This Week in the Watershed: A Threatened Pennsylvania Hallmark

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Brook trout, a hallmark of Pennsylvania waterways and a great indicator of clean water, is threatened by both invasive species and warming waters as the result of climate change. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

One of my most vivid collegiate memories occurred on the banks of a central Pennsylvania lake. While out in the field for an environmental science class, the Professor pointed out a handful of geese pecking away at underwater grasses and asked the class, "What should we do with these geese?" Upon the reply of several students saying we should protect them, he bellowed out, "WRONG! We should shoot them all!"

Despite the crassness of his response, his point resonates—invasive species can have major consequences on the ecological health of our rivers, streams, and the native species that call them home.

This week, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a study revealing that Pennsylvania's native brook trout is threatened by the invasive brown trout. Brook trout are commonly regarded as a "canary in the coal mine" for pollution, as they require cold and clean water for survival. As such, brook trout are particularly susceptible to warming waters as the result of climate change.

The USGS study found that the presence of the invasive brown trout is another significant challenge for the brook trout, as the brown trout has higher tolerance to warmer waters and competes with the brook trout for food sources.

Brook trout are a hallmark of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. As a great indicator for healthy water, their dwindling population is telling. In addition to the need for strong fisheries management to address harmful invasive species, we need to fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Our children and grandchildren deserve clean water, and the proliferation of the brook trout will indicate we are headed in the right direction.

This Week in the Watershed: Oyster Balance, Eel Abundance, and A Pennsylvania Hallmark

  • Oysters present quite a challenge in striking a balance between the short-term needs of watermen and long-term needs of a sustainable fishery. (WRC—VA)
  • Invasive species combined with the effects of climate change are a brutal combination for Pennsylvania's native brook trout. (USGS Press Release)
  • Local residents in Maryland's Howard County are pushing for financial incentives to push commercial property owners to implement practices to reduce polluted runoff. (Howard County Times—MD)
  • Eels are returning in abundance to the Susquehanna River, leaving environmentalists hopeful other species such as mussels will follow suit. (Bay Journal)
  • Bravo to CBF's Bill Portlock, who received the Garden Club of Virginia's Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Conservation. Portlock has been with CBF since 1981 as an environmental educator, restoration leader, and accomplished photographer. (Free Lance Star—VA)
  • Amidst debates over oyster harvesting, Maryland is looking at Virginia for lessons learned. (Bay Journal)
  • CBF is working to clean Virginia's Hampton River through planting oysters. (Daily Press—VA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

November 20

  • Portsmouth, VA: Come on out to a fun-filled, family-friendly annual event that combines educational engagement and ecological stewardship. RIVER-Fest '16 will emphasize practices and activities that will sustain and improve the health of the Elizabeth River. CBF is looking for 6-8 volunteers to assist with a variety of activities. Please contact Tanner Council to register or for more information at tcouncil@cbf.org or 757-622-1964.

December 3

  • Broadway, VA: Come on out and help us plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs on a picturesque farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Volunteers should bring a sun hat, sun screen, and work gloves. Volunteers are also asked to bring a packed lunch. Light refreshments will be provided. This planting event is suitable for children closely supervised by adults. Please RSVP by November 30 to Robert Jennings at 484-888-2966 or RJennings@cbf.org.

December 6

  • Norfolk, VA: Join us for a presentation on what is often called,"the most important fish in the sea"—menhaden. An expert panel will discuss why menhaden matter and the future prospects for the fishery. This event is part of the Blue Planet Forum — a free environmental lecture series with a mission to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. The event is free, but registration is requested — Register here!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


CBF Building Exhibits a Resilient Future

The following first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.

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CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, VA was built with climate change in mind. Photo by Chris Gorri/CBF Staff.

This year's rough weather has battered Hampton Roads. It's not just the summer's brutal heat wave. It's the deluge of seven inches of rain that fell in just two hours in July, the high waters that surrounded buildings when Hurricane Hermine hit over Labor Day, and the 13 inches of rain that fell overnight in late September, or the massive amounts of rain that accompanied Hurricane Matthew.

Newscasts and the newspaper have been filled with images of water lapping around houses, submerged cars, and rowboats navigating flooded streets.

It's a window into the future.

But since opening nearly two years ago, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach has remained undamaged. Sometimes, even as rains fell and the winds howled, locals gathered there to watch storms roll in over the Lynnhaven River. They knew that the CBF building is climate-change ready, designed to be resilient in the face of the toughest weather.

