Photo of the Week: Then It Was Gone

Chesapeake Fall Light

Looking east out over the Chesapeake [Stingray Point to the left, Gwynn's Island to the right] with crisp fall light in abundance! Could not believe the light so late in the morning (around 10 a.m.). Looks like fall . . . then it was gone. 

—Dixie Hoggan

Ensure that Dixie and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights and 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!


Our Vision for the Next 50 Years

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Photo by Bob Miller.

As CBF approaches our 50th year (2017), we are simultaneously encouraged, worried, and determined. Encouraged, because Bay water quality and species abundance are improving. Many scientists believe the Bay has turned a corner and is on the road to systemic recovery.

We worry, however, about complacency and low expectations. The Bay and its rivers could easily slip backwards. We are determined to push even harder — to accelerate our education, advocacy, restoration, and litigation work. We must avoid what happened to Lake Erie, once declared saved and now worse than ever.

When CBF began, Bay fin and shellfish were abundant and diverse. But water quality was already declining. Sewage treatment was in its infancy and industrial discharges were rampant. Agriculture was less intense and therefore less polluting than today, but the movement to more concentrated animal operations was just beginning to generate more pollution. And farming practices which required ever more chemical fertilizers and pesticides were advancing. There was less development, meaning fewer hardened acres and less polluted runoff, but residential and commercial sprawl was starting to take off, beginning the destruction of natural filters, such as wetlands and forests.

Such was the backdrop for CBF’s birth and our Save the Bay slogan. CBF founders were ahead of their time as there was little public, much less political, support for across-the-board pollution reduction. Few people foresaw the system collapse that was on the horizon.

Fast forward to today. Science has given us a thorough understanding of Bay processes, the six watershed states and the District of Columbia are working together, and a Presidential Executive Order has established mandatorypollution-reduction requirements.

Improvement? Absolutely.

Done? Hardly.

 

The key to real success lies in focusing on water quality in Pennsylvania. Currently, about one-quarter of its rivers and streams (19,000 miles) are designated by the state as impaired. CBF has 20 full-time staff in Pennsylvania. We are clean water advocates in the General Assembly, and promoters of state-of-the-art sewage treatment. On the farm, we not only help landowners establish proven, cost-effective practices that reduce thousands of pounds of pollutants annually, but we also advance policies to take those practices to scale.

We believe in working smarter: spending available money more effectively by targeting agricultural cost-share dollars to the areas of greatest need. While this simple innovation seems obvious, it will require government to interrupt the status quo. If done well, tax payers will save millions, and water will again flow cleanly in Pennsylvania and downstream to the Bay.

Our vision for the next 50 years is a Chesapeake Bay that serves as a model for the entire world.

We can be a regional, non-partisan success story. The Chesapeake Bay can once again be the most productive estuary in the world, teeming with abundant and diverse fisheries while stimulating the economy and serving as a source of great pride to all Americans. It is within our reach, and we plan to be here to see it!

—Will Baker, CBF President

This story was originally published in the the fall 2016 issue of Save the Bay Magazine.

 


Photo of the Week: Wye River Morning

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Early September on the Wye River. 

Every sunrise brings a new, beautiful morning on the Chespeake Bay. Many memories [are captured] around the Bay, from land to sea. We need to preserve the Chesapeake Bay that was gifted to us.

—JoyAnn Line

Ensure that JoyAnn 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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Top 5 Facebook Posts of Summer!

Underwater grasses rebounding, horseshoe crabs crawling, Maryland winning (in Rio that is) . . . it's been quite a summer on CBF's Facebook Page! So, back by popular demand, we decided to look back at our top five Facebook posts of the summer. What's got people excited about our Bay, its rivers and streams? Take a look:

 

1. A River Reborn: Take a trip beneath the surface of the Severn where we see abundant grasses, scampering blue crabs, and thick, healthy oyster reefs—incredible signs of the Bay's recovery! With more than 212,000 views, this inspiring video has already secured a spot on Oscars' shortlist.  


