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Top 10 Facebook Posts of 2015

While The New York Times had its "Year in Pictures" and Gizmodo had its "6 Greatest YouTube Reviews of Quiznos Sandwiches of 2015," we decided to compile our own "year in review list" in honor of fast-fading 2015. And what better place to start than our Facebook page—your favorite virtual spot for oohing and ahhing (and maybe the occasional bickering). From manatee sightings to attacks on clean water restoration to polar plunges to rebounding blue crabs to . . . Kevin Bacon (?!), it's been quite a year for CBF on Facebook. So without further ado, we give you our Top 10 Facebook Posts of the Year!

  1. Reaching more than a million people (not to mention momentarily shutting down our website), this Facebook post, which describes Maryland Governor Hogan's attack on Chesapeake restoration, was by far our most popular of the year.

  2. This is a sad day in the long fight to make Maryland waters clean enough for swimming and fishing. Governor Hogan's...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, January 22, 2015


  3. Forget Star Wars—oysters are far more interesting than Han Solo! Our favorite bivalve had a leading role in this Facebook video, our second most popular Facebook post of 2015, reaching close to 400,000 people and watched more than 130,000 times. Wow. 

  4. You have to see it to believe it. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of murky, polluted water a day. Think of...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, April 23, 2015


  5. This inspiring shot of a humpback whale showing off near the Cape Henry entrance of the Bay came in at number three, reaching almost 350,000 admirers.



  6. More humpback whales and the very same photographer Brian Lockwood captured spot number four, reaching more than 300,000 people.

  7. Congratulations to Brian Lockwood, our Viewers' Choice winner in this year's Save the Bay Photo Contest! His image of a...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, May 7, 2015


  8. Manatees in the Bay?! Yes, it can happen! And when it does, Facebookers can't seem to get enough. This curious fellow, who popped up in July near the Potomac River, inspired 5,339 likes and 2,010 shares, reaching more than 300,000 people and earning our fifth most popular post of the year.

  9. Is that you Chessie?!

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Wednesday, July 15, 2015


  10. Who said old news is no news? This 2013 story of an ancient ocean discovered underneath the Bay grabbed our sixth spot, reaching more than 200,000 Facebookers.



  11. "A picture is worth a thousand words," and don't we know it in this photo album featuring startlingly clear, beautiful Bay waters from CBF photographer and educator Bill Portlock. These stunning photos captured a vision of what the Bay and its rivers could be permanently if we are to achieve the pollution reductions necessary for healthy, sustainable waters across the region. Learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint here.

  12. "At times, it's been the clearest some folks like [Tangier Island] Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge can remember in years."...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Monday, November 30, 2015


  13. It was a gorgeous, 40-degree December day just perfect for a swim. And that's exactly what a few committed (or maybe crazy) CBFers did to say thank you to those who helped us not only meet but far exceed our #GivingTuesday goal! Our polar plunge video came in at our eighth most popular Facebook post, reaching more than 150,000 people and watched nearly 23,000 times.

  14. AND WE DID IT! Many thanks to all of YOU who helped us meet and far exceed our #GivingTuesday goal! This polar plunge is for you!

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Friday, December 4, 2015


  15. In August, many of you learned about all the things you and Kevin Bacon have in common (namely a shared love of the Bay and its rivers). This video post, which describes said love, came in at our ninth most popular Facebook post of the yearWe know you're just itching to have less than six degrees between you and Kev, so watch it now:

  16. Michael Bacon and Kevin Bacon, of The Bacon Brothers, believe water connects us all, including the 17 million people...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Tuesday, August 4, 2015


  17. It's been a tough year all around the world, but this Daily Press article about the Bay's rebounding blue crab population gives us hope. Take a look and feel good and light going into the New Year. 

For those of you who made it all the way through our Top 10, congratulations! And make sure to follow us on Facebook (if you aren’t already) for the latest and greatest in 2016 . . .

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 


Photo of the Week: Smith Island Sunset

104_7807I took these photos in late fall from the shores of Tylerton on Smith Island, Maryland. I was on Tylerton as a part of a conservation field trip my school does every year, I had happened to look at the water and snap this photo before the sun had set.

