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June 2014
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August 2014

Tramping the Boards to Save the Bay

 

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Photos courtesy of Chuck Epes/CBF Staff.

Nutrients. Sediments. TMDL. Amici briefs. How to talk plainly about the complex, wonky issues so central to restoring the Chesapeake Bay? It's a question we at CBF often ask ourselves.

We should have just turned to Dick Graham and Jane McKeel of Fairfax, Va. The pair, motivated simply by a love of the Bay, composed a 25-minute skit to dramatize Chesapeake Bay current events, then performed the skit for residents of their retirement community.

It was such a hit that more than 45 of their friends and neighbors signed a CBF petition supporting the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the regional Bay cleanup plan. The Blueprint is now under attack by national farm and development interests and 21 state attorneys general from around the nation.

The couple then took their show on the road, performing the skit before a Gettysburg, Pa., church audience and for more than 50 CBF volunteers and staff at a Clean Water Captains training workshop in Newport News, Va., last month.

They brought the house down every time.

"Our Gettysburg presentation was very well received," Jane says. "During the commentary period following the skit and after the service, a lot of people spoke to us . . . We believe CBF will be hearing from the congregation soon."

And their performance before CBF volunteers ended with a rousing ovation that, Jane says, "we'll simply never forget."

Ann Jurczyk won't forget it either. She is CBF's Virginia Outreach and Advocacy Manager and heads up the Captains volunteer program.

"What an inspiration Dick and Jane are!" Jurczyk says. "They personify the creativity, initiative, and power that committed volunteers can bring to the table. And they did this all on their own without help or input from CBF. They're simply amazing."

Which is why Jurczyk invited the pair to perform the skit at the volunteer workshop and afterward named Dick and Jane honorary CBF Clean Water Captains.

DSC_0008CBF's Clean Water Captains are adult "uber" volunteers who serve as local eyes, ears, and voices for the Bay across Virginia. The captains regularly confer with CBF staff to stay abreast of Bay issues and share developments in their own communities. Often they take the lead in voicing clean water concerns to local elected officials, civic groups, and news media.

The June workshop, held at Mariners' Museum in Newport News, was attended by 25 new Captain recruits and more than a dozen veteran Captains, who heard updates from Jurczyk, other CBF staff, government officials, a university scientist, and, of course, Dick and Jane. They also enjoyed an educational tour of the Warwick River aboard the Bea Haman Clark, CBF's Hampton Roads education vessel.

"Our Captains are a wonderfully diverse group," said Jurczyk. "They bring so much experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to CBF's efforts. Captains are true Bay ambassadors, and CBF could not influence policy without them."

Interested in becoming a Clean Water Captain and making a difference in your community? Contact Jurczyk at 804/780-1392, e-mail her at ajurczyk@cbf.org, or visit cbf.org/captains to watch a brief video.

CBF sends big thanks to the Mariners' Museum for hosting the recent Captain's workshop. And another round of applause for Dick and Jane, volunteer thespians who have brought the drama of Bay restoration to appreciative audiences around the watershed!

—Chuck Epes, CBF's Deputy Director of Media Relations 


Photo of the Week: Almost Burnt My Eyeballs

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Nothing says home more than those summer sunrises over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Some mornings I just pop up as soon as the sky turns, grab my canon and a cup of coffee, and head out to the Bay Bridge to watch the sun rise. This day I brought my zoom lens and almost burnt my eyeballs but it took my breath away. Each sunrise is uniquely different.

—Sue Steinbrook 

Ensure that Sue 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!


Bay Blood

 

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Jacqueline Stomski dreaming of the Bay from far away!

Some kids around here grow up with the Bay in their veins: Boating from Memorial Day to Labor Day; crabbing, fishing, swimming, and tubing all summer long. Their parents grew up here, too—they loved this piece of the world so much that they just couldn't leave.

The Bay might not be the ocean, but it might be something better. It captivates anyone who comes to see it with the mighty trials and tribulations of this delicate ecosystem. A place so rich in history, and we are fortunate enough to call it home.

I've lived here my whole life, but I don't think I can say I quite have Bay Blood. I've never spent my summers on my family's boat, my crabbing experience is limited, in fact I've never picked my own crabs. What I can say though is that whenever I am gone, I miss this sliver of the world desperately.