2.
Do a Little Seahorse Dance



3. Did Someone Say Scallops? In the Bay?!



4. What's in the Water: Measurements of 450 times higher than federal safety limits?! That's what we found at some beautiful swimming holes across Maryland this summer when we tested the water for harmful bacteria after rainstorms. Watch our video (98,956 other people did) to learn more. 



5. Ches-a-peake Bay! Ches-a-peake Bay! That's what we were shouting during this summer's Rio Olympics when Maryland (the ninth-smallest state in the country, mind you) brought home a record number of medals, many of which were gold. Not only that—athletes from Virginia and D.C. certainly helped make the whole Chesapeake region the true champion (but it always was in our book). 

 
Be sure to follow us on Facebook (if you aren’t already) for the latest and greatest this fall!

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 


Slowing the Flow: A Pioneering Parking Lot

How Virginia Can Stop Polluted Runoff with the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund

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An aerial view of the completed project.

A parking lot isn't usually something to get excited about. But believe it or not, the Ashland Police Department's new lot is pretty innovative when it comes to fighting pollution.

It started a few years ago, when it was time to repave the aging asphalt at the police station in Ashland, a small town north of Richmond. At that time, Ashland Town Engineer Ingrid Stenbjørn was beginning to look for ways the town could cut the amount of polluted runoff entering local waterways in an effort to meet new Virginia requirements.

Instead of just covering the parking lot with a new layer of asphalt, Stenbjørn suggested installing permeable pavers. On most paved areas, when it rains, water just runs off the hard surfaces, washing dirt, oil, grime, grease, and other pollution into nearby streams and rivers. However, permeable pavers allow water to pass through, effectively stopping much of this polluted runoff.

Stream Before
Before the project started.

The project at the police station was the perfect chance to upgrade the lot with something more environmentally friendly. "Every time we have a maintenance need here in the town, we consider if there's a way we can also reduce the amount of pollution that goes into our waters," Stenbjørn said.

There was just one problem. Ashland had a tight budget that year, and permeable pavers aren't the cheapest option upfront. Fortunately, the town was able to get support from Virginia's Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which provides matching funds to effective projects that reduce runoff. Together with a separate grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ashland could pay for the whole effort. "It was a really bad budget year, but those grants made this project possible," Stenbjørn said.

Even better, the grants also funded the restoration of a small stream that runs next to the parking lot. Before the work, the stream was in bad shape. It had a huge drainage area, and storms would send polluted runoff gushing through its deep channel, doing a lot of damage in the process. There was almost no life in the stream.

Stream After
After the project was completed.

The restoration widened the channel, which now allows flow from storms to spread out and slow down. Native plants are now taking hold in the new floodplain, helping absorb more of the water. Frogs and birds have returned to the stream.

Since the project's completion in November 2015, it's not only cut down on pollution, but has also created a mini oasis next to the station. Ashland Police Department Chief Douglas Goodman said that the Department "was pleased to be a part of such an earth-friendly project. In addition to being environmentally sound, the new creek bed is such a pleasant sight to see and can be quite calming."

The Numbers

 
Total Project Cost $367,957 
Stormwater Local Assistance Fund Share $168,500
Construction Start June 2015
Project Completion November 2015

 

Stay tuned for more stories of how innovative projects like these can help Virginia stop harmful polluted runoff from entering our rivers, streams, and Bay!  

—Text by Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator; Photos by Ingrid Stenbjorn

 


Labor Day Picnic Recipes We Love (Without the Meat!)

Juicy burgers dripping with cheese, steak grilled to perfection, that hot dog crammed with pickles and ketchup and hot mustard . . . sounds like a Labor Day picnic (and heartburn) to us! But here's an idea: What if we were to swap the burger for some healthy and equally delicious (if not more so) meatless meals this Labor Day?

After all, as our new and improved Bay Footprint Calculator indicates, if everyone in the Bay region only ate the recommended amount of protein (instead of the 30 percent more than needed as the USDA reports), the resulting nitrogen pollution reductions would be equivalent to what is needed to Save the Bay. Seriously. It's as simple as that! That's enough to inspire us to back off the beef this Labor Day. How about you? To get you started, here are some of our favorite veggie-inspired and oh-so-yummy dishes perfect for that Labor Day picnic. Mouth, get ready to water!