The Chesapeake Bay has always been close to my heart. Being from Delaware, the Bay was always around. When I went swimming or crabbing, it was always at the Bay. I've learned so much from the Bay, and I know there is more to learn . . . from the wildlife, to the Bay itself, to the people who make a life on the Chesapeake.

—Evelyn Sexton

Ensure that Evelyn and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake 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!

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A Wish List for the Watershed

The following first appeared in the Bay Journal

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Healthy, natural oyster reefs covering the Bay bottom is just one of CBF President Will Baker's wishes for 2016.

Dear Santa,

For this holiday season, I humbly ask for the following. I hope it is not an unreasonable list. It certainly doesn't seem so to me. After all, this is 2015 in the United States of America, a country which is quick to tell every other country in the world what they should and should not do.

Here's my list:

  1. An environmental literacy requirement for high school graduation in all Bay states, not just Maryland.
  2. Upstream users who care enough about downstream neighbors to make sure that they do not pollute the water.
  3. Regulatory agencies that actually regulate.
  4. Judges who impose penalties on polluters that actually deter future pollution.
  5. Cities with wastewater pipes that neither leak sewage nor allow stormwater to enter.
  6. All states are on track to fulfill their promises to meet the 2017 and 2025 Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint goals.
  7. Smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River free of lesions and disease. Ditto other fish throughout the watershed.
  8. Healthy, natural oyster reefs covering the Bay bottom—even creating a hazard to navigation.
  9. Farm lobbying associations that advocate for clean water, not fight against it.
  10. Healthy vegetated buffers filtering pollutants from local waterways and beautifying Chesapeake country.
  11. Surface waters and groundwater that are a safe source of drinking water.
  12. And for number 12—I know this is asking a lot—I sure would like a Bay that has water the way it was designed: without a dead zone!

—Will Baker, CBF President


CBF Pennsylvania Carries Restoration Message to Nation's Capital

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Standing outside the Washington, D.C., office of Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania are, from left: CBF PA Executive Director Harry Campbell; Lee Ann Murray, CBF PA assistant director and attorney; Liz Hermsen, senior policy advisor to Senator Casey; Clair Ryan, CBF watershed restoration program manager; and restoration specialists Steve Smith, Ashley Spotts, and Kristen Hoke. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Frank and Kandy Rohrer's proactive approach to improving the land and water quality on their Lancaster County farm, sets a positive example for others.

Since 2000, the Rohrers have installed two streamside buffers on their 200-acre farm, taking advantage of Pennsylvania's Conservation Resource Enhancement Program (CREP) to help reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into nearby waters. They also put in grassed waterways, cover crops, and employ no-till production.

Restoration specialists from CBF Pennsylvania carried the Rohrers' success story, and others, to the nation's capital Dec. 2 and 3, to demonstrate the importance and challenges of their work to the two U.S. senators from the Keystone State.

The Pennsylvania field staff took the opportunity to meet with staff members for Senators Robert Casey, Jr., and Pat Toomey, while in Washington, D.C. for a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Farm Service Agency's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Nationwide, CRP encompasses over 23 million acres, with 625,000 contracts on 410,000 farms. Pennsylvania's CREP is part of CRP.

CREP participants receive funding to create buffers, wetlands, wildlife habitat, grass filter strips, native grass stands, and more. The program pays up to 90 to 140 percent of the installation cost and annual rent, which is usually between $40 and $240 per acre/per year.

Through CREP, CBF and its partners have planted more than 1,800 miles of streamside buffers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In Bradford County, the partners under CREP planted over 3,000 acres of trees, making the county a conservation leader in Pennsylvania.

For Alix Murdoch, CBF's federal policy director, getting field staff together with top federal legislators was exciting. "It's the first time I've been able to bring in restoration staff, who I consider the source for where the action is really happening for us," Murdoch said. "Getting the final link in the chain in where our power, engineering and contributions come from, all the way up to the Hill where decisions are made on the federal level.

"Restoration staff spoke specifically about their experiences, where they work and what they do," Murdoch added. "It was totally relevant to the federal program and is the type of feedback that federal members need to hear."