"After a bad storm, community members visit the Brock Center to see how it weathered," said Brock Center Manager Chris Gorri. "Severe weather becomes a teachable moment. People ask questions about the wind turbines or want to see how high the water is on the Lynnhaven River." Some want to learn how they can adapt their own homes to better cope with recurrent flooding.

Designed and built to withstand the effects some of the worst weather in the world, the center is a model for a region increasingly at risk. According to Old Dominion University's Center for Sea Level Rise, sea levels have risen 14 inches in Hampton Roads since 1930. Low lying cities, rising waters, and sinking lands are why.

The Brock Center is ready. It is raised 14 feet above sea level, staying high and dry during flooding. Its windows can withstand a collision with a two-by-four hurled at 110 miles per hour. Its grounds are designed to eliminate runoff.

Gravel paths and permeable roadways and parking areas let water soak into the ground. The Brock Center's one-of-a-kind rainwater treatment system filters rain falling on the center's roof for use as drinking water.

The building is set far back from the river, with a wide sandy buffer of grasses and shrubs that absorbs storm surges.

In early October, Hurricane Matthew brought strong winds and up to 12 inches of rain in the region, inundating some roadways under several feet of water. Schools closed, power was out for days, and officials urged cutbacks on water usage because of stressed sewer systems.

At the Brock Center, that storm flipped over benches and knocked over a large sturdy sign. But the strongest flooding seen at Brock came a year earlier, as storms linked to Hurricane Joaquin sent water from the Lynnhaven River rushing knee-deep under the raised building. Neither storm damaged the building or its wind turbines.

The Brock Center also fights back against climate change with its residential wind turbines and solar panels, which produce far more energy than the building consumes and send clean excess energy to the grid. The center's energy conservation allows it to use 80 percent less energy than a typical office building of its size.

Thanks to these innovations, earlier this year the Brock Center achieved one of the toughest building standards in the world. Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute requires a building to produce more energy than it uses over the course of 12 consecutive months and meet a host of other strict criteria.

As we increasingly grapple with the effects of climate change, the Brock Center shines brightly as a solution. Sustainability means more than just energy efficiency. It means being able to sustain the extremes nature can and will throw at us. With Brock, we're proving that we have a choice to raise the bar, reduce pollution, and adapt to climate change.

And, we can do it in comfort and beauty.

—Mary Tod Winchester, CBF's Vice President for Administration


This Week in the Watershed

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Sea level rise is a significant threat to many coastal communities, including Annapolis, MD. Photo by Amy McGovern.

Amidst a deluge of rainy days like we are currently experiencing, local flooding often ensues. Swamped roads, public health concerns, and damaged infrastructure, are just a sampling of the issues caused by flooding. While flooding can often be perceived as only a nuisance, sea level rise is exacerbating fears, particularly among coastal communities. This presents many challenges for waterfront properties, especially considering computer models suggest waters are going to rise higher before they recede.

Annapolis is one community wrestling with sea level rise in hopes to preserve its historic downtown. A recent event gathered scientists, city officials, and residents to discuss threats, opportunities, and solutions in preserving Annapolis' waterfront. While the complexity and multifaceted nature of the issue leaves no silver-bullet solution, Annapolis is well ahead of many coastal communities by actively planning for the inevitable future, especially when contrasted with coastal communities who would rather bury their head in the sand.

Clearly, sea level rise, like the larger issue of climate change it originates from, is an issue that must not only be approached from a mindset of mitigation but also adaptation. While rising waters might be an unavoidable reality for the foreseeable future, focusing on science-based solutions while considering the economic, cultural, and social consequences is a great step. This is true not only in combating sea level rise but also in the fight to Save the Bay, championed by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

This Week in the Watershed: Rising Waters, Keystone Tree Awards, and Prosecuting Polluters

  • We love this editorial drawing the connection between improved air quality in Maryland and a healthier Bay. (Capital Gazette—MD)
  • A declining number of prosecutions against polluters has environmentalists concerned in Maryland. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Progress has been made in cleaning up the Bay and its local rivers and streams, but recently released data by the EPA reveal that states will very likely miss the 2017 interim cleanup targets. (Bay Journal)
  • A study released this week found that water quality is deteriorating in Calvert County, MD tidal creeks. (The Calvert Recorder—MD)
  • U.S. Senator Ben Cardin hosted a discussion on water quality, focusing not only on legislative victories but the importance of science in crafting sound policy. (Capital Gazette—MD)
  • Oyster restoration efforts in Virginia Beach have not exactly gone according to plan. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • Planting forested buffers is one of the best clean water practices, and CBF's Pennsylvania office was recognized with both the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence and the Arbor Day Foundation's "Good Steward" Award for its tree planting efforts. (Lancaster Farming—PA and CBF Press Release)
  • While oyster farming has thrived in Virginia, it has been held back by bureaucratic red tape in Maryland. Efforts were made this week to change that. (Bay Journal)
  • Population growth throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed is an issue that cannot be ignored. (Bay Journal)
  • Sea level rise presents several obstacles for waterfront communities, including downtown Annapolis, MD. (Baltimore Sun—MD)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

