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February 2015
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April 2015

Photo of the Week: Red Point Winter

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The Flats in the upper Chesapeake [in early March] from Red Point, MD. I love seeing the change the seasons brings to the Bay.

—Michael Redmond 

Ensure that Michael and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these along the Chesapeake. 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 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!


Gardening and the Bay: A Future in the Making

Lindsay Bushong, a junior at Drexel University, shares her story of encountering a love for gardening, and the role CBF played along the way.

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Some of the Backyard Beds in Philadelphia, PA

In high school, I took a half day field trip with CBF. I had a blast and when they talked about the summer programs they offered, I knew I had to go. Fast forward a year and I'm two days into a week long adventure down the James River in Virginia. We did various things to learn about the Bay, digging in the detritus, not leaving any trace at our campsites, going to leadership workshops. However, what I remember most is our visit first to a large organic farm, and then to a smaller, urban garden in Richmond. I grew up in a really rural community, but had never seen an organic garden to the scale of the one we visiting in Virginia. There was a beautiful rainwater catchment system and rows upon rows of lush, gorgeous veggies. In the city, we learned about the benefits of having nature in an urban setting, how its good for both people and the environment. While I didn't realize it then, the idea of the "triple bottom line benefit" would follow me to Philadelphia.

I recently began my own social entrepreneurship project, Backyard Beds. Backyard Beds came into fruition for a number of reasons. Having moved to the city from an agricultural community, I was astounded at the lack of fresh food in my neighborhood. Through my academic studies I began to learn about food deserts and food insecurity, which really sparked my interest. My freshman year I worked on an urban farm, and this experience seemed tie together all my passions into one amazing social venture. Through professors, mentors and classmates, I soon found myself managing a small garden only a few blocks from my house at The Dornsife Center. While gardening there, I got to meet a lot of amazing people, but most importantly, I got to meet Mantua (my neighborhood) area residents. These are long-term residents. One afternoon a neighbor was asking how she could build her own raised garden beds, I immediately offered to help, and thus Backyard Beds was born from this interaction.

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Harvested radishes from backyard beds

Our seed funding came from a fellowship with The Resolution Project, an amazing organization helping young people start really cool projects around the world. In the summer of 2013 we built five gardens for five families. Not only are these gardens beautiful and relaxing, but they provide practically free fresh, local produce. Something most Mantua area residents lack. The gardens also decrease stormwater runoff and the heat island effect. We hope to create a small food distribution competent to the project that helps move the food more efficiently around the neighborhood.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been pivotal in my growth and development. I would have never discovered my passion and interests without my experiences in and around the Bay. This project has brought my studies and experiences full circle, giving me the opportunity to create real, meaningful change. In high school, after I got back from I trip I knew I wanted to start a little organic garden. CBF helped me do this, leading to me earning a Certificate of Environmental Leadership. The ways in which CBF facilitate and support students are incredible, and I wish every student could take advantage of the opportunities they have to offer.


City Leaders Doing Right by Business and Clean Water

The following first appeared in the Daily Times.

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Confronting the polluted runoff problem has been a contentious issue in Salisbury, MD, for decades. Photo by Krista Schlyer/iLCP.

Given the rhetoric flying fast and furious over taxes and fees, what happened last November in the Salisbury City Council chambers may seem surprising. The council voted unanimously to approve a new fee ordinance.

But many who live and work here rallied behind this fee because they understand what outsiders may not: it makes common sense. The ordinance will make the city more fiscally responsible. It will help promote economic development. It will protect citizens' health and property.

The ordinance will allow the city to collect a fee dedicated solely to upgrading its 105-year-old system of pipes, ponds and other drainage structures. Council President Jacob Day said the city for decades has neglected maintenance and improvements to the system. As political winds shifted, funding for fixing the problem shifted to various other priorities.

The result: Parts of the downtown business district and low-laying residential areas of the city constantly flood. Also, a polluted river runs through the heart of the city.

With stormwater utility, city's leaders doing right by business and clean water. The November vote authorized the fund, and the City Council is currently considering a fee of $20 a year per residential household. The fee on a business will be calculated based on the amount of polluted runoff that comes off its property.