The first time I felt connected to the Bay was on my first school trip to Echo Hill in elementary school. We collected aquatic organisms to survey the different populations living where the Susquehanna meets the Bay. For the first time, I was on the Bay, in the sun, and I loved it.

At Echo Hill they told us of how when John Smith sailed the Chesapeake, the water was blue and he could see the oysters on the bottom. Looking at the murky waters today, I still struggle to believe that. From that day forward I've dreamed of a blue Bay. 

Jacqueline Stomski, Senior at Annapolis High School and CBF Student Correspondent Spring 2014 

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.


Photo of the Week: The Best Way to See the Bay

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As a paddler, the best way to see and experience the Chesapeake is by sea kayak. Sea kayakers throughout the Chesapeake Bay Region have begun a series of paddling trips that span the newly accessible 100-mile Anne Arundel County Water Trail.

In this photo taken last month, members of Washington Kayak Club pose to celebrate our safe return from our first inaugural 14-mile round-trip paddle from the West/Rhodes River to Deep Creek after laboring through a small craft advisory on the Chesapeake Bay the last five miles. It would have not have been possible were it not for the new car-top boat ramp at Shady Side, MD.

—Dom J. Manalo

Ensure that these paddlers 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!


Pennsylvania Discovery Trips: What's in Your Backyard?

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Photo by Kim Patten/CBF Staff.

Pennsylvania has more miles of rivers and streams than almost any other state in the nation, and summer is a great time to get out and experience the tremendous beauty and unique habitats our waterways have to offer.

CBF invites you to join us on an upcoming "Discovery Trip" for members and friends.

On our June trip, participants enjoyed all the wonder of the Yellow Breeches. Fantastic weather set the stage for sightings of deer, wood ducks, egrets, kingfishers, and several wood turtles.

There are two more opportunities to get out on the water--join us if you can:

    1. Thursday, July 24 on the Swatara Creek in Dauphin County, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    2. Saturday, August 2 on the Susquehanna River near Port Treverton, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants paddle a three- to five-mile stretch of a local creek, stream, or Susquehanna River. Each trip is led by CBF's Susquehanna Watershed Education Program (SWEP) staff, who provide everything you'll need for a fun and safe adventure. This includes, but is not limited to, canoes, paddles, lifejackets, snacks, and an introductory paddling instruction. Any paddling skill level is welcome, no experience necessaryThese are family-fun events!

Click here to learn more and to register. We'll see you out on the water! 

—Kelly Donaldson and Kim Patten, CBF Staff

 


Junior Girl Scouts Defend Bay Cleanup!

  

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CBF President Will Baker speaking with the Girl Scouts of Troop 10324.

Melek is ten-years-old. She wears binoculars around her neck throughout much of the summer and is fascinated by her neighbors. They are: a fox family, egrets, a bald eagle, herons, and ospreys, to name just a few.

You'll often find Melek on the pier at her grandparent's home in Sparrows Point. It juts out into Jones Creek. Melek caught her first sunfish off that pier when she was 18-months-old with a toy rod. These days she fishes and crabs with her grandfather, who also has taught her to hunt and shoot.

Melek's hands-on experiences on the Bay might partially explain her recent remarkable feat. She helped lead her Girl Scout troop into battle with 21 attorneys general around the country who want to stop the cleanup of the Bay.

Girl Scout Junior Troop 10324 from the Sparrows Point and Dundalk areas of Baltimore County was outraged that the attorney generals from states as far away as Alaska, Kansas, and Texas joined the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute to block the cleanup of the Chesapeake. So the girls decided to write each of the officials a letter of objection.

The girls had worked on various Bay restoration projects since they were Brownies. Like Melek, several of the girls grew up around the water. They believe their Girl Scout Promise compels them to work to preserve their treasured Chesapeake. But they became full-blown Bay advocates when they learned the attorneys general were joining the Farm Bureau's court battle.

Patricia George, Melek's grandmother and the scout troop leader, said people are astonished that these elementary school girls were able to research the whole issue and then took action with virtually no help from adults. The girls spent about 20 hours and four meetings and countless phone calls and e-mails to carefully draft the letters to the 21 attorneys general.

"What people don't understand is how 10-year-olds can do this," George said. 

Girl Scout Clara interjected with an even better question: "If we get it, why don’t these politicians get it?"

The girls' efforts started an "avalanche," George said. Other girls now want to join the troop and the campaign. A steady stream of parents from local elementary schools have called George to ask how they and their children can get involved.