Restoration specialists Steve Smith, Ashley Spotts, and Kristen Hoke emphasized the value of the CREP program, the importance of stream buffers, and the need for funding, when they met first with Liz Hermsen, senior policy advisor for Senator Casey, in the Russell Senate Office Building.

"It was a privilege to be asked to represent restoration staff and to tell them how CBF really does walk the walk and puts money into restoration," Hoke said. "We're not just telling people to put money toward restoration. For me, talking about the projects I've work on gives me new hope that my workload and the interest in CREP will pick up and I can be a method for that and help facilitate that."

Hoke works in Cumberland, Dauphin, and Franklin counties. Spotts works in York, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Chester counties. Smith is in Potter, Tioga, and Bradford counties. Restoration specialists Jennifer Johns and Frank Rohrer were unable to make the trip.

Other CBF Pennsylvania staffers making the trip to Washington, were Harry Campbell, executive director; Lee Ann Murray, assistant director and attorney; and Clair Ryan, watershed restoration program manager.

A key message delivered to top legislators from Pennsylvania, was that CBF's passion and commitment to clean water in the Commonwealth, is implemented by Pennsylvanians themselves.

"It's that local connection, understanding that we work for CBF, but we are Pennsylvania residents, concerned about Pennsylvania rivers and streams and that we want to work with farmers to get them to do what they ultimately want to do. And help their bottom line," Lee Ann Murray said. "It's that more local connection that maybe in the federal government gets lost in the process. It is important that they understand that what we are doing back home in the state is relevant and important and is a good use of funds. This visit puts a face to the work. That there are real people doing the work with real people who are constituents, and farmers."

The Pennsylvania contingent then met with Tyler Minnich, aide to Senator Toomey, in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Ashley Spotts spoke about the projects on the Rohrer farm, and detailed cooperative efforts to implement conservation practices on Amish farms in Lancaster County. "It was nice to finally be recognized that we are doing good things in our state," Spotts said. "I want to do right by my farmers and landowners and I want to help them as best I can."

Clair Ryan emphasized that CBF and farmers get good value when farmers participate in CREP funding. "It seems like the whole game with government programs is to do more with less and that is what we were explaining, how we do work on these programs, in a very efficient manner," Ryan said. "We bring private funds to the table that wouldn't be leveraged otherwise and we're committed to being good partners on these programs."

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CBF staffers met with Tyler Minnich, aide to Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

"These are the types of things that farmers by and large want. Most know it will be helpful to their bottom lines and to their operations," Harry Campbell told Tyler Minnich. "It's just that they don't have the time because of the demands of the work that they do, nor the resources necessary to do it on their own. Barnyard improvements, for example, are something that farmers recognize they have to get to, but when will they fit it in and get the assistance for it?"

Earlier in the day, Steve Smith attended a luncheon sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, honoring landowners participating in CREP. Smith and his family have owned land near Mansfield, Tioga County, and participated in CREP for 25 years.

Smith said there was a real diversity of conservation groups and landowners from different states at the luncheon. Smith had the chance to talk with USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse, about the need for additional funding. Smith was happy to tell the Undersecretary and senators about, "The importance of keeping CREP going and about the needs we have in Pennsylvania," Smith said. "The Bay situation and our shortfall in Pennsylvania is the most important thing to stress to them. We need funding to get there."

The Commonwealth is significantly behind in meeting its clean water commitment. Agriculture is the leading source of pollution, specifically the runoff of harmful nitrogen and sediment into Pennsylvania rivers and streams. 

At a reception that evening commemorating the 30th anniversary of CRP, the CBF staffers heard Undersecretary Scuse say the program does what many hoped it would do when it was created. "It solved problems," he told the gathering. "But it also added improved qualities to many American lives. There are not many provisions in laws implemented that can lay claim to so many unanticipated benefits. I'm proud to that we can show that American farmers and ranchers are directly involved in addressing this very critical social issue of climate change."

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts was in his fifth year as a member of the House of Representatives, when he introduced legislation authorizing CRP as the Farmland Conservation Acreage Preserve Act of 1985. "CRP not only encourages producers to conserve marginal farm land, but proved a valuable safety net to producers during some of their most difficult times," Roberts said. "An important aspect of CRP now includes a variety of initiatives that address specific conservation challenges such as improved water quality, reduced soil erosion, and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species." 