May 6

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay— join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells by shaking off the dirt and debris so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. RSVP to Dan Johannes at DJohannes@cbf.org. Click here for more information!

May 7

  • Norfolk, VA: Volunteer with CBF at the 5th annual EcoFest Festival held along the shore of the Lafayette River. Produced by the Lafayette Environmental Outreach, the event combines educational engagement and ecological stewardship. Tanner Council, CBF Grassroots Coordinator, is looking for 5 to 6 volunteers to assist with a variety of activities. Shifts are available from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 1 p.m.-4 p.m., or all day. Please contact Tanner to volunteer and indicate what times work for you at TCouncil@cbf.org or 757-632-3807.

May 12 and 19

  • Annapolis, MD: Join CBF for an upcoming trip aboard the CBF skipjack the Stanley Norman. While aboard, you'll be invited to help hoist the sails or simply enjoy the view! You will leave with a better understanding of oysters and their role in keeping the Bay clean as well as what CBF is doing to restore the oyster stocks to Save the Bay. Click here to register! (Note: these are the only two dates that have not been sold out!)

May 14

  • Baltimore, MD: For nearly two years, CBF has been working on renovating a vacant lot in West Baltimore into a green space. Join us as we put on the finishing touches and celebrate! The morning will include final planting of perennials followed by an opening ceremony. Everyone is welcome to join the fun and help finish the planting, be inspired by our community leaders, and eat some hotdogs, potato salad, strawberries, and watermelon. Click here to register!

May 15

  • Norfolk, VA: The Blue Planet Forum is an annual, free environmental lecture series held in Hampton Roads. Its mission is to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. In the next installment of this very popular series, the audience will be treated to presentations by an expert panel on the topic: Water, Water Everywhere: exploring how water inspires and influences us. The event is free, but space is limited, so registration is strongly encouraged. Click here to register!

May 16

  • Baltimore, MD: Cruise the Inner Harbor aboard CBF's 46-foot workboat the Snow Goose as we explore the complex and fascinating relationship between the urban environment and the Bay's natural ecosystem. CBF staff will demonstrate the importance of this port as an economic lifeline for the state of Maryland and help participants appreciate the life cycles and needs of the thousands of birds, fish, crabs, oysters, and other organisms which share these waters. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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A study released this week found that salt marshes are more resilient to sea-level rise than previously thought. Healthy salt marshes will help protect Chesapeake Bay coastal communities, such as Tangier Island. Photo by Deb Snelson.

In many of Chesapeake Bay's coastal communities, climate change is an unavoidable reality. While warming waters threaten healthy fisheries and more frequent and intense storms endanger property values, it is sea-level rise which likely presents the greatest danger. Notably, tidal flooding is rapidly becoming routine. While this might currently be perceived as just a nuisance, computer models suggest the trend is only going to worsen.

This week, however, brought some good news in combating sea-level rise. A study released by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) found that salt marshes, which are common around the Chesapeake Bay, are more resistant to sea-level rise than previously thought. Indeed, according to Matt Kirwan of VIMS, lead author of the study, salt marshes are able to "fight back" against sea-level rise. This is evidenced by salt marshes building at rates two to three times faster when flooded than when not flooded. When these findings were integrated into computer models, it was found that the marshes migrated and expanded inland. This presents the opportunity to use salt marshes as natural infrastructure to combat sea-level rise throughout the Chesapeake Bay, a practice which other low-lying countries throughout the world are implementing.

In addition to the encouraging findings of salt marshes, the Maryland Senate took a bold step toward combating the cause of climate change, by requiring the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. These reductions will not only alleviate climate change, but it will also clean the air while creating green jobs throughout the state.

