This Week in the Watershed

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The Atlantic sturgeon, the Bay's oldest and largest native fish, needs your help! Photo courtesy iStock.

George Washington once wrote in his diary that he "went a dragging for Sturgeon," fishing for a culinary staple in the 18th century. But it's more than being mentioned in George Washington's diary that makes the Atlantic sturgeon an American legend. The sturgeon, the Bay's largest native fish, was here long before the days of the American Revolution. Dating back 120 million years, the Atlantic sturgeon once thrived in the waters in and around the Chesapeake Bay. But these dinosaurs of the Chesapeake are now threatened with extinction after their populations plummeted from poor water quality, habitat destruction, and overfishing.

All is not lost, however. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries is now proposing to designate "critical habitat" for this important fish. Designating areas as "critical habitat" can make a world of difference for the sturgeon. But water quality must be a priority in designating this habitat. If it isn't, sturgeon populations could remain under threat as poor water quality creates barriers between important sturgeon habitat and interrupts the species' life cycle.

Sign our petition by September 1st to tell NOAA Fisheries to make water quality a top priority as it designates sturgeon critical habitat and manages it in the future.

What's even better—the sturgeon won't be the only beneficiary from improving water quality. By implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, we all will experience the benefits of clean water, from expanded recreational opportunities, to improved public health, to massive economic benefits. Our children deserve to see a Bay full of clean water with a thriving population of this historic fish. Sign our petition now!

This Week in the Watershed: Dinosaur Fish, Planting Oysters, and an Average Dead Zone

  • Revised procedures have made it easier for Maryland oyster farmers to lease places on the Bay. (Bay Journal)
  • CBF added to its already large total of oysters planted in Virginia's Lafayette River, adding 200,000 more on Tuesday. (ABC 13—VA)
  • The size of the dead zone in the Bay spiked in late July and is now at its average size, covering about 14 percent of the Bay's mainstem. (Bay Journal)
  • Researchers are studying how extreme weather is impacting the striped bass population and other fisheries. (Science Daily)
  • Biologists are concerned that despite finding large Atlantic sturgeon, the Chesapeake Bay's oldest and largest fish, young sturgeon are few and far between. (Washington Post—D.C.)
  • A controversial subdivision on Kent Island has received approval to move forward. (Bay Times)
  • On a visit to a Lancaster County farm, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr. learned about agricultural conservation practices and how they improve local water quality. (Lancaster Farming—PA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

August 19, 26, September 2, and 9

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

August 27

  • Wrightsville, PA: Join CBF, Heroes on the Water, and local Trout Unlimited chapters for a day of fishing, paddling, and fly-fishing lessons on the Susquehanna River as we celebrate our veterans and the value of clean waterways. Veterans, community members, paddlers, fishermen, friends, and family are welcome at Shank’s Mare Outfitters from 1 to 5 p.m., to discover and appreciate the Susquehanna. From 5 to 7 p.m., CBF will host a dinner and open bar with live music for all participants. There is a $5 entrance fee for dinner and drinks. Click here to register!

September 1

  • Raphine, VA: The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council is sponsoring a summer forage tour exploring the topic of planning for drought. Click here to learn more!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Maryland's oysters and Susquehanna's smallmouth bass are two critters desperately needing our attention. Photos by CBF Staff and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The lazy, dog days of summer might be upon us, but saving the Bay never stops. Despite the out of office messages and plentiful distractions summer brings, we need you now. A critical pillar in our approach to save the Bay is advocacy. Put simply, your voice matters. In a world where the squeaky wheel gets the grease, we need to make a lot of noise on several critical Bay issues.

