dolphins, and our amazing skies! The shells, the pebbles, the ghost crabs, and horse shoe crabs along the shoreline... I guess you can tell that being around the Chesapeake Bay feeds my soul.

—Jeannie Winters

Ensure that Jeannie and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these. 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!


How Farm Bill Conservation Funding Supports Pennsylvania Farmers: Saxe Family Farm, Sullivan County, PA

 

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Saxe Family Farm. Photo by Jennifer Johns/CBF Staff.

This is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farms. As a result of these success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

For Mike Saxe Jr., a fourth-generation farmer, farming is more than a job: It's a way of life. The family farm, located in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, has been operating since the late 1800s. 

Together with his father, Mike Sr., they plant 150 acres of corn and 300 in hay annually, while managing another 200 acres of forest and pasture land. Twice a day, 365 days a year, they milk more than 140 cows with just one full-time employee to share the load.

It's a life he wouldn't trade for any other; but the demands are high. "If you're going to make this your life and your living, you've got to be efficient all the time," said Saxe. "The thing that's keeping people like us going is good management."

Farm Bill Helps Saxe Farm Make Improvements
That, he said, is where programs funded in large part by the federal Farm Bill come in. Funding programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, have enabled them to make on-farm improvements like the installation of a concrete barnyard and a manure storage facility. Both help to improve farm production and water quality. "The importance of those programs can't be understated," Saxe said.

Funding through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program was used to establish forested buffers along the streams that run through the property, which are tributaries to the North Branch Mehoopany Creek. These forested buffers will provide habitat for wildlife, help keep water temperatures cool, and filter pollutants before they reach the water. "Saxe Farms is a good example of how farmers can utilize these programs to not only improve their operation, but to also help the environment," said Stephanie Eisenbise, CBF's Pennsylvania Watershed Restoration Manager.

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Saxe Family Farm. Photo by Jennifer Johns/CBF Staff.

"The stream can have more biodiversity with a healthy forest surrounding it," says Jen Johns, Pennsylvania Stream Buffer Specialist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "The tree root system traps nutrients that might be coming off of the fields, while also providing shade to cool the water. Both are critical to fish habitat and a healthy stream."

Saxe Farms has taken other measures, too. Roof gutters were installed on the barn to direct rainwater toward a grassy area, away from manure and a major walkway for the heifers. "None of these improvements would have been possible without the aid of agencies and groups like the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Sullivan County Conservation District, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation," Saxe said.

A past recipient of the Sullivan County Conservation District's Conservationist of the Year Award, the Saxe's see themselves as stewards of the land. "It's easy to see that they care for the countryside and recognize their role in protecting it; that's important to them, especially given that Mike Jr.'s 13-year-old son is next in line on the farm."

—Jennifer Johns
CBF Pennsylvania Stream Buffer Specialist

Ensure that people like the Saxes are able to continue doing this good work on their farms.
Tell Congress to protect conservation programs in the Farm Bill!

 


Photo of the Week: Stunning Sunset

BayBridgeSunsetByDougEdmundsPhoto by Doug Edmunds.

Doug Edmunds captured this stunning Bay Bridge sunset earlier this year saying, "I think this is the best sunset I have ever captured!"

"I have enjoyed all that the Bay has offered for many years including the wildlife, boating and fishing, spectacular views, and great photo opportunities," says Edmunds. "Many thanks to CBF for all their continuing efforts to maintain the overall health and beauty of the Bay!" 

Ensure that Doug and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these. 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!


How Farm Bill Conservation Funding Supports Pennsylvania Farmers: Valley Grassfed, Centre County, PA

11-18-2013 11-08-13 AMThis is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farms. As a result of these success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

"Our business, Valley Grassfed, would not be in existence if it weren't for the implementation of these practices providing for lush pastured paddocks." That's the way Jenne Senator, Owner and Operations Manager of Valley Grassfed described the many conservation measures that she and her husband, Bob, recently implemented on their farm near Spring Mills, Pennsylvania.

The Senators raise 37 beef cattle, producing ten head yearly for market, and pride themselves on the quality of their beef. Their cattle feed only on lush pasture and hay. "Our animals are free of growth hormones, antibiotics, and all grains," said Jenne.

Bob and Jenne are conscious about more than just their cattle. They are also quite aware of the impact that farming has on the land, and have taken many steps to ensure their farm has minimal impacts on their local stream.