Climate change might be an unavoidable reality for the foreseeable future, but capitalizing on natural infrastructure and implementing smart, science-backed policies are great steps. This is true not only in combating climate change but also in the fight to Save the Bay, championed by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

This Week in the Watershed: Aquaculture, Rising Waters, and #PoultryAct

  • We couldn't agree more with this editorial in support of oyster aquaculture as a strong policy on both the economic and ecological level. (Bay Journal)
  • Maryland's Senate took a big step towards clean air, approving legislation that requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. (Washington Post—D.C.)
  • Sea-level rise is a major threat to coastal communities, but a recent study claims that one landscape thought to be vulnerable to rising seas is actually quite resilient. (Daily Press—VA) 
  • Virginia legislators have stepped up to the plate, providing strong funding for measures that reduce pollution from agriculture and sewage treatment plants. (CBF Statement)
  • The first hearings for the Poultry Litter Management Act in Maryland were this week. The legislation seeks to make large poultry companies responsible for excess chicken manure. (Star Democrat—MD)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

March 3

  • Gloucester Point, VA: CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Center needs volunteers to assist with shell washing. Shells collected through CBF's recycling program will be run through a mechanized shell washer. The clean shells will be bagged up and placed in large tanks for use in oyster restoration efforts. Please RSVP by contacting Heather North at hnorth@cbf.org or call 757-632-3804.

Upcoming

 —Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Mercury pollution is harming the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Photo courtesy iStock.

In the climate change "debate," a common refrain from deniers is that the warming we are witnessing is the result of natural variances in the climate cycle, rather than the result of record-level greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Indeed, in many cases of environmental degradation, polluters and maintainers of the status quo refuse to recognize human's contribution to the problems in the natural world. This despite that in many cases (such as climate change), direct, clear, and incontrovertible evidence proves beyond a reasonable degree of certainty a link between man's actions and harm to the environment. 

One example of this that is impacting the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, is the proliferation of mercury in our air and waters. While mercury occurs naturally in the environment, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, sediments deposited in North American sediment cores since industrialization have mercury concentrations about 3-5 times higher than those found in older sediments. Today, human's primary exposure to mercury is through the consumption of fish. Calls to reduce mercury in our air and water have led the EPA to develop new regulations, particularly on power plants.

A recent study found that these emission controls on out-of-state power plants have greatly improved air quality in Maryland by reducing mercury pollution. While the air quality improved, fish found in Maryland rivers and streams are still contaminated with toxic levels of mercury. It appears that it will take time for the mercury already present in the environment to dissipate.

Despite the clear link between industrialization and mercury levels in our air and water, industry spokesmen still openly question the connection. The spreading of doubt and misinformation might continue, but it's clear that reasonable environmental regulations, such as those found in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, can make a dramatic difference in the environment—if nature is given enough time to respond.

 This Week in the Watershed: Mercury, Grazing, and Important Fish

  • CBF President Will Baker reflects on the water clarity throughout the Chesapeake Bay. (Huffington Post)
  • A report says islanders in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay could be the first "climate change refugees" in the continental United States. (Associated Press)
  • Emission controls required on out-of-state power plants have greatly improved air quality in Maryland. Unfortunately, Maryland's fish remain contaminated with mercury, as it will take years for the mercury already in the water to dissipate. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A program was started for farmers to teach each other best practices surrounding rotational grazing. With benefits including healthier animals, increased profits, and cleaner waterways, there's a lot to gain. (WSLS—VA)
  • A record-breaking chicken farm proposed in Wicomico is raising eyebrows among environmentalists. (Daily Times—MD)
  • What really is the most important fish in the Chesapeake Bay? One study's answer might surprise you. (Bay Journal)
  • Pennsylvania is facing another obstacle in their fight for clean water—pharmaceuticals. Prescription drugs are finding their way into the rivers and streams with alarming results.  (The Sentinel—PA)

Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

December 12

  • Virginia Beach, VA: With far more requests for speaker's than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speaker's Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on the issues and ready to share our message, or just enjoy public speaking and would like to get trained, we welcome your commitment to this important and high-profile program. Join us to learn the facts and skills to share our mission to Save the Bay with local groups and organizations. Click here to register!

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


This Week in the Watershed

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Hollands Island in the Chesapeake Bay was a victim of sea-level rise, partially caused by climate change. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh cited rising sea levels claiming islands in the Chesapeake Bay in his reasoning for supporting the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Photo by Octavio Abruto/iLCP.

Society is not addressing environmental issues with a sense of urgency. Changes in the environment tend to occur over many years, occasional peaks of improvement can obscure overall downward trends, and society frequently overlooks the economic, cultural, and psychological benefits a healthy environment provides. Climate change in particular is high on the list of the environmental issues that society neglects to tackle with earnest.

