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


This Week in the Watershed

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These Cub Scout volunteers on Clean the Bay Day are a small sampling of the many inspiring volunteers fighting for clean water throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

These days, it seems like there's a special day, week, or month set aside to recognize and celebrate everything: causes, issues, and occasionally, culinary creations. While there is nothing wrong with National Donut Day, for too long there wasn't a time to pause and appreciate the country's largest estuary. To change this trend, the legislatures of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania chose the week of June 4-12 to celebrate the first Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.

This week for the Chesapeake is a time not only to celebrate the beauty, bounty, and recreation the Bay provides but also to remember that the fight to save the Bay and its rivers and streams is a marathon, not a sprint. In this long, hard, endurance race we are inspired by the many stalwart fighters for clean water, such as Bernie Fowler. The 92-year old former Maryland state senator has dedicated his life to cleaning the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. His efforts have made an indelible impact, and his never-give-up attitude serves as motivation to a new generation of Bay advocates.

These advocates are found across the watershed, from Bonnie Kersta, a CBF oyster gardener volunteer, to farmers implementing best management practices for clean water, to the over 6,000 volunteers across Virginia who cleaned 440 miles of streamline and shore, removing over 138,000 pounds of harmful debris on Clean the Bay Day. All this hard work, from these volunteers and others, is making a difference. Recently, the Bay has shown encouraging signs of recovery, with the resurgence of underwater grasses, horseshoe crabs, and the blue crab population. Despite these positive trends, the fight to save the Bay is far from over. But with the implementation of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the amazing contributions of inspiring individuals, the Bay is well on its way.

This Week in the Watershed: #AreYouBayAware, A Successful Cleaning, and Resilient Horseshoe Crabs

  • Farmers in Virginia are helping to save the Bay through implementing best management practices for clean water on their farms. (Daily Progress—VA)
  • Bernie Fowler, a legendary champion for the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River, is an inspiration for clean water fighters. (Daily Times—VA)
  • This week is the first Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, a joint effort by Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to promote national appreciation for the largest estuary in the country. (Daily Press—VA)
  • A Pennsylvania legislator has proposed a new water fee to raise revenue for water restoration efforts throughout the Keystone State. (Bay Journal)
  • CBF's 28th Annual Clean the Bay Day was a resounding success, with over 6,000 volunteers participating across Virginia and over 138,000 pounds of harmful debris removed. (Progress Index—VA) Bonus: CBF Press Release
  • Horseshoe crabs are making a comeback throughout the Chesapeake Bay. (Bay Journal)
  • Bonnie Kersta is a finalist for this year's COX Conserves Heroes Program for her volunteer work with CBF's oyster gardening program. If Bonnie wins, CBF will receive a $10,000 grant. You can help by voting online, and you only need to vote once between now and June 17. (Williamsburg Yorktown Daily—VA) Click here to vote for Bonnie!

What's Happening around the Watershed?

Throughout June

June 11

  • Baltimore, MD: Join CBF and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore for a Healthy Harbor paddle and rally to support the environmental restoration of this ecosystem and show that we value the health of our city, our harbor, our Bay, and our streams. Pre-register at BaltimoreFloatilla.com. 

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


This Week in the Watershed

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With the positive trends in Bay health, there is reason to be hopeful water quality will continue rising. Photo by David Cunningham.

In this season of graduation gowns, commencement speeches, and flying mortar board caps, graduating students celebrate their accomplishments and are hopeful for a successful future. Of course, to reach graduation day every student has to receive passing grades. This week, the Bay received its own grade, earning a "C" on its health report card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

A student graduating with a GPA in the "C" range wouldn't be among the most accomplished of his or her peers, but for the Bay, a "C" grade is a sign of progress. This is only the third time since the report card was first issued in 1986 that the Bay received a "C." The other two years, 1992 and 2002, were years of drought, when there was little precipitation to wash polluted runoff into the Bay. In contrast, 2015 was an average year for precipitation. Additionally, Bay health has been on a steady upward trend, scoring a 45 percent in 2013, 50 percent in 2014, and 53 percent for its 2015 report card. This good news reveals the progress being made in reducing pollution to the Bay. All signs point to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint working.