When they purchased the farm in 1984, they planted 75 percent of the land in crops using tillage, and pastured just 25 percent. Today, the Senators pasture 93 percent of the land, planting crops on only four acres. They utilize 50 acres for grazing. This has dramatically reduced erosion and runoff from their farm.

Funding and assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Chesapeake Bay Foundation has allowed their dream of being able to grow and sell their own beef to become a reality.

The Senators have installed streambank fencing, a livestock crossing, and a watering system all of which control the herd's access to the stream, while providing them with a clean source of drinking water. The watering system has enabled them to create pastures that are grazed on a rotational basis. Bob and Jenne aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, and have planted more than 200 native trees and shrubs in their streamside buffer, doing the work themselves.

The Senators have also installed a grassed waterway, half an acre of pollinator habit, and have developed nutrient management and rotational grazing plans. USDA's Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative funded all of the farm improvement practices.

—Frank Rohrer
CBF Field Buffer Specialist

Ensure that people like the Senators are able to continue doing this good work on their farms. Tell Congress to protect conservation programs--that are critical to restoring the Bay--in the Farm Bill! 


Environmental Literacy Leader to Receive Marcy Damon Award


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For 12 years, Marcy Damon contributed passionately to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Save the Bay mission. Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

On November 15, Britt Slattery, a Maryland educator and biologist, will become the first recipient of the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award. The award, given by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, a regional non-profit, recognizes Slattery for her devotion to sustainable landscaping and environmental literacy within the Chesapeake Bay region.

Currently the Director of Conservation Education for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Slattery has devoted her 27-year career to restoring habitat, creating sustainable landscapes and reconnecting children with nature. As the DNR staff coordinator for the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, Governor Martin O'Malley's initiative which supports environmental literacy and outdoor experiences through schools and communities, Slattery works with multiple partners to create opportunities for kids to get outside and learn about and from their environment. In 2011, Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass a requirement that all high school students must be environmentally literate in order to graduate. Environmental topics are woven throughout various learning disciplines in all grades beginning in pre-Kindergarten; in-school learning is enhanced by family and community outdoor recreation and learning opportunities that help children become informed and responsible environmental stewards.

The DNR post is the latest, but not the only environmental literacy leadership role, held by the educator. Slattery supervised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Chesapeake Bay Field Office's Schoolyard Habitat and BayScapes programs for 15 years and filled education posts at Audubon Maryland-D.C., the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the St. Michaels-based native plant nursery Environmental Concern.

While at the USFWS, Slattery co-authored Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay, an 82-page, full-color booklet that has opened the eyes of thousands of Chesapeake Bay residents to the possibilities of landscaping with native plants and encouraged habitat enhancement and water quality protection throughout the region.

The Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award has been created by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council to honor former Council Chair and Maryland naturalist and educator, Marcy Damon. Damon passed away in June 2013 at the age of 64 from acute myeloid leukemia. Damon spent the last 12 years of her career (she retired in 2011) contributing  passionately to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Save the Bay efforts, but it was a life-long love affair with nature that inspired her personal and professional dedication to sustainable landscaping, habitat preservation, and environmental education.

Slattery will receive the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping award at an evening ceremony in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The event will kick off the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council's biennial sustainable landscaping conference. The event is open to the public, however, the popular conference fills to capacity quickly. "The purpose of each conference is to inspire, educate and help build the professional relationships that are essential if we are to grow sustainable landscaping programs and initiatives and protect the Chesapeake Bay," says Beth Ginter, the Council's 2013 conference chair. "This year it is a special honor to celebrate two remarkable women whose careers so clearly reflect the Council and conference's mission and goals."


Photo of the Week: Perfect Evening

IMG_1485Photo by Sailuk Joe Breese.

My wife Shiny and I have the good fortune of living in St. Mary's County, along the banks of the Patuxent River at Drum Cliffs. Our beach and pier sit almost directly across from the tip of Broomes Island. [This photo was] taken during the first week of the Federal Government Shutdown from the end of our pier in Hollywood, Maryland. Ours is the third pier down from the Old Jones Wharf, and at the beginning of the Drum Cliffs.

—Sailuk Joe Breese

Ensure that Sailuk and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these. 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!


Christina's Clean Water Story

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Photo by Damon Fodge.