This week, Attorneys General Brian Frosh (MD) and Mark Herring (VA) took a stand against climate change, joining 16 other attorneys general in support of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Power Plan. The plan, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases from fossil-fueled power plants and increase renewable energy, is currently being challenged by special interests from the fossil fuel industry and attorneys general from two dozen other states.

For Frosh and Herring, climate change is not a distant threat—it's happening before our eyes, and can be witnessed in the Chesapeake Bay. In throwing his support behind the Clean Power Plan, Frosh stated, "Rising sea levels are claiming islands in the Chesapeake Bay, and extreme weather events threaten neighborhoods, homes, and our natural resources." Herring is in full agreement, stating, "Climate change isn't some theoretical idea or academic exercise...Climate change is real. And here in Virginia, we're already dealing with the consequences...In the last 75 years, the sea level in Hampton Roads has risen by 2 feet—2 feet."

Despite this grim reality, it is encouraging not only to see Frosh and Herring speak out about climate change but also the bipartisan Maryland Climate Change Commission setting high goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aiming for a 40% reduction by 2030. From combating climate change to fighting for clean water, tackling environmental issues with a sense of urgency clearly starts with one central component—leadership. We applaud the men and women who stand up for smart, science-backed policies, and will always support them in our work to Save the Bay.

This Week in the Watershed: Major Kudos, Dirty Water, and High Standards

  • Bravo to Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Director of Horn Point Laboratory at the University of Maryland Michael Roman, for compellingly articulating the need to restore oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection just received a report card with alarming results. To put it mildly, there's room for improvement. (Patriot News—PA)
  • Major kudos to Attorneys General Brian Frosh (MD) and Mark Herring (VA) for their decision to stand with the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the Clean Power Plan. (WBFF—MD)
  • Virginia farmers received good news learning they can apply for funding to fence livestock from streams. Not only is keeping livestock out of streams better for the animals, but it also helps the Bay and its rivers and streams. (Baltimore Business Journal—MD)
  • Lancaster, PA is making great strides in its stormwater reduction efforts. (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal—PA)
  • We couldn't agree more with this editorial, applauding the bipartisan Maryland Climate Change Commission for setting high carbon emissions reduction goals in the fight against climate change. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Weak stormwater permits and lack of monitoring throughout Maryland has all but guaranteed the state won't meet its urban stormwater requirements under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The projected shortcoming is particularly concerning given that stormwater is the fastest-growing source of urban pollution. (Bay Journal)
  • While implementing agricultural best management practices is the cheapest and most effective way to reduce pollution fouling the Bay and its rivers and streams, it still costs money. In this light, it is severely disappointing that Bay-specific conservation measures have received significant cuts in funding. (Bay Journal)

Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

November 7

  • Luray, VA: Get your hands dirty, planting trees on a Virginian farm! This forested buffer will filter polluted runoff and cool streams. Click here for more info!
  • Cambridge, MD: Help CBF plant 800 native trees to restore a four-acre buffer to the Chicamacomico River. The farm, which is legally protected from development, now works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore wetlands that provide wildlife habitat and filter runoff. This area is critical habitat for the federally-listed Delmarva fox squirrel and coastal-dependent birds including salt marsh sparrows and American black duck. Click here to register!

November 13-15

  • Easton, MD: Volunteer to staff the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's exhibit in the iconic Waterfowl Festival! Lend a hand for just a few hours teaching the community about CBF's work on the Shore and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavor of the beautiful Eastern Shore. Contact Hilary Gibson at hgibson@cbf.org to sign up!

November 13

  • Onancock, VA: Meet new people, learn all about water quality issues on the Eastern Shore, and enjoy some great food at CBF's Dine & Discuss: Fish 'n Fowl Taco Night! Receive updates on fisheries, agriculture, and water quality with a smattering of science and a peppering of policy. Eat fish and chicken tacos free of charge. A cash bar will be available. This is an adult-only event. Reserve your spot today!

November 14

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Three to four volunteers are needed to staff a CBF display table at a local oyster roast! Volunteers will share current information with the attendees and enjoy this very informal event that includes all you can eat oysters with a portion of the proceeds going to CBF. For more information contact Tanner Council at  tcouncil@cbf.org or 757-622-1964.

November 18-20

  • Washington, D.C.: Join CBF at Greenbuild, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The green building community gathers to share ideas and mutual passion at Greenbuild, with three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city's green buildings. Click here for more information!

November 18

  • Easton, MD: Attend CBF's Oyster Expo for a night of all things oyster! Staffed by leading scientists from around the region, this event will feature a variety of family-friendly exhibits, movies, and displays that bring to life the ongoing work to support the iconic Chesapeake Bay oyster. Learn about current oyster restoration projects and what you can do to help. Click here to register!