 

Quinoa Salad with cherriesSpinach Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Toasted Almonds

Salad:
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 ½ cups quinoa
1 bag of baby spinach
2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and chopped (sub 1 cup of dried cherries when fresh are not in season)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped (½ cup)
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Dressing:
¼ cup of plain yogurt
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (a citrus flavored olive oil would probably be great, too)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions (3 cups of salted water for 1 ½ cups quinoa should do it). Once finished, spread it out on a plate or baking sheet and put in the fridge to cool. Heat a small unoiled skillet over medium heat and add the almonds. Toast until almonds are lightly browned, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once quinoa is cool, put all the salad ingredients accept spinach together in a large bowl and mix. Wisk together all dressing ingredients until smooth. Pour dressing over salad and mix to coat. Place salad in fridge for roughly 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Serve over a bed of spinach.


Image1Creamy Black Bean and Cilantro Dip

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups cooked black beans
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 line
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped green onions (put aside a tiny bit for topping)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Sauté garlic briefly. Throw all ingredients except cheese into a food processor and run until creamy. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of chopped green onion. Serve hot, cold, or room temperature. For a vegan option, just skip the cheese!

 

IMG_0544Tomato-Corn Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh basil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 ears) or frozen, thawed
1 ¼ pounds tomatoes
8 ounces pasta (such as bowties or penne), freshly cooked
½ cup of feta cheese

Whisk 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and basil in large bowl to blend. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add corn and garlic, sauté three minutes. Add corn and garlic to dressing in bowl. Add tomatoes, pasta, and cheese to bowl and toss to blend. Season salad with salt and pepper.

 

Grilled Eggplant Involtini with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
6 pounds heirloom tomatoes
Olive oil
One onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
Large bunch of basil
1 bag of baby spinach
3 eggplant sliced long ways into ¼ inch slices
2 cups fresh dipped Ricotta
1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
1 ½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs beaten
Zest of 1 lemon
4 cloves of chopped roasted garlic
1 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme   
Salt and pepper

For the tomato sauce:

Cut the stems of the tomato, score the bottom with an X, and blanch. Peel the tomatoes and roughly chop. Sauté the onion and four minced cloves of garlic in olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer 15-20 minutes.

For the involtini:

Brush both sides of the sliced eggplant with olive oil, and generously salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant over high heat until browned and limp. Mix cheeses, roasted garlic, lemon zest, beaten eggs, and thyme. Place three spinach leaves, one leaf of basil, and cheese mixture on the large end of the eggplant and roll it up. Repeat with all slices of eggplant. Place a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a gratin dish. Put the rolled up eggplant on the sauce. Top with more sauce and any remaining cheese mixture. Bake at 350 until bubbling.

 

Asian Cole Slaw

Ingredients:
2 packages Ramen noodles (any flavor works)
2 packages of “broccoli slaw”
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar (you can also use rice vinegar or do half and half)

Crush noodles into large bowl. Top with slaw, onions, almonds, sunflower seeds. In separate small bowl, mix seasoning packets (from the ramen noodles), sugar, oil, and vinegar. Pour over slaw and chill for 24 hours or overnight. Toss before serving.

 

White Bean Roll-Ups

Ingredients:
1 can of white cannelloni beans
Soft flour or whole wheat tortillas
¼ cup finely diced cilantro
One (or more to taste) diced jalapeno pepper
1 cup of shredded cheese
Half a lime squeezed juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 425. Drain and mash the cannelloni beans and fold in the rest of the ingredients. Divide evenly among tortillas and roll them up. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Optional Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon chili paste
Half a lime of lime juice
½ tablespoon basil paste (or finely chopped basil)
Fresh or dried cilantro to taste

Combine, then stir in fresh water to reach dressing consistency.