Through success stories about working with landowners like the Rohrers and Plain Sect farmers, the message made clear to legislators by the restoration contingent, was that clean water counts in Pennsylvania.

"I would hope we continue to meet with other legislators within our PA delegation, while differentiating ourselves from other national organizations that are conservation or environmentally-minded, that they typically hear from," Harry Campbell said. "This sets us apart in their minds as to who we are and what we do, and also what we are trying to accomplish."

— B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator


Photo of the Week: Sandy Point Sunrise

Sandy Point 131Winter sunrise from Sandy Point. I was born in Chestertown, Maryland, and spent many years sailing and fishing in the Bay. I've appreciated the beauty of its scenery and its many opportunities for recreation, but now I'm trying to record some of those memories for others to share.

—Hugh Vandervoort

Ensure that Hugh and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake 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!


Joseph's Clean Water Story


19052267_25244661_thebayThe Bay has played a huge part in my life. I've been fishing since I was two years old. The first time being back in 1998 on the Choptank River with my dad.

My life has revolved around the pursuit of fish. Living in Maryland has given me opportunities to do so. But, over the years the lack of clean water, fish, and forage has affected the fishing tremendously. I've had to pursue fish in other states like New York, New Jersey, and even down south to South Carolina.

The fishing has declined, and I'm beginning to see less fish every day. Growing up I used to see schools of bunker being blitzed on by stripers. It was hard not to see a school of baitfish roaming around. But now its all but ghost waters. These bunker schools don't appear—if you're lucky you can see a few swim by. If you're lucky.

Being a U.S. Marine, I learned the value of pride in oneself. I take that pride into where I live and fish. I love Maryland, and I'd love to fish here, too. But without the proper care and pride taken into caring for the Bay's health, I've had to pursue fishing elsewhere. I'd love to see more fish and more life within the Bay. And we can help. Whether its by picking up trash, recycling oyster shells, planting underwater grasses, or releasing a large cow striper in the spring to spawn—it's these small things we can do to help.

I want to see a Bay that we can not only fish, but can swim in as well. I hate hearing people bad mouth the health of the Bay, instead we should hear more people telling each other about how they helped the Bay and how it played a role in their lives. The Bay provided me with fishing and an opportunity to relax and have fun. But with its health depleted we need to help give back to the Bay that has given so much to us.

—Joseph Anonuevo
Ellicott City, Maryland 

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


Happy Holidays!


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The dawning of the New Year is a time to focus on our goals with renewed energy and resolve. At the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we look toward 2016 as a time to work even more vigilantly for healthy rivers, clean streams, and a restored Chesapeake Bay.

Since 1967, CBF has been the leader in environmental education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. More than 200,000 members strong, CBF is the nation's largest independent conservation organization working on behalf of the health and productivity of our national treasure—the Chesapeake Bay—and its rivers and streams.  

We never could have come so far or accomplished so much over the years without your dedication, passion, and generosity. Thank you for all that you do to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and to Save the Bay—we look forward to continuing our work with you in the New Year.

—Chesapeake Bay Foundation

We know that you share our love of the Bay and its rivers and streams and thought you might enjoy our photo album on Facebook. Though it may not feel much like winter yet, the album features beautiful wintertime scenes, like the one above, from across our watershed. Click here to visit our Facebook page to see our photo album.

 


This Week in the Watershed

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This week herbicides, pathogens, and parasites were revealed as major causes of the downfall of the smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River. Photo by John Pavoncello/York Dispatch.

As we have said many times before, as goes the Susquehanna, so goes the Chesapeake Bay. With over 50% of the Bay's freshwater coming from the Susquehanna, no body of water has a greater influence on the health of the Bay. More than that, the Susquehanna is a vital economic resource and a bastion of cultural heritage, most notably in Pennsylvania. One example of this is the Susquehanna's smallmouth bass fishery, which once attracted anglers from all over the world. Pollution has taken a toll on this fishery however, as the Susquehanna is now yielding bass with lesions, sores, and in one well-documented case, cancer.