"When I was a little girl there was a sandy beach at the foot of Market Street in Historic Annapolis. At that time the waters of Spa Creek were clean and clear enough that we would collect brine shrimp, minnows, baby crabs, and snails.

As an adult, I live in Shady Side, Maryland. We live a block from the Bay. Our neighborhood has recently completed a shoreline restoration project so we have a little sandy beach. It [has] been tough seeing the [Bay's] decline over the years in so many areas, but it looks like people are taking a serious interest in [restoring our waters] and giving back. It's great to see."  

—Christina Demorest-Sugg
Shady Side, Maryland 

What does the Bay and its rivers and streams mean to you? Share your clean water story here!

 

 

 


Petersburg, Virginia, Moves Forward to Reduce Runoff

 

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Photo by Neil Dampier Photography.
Petersburg, Va., is taking a comprehensive look at the city's urban/suburban polluted runoff in order to improve local water quality.

The effort includes developing a master plan that will prioritize needed projects, such as best management projects and low-impact development, all funded with proceeds from a new runoff utility fee. 

Petersburg's City Council adopted the fee in April to fund the city's runoff management program, which is intended to meet Virginia's commitments to clean up local streams and the Bay. Petersburg property owners will pay a monthly amount based on the impervious surface on their property. The fee for residential units will be $3.75 per month, a value generated by the average impervious surface of each residential property.

Property owners looking to reduce the fee will have the option to receive credits for implementing best management practices, such as rain barrels and buffer systems that cut down on water rushing across impervious surfaces.

Steven Hicks, Petersburg director of Transit, Utilities, and Public Works, said that revenue generated by the fee will create sustainable funds that the city can use to repair existing drainage structures and properly manage erosion and sediment runoff. The funds will also be used to devise new projects to improve water quality, such as low-impact development and runoff management best practices.

Petersburg has hired Timmons Group, an engineering firm based in Chesterfield County, Va., to help the city design and develop a runoff master plan that will organize the city's future water quality improvement projects.

"This stormwater master plan is really going to make a big difference in protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said Hicks. "We have partnered with Timmons Group as an extension of our staff to assist us in prioritizing projects, [from] small projects that we know will make a big difference quickly to large-scale projects that will require significant design and capital investment."

Petersburg has plans for several new runoff projects, including storm sewer replacement projects in Western Hills and along Forest Lane, North Park Drive, and Walnut Boulevard. In addition, the city plans to incorporate environmentally friendly development processes such as Low Impact Development (LID) that involve altering site planning, design, and construction practices. These will reduce the impact of polluted runoff on the surrounding land.

Hicks estimates that the annual runoff management program will cost approximately $1.5 million and will be funded entirely by revenue from the fee and grant money. The city was recently awarded a $150,000 grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for research on improving runoff management.

"They [the foundation] are instrumental and wonderful people to work with [and] have helped us fund our geographic information system to provide an accurate and easily accessible repository for physical data so that we can improve our watershed. Without the foundation's support, we would not have been successful in establishing our stormwater management program and utility fee," Hicks said.

Petersburg is also applying for state funding to assist the city with its runoff management. The 2013 Virginia General Assembly appropriated $35 million to help localities with polluted runoff projects.

While some citizens may be uncomfortable with another user fee required by the city, Hicks said, the public has been open to discussion and understanding of the need for the utility fee.

"The City Council had a series of work sessions to gain input from the citizens," Hicks said. "I think that by and large citizens realize that they have a duty and environmental responsibility to protect our natural resources and our streams and rivers and our Bay for future generations."

The fee took effect July 1 and billing started in September.

—Natalie Rainer


Time for Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates to Address Chesapeake Bay and Smart Growth

 

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The following article first appeared in Center Maryland late last week.

It's not too early to start talking about 2014 gubernatorial election issues. That's why next Tuesday, exactly one year out, we are co-hosting a forum at the Westin of Annapolis for the declared candidates to present their platforms on two crucial issues: the Chesapeake Bay and smart growth.

All six of the declared candidates have accepted our invitation.

The idea is simple: The candidates will tell the public what they see as their legacy on these two issues. Marylanders deserve to know now, not later, how passionate their next governor might feel about the Bay, the plan for its restoration, and about curtailing costly sprawl growth that has slowed that restoration for too long. These issues must be a major part of this election.