That said, there is plenty of work left to be done. And as Kim Coble, CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration, reminds us, "The region is not on track to meet its long-term goals and Bay jurisdictions, with EPA's leadership, need to do significantly more if we are to realize a restored Bay by 2025 as the states and EPA committed to achieving." While the Bay certainly hasn't "graduated," there is reason to be hopeful that with the continued implementation of the Blueprint, the Bay can truly be saved.

This Week in the Watershed: Grading the Bay, Contaminated Wells, and Baltimore Basements

What's Happening around the Watershed?

June 3

  • 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 4

  • 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 a 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. (This event was rescheduled from May 14 due to weather). Click here to register!
  • Throughout Virginia: Join us for the 28th annual Clean the Bay Day! One of the largest volunteer efforts in Virginia, roughly 6,000 volunteers remove more than 100,000 pounds of harmful debris from Virginia's waterways and shorelines. With sites all across the Commonwealth, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Click here to learn more and register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


This Week in the Watershed

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CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach earned the distinguished designation of a "Living Building." Photo by Dave Chance.

Despite our world's obsession with growth, the reality is we live on a planet with finite resources. Right now, we're faced with significant challenges, namely climate change and accompanying sea-level rise. Into this picture steps CBF's Brock Environmental Center based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

This week, the International Living Future Institute designated our Brock Center a "Living Building." From the ground up, Brock is the embodiment of sustainability. First, it was built on land that originally was slated for a massive condo complex. Saving this property from large-scale development not only was critical for the environment, it also preserved a public space for the community. Once construction began, only environmentally safe materials and low-impact building techniques were used. The building features many recycled and repurposed items donated by the Hampton Roads community, including old school bleachers, gym floors, sinks, lockers, and cabinets.

In operation, Brock is energy and water independent, producing twice as much energy as it consumes, and is the first commercial building in the continental United States permitted to capture and treat rainfall for use as drinking water. With an eye towards the future, Brock was built anticipating the effects of climate change, raised 14 feet above sea level.

Last but not least, Brock exemplifies its green roots through serving as the home to a new hands-on, field-based environmental education program. Not only do students explore the natural world surrounding Brock, but they explore the center itself, as the building serves as an inspirational model on sustainable living. One of the toughest building standards in the world, the Living Building Challenge certification demonstrates how buildings should be constructed given our finite resources.

This Week in the Watershed: A Living Building, Rainy Days, and a Failing Harbor

  • CBF President Will Baker writes on how agricultural pollution must be addressed if we are going to Save the Bay. (Bay Journal)
  • CBF's Brock Environmental Center, based in Virginia Beach, VA, was declared one of the world's greenest buildings, earning the elite title of a "Living Building." (The Virginian-Pilot—VA) Bonus: Daily Press—VA
  • The onslaught of rainy days has local farms, including CBF's Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD, struggling to meet harvest quotas. (DCist)
  • A report released this week found that oyster restoration projects in Maryland's Choptank River are finding success. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • A new study suggests fish in the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries face a greater risk from climate change than previously expected. (Bay Journal)
  • Pennsylvania joined Maryland and Virginia in recognizing the week of June 5-11 as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. (The Daily Review—PA) Bonus: CBF Press Release
  • Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director, writes on the important connection between soil health and clean water. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • Environmentalists in Maryland are alarmed at the considerable downward trend in enforcement of environmental laws. (Bay Journal)
  • For the third consecutive year, Baltimore's Inner Harbor posted failing grades in its water quality report card. (Baltimore Sun—MD)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

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!

May 17

  • LaPlata, MD: Join CBF at acrucial public hearing on the future of Charles County. This is your opportunity to provide comment to the Board of County Commissioners on the planning board's recommended Comprehensive Plan, which does not adequately protect the Mattawoman Creek, clean water, healthy forests, or quality of life in the county. Click here to register!

May 20

  • 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. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Farm Bureau Can Choose to Be a Sore Loser or Part of the Solution

The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.