Those fees are less than half the national average. And while council members recognized a new fee can be burdensome, they unanimously agreed doing nothing will cost more.

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell gave one personal example of the cost of polluted water to her family: swimming lessons for her son. "I learned to swim in Shoemaker Pond. He's learned to swim in a chlorinated pool at the YMCA. And that's not free either."

Day said over the years, business owners have demanded the city do something about flooding and the cost to business. He said he is fed up with sitting at those meetings, listening sympathetically and then explaining the city lacks funds for a fix.

Councilman Spies agreed, calling the fund "an economic imperative for us."

Day said in good conscience he cannot pass on "crumbling infrastructure" — and the debt that comes with it — to future generations. He added that the proposed ordinance generated more emails and comments to his office in support than any issue since the election.

The same support showed itself during the public portion of the meeting, when only one person testified against the ordinance.

One supporter said he recently read a story in an outdoor magazine about the best towns in the country to live or visit. All the towns shared one common feature: They all are near water, and all have taken drastic steps to improve the quality of their waterfronts and their water. The speaker said he was a small business owner who wholeheartedly supported the fee, if it does what the city says.

Judith Stribling of Salisbury University said water monitoring in the Wicomico River has clearly demonstrated how pollution running off city properties, as well as upriver farms and other areas, has degraded the river.

"The Wicomico River used to be the No. 1 bass fishing river on the bay, I think. It was a major destination at any point. Water quality has declined to the point where that is not the case...I commend (the Mayor and Council) for taking this on as a service to the citizens of city of Salisbury. This will increase their property values and increase their quality of life."

A list of priority projects already drawn up will ensure the city gets the biggest bang for its buck. The ordinance spells out that the money can only be used for stormwater projects and cannot be diverted for any other purpose. Day called for flooding problems on Main Street and Germania Circle to be addressed immediately.

Salisbury will join Berlin and Oxford on the Eastern Shore, which also have adopted stormwater utilities, as well as 21 jurisdictions in Virginia, six in Pennsylvania and about 1,400 nationwide.

Despite all the political rancor in our state and country, a chorus of agreement seems to be building on one thing: An investment in clean, safe water is an investment in our communities.

—Erik Fisher, CBF's Maryland Land Use Planner


A Student's Take on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint

What is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint? A video I recently helped produce with my school's green club, ECO Sherwood at Sherwood High School, working alongside the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Student Leadership program, helps answer that very question:

The Blueprint is a process that coordinates Washington, D.C. and the six states of the Chesapeake Watershed to clean up their pollution to the Bay by 2025. Our video describes the Blueprint and maps out simple things that  students, parents, teachers, or anyone can do in their daily lives to lessen pollution into our beloved Bay. To make the concepts pop, we chose to use a dry-erase whiteboard to display images in a fun way. We also filmed some projects that our club had done, to illustrate more vividly actions that others can take.

This project meant the world to me, as it should since I am a proud resident of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed! I treasure the Bay and all its wonderful resources, and I hope the video can make a difference. All the hard work was well worth the outcome, for now thousands (hopefully) of people will view this video and make some small change to help our Bay.

CBF has always been a part of my life. My mom is a naturalist and loved taking me out with her on many CBF sponsored field trips. I have also been on overnight trips to island education centers, as well as day trips on the Skipjack Stanley Norman, canoes, or boating over oyster restoration projects! CBF has helped open my eyes to the beauty of our Bay and the efforts we can take as citizens to help keep the Chesapeake a marvel for many generations to come.

I hope not just Maryland residents view this video, but citizens from every state in the watershed, and collectively they make a change in their daily routine. While many people think that one small change will have no impact on the Chesapeake's health, but in reality, that is complete crazy talk! Any small change can make a huge impact, because think about it: If every student turned the faucet off while brushing their teeth or washing their hands, it could add up to a lot of water conserved.

The video is imperative for the Bay's health because it promotes the changes we all can make towards helping the Bay, and highlights the efforts our government leaders are also supposed to be taking in order to clean the Bay by 2025. Ultimately, I hope that after viewing the video, people start to see that they can make a difference every day to help save the Bay.

—Hayley Mazur, Class of 2015, Sherwood High School

Share this video with friends and family. We need everyone to know and fight for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!