We've said it many times—oysters are awesome. A water-filtering powerhouse, an adult oyster is capable of cleaning up to 50 gallons of water every day. Oysters also provide critical habitat for other Bay critters through the development of oyster reefs. Despite their numerous benefits, the Bay's oyster population is at less than one-percent of historical levels, after decades of disease, habitat destruction, and overharvesting. In efforts to save this precious bivalve, sanctuaries have been set aside, off-limits to harvest, to allow the oyster population to rebound. This week, Maryland's Oyster Advisory Committee to the Governor recommended continuing a small stretch of an oyster restoration project in Maryland's Tred Avon would benefit all stakeholders. A final decision by Governor Hogan is expected any moment. This good news comes with a grain of salt, however—a much larger stretch of this project still hangs in the balance, and even worse, there has been discussion on opening current oyster sanctuaries up to harvest. Stand up for Maryland's Oysters—TAKE ACTION NOW.

We've also said many times, as goes the Susquehanna, so goes the Chesapeake Bay. A critical economic resource and a bastion of cultural heritage in Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River provides 50 percent of the Bay's freshwater. For several months now we have been petitioning for the Susquehanna River to be declared impaired. Since 2005, diseased and dying smallmouth bass have been found in the river. A recent study by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection found that endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, and pathogens and parasites are the most-likely causes of diseased and dying fish in the Lower Susquehanna. The state of the smallmouth bass fishery testifies to the devastating impact of pollution. An impaired listing for the Lower Susquehanna would allow the restoration process to begin in earnest, designating the river for additional study and new levels of investment in restoration. TAKE ACTION BY AUGUST 31, and help save the Susquehanna River and its vital smallmouth bass fishery for future generations.

These are just two of the major issues we're engaging in our fight to save the Bay. That's not to mention our work to stop sewage spills in Baltimore, maintain a sustainable harvest quota for menhaden, and protect critical habitat area for the Atlantic sturgeon. Saving the Bay never stops. Raise your voice now for the Bay and its critters. The Bay is a national treasure, and through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and with your help, we will save it for our children and grandchildren.

This Week in the Watershed: Filtering Bivalves, Sick Bass, and An Important Fish

  • CBF Pennsylvania Director Harry Campbell writes on how CBF is helping students chart a course for cleaner water. (York Daily Record—PA)
  • Regulators for menhaden, often called "the most important fish in the sea," tabled discussions of reevaluating quotas until an October meeting. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • We couldn't agree more this editorial arguing that oyster sanctuaries remain restricted from harvest. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A Maryland commission agreed to continue oyster restoration efforts on a small stretch of the Tred Avon, a tributary of the Choptank River. A hearing will take place on August 9, regarding the future of a much larger stretch of the Tred Avon project. (Bay Journal) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • Pollution is plaguing not only the Susquehanna River, but many of its tributaries, including those in York County. (York Daily Record—PA)
  • A report on Maryland's oyster population from the MD Department of Natural Resources reveals signs of revival in sanctuaries and decline in areas open to harvest. Troubling, the report leans towards recommending opening some sanctuaries to harvest, when the conclusions of the report indicate the opposite. (Washington Post—D.C.)
  • The 19th annual Paddle for the Bay in Norfolk was a hit, with hundreds of paddlers on the water. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declined to list the Susquehanna River as impaired, despite decades of dismal pollution results, especially to the smallmouth bass fishery. (Bay Journal) Bonus: CBF Statement

What's Happening around the Watershed?

August 9

  • Easton, MD: Speak up for oysters! Restoration efforts in the Tred Avon oyster sanctuary are threatened and we need you to speak up for these amazing water-filtering bivalves. The work proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes both shallow water work on new sites and seeding on sites already in the project. The project and the public meeting are part of the Corps' future work planned for the Tred Avon oyster sanctuary. Click here for more details!

August 27

  • Wrightsville, PA: Join CBF, Heroes on the Water, and local Trout Unlimited chapters for a day of fishing, paddling, and fly-fishing lessons on the Susquehanna River as we celebrate our veterans and the value of clean waterways. Veterans, community members, paddlers, fishermen, friends, and family are welcome at Shank’s Mare Outfitters from 1 to 5 p.m., to discover and appreciate the Susquehanna. From 5 to 7 p.m., CBF will host a dinner and open bar with live music for all participants. There is a $5 entrance fee for dinner and drinks. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Dolphins are frequent visitors on CBF education trips. This friendly trio came to play on a recent student excursion. Photo by Ian Robbins/CBF Staff.