This is our moment in time to finally solve the twin threats of Bay pollution and sprawl. For the first time ever we have a Bay restoration plan that holds the Bay states accountable for reducing pollution sufficiently to make the Chesapeake and our local rivers and streams safe for swimming and fishing. We call that plan the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

Finding a way to continue to grow is essential, but not at the expense of all that we love and cherish about our communities, and our natural resources. We can't continue to let development gobble up our farms and forests, and to leave behind an environmental mess, along with increased taxes for new roads and other public costs that come with badly located and poorly managed development. We need a future that is economically and environmentally robust and resilient.

The light bulb of common sense has gone on for many Marylanders and many local governments in the state: restoring and preserving our natural environment advances our economy, while fouling our own nest ultimately kills our economic vitality. Look no further than the coalition of Baltimore City businesses that have joined forces in the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc. They have vowed to make the Inner Harbor safe for swimming and fishing by 2020. Last week executives in those businesses shed their suits, and attended a workshop to learn how to grow oysters.

Other inspiring stories abound of local governments "getting it done," rolling up their sleeves on environmental and growth issues. Prince George's County has embraced the expensive challenge of polluted runoff from city and suburban landscapes. The county is pursuing an innovative public-private partnership that it believes can reduce its estimated costs for stormwater management improvements by 40 percent. County officials realize that they can actually make the job cheaper in the long run by collecting a stormwater fee from residents, then using those funds smartly through the partnership.

Smart growth reflects the same kind of innovative thinking. Encourage growth near areas that can accommodate and even benefit from that growth. That means not only revitalized cities, but it also means revitalized rural towns. Store fronts boarded up as family farming disappeared can once again attract small businesses.

But while many are catching on to the benefits of smart thinking, there are still hidebound local governments in Maryland. Carroll and Frederick have essentially thumbed their noses at state law and refused to dedicate revenue toward reducing polluted runoff, as Prince George's and other counties are doing. In Harford and Anne Arundel Counties, a few politicians are introducing reversals or drastic cut-backs in their programs. Charles County is considering a new Comprehensive Plan that the state says could allow 150,000 acres of farmland and forest to be developed. An estimated 339 major subdivisions could be built in areas of the county which the state considers ecologically important.

Maryland has been a leader in smart environmental and growth policies, those that benefit the Bay as well as Bay-related economies, watermen as well as crabs and oysters, family farmers as well as water quality in farm creeks.

This sort of leadership will be critical to sustain our goal of restoring the Bay, and preserving a rural way of life in many locations. Right now development is on track to pave over 400,000 acres of Maryland's working lands. The Bay cannot afford that future; neither can we.

Next Tuesday is one year from the 2014 elections. This is the time to make sure that the environmental and growth future of Maryland is a major part of pre-election discussions. This forum in Annapolis kicks that off.

The forum will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Westin Annapolis, 100 Westgate Circle. Click here to register to attend.

Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director, and Dru Schmidt-Perkins, President of 1,000 Friends of Maryland

Read the Baltimore Sun's view that "Candidates for Governor must either defend the local stormwater fee or explain why a major source of water pollution should be ignored."



Photo of the Week: Reedville Sunrise

 

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Photo by Louis Reichbauer.

This photo was taken in Reedville in early October . . .When I was younger you didn't see too many [kayaks] around the Bay, but I'm noticing more of them now. They're a great way to explore the little coves and tributaries that are a huge part of the Bay's wildlife. They can get you places you just normally can't go with a powerboat or even on foot.

The Bay to me is almost like an environmental thermometer for the states of Maryland and Virginia. I'm only 26-years-old, and I remember going to the Bay every weekend to visit my grandparents. There was a time we were able to grab oysters by the bucketfull just by wading out a little bit and poking around with shovels and dirt rakes. Now they are a little harder to come by, and from what I hear they need to be farmed/seeded. The same thing seems to have happened with blue crabs. The real shocker is this change has happened in my lifetime; not over multiple generations, but within my 26 years.

The Bay is a very scenic and beautiful place on the surface and in photographs, but the long-time fisherman, crabbers, and oyster farmers might have a different perspective. To sum up what the bay means to me: It would be oysters, blue crab, rockfish, and bonfires. It is an enjoyable place for people to relax and vacation, but more importantly, it is a natural resource that needs to be protected by groups like CBF.

—Louis Reichbauer

Ensure that Louis and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these. 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!