As a token of thanks for the troop's committment to Bay restoration, CBF President Will Baker this week gave each of the girls a framed certificate thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.

"We are just so grateful. You are an inspiration to those of us who work on this every day," Baker said.

Even Maryland Governor O'Malley wrote a letter to the troop: "Thank you for your interest in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I am impressed by your activism and outreach efforts. The involvement of citizens like you is critical to the success of the Bay's restoration."

For Girl Scouts Melek, Megan, Clara, Alyssa, Ariyanna, Kaitlyn, Brianna, and Annabelle, the fight isn't over.

Already Melek has designed a Girl Scouts badge for each member of the troop with the words "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Advocate" and a picture of the Bay, a heron, and blue crab.

As Will Baker said to the girls that sunny Wednesday afternoon, "Don't ever lose your determination to make the world a better place." We couldn't agree more.

—Tom Zolper, CBF Maryland Communications Coordinator

Stand up for the Bay and its rivers and streams like these inspiring Girl Scouts! Sign our petition.


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Every scout received a plaque from CBF President Will Baker.


 

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The badge that Melek designed!

 

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The Girl Scouts got outside with CBF Educator Jocelyn. Here, one of the scouts learns how to seine for critters!
 
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Examining the catch!

 

 

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Learning about oysters and how they help clean the Bay's waters!

 Photos by Jen Wallace, Drew Robinson/CBF Staff.


Somewhere Between the Sky and the Water


Photo1Annie Prevas, a rising senior at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore City, visited CBF's Karen Noonan Center with her class in November 2013. Take a look at this vivid, Thoreau-like piece she wrote about her visit.

Our group was pulled from their slumber this morning to watch the Bay come alive as the sun rose. Through the bayberry bushes and across the beach from the house was an old wooden dock. From the dock you could see miles in all directions. The wetlands continued to the north, with soggy grasses swaying as the shallow muck glistened. Small birds swooped up and down over the reeds, looking for food. To the south was the water, flickering with oranges and reds, with islands of Bay mush and tall grasses waving good morning from miles away. To the west were several osprey nests high above our heads.

The waterfowl looked down at us with warning yellow eyes, telling us to care for the land and Bay they call home. We were surrounded by life, but our focus right then, was on the rising sun, welcoming us to the new day with vibrant colors and warmth. The sun began to peek out from the horizon with its rays reaching to the land, giving life. The small slice of the round sun grew taller, until the shadow across the bottom of our sun became evident. The partial solar eclipse was hardly noticeable to most of the world, but we didn't avert our burning eyes once.

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Annie and her friends during their recent trip to CBF’s Karen Noonan Center.

I felt myself living so intensely in this moment. My face was tingling from the slight chill of the November air, and the salty wind blew my hair wildly around my face. I watched  the sun and felt my breath and heart work together to keep me alive. I was somewhere between the sky and the water, watching the light come in, and my appreciation for their roles in keeping the world alive made my heart smile. 

Then, my whole body smiled at the crescent sun. It smiled back by sprinkling pinks and oranges across my face. The dock faded out of my consciousness and became a hammock of wind enveloping me keeping me afloat in a place above the water and below the sky, where I was doing nothing but existing. I was just existing, though it seemed, I was existing more completely than I had before in my life. The sun came up, and the Bay was awake.

Annie Prevas

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.


Help Grow Oysters, Help Save the Bay

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Photo by Kendall Osborne.

If you live near salt water, there's a fun, simple, and rewarding way you can help restore the Chesapeake Bay: Become a CBF oyster gardener!

Oyster gardeners are citizen volunteers who raise baby oysters in small floats attached to private piers, docks, marina slips, or anywhere with access to salty water. At the end of a year, gardeners return their "crop" of mature oysters to CBF and help place them on protected reefs in nearby rivers and creeks. There, the oysters reproduce, provide homes and food for other Bay creatures, and help filter algae and sediment from Bay waters.

One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day simply by "eating" what's floating in the water around them. Scientists estimate there were once enough oysters in the Bay to filter the entire quantity of water in the Bay in two or three days. Decimated over the years by overharvesting, disease, and pollution, the Bay's oyster population today is only about 1-2 percent of its historic abundance.