There are many things we love about the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, but near the top of the list are all the wonderful critters. From delectable blue crabs, to water-filtering oysters, to the elusive river otter, there are plenty of critters to love. A fan favorite in all bodies of water where they are found, is the inquisitive, friendly, and playful dolphin. Recently, dolphins have been sighted throughout the Bay and its rivers and streams, as far north as the Magothy and Severn River north of Annapolis.

These sightings are another reminder why we love the Bay. From a breathtaking sunrise, to watching an osprey soar through the air with its dinner, to dolphins jumping out of the water, the Bay is full of pleasant surprises. We can never forget, however, that all of this beauty we witness and experience is dependent upon clean water. Indeed, many are speculating that these recent dolphin sightings are a positive sign that water quality is improving. On the contrary, some posit dolphins in the Bay are a sign of hungry predators chasing forage fish compressed by declining water quality.

Ultimately, we can never take the Bay for granted. If we don't fight for clean water through implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, these experiences will only live on in stories and photographs for future generations. The wonders of this national treasure hold intrinsic value, leaving us with three little words to recite as our creed—Save the Bay!

P.S.- Our summer version of e-news just hit inboxes yesterday. Check out these state updates! Pennsylvania | Maryland | Eastern Shore of Maryland | Virginia | Hampton Roads

This Week in the Watershed: Dolphin Frenzy, Growing Grasses, and Blueprint Support

  • We love this editorial applauding the bipartisan support among the Maryland congressional delegation standing behind the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. (Capital Gazette—MD
  • A wastewater treatment plant in Hampton Roads, VA is planning to turn wastewater into drinking water. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • Underwater grasses, a crucial part of the Bay's ecosystem, are on the rebound after decades of decline. (Spinsheet)
  • CBF President William C. Baker writes on the need to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint a midst attacks from Congress. (Baltimore Sun—MD) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • We are saddened by the news that Eleanor Merrill, a long-time supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, passed away at the age of 82. (Washington Post—D.C.)
  • Archaeologists on the shores of the Wicomico River are studying how Native Americans consumed oysters. (Bay Net)
  • Warren, Lehigh, and Lancaster are the most recent counties in Pennsylvania to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 28th, 29th, and 30th counties in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (CBF Press Releases)
  • Dolphins have been sighted around rivers and tributaries of the Bay. (Capital Gazette—MD) Bonus: More dolphins!

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs—plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important—and tasty—inhabitants. Click here to register!

July 29, and August 5

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

July 30

  • Norfolk, VA: Come on out for the 19th Annual Paddle for the Bay! Paddlers with kayaks to paddle boarders and all others in between, join in this Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association certified competition to raise funds for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Click here to register!

August 4

  • East Pennsboro, PA: Get out on the water with CBF! This canoe trip will start just north of the city of Harrisburg near Ft. Hunter Park. The educators from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Susquehanna Watershed Education Program will lead the way, winding through large islands. The trip will take the group under the historic Rockville Bridge and pass by one of the largest rookeries on the river, Wade Island. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Chesapeake under Congressional Attack

The following first appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

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Critters like this blue heron depend on the implementation of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Photo by Steve Aprile.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved anti-Save-the-Bay legislation that would turn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into a paper tiger when it comes to reducing Chesapeake Bay pollution. Fortunately, there was some good news. Every Maryland representative, on both sides of the aisle, voted against the measure.

The entire delegation understands the value of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the need for states that aren't making sufficient progress to be held accountable. A recent EPA report said Pennsylvania is failing to meet its pollution-reduction goals.

CBF thanks the delegation, especially Rep. Chris Van Hollen who immediately went public to decry the amendment and urged his colleagues to take a stand. Rep. Andy Harris also has spoken out in favor of clean water by voting in opposition to his Republican colleagues who proposed the amendment.