Photo of the Week: Blue Heron Beauty

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I have been tracking a male great blue heron in a location that, to me, [is of] great interest. He seems to be near a freshwater location about a mile upstream from a giant waste management facility on the Delaware side of the very north end of the Choptank River. Enjoy this beautiful bird!

—Joshua Jones 

Ensure that Joshua and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these along the Chesapeake. 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 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!


Changing of the Guards on Smith Island

IMG_5768Captain Wes Bradshaw. 

CBF's Smith Island Education Program has been lucky to have the services of Captain Wes Bradshaw since the winter of 2001. Now Captain Wes has decided to hang up his oilskins and pass the important duty of Captain/Educator to Captain Jessie Marsh.

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Captain Jessie Marsh.

Captain Wes has been called an "invaluable resource" by many who have had the chance to interact with him on field experiences. His stories about growing up on Smith Island have shed light on the island's culture and challenges, which include water pollution, land subsidence, and fisheries. 

What's more, Captain Wes had the ability to make all participants--student and teachers alike--laugh and loved to play practical jokes, keeping everyone on their toes. Captain Wes will still be living in the town of Ewell on Smith Island with his wife and plans to be available to fill in with CBF activities whenever needed.

Captain Jessie Marsh will serve as the new Smith Island Captain/ Educator and brings with him 20 years of CBF education experience. For Jessie, working on Smith Island means going home, as he was raised in Tylerton. He carries with him the experiences of working the water for crabs and oysters, as well as having lived on the mainland, and having worked as the CBF Islands Senior Manager.

The Smith Island Education program is thankful for Captain Wes' 14 years of service and looks forward to Captain Jessie leaving his mark as Captain Wes did so well.

—Phillip McKnight 

 Learn more about our award-winning education program and sign up for a field experience to Smith Island!


Photo of the Week: The Ultimate Calming Balm

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[I took this] at Podickory Point Yacht & Beach Club (PPYBC) around the bend from Sandy Point State Park [in late February] . . . I thought I would head down to the beach club and see what the ice looked like from the "mainland" side. After I parked along the breakwater there, I spotted a bald eagle right near shore eating.

As I got out, he flew off to the empty osprey nest and dropped his dinner. He spotted a school of fish and dove down and grabbed one up and flew over the ice to eat it. We are members at PPYBC and have never seen a bald eagle . . . it was a welcome surprise to not only see one, but have it stay around long enough to change lenses and get my settings straight. Mighty nice of him (her?).

On a personal level, the Bay is our playground. We sail on it, swim in it, kayak over it, and enjoy the amazing sights around and in it. Sometimes just standing on the shore alone, looking at the beauty of the Bay brightens the spirit and fills the soul a bit. No matter how bad the day, just getting down to the water is the ultimate calming balm.

On a spiritual level, the Bay is a weight, it has an almost magnetic attraction. You can't be close to it without needing to see it, even for a short glimpse, just to confirm it is still there. Even without seeing it, just being near it, you feel it is there.

On a public level, it is a unique ecosystem that I believe we are all stewards of. Everything we put on our lawns or down our driveways ends up there. The local produce and product, all effects the Bay in some way.

I guess for all those reasons, that's why we are defenders of the Bay and joined CBFIf not us, who then? If not now, when? As tired and trite as that is, it happens to hold true.

Chris Bauer 

Ensure that Chris and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these along the Chesapeake. 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 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!


Don't Backtrack on the Bay

The following first appeared in the Center Maryland.

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A group of more than 200 gathered February 24 in Annapolis at the Rally for Clean Water. Photo by Rob Beach/CBF Staff.

Is there a way for Gov. Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly to find common ground on two controversial environmental issues this year—reducing pollution from excess manure in rural areas, and reducing polluted runoff in urban and suburban parts of the state?

We certainly hope so. Maryland is counting on these two major clean-up measures to continue our progress toward restoring the Chesapeake and our local creeks and rivers.

And while we encourage across-the-aisle problem solving, we at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will fight forcefully to ensure whatever bills emerge during this legislative session, or whatever regulations are put forth by the Hogan Administration, are strong enough to do the job. Watered-down measures won't get us clean water.