November 19

  • Chestertown, MD: Come on out for a Bay Panel Discussion featuring farmers, environmentalists, and local residents talking about the challenges and success in the effort to achieve a healthier Chesapeake Bay while continuing to produce food. Click here for more information!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Cleaner Bay Helps Offset Climate Change

The following first appeared in the Baltimore Sun earlier this week.

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Holland Island before it fell into the Bay in 2010. Sea level rise in the Chesapeake is just one dramatic consequence of climate change. Photo by Chuck Foster/CBF Staff.

The temperature of the water in the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams in many places is actually rising faster than long-term trends in the air. ("Chesapeake waters are warming, study finds, posing challenges to healing bay," Oct. 14). That points to a stark reality: As we've paved over the bay region, we've created a skillet effect for rainwater. Combined with rising air temperatures globally, we can see why rockfish and other creatures are now in the hot seat.

The good news is that cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay will actually help correct both rising air and water temperatures. Many of the steps needed to reduce water pollution will also reduce water temperature and lead directly to reductions in greenhouse gases and help minimize the effects of rising sea levels and higher temperatures.

A study by Yale University found that improving farming practices alone in the bay drainage area (only one piece of the overall plan to restore the bay) could sequester about 4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent emissions of three-quarters of a million SUVs, or the entire statewide residential electricity use of New Hampshire or Delaware.

Trees planted along streams are especially cost effective for reducing both air and water pollution.

Of course, we need other efforts to reduce air pollution—not only to mitigate climate change, but to save the bay. Watershed-wide, about one-third of the nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake comes from the air, much of it in the form of nitrogen oxides formed from the combustion of fossil fuels.

If we make personal choices to conserve electricity or drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, if business and government work to reduce power plant emissions, and if we reduce polluted runoff from our urban and suburban communities, the result will be cleaner, cooler water.

The conclusion is clear: Restoring the Chesapeake Bay also helps fight climate change. And vice versa.

—Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director


This Week in the Watershed

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Algal blooms are increasing throughout the watershed, in part due to warming temperatures as a result of climate change. Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

Climate change is a prototype of a truly global issue. Low-lying islands in the Pacific are being lost to sea-level rise; food supplies are threatened with record-setting droughts in Africa; beetles which were previously killed by freezing temperatures are destroying forests in the western United States. These are just a few examples among many of the impact climate change is having around the world. Add to the list: the warming waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Maryland's Center for Environmental Science, water temperatures have risen on average 1.2 °F since the 1980s across more than 92 percent of the Bay and its rivers and streams. This increased temperature decreases the water's capacity to hold dissolved oxygen, exacerbating the Bay's fish-killing dead zones. The decreased oxygen squeezes fish into smaller and smaller areas of the water column, and contributes to algal blooms. Rising temperatures also stress other temperature sensitive species, such as eel grass. Added altogether, warming the Bay dramatically impacts the entire ecosystem.

Facing a problem of climate change's magnitude can quickly become overwhelming. Research shows in fact, that the immensity of the issue contributes to alarming apathy. As with most issues this large and complex, there are no silver bullet solutions. Rather, small, incremental solutions amount to significant change when brought to scale. And often, these solutions are local in nature.

A recent report highlights how fighting stormwater runoff is an effective strategy in combating climate change. Rain falling on baking asphalt and concrete, then funneling into our waterways, heats the Bay and its rivers and streams. By decreasing the amount of impervious surface and through better stormwater management, we can fight this trend, and decrease the water temperature. And perhaps not coincidentally, help clean the water as well. Talk about a win-win.

This Week in the Watershed: Warming Waters, Striped Bass, and Scooping the Poop

  • Good news for the James River, as a recent report declares it is healthier than in decades. (Daily Press—VA)
  • Microbeads, tiny plastics found in products ranging from toothpaste to cosmetics, are polluting our water supply. Pennsylvania is planning to hold a hearing on the issue after the budget impasse is resolved, potentially following Maryland's lead by passing legislation banning microbeads. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • The waters of the Chesapeake Bay are warming. If the trend continues, it could "worsen fish-suffocating dead zones and alter the food web on which the bay's fish and crabs depend." (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A survey of juvenile striped bass in Maryland brought good news, as it found reproduction twice the long-term average. (Bay Journal)
  • Thousands of dead menhaden washed up on Virginia's Eastern Shore after a fishing accident. (Daily Press—VA)
  • ICYMI: The Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted to delay the vote on the development of Fones Cliffs. (Free Lance Star—VA)
  • Picking up after your dog might not seem like a big deal, but as this editorial reveals, dog waste has enough bacteria and viruses that it can cause serious health issues in humans. Don't forget to scoop the poop! (Frederick News-Post—MD)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

October 17

  • Keymar, MD: Help CBF plant over 800 trees and shrubs on a dairy farm in Frederick County. This stream buffer will help provide clean water in the Monocacy River Watershed. Register here!