All six states in the Chesapeake drainage area and the District of Columbia voluntarily agreed to collaborate on the Blueprint and to be held accountable for lack of progress. EPA is charged with imposing penalties for failure.

The collaboration among states and federal agencies is working. Oysters are making a comeback. Bay grasses and summer oxygen levels are increasing to levels we haven't seen in decades. Congress should maintain the federal commitment to the Blueprint and fully fund its implementation. If not, the bay may go the way of Lake Erie, once declared saved but now worse than ever.

—William C. Baker, CBF President

The representatives below stood by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint voting against this bad amendment. If you live in their districts, please take a moment to thank them!

Representatives Beyer, Carney, Cartwright, Comstock, Connolly, Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Forbes, Gibson, Hanna, Harris, Hoyer, Rigell, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Scott, Van Hollen, and Wittman.


This Week in the Watershed

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A healthy future for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams relies on the full implementation of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, which faced a new obstacle from Congress this week. Photo by Mark Dignen.

It has often been said in some form since George Santayana first uttered the words in the early 20th century, that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Indeed, history is often cyclical, with one generation repeating the previous generation's blunders and mishaps. This was the case for decades in Bay cleanup efforts when main Bay states agreed to voluntary pollution reductions, but with no checkpoints or accountability, the well-regarded intentions were destined for failure.

The tide turned in December 2010 when the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint took shape. Under the Blueprint, the EPA oversees enforceable pollution limits on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. Each Bay state has their plans to meet those limits, with two-year incremental checkpoints, and crucially, consequences imposed for failure to meet pollution-reduction goals. Finally, efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams have teeth.

As with most efforts to change the status quo, the Blueprint has faced significant resistance. Within weeks of its release, the plan was attacked by special interests with enormous political influence, and by attorneys general from 21 states. After years of legal challenges and two resounding courtroom victories, the Blueprint has been affirmed as a tremendous example of cooperative federalism. And already, we have seen positive signs that the Blueprint is working. Underwater dead zones are smaller, oysters are rebounding, and Bay grasses are covering more bottom than they have in 35 years!

But no one said change is easy. Congress is the next challenge for the Blueprint, as an amendment was proposed this week on an appropriations bill that would cripple the EPA's ability to impose consequences on states failing to meet pollution-reduction goals. Essentially, the Blueprint would lose its teeth, condemning us to repeat the same cycle of voluntary agreements which time and again proved fruitless. Now is the time to double-down on the Blueprint, not abandon progress. We will continue fighting to defend the Blueprint with hopes and ambitions of leaving a legacy of clean water for our children and future generations. Click here to read CBF's letter to Congress in defense of the Blueprint!

This Week in the Watershed: Appropriations, Shrinking Dead Zones, and an Ancient Fish

  • An appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives threatens the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, VA is raising the bar for sustainable architecture. (Virginia Business Magazine—VA)
  • Dead zones are shrinking, as recently release data reveals the second best dissolved oxygen levels in Maryland's portion of the Bay since 1985. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • We couldn't agree more with this editorial condemning efforts to impede Bay cleanup efforts. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA) Bonus: CBF Letter to Congress
  • Municipalities in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County are receiving grants for projects to reduce urban stormwater runoff. (Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal—PA)
  • The Atlantic sturgeon, the oldest and largest fish in the Chesapeake Bay, is threatened by extinction. (Somerset County Times—MD)
  • Susquehanna County in northeast Pennsylvania became the latest county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 27th county in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (CBF Press Release)
  • The resurgence of underwater grasses is worth celebrating! (Baltimore Sun—MD)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 21

  • Baltimore, MD: Join CBF and partners at a town hall meeting on the newly modified Consent Decree (CD) to address Baltimore's failing sewage system. The public is invited to attend this free meeting and ask questions, and to learn about what is being proposed and how the City plans to meet obligations detailed in the Consent Decree. Click here to register!