This week, a report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found that herbicides, pathogens, and parasites are the two most-likely causes of diseased and dying fish in the Lower Susquehanna. Faced with evidence of this extent and magnitude, the only reasonable conclusion is that this river, the lifeblood of Pennsylvania and the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, is sick.

In recognition of this reality, we believe the Lower Susquehanna should be listed as impaired. This will designate the Susquehanna for additional study and new levels of investment in restoration. Stand with CBF and its partners in urging Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to save our river by listing the Lower Susquehanna River as impaired.

 This Week in the Watershed: A Dirty River, Raw Sewage, and A Backyard Brawl

  • Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is in a catch 22, desiring growth while not losing their rural identity. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • A report revealed that Baltimore has released 330 million gallons of raw sewage into Jones Falls, which flows into the Inner Harbor. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • The smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River is declining, and we now have a few clues as to why. (Patriot News—PA)
  • CBF is urging for Pennsylvania to declare the lower Susquehanna River as impaired. (CBF Statement)
  • What furry Chesapeake Bay critter has surprising ways to clean the water? (Bay Journal)
  • Virginia Beach is experiencing a brawl over a backyard. The conflict: where oyster harvesting should be allowed.  (Virginian-Pilot—VA)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

January 6

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Small, silvery, and packed with nutritional value, menhaden are a critical link in the marine food web. But the Chesapeake Bay's menhaden population are facing some serious issues. Learn about why menhaden are vital to the ecosystem, their management history, and the next steps to restore the population at our event "Little Fish, Big Issues - An Evening Discussion on Menhaden." Click here to register!
  • VA Eastern Shore: Join CBF's monthly Citizen Advocacy Training to get a crash course on timely Bay legislative priorities and learn how they affect Virginia's Eastern Shore. This conference call will also allow time for you to ask questions and discuss opportunities to lend a hand or lift your voice for clean water. Contact Tatum Ford at tford@cbf.org or 757-971-0366 for more information.

January 16-February 6

  • Virginia: Help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's rivers by participating in CBF's Grasses for the Masses program. Participants grow wild celery, a type of underwater grass, in their homes for 10-12 weeks. After 10-12 weeks of grow-out, participants will gather to plant their grasses in select local rivers to bolster grass populations and help restore the Bay. Workshops are being held throughout Virginia. Click to find one near you!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Farmer Spotlight: Ladybrook Farm

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Carin Celebuski and Vince Matanoski on their travels. Photo courtesy of Carin Celebuski.

A sustainable farm in Baltimore County is emerging thanks to two new farmers, Carin Celebuski and Vince Matanoski. As the volunteer coordinator at the University of Maryland Arboretum, Carin "has always been into everything green." Farther from the farming fields is Vince who currently serves as the deputy director of the Constitutional and Specialized Torts Branch as well as a Captain in the United States Naval Reserve in sub-Saharan Africa.

Vince explains "that after all of the years in this kind of work, I want to do an honest day's work." In just few short months both Carin and Vince will be hard at work on their new property, Ladybrook Farm. The couple purchased the land and farmhouse hoping to convert the fields stripped from grain production into permanent pasture.

The idea of starting a sustainable farm developed as they both wanted to turn their strong interest in local foods and the environment into a business. The aspiring farmers wasted no time in preparing for their new careers. They attended events and conferences such as the Future Harvest: Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Conference last January. While there, they met CBF's Maryland Restoration Scientist Rob Schnabel who discussed how smart farming can help Maryland meet its Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint goals for healthy, sustainable waters across the region.

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Planting trees at Ladybrook Farm this fall. Photo courtesy of Carin Celebuski.

After learning about the vision for Ladybrook Farm, CBF's Maryland restoration team got involved. This fall more than 100 volunteers planted 800 trees across four acres. This spring, we'll work to plant six additional acres of forested buffers to help clean and filter water and improve the overall health of the land. Although Vince was in Africa for business during the first planting, Carin worked with the volunteers digging, planting, and sharing her vision for Ladybrook Farm.

The enthusiasm and work ethic the couple shares for the endeavor is clear and will undoubtedly translate into the success of Ladybrook Farm. Vince and Carin have even begun their own honey production, which they are looking forward to integrating into the farm. Upon the completion of the farm store and barn, goats, vegetables, and bees will roam the land slowly bringing it back to life. Additionally they will use a rotational grazing system to improve productivity and reduce the impact on the environment.