 

Cold Asian Noodles

Ingredients:
4 cups of fresh, crunchy vegetables like snow peas, bell peppers, cucumbers, scallions (combine a few vegetables if possible)
12 ounces pasta (Chinese egg noodles, linguine, or even angel hair will do)
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
½ cup tahini (or peanut butter if necessary)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon rice or white wine vinegar
A splash of Tabasco to taste
Pepper to taste

Cut vegetables in long strips (or peel/seed peas) while cooking pasta—toss cooked pasta with a little bit of sesame oil. Whisk together sesame oil, tahini, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, Tabasco, and pepper—thin the sauce with hot water until the consistency of heavy cream. Toss the noodles with sauce and add vegetables.

 

Happy cooking (and eating)! And don't forget to check out our Bay Footprint Calculator to get your pollution score. While there, you'll get tips for how you can improve your grade by making simple, healthy changes in your daily life, including eating less meat!

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 


Photo of the Week: Dog Days of Chesapeake Summer

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace. —Milan Kundera

In honor of National Dog Day today, we're celebrating all our amazing four-legged friends who love the Bay and its rivers and streams as much as we do! Check out these fantastic photos below and on our Facebook Photo Album from dog and Bay lovers all across the region. If not for us, let's #SaveTheBay for our beloved Chesapeake pups! Learn more about how you can help. 

—Emmy Nicklin, CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

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Summer, Maggie, and Woody in their favorite place to float and swim off Indian Creek in the Severn River. Photo courtesy of Jill Lindahl Reyes.
Muggles_TracyMcMullen
Muggles! Photo courtesy of Tracy McMullen.
Millie (2)
Millie loves the shallows of the Chesapeake Bay and riding on the bow of the boat down the Chickahominy River. Photo courtesy of Matt Ferguson.
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Teddy and his cousin Marley in the marshes of Dorchester County. Happy dogs burning off the leftovers from Thanksgiving during a romp across the lowcountry. Photo courtesy of John Rodenhausen.

 

CarolDeLuca_30794604_IMG_2640BoyandDog
A boy and his dog. Photo by Carol DeLuca.

What's in the Water? Part Two

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This summer, as an intern in the Communications Department at CBF, I helped with a bacteria-monitoring project to educate the public on the water quality in their own backyard rivers and streams and the harmful effect that polluted runoff has on them. When it rains, pollution pours off of yards, roads, farms, and other surfaces and flows into local creeks and rivers.

For the past few years, CBF staff and volunteers have collected water samples after heavy rains from popular swimming holes and urban rivers. The samples are tested for fecal bacteria. The project this year has grown from testing just a few sites in Maryland counties, to locations all across the region in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

6.22-8After heavy rainstorms when polluted runoff levels were at their peak, I collected water samples in six sites in Howard County, Maryland. All were on tributaries of the Patapsco River and were either popular watering holes where parents could take their kids on a hot summers day or located in residential areas:

  • Budd Run is located behind an apartment complex off Route 1.
  • Cascade Falls is a popular hiking and swimming area located in Patapsco National Park.
  • The Plumtree Branch is a small creek running behind Dunloggin Middle School.
  • The Tiber-Hudson Branch winds its way through a parking lot behind the cute shops of Ellicott City.
  • The Sucker Branch lies behind Our Lady's Center.
  • And the final site is a small section of the Patapsco where families come to swim, rope swing, and picnic.

All these locations provide a great respite from the concrete suburban world. But are they really the natural, healthy places we need when trying to get away from it all? I'd argue that for these sites to really fulfill our need for a getaway from the roads and buildings that surround us regularly, or provide a place to cool off during our hot and humid summers, they should be clean, at least to the point where water quality meets EPA's standards! Right now, that's not the case.

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Photo by Tom Zolper/CBF Staff.

Grappling with the desire for people to get outside and enjoy their natural surroundings and the need to educate them about what exactly they are swimming in or living next to was the hardest part of this project for me.

I first encountered this dilemma the first day of testing while visiting Cascade Falls. It was brutally hot on a late June day—a perfect place for lots of kids to come play in the cool waters of this beautiful waterfall. Or so it seemed. I myself enjoyed rock scrambling and wading in the waters. But the time came when I had to pull out my sampling bottle to collect water for the lab. Immediately someone asked me what I was doing, what I was collecting samples for. I turned to them, noticing the irony of what I was going to tell them while I myself was standing ankle deep in the water in flip flops. I explained CBF's project, telling this parent how we suspected the water to have incredibly high levels of bacteria and fecal matter as their kids splashed around nearby. Of course, he looked horrified and asked if there was anything he could do, any precautions he could take. I advised him to wait at least two days after a large rainstorm before swimming in his local waters as local health officials have said.