ImageBy raising oysters to put back into the Bay, oyster gardeners are helping restore one of the Bay's keystone species and improving the Bay's natural resiliency. CBF has more than 300 oyster gardening families across Virginia now raising oysters for restoration. Since 1996, CBF and its partners and volunteers have grown or transplanted nearly 6 million oysters and helped build or restock more than 20 oyster reefs. 

"Growing your own oysters is one of the most enjoyable, fascinating ways you can contribute to the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay," said Tanner Council, CBF's Hampton Roads Grassroots Coordinator. "As prolific filterers of Bay waters, oysters are an important player in restoring our waterways. And people of all ages, especially kids, find great enjoyment nurturing these amazing creatures from baby spat to mature oysters."

Starting today, CBF is hosting oyster gardening workshops in several Virginia locations, including Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Gloucester Point, Kinsale, Deltaville, and Wachapreague, to train new gardeners and provide them each with 1,000 baby seed oysters. Veteran gardeners will also be returning their year-old oysters to the workshops for placing on nearby reefs.

If you'd like to become a CBF oyster gardener, check out the workshop schedule here and register for one near you. Advanced registration for the workshops is required. A $30 donation covers the cost of oyster seed (other materials must be purchased) and includes membership in CBF. Questions? Send an e-mail to cbfoystergardening@cbf.org, or call 757/622-1964. 

—Chuck Epes, CBF's Deputy Director of Media Relations 


Photo of the Week: An Ever-Changing Wonderland

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I took this photo on a nesting island just over the Virginia border south of Tylerton, Smith Island. [It serves as] a nesting ground for seagulls, cormorants, and pelicans. To me, the Chesapeake Bay is an ever-changing wonderland, rich in wildlife, history, and pride among the people that call it home. The Bay sustains life, despite the storms that challenge it each year. The Bay is one of my favorite places in the world! 

—Brooke Ashley

Ensure that Brooke 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!


Bay Jurisdictions Must Not Fall Behind on Cleanup Actions, Goals

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Photo by Lauren Elmore

It is a critical time politically, too. Maryland and Pennsylvania will elect governors, the District of Columbia will elect a new mayor, and Virginia's Gov. Terry McAuliffe is in his first year in office. Together, these elected officials must implement the programs and policies that either will, or will not, reach the 2017 goal of putting practices in place to reduce pollution by 60 percent to restore water quality in local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay, with the balance due by 2025.

In 2010, these Bay jurisdictions and the EPA set pollution limits that would restore water, and each state developed its own plan to meet those limits. In addition, the states made two-year milestone commitments to take specific actions to ensure progress was being made to achieve the necessary pollution reductions.

Taken together, the pollution limits, milestones and state-specific long-term plans make up the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This Blueprint provides a historic opportunity to achieve water quality goals on a scale that is unprecedented.

For the first time in the history of Bay restoration, we can measure, evaluate and hold states accountable for short-term commitments. The milestones enable the states and the EPA to identify shortcomings and take corrective action before the 2017 and 2025 deadlines. In signing the new Bay agreement, Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Chesapeake Executive Committee said, "Instead of praying for better results 20 years from now, we are taking better action today in order to achieve better results tomorrow."

The good news is that the Clean Water Blueprint is working so far. But, there are danger signs ahead.

EPA data indicate that, overall, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are on track to meet the 2017 pollution-reduction goals for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

This progress has been achieved primarily through pollution reduction from sewage treatment plants, which will not be sufficient to achieve long-term goals. This underscores the need to reduce pollution from agriculture and urban/suburban runoff, especially in Virginia and West Virginia.

Delaware is falling short of both its nitrogen and phosphorus goals; New York is missing the mark for nitrogen; and Pennsylvania for both nitrogen and sediment. All three must increase efforts to reduce pollution from agriculture and urban/suburban runoff. The District of Columbia is not on track to meet its sediment goal, and also needs to step up efforts to reduce urban/suburban polluted runoff.

Missing milestone goals or not being on track to meet the 2017 interim goal is worrisome. Either means that we will continue to be plagued by polluted water, human health hazards and fewer recreational opportunities — all at a great cost to society.

The states and EPA need to plan now for how they will ramp up implementation to address agricultural and urban polluted runoff, not kick the can down the road. And they need to be transparent about those plans.

Restoring local rivers and streams, and saving the Chesapeake Bay are important. A clean environment will provide benefits today and for future generations. Threats to human health will be reduced, jobs will be created, and recreational opportunities will be improved.

—William C. Baker, CBF President