July 22, 29, and August 5

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

July 22

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Join CBF for an early morning outdoors! We are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of property maintenance at the Brock Center and Pleasure House Point. We can use your help anytime from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Activities will include cutting back phragmites around the site, removing Japanese sedge, and checking in on Libby's Garden and the rain gardens. If you are interested, please send us an email at rsvp@cbf.org or call 757-622-1964. Please share with us your name, home or cell number, and your email address so we can stay in touch in case of any changes. Also please let us know if you can come out for an hour or all three hours.

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs—plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important—and tasty—inhabitants. Click here to register!

July 30

  • Norfolk, VA: Come on out for the 19th Annual Paddle for the Bay! Paddlers with kayaks to paddle boarders and all others in between, join in this Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association certified competition to raise funds for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Click here to register!

August 4

  • East Pennsboro, PA: Get out on the water with CBF! This canoe trip will start just north of the city of Harrisburg near Ft. Hunter Park. The educators from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Susquehanna Watershed Education Program will lead the way, winding through large islands. The trip will take the group under the historic Rockville Bridge and pass by one of the largest rookeries on the river, Wade Island. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Another Outrageous Attack on Clean Water and the Champions Who Stood up to It

NewPhoto by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Just this week another outrageous attempt to undermine the historic Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint rose, this time in the halls of Congress. Here's what happened:

Representatives Bob Goodlatte (VA) and Glenn Thompson (PA) offered an amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that would gut the federal-state effort to clean up our Bay and its rivers and streams.

The Interior and Environment Appropriations bill sets funding levels for many important things, including EPA's work to Save the Bay. Mr. Goodlatte's Amendment #57 would keep EPA from using any funds to take "backstop" actions against states failing to meet their pollution-reduction goals set under the Blueprint. These backstop actions are what give the Blueprint its "teeth,” the very things that set it apart from any previous federal-state Bay cleanup effort. Previous efforts all lacked meaningful consequences for failure to reduce pollution. The Blueprint holds polluters accountable. And this summer's improving water quality and abundance of underwater grasses are a testament to the fact that it's working!

CBF President Will Baker sent a letter to representatives from the Bay region, urging them to vote NO on Mr. Goodlatte's amendment and asking them to redouble their support for the watershed states, communities, and farmers who are on the front lines of this historic restoration effort.

Yet still, late yesterday, the House passed Mr. Goodlatte’s damaging Amendment #57 that undermines the Blueprint clean-up effort—in direct opposition to the will of Bay states and residents.

Although we're disappointed the amendment passed, there is a silver lining worth celebrating. In an unusual show of unity for Washington these days, the vote demonstrates that a bipartisan group of Bay legislators are standing strong in support of the Blueprint, a federal-state collaboration that is working!

CBF would like particularly to commend the efforts of Reps. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Bobby Scott (VA), who led efforts to defeat this damaging amendment.

And here is a breakdown of the Bay delegation vote on the amendment:

FOR (in support of the bad amendment): Representatives Barletta, Brat, Collins, Costello, Dent, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Jenkins, Katko, Marino, McKinley, Meehan, Mooney, Perry, Pitts, Reed, Rothfus, Shuster, and Thompson.

AGAINST (in support of clean water): Representatives Beyer, Carney, Cartwright, Comstock, Connolly, Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Forbes, Gibson, Hanna, Harris, Hoyer, Rigell, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Scott, Van Hollen, and Wittman.

We are incredibly grateful to those above who stood up for clean water, in opposition to this amendment. They truly are champions of our Bay and its rivers and streams. If you live in their districts, please take a moment now to thank them.

The Appropriations bill still has to be reconciled with the Senate's version before it heads towards the President's desk for signature. We will keep you posted about how you can help ensure this harmful amendment isn't included in the final bill. Until then, thanks for your continued support. These encouraging signs of collaboration simply would not be possible without you speaking up for the Bay, its critters, and our communities.