Recent assessments of the Bay's health have found significantly less pollution entering the Maryland part of the Bay, thanks in large part to upgrades at the state's major sewage plants. Marylanders paid for those upgrades and the millions of pounds of reduced pollution they brought through the so-called 'flush fee.'

Now we need to upgrade our stormwater systems. In the Greater Baltimore-D.C. area this is the next major source of water pollution in many creeks and rivers. It's weed-killer, pet waste, oil and other contaminants that wash off the landscape after a storm. It's such a problem that the Maryland Department of the Environment warns Marylanders not to swim in any creeks, stream, river or the Bay for 48 hours after a good summer thunderstorm.

And we need farmers on the Eastern Shore and our rural areas to help by applying the correct amount of manure on crop fields. Currently, about 228,000 tons of excess poultry manure are applied, and phosphorus in the manure ends up in nearby creeks and rivers, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Phosphorus is a major cause of the ‘dead zones' of low oxygen that afflict Eastern Shore rivers such as the Choptank each summer, as well as the Bay at large. A tool developed over 10 years by the University of Maryland would enable farmers to determine the correct amount of manure to apply as fertilizer, without hurting the environment.

Governor Hogan pulled regulations proposed by the O'Malley Administration to address the manure crisis, and on Feb. 23 announced alternative regulations. Thankfully, those regulations recognize the necessity of regulating with the tool, but they include loopholes that allow for potentially indefinite delays of implementation. We cannot accept that. We support, instead, a legislative fix to the manure crisis, SB 257 and HB 381. Those cross-filed bills already represent considerable compromise between environmentalists and agricultural interests, allowing a six-year phase-in of the tool.

CBF also opposes any bills that purport to solve the problem of polluted runoff, without requiring local, dedicated funding. Reducing this type of pollution is expensive work. For decades, Maryland's most populated counties and Baltimore City have been required by state law to adequately fund this work, but they haven't. The General Assembly tried to fix that in 2012 by requiring these 10 populated jurisdictions to collect a dedicated fee. We oppose any attempt to repeal that law, or bills that would merely bring us back to a failed past. We've heard the promises before. We need accountability.

We hope in the coming weeks the General Assembly and the Hogan Administration can work together to forge collaborative, but effective solutions to these issues. Our measure of success cannot be simply that we passed legislation or enacted regulation. Our yardstick of success must be clean water.   

The public demands nothing less. Over 200 people took time off from jobs and families recently to attend a Rally for Clean Water 2015 on Lawyer's Mall. Over 20,000 "Don't Backtrack on the Bay" messages have been sent to Governor Hogan and legislators. When county leaders in Harford held a public hearing to consider repealing the county's polluted runoff fee, residents spoke out for the fee, against a repeal. These are just some of the signs of the public's desire for forceful action.

People understand that cleaner water will bring stronger communities and greater economic prosperity, just as a tide uplifts all boats. Requiring farmers to apply only the necessary amount of manure on fields, for instance, can actually improve the farmer's bottom line in the long run. Various technologies and industries are emerging that can use excess manure, or the phosphorus it contains, for alternative uses. The farmer can profit from doing the right thing.

History will record whether this governor and this General Assembly kept us on track to a healthier Chesapeake Bay. To all lawmakers, we say: Don't Backtrack on the Bay.

—Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director

Take action now to remind Gov. Hogan and your state legislators that Maryland has committed to make steady, measurable progress on clean water restoration under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.


Photo of the Week: Quiet Corners of the Bay

Winter in Worton

I took this picture [mid-February] when I went to check on our boat in the water of Worton Creek. I liked how the snow had covered individual dock boards, and how the black and white image portrayed a cold winter's day on the iced-over creek. 

I have sailed on and enjoyed the Chesapeake Bay since 1975. I look forward to my time on the Bay for its natural beauty, the seafood, of course, and the pace of life to be found there. Long Reach was built in Oxford and is at home on the Bay. We hope to enjoy her for many years, seeking out those quiet corners of the Bay that we have not yet experienced.

—Bruce R. Govan

Ensure that Bruce and future generations can continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these across the Chesapeake. 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 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!