What's more, Vince looks forward to working with retired thoroughbred race horses stemming from a lifelong hobby. "I grew up riding, and I am looking forward to working with the horses, to retrain them for second, more permanent careers . . . bringing them to the farm will allow them a chance to relax and relearn what it

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Working on their honey bee production. Photo courtesy of Carin Celebuski.

means to be a horse again, giving them a new purpose and meaning for the rest of their lives."

Vince and Carin hope to have the farm open this spring, eventually selling sustainably grown and processed goat cheese, honey, vegetables and perhaps some fruits and cut flowers at their farm store. And Ladybrook Farm will give retired racehorses a second chance and new meaning in life just as it will fulfill the vision shared by two new farmers who want to help Save the Bay.

—Kellie Rogers

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.

 

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Ladybrook Farm tree planting this fall. Photo courtesy of Rob Schnabel/CBF Staff.

A Farmer's Support Means Cleaner Water

Donor Charles Bares
Charles Bares, a dairy farmer from upstate New York, is a generous supporter of CBF’s work to defend and implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. He believes, like CBF, that the Blueprint can improve waterways across the United States.

"I was an environmentalist before I was a farmer," Charles Bares says by phone one warm September morning. Bares has taken time out from managing his dairy farm–which comprises 5,000 acres and a few thousand cows–to speak about his support of CBF.

Bares and his family live in upstate New York–outside the Bay watershed. In fact, he's only been to the Chesapeake Bay region a handful of times. Yet, he generously supports CBF's work.

"You're going out there and fighting the good fight, and that's what I appreciated," he says.

Bares strongly believes in CBF's work to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, a plan that he hopes will foster change and influence the cleanup of other polluted bodies of water. 

From defending the Blueprint in the courts, to our hands-on restoration work and educational programs, Bares believes that CBF is laying groundwork that will help provide clean water to people all over the United States.  

"The work that CBF is doing . . . people are going to stand on those shoulders," he says, adding, "[CBF is at] the forefront of changing opinions and getting policy makers behind you and showing how many people care and how [they] can make a difference."

Bares emphasizes that the American Farm Bureau Federation—the group challenging the legality of the Blueprint—does not speak for all farmers. "They certainly don't speak for me," he says.

Bares traces his passion for protecting the environment to his enjoyment of the outdoors, which began during his childhood in suburban Cleveland. He remembers summers spent fishing, birdwatching, and exploring nature, experiences that taught him to appreciate the environment and inspired him to become a farmer.

Over the years, the amount of time he has spent outdoors has given him a unique perspective on the impact of pollution. As an example, he mentions toads, a species that has been hit especially hard by pollution and habitat loss. He describes seeing the amphibians during summers while he was growing up and compares it to what his children see today. "To my kids it would be unbelievable. It would be like the world is being overtaken by toads!"

Not content to passively watch these changes occur, Bares and his brother formed a company that uses technology to reduce agricultural pollution. Known as Rowbot, the company produces small robots that roll through cornfields applying the exact amount of nitrogen fertilizer that the plants need. This is a departure from traditional farming practices, in which fertilizer is sprayed broadly across fields by large machines. Although the robots are still being tested, the idea holds the potential to reduce pollution and save farmers money.  

"[We wanted] to do something that could make a difference," Bares explains, noting that the project utilizes his expertise in farming, and his brother’s background in engineering.

In addition to his company's innovative use of technology, Bares is an advocate for more traditional methods of reducing agricultural pollution as well, including the use of BMPs or best management practices. These techniques, such as utilizing cover crops to prevent erosion, and fencing livestock from streams and creeks, make farming more sustainable. "It [doesn't] take a lot of money, it takes a willingness," he says.

He emphasizes that being a farmer and caring about the environment aren't mutually exclusive. "There are lots of farmers out there who don't want to pollute. They want to leave their creek behind the barn the way they found it . . . for their kids and grandkids," he says, adding, "We all just have to take care of our own little piece [of land] and lead by example."

—Melanie McCarty
CBF's Donor Communications Manager

Are you interested in joining the clean water movement just like Charles Bares? Click here.