DSC_0399But what else can we do? We want to enjoy the outdoors and experience the respite of cool water these rivers and creeks provide. But how can we continue to do so knowing our waters are contaminated with high counts of bacteria and fecal matter? For now, we can each do our part to try and better the waters around us by reducing the amount of polluted runoff flowing into our rivers and streams. Cleaning up after your dog and properly maintaining a septic system are things homeowners can do to prevent fecal pollution. Farmers can also keep livestock away from streams. Other things we can do: picking up trash, installing rain gardens and rain barrels, and planting trees along streams. And remember to not swim for at least 48 hours after a heavy rainstorm.

CBF's bacteria-testing project is not designed to scare people away from enjoying our waters or to report water quality like the health department, but rather to educate and inspire us all to be vigilant stewards of our environment.

—Text and photos by Maryann Webb, CBF Communications Intern

Read Part One of our Bacteria Testing Blog Series here.

 


What's in the Water? Part One

It's for folks like Janet and Pete Terry that I thought CBF should start a water-monitoring program. They need information like the guys at the Alamo needed ammunition.

Our water testing project this summer also was for government leaders who need to better understand how polluted runoff is hurting people.

Pete and Janet are retired school teachers. Their lives now should be sweet and easy. They have a beautiful home on the Bird River in Baltimore County. They entertain family and friends on a terraced front deck with umbrella-shaded tables and a mini-bar. Grandchildren play in the river while grown-ups sip iced tea on shore.

 

But since they retired a year and a half ago the couple has been in a constant battle to save the Bird River and the life they planned there. You see, the Terrys and their neighbors are typical victims of upstream pollution.

After rainstorms, the Bird River turns reddish brown with mud. The dirt comes from upstream. It washes off construction sites, pours out of poorly maintained polluted runoff ponds built years ago at housing and commercial developments, and from eroded feeder streams. When Janet grew up on the river her father used to take the kids everywhere in his boat. Now, the river is so silted up, the Terrys can only launch for a few hours during high tide and only head downstream.

The remaining fish and other aquatic life in the river do much the same thing—search for deep water areas where they can survive the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from upstream that causes oxygen levels to drop.

A few years ago, the Terrys organized homeowners around the river. They call themselves the Bird River Restoration Campaign. They speak up at county council and other meetings, hoping their combined voices can limit at least some of the development that has paved over the upstream areas of the river.

They have achieved some remarkable success. For instance, in 2014, about 60 residents voluntarily patrolled construction sites after storms, and pressured the county to improve its own site compliance rates from 5 percent to 44 percent.

Still, Pete, Janet, and many of the residents feel they are David battling Goliath.

So I met with them over pizza. I asked if they would be willing to collect water samples this summer after rainstorms. CBF would pay for the samples to be tested for bacteria levels at a commercial laboratory in Dundalk. They wholeheartedly agreed.

Bacteria tests assess the amount of fecal material in the water. They can help alert people to leaking sewer or septic systems, or large amounts of pet waste, or in rural areas livestock manure getting into streams. The federal and state government set limits for how much bacteria can be in areas where people recreate, because fecal material can cause illness when ingested.

The Bird River bacteria results weren't good. Bacteria levels on the Bird and its tributaries spiked after average storms, according to the CBF tests. For instance, after dry weather readings in White Marsh Run near the Dugout Restaurant on Bird River Grove Road were only slightly above government safety levels for human recreation. Yet after a summer rain storm of less than an inch, readings at the site spiked to at least 400 times safety standards. Similar high readings the same day were found at other upstream sites. Clearly, poop was getting into the Bird upstream, and in unhealthy amounts during rainstorms.

More bad news for the downstream families: Now, in addition to losing their boating and fishing opportunities, the homeowners on the tidal portion of the Bird River worried their kids and grandkids weren't safe when they swam, kayaked and in other ways recreated on the water.  