—Alix Murdoch, CBF's Federal Policy Director


This Week in the Watershed

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Underwater grasses, which depend on clean water, are key to the survival of the blue crab. Photo by Jay Fleming.

Without a doubt, one of the most beloved critters in the Chesapeake Bay is the blue crab. A summer staple of dinner plates, the blue crab is not only ingrained in Bay cuisine, but also in the Bay's culture, history, and economy. Considering the importance of this cantankerous critter, it has always been troubling that its population is notoriously unpredictable. Many factors impact its population in a cycle that can often be boom or bust. In efforts to improve blue crab numbers, harvest restrictions are often considered as one of the most important steps to take. While harvest restrictions are vital, particularly on females, there might be an even more important factorclean water.

Pardon the nautical pun, but clean water is "the rising tide that lifts all boats." For blue crabs, underwater grasses are critical to their survival. Blue crabs are most vulnerable when they are shedding their shell, and underwater grasses provide the cover they need to survive. However, underwater grasses are few and far between when pollution, largely from excess nitrogen and phosphorus, blocks the sunlight that grasses need to grow. Clean water not only helps blue crabs, but all flora and fauna living in and on the Bay. Not to mention, humanity benefits from clean water as well, with expanded recreational opportunities, improved public health, and massive economic benefits.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is the key to moving clean water efforts forward in the Bay. And a clean Bay, full of healthy, swimming blue crabs, is a legacy worth leaving to future generations. To learn more about all things blue crabs, tune into the most recent CBF podcast!

This Week in the Watershed: Burgeoning Blue Crabs, A City Showdown, and An Island Predicament

  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan focused attention on the sediment buildup behind the Conowingo Dam, calling for new ideas to address the pollution problem. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A public hearing on the coal ash ponds at the Chesterfield Power Station drew a large contingent of speakers imploring state regulators to impose stricter environmental requirements on Dominion Virginia Power. (Richmond Times-Dispatch—VA)
  • Animal rights groups are calling attention to the unethical hunting of cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • Improved water quality and underwater grasses have helped produce more—and bigger—crabs this season. (Bay Journal)
  • The successful renovations at the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant are a high note amidst a national crisis of failing infrastructure. (Center for Progressive Reform Blog)
  • Virginia's Tangier Island faces an uncertain future. (New York Times Magazine)
  • Lawrence County in western Pennsylvania became the latest county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 27th county in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (New Castle News—PA) Bonus: CBF Press Release
  • The cities of Boston and Baltimore have seen vastly different outcomes of local water cleanup efforts. (Baltimore Brew—MD)
  • Pennsylvania farms might face new federal inspections in light of the state not being on track to meet its 2025 pollution-reduction targets. (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal—PA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 15, 22, 29

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

July 22

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Join CBF for an early morning outdoors! We are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of property maintenance at the Brock Center and Pleasure House Point. We can use your help anytime from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Activities will include cutting back phragmites around the site, removing Japanese sedge, and checking in on Libby's Garden and the rain gardens. If you are interested, please send us an email at rsvp@cbf.org or call 757-622-1964. Please share with us your name, home or cell number, and your email address so we can stay in touch in case of any changes. Also please let us know if you can come out for an hour or all three hours.

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs—plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important—and tasty—inhabitants. Click here to register!

July 30

  • Norfolk, VA: Come on out for the 19th Annual Paddle for the Bay! Paddlers with kayaks to paddle boarders and all others in between, join in this Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association certified competition to raise funds for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Fishing is just one of many recreational opportunities afforded to us by clean water. Photo by Krista Schyler/iLCP.

From the long, hot, muggy days, to the out of office messages from colleagues on vacation, to the barbecues and lawn games, there's no doubt that summer is here. With the warm weather comes ample opportunity to get out on the water, enjoying the Bay and its rivers and streams. Indeed, the Chesapeake Bay region rivals anywhere in the country when it comes to outdoor activities and gorgeous landscapes.