October 18

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Come on out to CBF's Clagett Farm for a fun-filled afternoon with friends, live music, craft-brewed beers, and mouth-watering food created by area chefs using local ingredients at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Burgers and Brews for the Bay event. Learn more and buy tickets here!

October 21

  • York, PA: A good time is to be had by all at BrewVino. Residents can meet neighbors looking to protect local waterways and learn about new opportunities to get involved in ensuring clean water, healthy communities, and a thriving economy for York County. Oh, and there will be good food! Click here to register!

October 22

  • Washington, DC: Join USGBC-NCR for "Building for Climate Resilience: Adaptions and Strategies." Part of USGBC-NCR's lead-up to Greenbuild Voices on Resilience Campaign, this event will feature a panel of expert practitioners discussing real-world examples of projects designed and engineered to withstand our changing environment. Click here to learn more!

October 23

  • Easton, MD: CBF's Maryland Eastern Shore office is moving! Join us at our new building, the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. Building tours and light refreshments will be provided, and CBF Eastern Shore staff will be present to visit with you as we celebrate the new space with partners and friends in the community. Click here for more info!

October 24

  • Baltimore, MD: Join us at the Great Baltimore Oyster Festival to celebrate the mighty oyster while enjoying five varieties of oysters, specialty foods, boat tours, music, and more! Hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Waterfront Partnership, and Healthy Harbor. Online registration is closed, but still come on out! Entry to the event is free, and oyster plates will be available for purchase on-site. Click here for more info!
  • Queen Anne's County, MD: Come paddle with us on Southeast Creek, just off the Chester River. Southeast Creek is a prime example of a healthy tidal Eastern Shore creek, replete with large expanses of tidal marsh, abundant wildlife dominated by various species of bird life, and a watershed consisting mainly of farmland. The paddle is comfortable and peaceful, offering up close views of herons fishing in the shallows and wood ducks nesting in the many trees along the banks. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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While the blue crab was recently found to tolerate higher levels of hypoxia than previously thought, they're not out of danger. Photo by Damon Fodge.

As any mountain climber can attest, reaching new heights brings with it increased difficulty. The decreasing amount of oxygen in the air makes every breath more trying, to the point where oxygen is needed through personal tanks. Even the best of athletes can find themselves out of breath when facing low-oxygen environments.

In the Chesapeake Bay, critters are finding themselves facing a similar obstacle, as increased dead zones and warming waters from our rapidly changing climate are decreasing the level of oxygen in the water. Known as hypoxia, this condition depletes the Bay of life, devastating the ecosystem.

While new research by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science reveals blue crabs are more resilient to hypoxic conditions than previously thought, other creatures it depends on for food are vulnerable. The threat is clear and the plan to save the Bay is desperately needed. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, if implemented, can make a dramatic difference in bringing oxygen levels back to safe and healthy levels in the Bay. Now wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air!

This Week in the Watershed: Keystone Pollution, Environmental Literacy, and Blue Crabs

  • Agencies throughout Pennsylvania's state government are exploring ways to accelerate pollution reduction efforts in the Keystone State. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
  • The environmental literacy requirement in Maryland has been a huge success thus far. (What's Up Mag—MD)
  • How will blue crabs respond to increasing water temperatures due to climate change? New research reveals intriguing findings. (Daily Press—VA)
  • ICYMI, the American Farm Bureau Federation is continuing its fight against the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, filing for an extension of time to ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal. (Bay Journal)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

October 7

  • Virginia Beach, VA: CBF is hosting the second annual "Living Waters: Wading In" Interfaith Summit. Join us for a day of music, prayer, inspiring speakers, and collaborative work sessions as we explore ways the faith community can celebrate, protect, and restore our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Click here to learn more and register!

October 9

  • Annapolis, MD: Want to help restore the Bay's oyster population? Become an oyster gardener! New oyster gardeners are required to attend an Oyster Gardening Workshop before beginning their first year of gardening, such as one in Annapolis October 9. Returning gardeners can register to pick up spat. Click here to learn more!