"It's getting to the point where we are so very concerned when we have company or when we have children in the water. Now we are hesitant to allow them to go in," Janet said.

But CBF hopes the bacteria testing this summer will help drive home the seriousness of the problem of polluted runoff—not just to leaders in Baltimore County, but elsewhere. CBF organized volunteers to test in Frederick, Howard, Carroll, Baltimore, and Harford Counties, as well as Baltimore City. We made the results in all areas available to the public.

It's perhaps easy as an elected official to overlook dirty streams when you also are responsible for a host of other government services: education, police, roads, and more. But when you realize that dirty water can harm children, you might invest more energy and funds in clean water.

To date, several counties in our test area—Frederick, Carroll, Harford, and Baltimore—have opted not to collect a Polluted Runoff (or Stormwater) Fee to better fund projects to reduce polluted runoff. We hope that when folks like Janet and Pete Terry raise their voices, the cold calculations of government budgeting might include the value of the health of grandchildren who swim in the Bird River, and other streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.  

—Tom Zolper
CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations

Read Part Two of our Bacteria Testing Blog Series here.

 


Fox Island Magic

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As Arthur Sherwood, one of CBF's founding members and first executive director, said: "The place to teach people about the Bay is on it and in it." Now in its 40th year, our education program has been doing just that, providing students and teachers with meaningful outdoor experiences on the Bay and its rivers and streams. And our Fox Island Education Center is no exception.

Fox Island is part of a string of salt water marshes surrounded by the Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds of Chesapeake Bay and is the ideal place to investigate how the Bay's health depends on its watershed of 64,000 square miles, 17 million people, and six state governments and the District of Columbia. The lodge was constructed in 1929 by the Fox Island Rod and Gun Club for recreational fishing and hunting. After many years of hunting and fishing, the group decided to donate the lodge to CBF. 

At Fox, we want to inspire current and future generations of environmental stewards. Even after 40 years, each field experience is completely unique, and this season has been filled with some amazing moments. Veritas School (an independent school in Richmond, Virginia) started our season off with a bang by breaking in the lodge and being the first school to join our "Conservation Challenge Hall of Fame"! This distinguished award is given to those groups that meet or exceed our conservation challenges in water usage, energy conservation, species identification, and S.L.O.P. (Stuff Left On Plate). Because of its unique elements, if Fox Island students use 3 gallons of water or less each, have less than three strikes in energy baseball (a race to shut off lights), identify at least 50 Chesapeake species, and have no S.L.O.P. after each meal, then they are true conservationists and are inducted into our "Hall of Fame." When students take these conservation practices home, they send out a wave of responsible resource use that influences their family, friends, and community.

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One of Veritas' favorite field investigations was exploring the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and the critters that inhabit this environment. Using a crab scrape, a tool used by watermen for centuries that includes a metal frame and net that extends roughly 5 feet, we scraped the grass beds underneath the Walter Ridder, CBF's 40-foot, jet-drive field investigation boat, for about two minutes and dumped our catch onto the engine box. Sixteen students crowded around the Ridder’s engine box, sifting through the grasses, on the prowl for life. A habitat that provides food and protection for many types of animals, underwater grasses harbor large critters like terrapins, blue crabs, and fish, along with small mud crabs, amphipods, and shrimp.

As natural filters of pollutants and sediment, Bay grasses are incredible indicators of the health of the Bay. As students explore these grasses and the species that rely on them, with their hands and using books and dichotomous keys, the connection between the health of the Bay and the grasses is immediate. Further, we discuss what prevents these grasses from thriving, like contributing excess nutrients into the Bay's rivers and streams and overworking the grasses with large sediment loads.

Time and time again teachers and students talk about something called "Fox Magic." We certainly experienced that "magic" out there in the middle of the Bay with Veritas students, and I, too,  experienced that magic in high school on education experiences with CBF on Fox Island in 2010 and 2011. It's an honor to capture these awesome moments and speak for such a great place.

—Adam Dunn, CBF Fox Island Educator

Click here to learn how you can take part in "Fox Magic" and other CBF education experiences.