To enjoy this national treasure, however, the water needs to be clean. Environmentally-friendly actions taken by individuals on a broad scale can make a huge difference. If only everyone could avoid the environmental pet peeves of CBF's Pennsylvania staff! Great work is also taking place in the streets of Baltimore, where inspiring community leaders are working to clean the streets of trash that eventually washes into the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

Ultimately, however, the best hope for clean water throughout the Bay and its rivers and streams, is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. And if the Blueprint is fully implemented, it will provide an additional $1 billion a year in economic value from recreational activities throughout the Bay region. The fun we have on the water and the beauty we experience will continue to inspire us in our work to see the Blueprint implemented and #SaveTheBay.

This Week in the Watershed: A Historic Trail, Pet Peeves, and Trashy Streets

  • The Anacostia Watershed Society released a report that the Anacostia River is still extremely degraded. (Bay Journal)
  • Virginia students learned outside, embarking on a trip with CBF's education program. (Free Lance Star—VA)
  • Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director, writes on the environmental pet peeves of CBF's Pennsylvania staff. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • CBF's Brock Environmental Center was nominated as a finalist for World Architecture News' Sustainable Buildings Award. (World Architecture News)
  • A couple recently completed a nine-month, 6,900-mile journey, including a trip up the Rappahannock River, viewing the beautiful Fones Cliffs. (WVTF—VA)
  • Check out this fun Q&A on all things Chesapeake Bay. (Washingtonian—D.C.)
  • Community efforts are in full swing to reduce the level of trash on the streets of Baltimore, which eventually washes into the Inner Harbor. (Bay Journal)
  • Two Maryland watermen received lifetime bans following a large poaching scheme of striped bass, also known as rockfish. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is celebrating its 10th anniversary. (Bay Journal)
  • Cambria County in central Pennsylvania became the latest county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 26th county in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (Tribune Democrat—PA) Bonus: CBF Press Release

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 8, 15, 22, 29

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs—plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important—and tasty—inhabitants. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Agricultural runoff, such as from this farm in York County, PA, is an area where pollution-reduction efforts need acceleration. Photo by John Pavoncello/York Dispatch.

We might sound like a broken record at times, but there's a reason why we're always talking about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Unlike previous Bay cleanup plans, the Blueprint sets two-year, incremental goals, known as milestones, to ensure states are on track to meet their pollution-reduction commitments. The Blueprint goal is to have 60 percent of the pollution-reduction practices in place by 2017 and 100 percent in place by 2025. Last Friday the EPA released their assessment of progress made by the states in their 2014-15 milestones.

While states are making significant progress, cleanup efforts are off track. As CBF President Will Baker states, "The [Bay] region is not on track to meet its 2017 goals, largely as a result of Pennsylvania's failure to reduce nitrogen pollution from agriculture. While we acknowledge that some progress has been made in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has consistently failed to meet its goals, missing the mark in the last three two-year milestone periods."

These milestones provide the opportunity to highlight shortfalls, identify a proper course of action, and accelerate efforts. In this case, all the Bay states, but particularly Pennsylvania, need to focus on reducing agricultural pollution. The work to save the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams never stops. We will continue fighting to save this national treasure and leave a legacy of clean water to our children and future generations. Click here to read CBF's full statement on the EPA milestones assessments.

This Week in the Watershed: Milestones, Stinky Sea Lettuce, and A Susquehanna Paddle