October 10

  • Easton, MD: Want to help restore the Bay's oyster population? Become an oyster gardener! New oyster gardeners are required to attend an Oyster Gardening Workshop before beginning their first year of gardening, such as one in Easton October 10. Returning gardeners can register to pick up spat. Click here to learn more!
  • St. Michaels, MD: Join us for a sail on CBF's historic skipjack, the Stanley Norman. While aboard, you'll be invited to help hoist the sails or simply enjoy the view! You will leave with a better understanding of oysters and their role in keeping the Bay clean as well as what CBF is doing to restore the Bay's oyster population. Click here to register!

October 11

  • Baltimore, MD: CBF's oyster gardening program is expanding to Baltimore Harbor! We're looking for 50 new gardeners to care for two cages of oysters each over the winter and then "plant" them on a reef in the spring. This unusual hobby is fun, educational, and helps to clean the harbor waters. Register here!

October 12

  • Annapolis, MD: The Annapolis VoiCeS Course, a six-week adult education class on Mondays, starts October 12! The course will cover regional environmental issues affecting Maryland and the Bay watershed. The program provides information on subjects affecting the health of our community's natural environment and how you can take action. In-depth sessions are taught by Bay experts from CBF and other regional institutions and organizations. Click here to register!

October 13

  • Easton, MD: The Eastern Shore of Maryland VoiCeS Course, a six-week adult education class on Tuesdays, starts October 13! The course will cover regional environmental issues affecting Maryland and the Bay watershed. The program provides information on subjects affecting the health of our community's natural environment and how you can take action. In-depth sessions are taught by Bay experts from CBF and other regional institutions and organizations. Click here to register!
  • Annapolis, MD: Current CBF oyster gardeners can pick up baby spat for the upcoming season. Register here!

October 14

  • Baltimore, MD: Get your hands dirty planting trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses in a vacant lot in West Baltimore that CBF and a coalition of groups are restoring. Click here to register!

October 15

  • Edgewater, MD: Another opportunity for current CBF oyster gardeners can pick up baby spat for the upcoming season. Register here!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Conservation in the Face of Change

DSC_0091Joseph Stallings
Photo by Joseph Stallings.

The following first appeared in Save the Bay magazine

The fisheries of the Chesapeake give identity to the region, and maintaining them in the face of various stresses remains our biggest obligation and challenge. Loss of habitat, degraded water quality, and overharvest have been vexing to sort out and address, and climate change potentially shifts the landscape entirely.

As a temperate estuary, the Chesapeake faces change regularly. Water temperature can change 50 degrees over a year. Salinity, a key determinant of where fish can live, ranges from zero (freshwater) at the head of the Bay to ocean saltiness at its mouth. From year to year this "salinity gradient" can shift dramatically depending on the amount of rainfall in the watershed. Certain species have adapted well to this changing environment. These are the ones the early settlers found in unbelievable numbers. And these "resilient" species are the ones that have supported our valuable fisheries: blue crabs, oysters, and rockfish

The abundance of life in the Bay seemed limitless early in our history, but with hindsight we have learned there are limits to what we can take out sustainably. Add to that the historically reckless attitude toward the environment including denuding the land and damming the rivers, and the Bay's living resources faced new changes to which they were not adapted. American shad and oysters are two good examples. Both were harvested relentlessly, and both lost habitat quantity and quality. 

Now climate change is adding a new layer of complication to this picture. Increasing temperature, rising sea level, and more variable precipitation present new challenges for Bay life. Species at the southern end of their range, like soft-shelled clams and eelgrass, already seem to be retreating northward up the Atlantic Coast. Atlantic menhaden haven't produced strong year classes in the Bay in 20 years. Might this be due to climate-related shifts in ocean currents interrupting their life cycle? Rockfish (striped bass) prefer young menhaden as food but may be shifting more to blue crabs as a result and suffering nutritional consequences. And crabs may also be facing new predators like red drum, which are expanding their range northward into the Bay.

There are no simple answers to addressing climate change or any of the other changes facing the Chesapeake Bay. Monitoring Bay conditions and adapting our strategies, much like fish and shellfish have to do, is the basic response. Managing our fisheries sustainably also requires being attentive and nimble. Ensuring there are enough fish to spawn and sufficient habitat for them to survive are fundamental principles. Science provides the basis for these assessments. Most importantly, when the science is incomplete, err on the side of the resource. Being conservative is the best course for both fish and fisherman in the face of change.

—Bill Goldsborough, CBF's Director of Fisheries