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The Bay will not be saved if agricultural pollution is not addressed. Photo by Dave Hartcorn.

The long and expensive fight by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute and their allies to derail the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is finally over. The Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal of a lawsuit that they had lost in both the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and in a unanimous decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Now that their legal opposition has finally been turned back, we reached out to the Farm Bureau and its allies to encourage them to work with us, rather than fight us.

But despite the decision by the Supreme Court, the Farm Bureau continues its anti-EPA rhetoric. In a recent press statement, they continue to contend that the "EPA has asserted the power to sit as a federal zoning board, dictating which land can be farmed and where homes, roads, and schools can be built." This argument has been repeatedly rejected by federal courts.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint pollution caps are still under attack. Timothy Bishop, a partner with Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago who represents the American Farm Bureau Federation, is quoted as saying the question of the EPA's authority has "just been postponed" until there are nine justices on the court.

There is a real danger in denying agriculture's role in restoring water quality. The very best estuarine science in the world has presented indisputable evidence that agriculture is part of the problem and must be part of the solution.

Beyond the Bay, as well, a recent University of Michigan-led multi-institution study concluded that a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus runoff from farms and other sources would be needed to stem the harmful algae blooms and dead zones plaguing Lake Erie.

If that 40 percent reduction sounds familiar, it should. For decades, Bay scientists have known that to restore our local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay, we need to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution by 40 percent.

We have made progress, but much of it has been achieved by reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants. While many farmers have implemented best management practices, the full agricultural community must do its fair share.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint provides a road map to recovery, but it must be fully implemented. With the 2017 Midpoint Assessment just around the corner, it appears that the region will miss another mark, by millions of pounds of pollution, largely because of Pennsylvania, and primarily from agriculture.

The commonwealth's officials have acknowledged the problem, and said they are committed to getting the state back on track. Our reaction is to trust, but verify.

An editorial in Lancaster (PA) Farming put it well:

"We should always keep careful watch of what the government is doing, especially with our money and our freedoms.

"But TMDL requirements provide an opportunity to show the rest of the nation that farmers can co-exist with nonfarmers and that the environment doesn't have to suffer as a result.

"Farm Bureau may have lost its battle, but farmers have a chance to win the pollution war."

We in the Chesapeake Bay region have the opportunity to show the nation, and the world, what can be accomplished if businesses, governments, individuals—and even the Farm Bureau—work together to reduce pollution in our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

William C. Baker, CBF President


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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Trees and underwater grasses are indispensable in the fight for clean water. Photos by Justin Black/iLCP (left), and Jay Fleming (right).

Today we want to take a moment to celebrate some unsung heroes of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While we love blue crabs, oysters, and ospreys, there are other species that deserve our love. This week, underwater grasses are getting the recognition they deserve as a survey found that grasses are at their highest total in three decades. Underwater grasses are not only a strong indicator of water quality, they also help prevent erosion, absorb excess nutrients, trap suspended sediment, and provide critical habitat to critters in the Bay, including the beloved blue crab.

In addition to this good news, we can't forget today is Arbor Day. Trees are crucial to the overall health of the watershed—they slow down runoff and the erosion of soil, absorb pollutants to our rivers and the Bay, and help alleviate flooding through stabilizing the soil. Trees and forests also provide habitat for wildlife and help to cool stream temperatures.

Trees and underwater grasses are two of the best natural tools we have to filter pollution and help clean up our rivers and streams. In the fight for clean water, they are truly indispensable. Indeed, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint relies on these natural tools to alleviate pollution. So raise a glass (of clean water!) today and celebrate trees and underwater grasses as unsung heroes of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

This Week in the Watershed: Soaring Grasses, Trucking Fish, and Transformed Surfaces

  • Thanks to efforts from Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 passed with bipartisan support from the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This legislation will provide important tools and resources for states and municipalities to achieve pollution-reduction goals under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Additionally, it provides crucial support for oyster restoration efforts. (CBF Statement)
  • A Chesapeake Bay Program survey found a 21 percent increase in underwater grasses—the highest total in three decades. (Baltimore Sun—MD) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • With the creation of the dams, fish have been unable to complete their migration upriver to spawn. This week however, an agreement was reached to provide fish lifts and trucking of migratory shad and river herring on the Conowingo Dam. (Bay Journal)
  • We received good news a couple weeks ago that a winter survey found the blue crab population is up 35 percent, but scientists remind us the species has not fully recovered. (Smithsonian Insider)
  • While it is encouraging to see pollution reduction from agricultural runoff reforms and upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, there is still much room for improvement. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
  • We love this public-private partnership to transform impervious surfaces to green spaces in Washington, D.C. (Bay Journal)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

April 30

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for our Spring Open House at Clagett Farm! Members and the general public are invited to join us for farm tours, hayrides, and to meet our new baby calves and lambs! The event is free and open to all. Click here for more information!

May 1

  • Richmond, VA: Come on out for a Speakers Bureau training with CBF! With far more requests for speakers than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speakers Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on clean water 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. We simply cannot do it alone! Click here to learn more and register!

May 3

  • Annapolis, MD: Join CBF for our spring "Save the Bay Breakfast" to learn about some simple things you can do to "Save the Bay at home," and to dive deeper into Bay-friendly landscaping and gardening with the smart, helpful experts from the Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners' "Bay-Wise" program team. Click here to register!

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 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 in order 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


"Clean Water Counts" Is the Message at CBF Reception in York County

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Those who attended the reception shared their thoughts and ideas about how to address the 350 miles of York County rivers and streams that are polluted. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Concern for clean water in York County was at high tide when legislators, business leaders, and other guests gathered at the John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville for a reception sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) Pennsylvania office. The restaurant on Front Street was the ideal setting for the event; its outdoor patio overlooking the lower Susquehanna River.

"It was wonderful to see such a large and diverse group of citizens and leaders gathered to talk about why clean water counts," said Harry Campbell, CBF executive director in Pennsylvania and emcee for the evening.

Since last summer, CBF has been conducting its "Clean Water Counts: York" campaign in York County, to raise awareness of local water quality issues and solutions, and to motivate residents to take action to reduce water pollution.

The 70 people who attended the reception came together to talk about the successes and challenges of addressing the 350 miles of York County rivers and streams that are polluted by agricultural and urban/suburban runoff.

At the reception, CBF President Will Baker commended partnerships within the county, and hailed York County as a proven leader in conservation. He noted that York County was the first county to adopt the "Clean Water Counts" resolution, and lauded efforts to clean up Codorus Creek, work by the conservation district, and the planning commission's progress in managing polluted runoff.

Wrightsville teenager Brynn Kelly explained why, to her, clean water is a big deal. She grew up near the river and became excited about clean water after a trip to CBF's Merrill Center. The high school senior at Lancaster Catholic High School has spoken publicly about the value of reducing pollution, and wrote a letter to Governor Tom Wolf urging him to clean up Pennsylvania's waterways. Kelly also serves as president of CBF's Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council.   

York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell offered insight as to how the board views and plans to address clean water challenges. She reminded the gathering that streams aren't bound by municipal boundaries, and that the commission is working to help municipalities collaborate on ways to reduce pollution.

Growing Greener Coalition Executive Director Andrew Heath said his group is looking for "champions" in the state House and Senate who would be willing to put together a Growing Greener III proposal that calls for revenue to pay for conservation efforts. He said Growing Greener funds would be spent primarily on improving water quality in Pennsylvania.

Heath also highlighted the "Clean Water Counts" statewide campaign that urges county commissioners to pass resolutions encouraging leaders in Harrisburg to make improving water quality a priority. He said 16 counties have passed resolutions and efforts will be renewed next month to enlist the remaining counties.

State Representative Stan Saylor offered one of the highlights of the evening in announcing that the York County delegation will introduce a House resolution to declare May as "Clean Water Counts Month." Rep. Saylor said the resolution is intended to outline the importance of clean water and the number of streams that need to be cleaned up in Pennsylvania.

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CBF President Will Baker, center, spends a moment at the York County reception, with state representatives Kristin Hill, left, and Stan Saylor, right. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Roughly 19,000 miles of river and streams in Pennsylvania are polluted.

Other York County legislators in attendance were state representatives Keith Gillespie, and Kristin Hill.

Conversations about clean water took place throughout the two-hour reception.

A group of teachers met with CBF education staff to discuss strategy and messaging. "We discussed how CBF can be the storyteller for the incredible students that teachers bring on our programs every day," said CBF Education Outreach Coordinator Allyson Ladley Gibson.

"We want to tell the story about that student who has trouble participates in class, but comes alive when you ask them to help untie the canoes, paddle the boat themselves, find macroinvertebrates that will tell us about water quality, and be responsible for their own team that day," she added. "That student may start a whole new path because of the day with CBF and go on to find new passions, a certain type of education, and a career."

Staff members from "Heroes on the Water," attended the reception to show their support for clean water efforts. The veterans support group provided equipment and guidance at CBF's "Veterans on the Susquehanna" event in Wrightsville last summer.

CBF President Will Baker also told those at the reception that, "Clean water is unifier in a time when so much divides us."

The message was made clear by those who attended—clean water counts in York County and across the Commonwealth.

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


Filtering through the 2016 Maryland General Assembly

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State legislators only have to take a quick stroll from the Maryland State House in Annapolis before arriving at the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Nikki Davis.

This year's Maryland General Assembly session was as expansive and varied as the Chesapeake watershed itself, covering the land, water, and air of this vast watershed we share.

We couldn't have covered such a sweeping agenda without the unflagging support of our members—thank you to all who advocated for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay right into the last hours of the session!

In the end, filters emerged as a key theme, with some of our most important bills covering the Chesapeake Bay watershed's natural filters for pollution—trees and oysters. These two bills went all the way into the evening hours on sine die (the session's last day):

The Sustainable Oyster Harvest Act (SB937/HB1603) passed in both the Senate and the House in bipartisan votes that reinforced the importance of oysters to clean water and the Chesapeake way of life. It requires the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to provide critical pieces of scientific data still needed to help inform management of Maryland's public oyster fishery. This information is essential to knowing what portion of the Bay's oysters are being harvested each year and whether those rates are sustainable for the population.

We also helped defeat several bills that would set Maryland back in the protection of our oyster population. Learn more about those bills here.

A bill (HB1197) that would have made an exception for specific development projects in Prince George's County to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act's replanting requirements never had a vote in the House Committee, effectively defeating it—proving that sometimes the best legislative action is no action. This bill would have set a bad precedent for others across the state arguing for the same exemption when replanting the trees cut down for development becomes too costly or inconvenient. We will continue to ensure that trees cut down for development will be replanted, renewing their benefits for water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and communities across Maryland.

Our biggest pre-session priority was the Poultry Litter Management Act (PLMA). While the PLMA didn't get beyond committee hearings this year, our work to bring clean water solutions to our Eastern Shore waters is far from over. As a result of the hearings, we achieved important goals in the effort to reduce phosphorus pollution in the Bay and Eastern Shore waterways. Learn more about what we accomplished.

Some of the other bright spots of the session that CBF helped achieve include:

  • The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act passed, and was signed into law by Governor Hogan while the General Assembly was still in session. This bipartisan bill commits Maryland to some of the strongest reductions in greenhouse gases in the nation.
  • The budget was passed by both chambers and includes stable funding for environmental agencies and programs that play key roles in Chesapeake Bay restoration.

We also defeated a raft of bad bills that would have endangered water quality and eroded the integrity of local waterways and the Bay. See here for a more in-depth list of key bills that CBF worked on this session, and how they turned out.

Looking ahead, we expect that our work on natural filters will be a highlight of the year to come, as we continue work to restore and help manage the oyster population to sustainable levels and to protect and replace Maryland's trees. Expect to hear more from us on policies and practices that impact these two important filters in the Chesapeake watershed, both within and outside of the legislative context.

Whew! And now it's done.

Thank you again to all our members who fought to keep clean water and the Bay front and center in the legislature!

—Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director

Take a moment to thank Maryland's legislators for demonstrating a continuing commitment to restoring our local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.