  • A fish spill on Virginia's Eastern Shore left approximately 2,000 bushels of dead and dying menhaden washing up on shore. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • On the shores of Kent Island, rotting sea lettuce is leaving a noxious odor to the chagrin of many residents. (Kent Island Bay Times—MD)
  • Efforts to reduce excess nutrients through stormwater controls are also providing the additional benefit of removing toxic pollutants from local waterways. (Bay Journal)
  • Some Pennsylvanians are concerned over the use of biosolidsfertilizer from treated human sewage. (Altoona Mirror—PA)
  • Baltimore is behind on its plans to reduce polluted runoff by eliminating impermeable surfaces and creating new wetlands. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A group of media members was invited for a paddle on the Susquehanna River, experiencing it's beauty and learning about the challenges it faces. (Lebanon Daily News—PA)
  • The EPA released their assessment of progress by Bay states in their 2014-15 milestones. The findings reveal there is much work to be done, especially in Pennsylvania. (AP) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • Numbers for blue crabs are up this year, but how does that impact the watermen who depend on them? (Washington Post—D.C.)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

Throughout June

June 25

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series wraps up with The XPD's. One of the best bands in the D.C. area, the XPD's are back and ready to groove to Motown, R&B, and funk tunes that will have you on your feet! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 26

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for a day at Clagett Farm for educational presentations, a tour of the farm, a service project, and a showcase of foods produced on the sustainable farm. Attendees will assist in the filling and planting of elevated garden beds designed for easier accessibility to individuals with a limited range of motion. Click here to learn more and register!

June 30, July 8, and July 15

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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Fish kills are one of the terrible consequences of dead zones. Photo by John Surrick/CBF Staff.

For far too long, dead zones have plagued the Chesapeake Bay every summer. This week it was forecast that this summer's dead zone will be average to slightly below average. At first glance, this might appear to be good news. Upon closer inspection however, the status quo is unacceptable. On what planet is it good news for a body of water the size of 2.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools to exist that chokes all life out of it? Work must continue to reduce pollution and restore water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

There are many occasions in the fight for clean water when good news needs to be tempered by the reality that much work is left to be done. Two weeks ago, CBF witnessed amazing water clarity in the Severn River, along with an abundance of underwater grasses and active critters. View these signs of progress in this inspiring video:

Just this week however, an algal bloom popped up in the Severn. The work to save the Bay and it's rivers and streams is extremely delicate in nature. But we can take heart that the Bay is showing signs the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. And now is the time to accelerate our efforts. With the support of thousands of Bay-loving individuals across the Bay region, we will do just that.

This Week in the Watershed: Dead Zone Forecast, A Forgotten Fishery, and Paddler Activists

  • Bacteria loads in three local watersheds of Virginia's York River found high concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria and enterococcus, bacteria which can cause infections in humans. (Daily Press—VA)
  • Students in Hampton Roads are diving head first into the world of oyster restoration. (Daily Press—VA)
  • It's still early in the crab season, but numbers are up so far, boosting the local economy. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • American shad, a largely forgotten fishery, is experiencing a steep drop-off in the number of fish making it to spawning grounds, despite the investment in fish lifts at dams. (Bay Journal)
  • Improvements to wastewater treatment plants are well ahead of schedule, largely due to technological upgrades at treatment plants. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the dead zone on the Bay this year is predicted to be average to slightly smaller than average. (Capital Gazette—MD) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • Residents of Maryland's Eastern Shore are resisting the proliferation of massive chicken houses, which they argue have negative impacts on public health, property values, and the environment. (Daily Times—MD)
  • More than 250 paddlers descended on Baltimore's Inner Harbor demanding clean water. (Bay Journal)
  • Farmer and conservationist Bobby Whitescarver is teaching others how to effectively steward their land. (News Leader—VA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

Throughout June

June 18

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series continues with the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters. The Navy's official chorus will perform pieces ranging from Broadway tunes to sea chanteys and everything in between; top-notch entertainment you won't want to miss! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 24

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

June 25

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series wraps up with The XPD's. One of the best bands in the D.C. area, the XPD's are back and ready to groove to Motown, R&B, and funk tunes that will have you on your feet! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 26

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for a day at Clagett Farm for educational presentations, a tour of the farm, a service project, and a showcase of foods produced on the sustainable farm. Attendees will assist in the filling and planting of elevated garden beds designed for easier accessibility to individuals with a limited range of motion. Click here to learn more and register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate