The following first appeared in Bay Journal earlier this month.
The following first appeared in Bay Journal earlier this month.
Two lanes of traffic bake in the summer sun, immobile. Engines idle while passengers sit inside their cars, sweating in the tepid air of an overtaxed air conditioner. They are headed to the beach, suspended 186 feet over the Chesapeake Bay on the William Preston Lane Memorial (Bay) Bridge, part of the vast exodus to Ocean City.
The thick, fleshy pads of water lilies bob as kids wade in with a seine net along the shoreline, looking for silversides and translucent grass shrimp. They’ve been at it all afternoon, and their fingers are puckered. Just up the bank, a few others dangle their fishing lines into the water in what they hope is an irresistible fashion—they have the serious job of catching fish for dinner.
These are today’s two versions of the Chesapeake. One is known by the water-dwellers, chaperoned in their adventures by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Echo Hill Outdoor School, Sultana Education Foundation and other like-minded organizations. Representing the other is the great, ocean-oriented car caravan that mobilizes from Fridays through Sundays. Cars creep forward in Bay Bridge traffic, the passengers inside unaware that the same salty, sun-glazed magic they’re struggling toward is on offer, right under their tires.
A few generations ago, when the sun balefully scorched the summer, the Bay’s shorelines would teem with people seeking relief. Only a few decades later, those same beaches are empty as people drive for hours to claim their gull-buzzed, crowded square foot of sugar-fine sand. We’ve read the headlines and heard the reports: “Dead Zones,” “Pollution,” “Not Safe to Swim.” This, we believe, is our current Chesapeake: past all hope. Pretty sunsets, though.
But every summer day, Chesapeake environmental organizations are disproving these misconceptions. They show our children the experiences that earlier generations enjoyed as their Bay birthrights: trot-lining for crabs, swimming for hours where fish wink like coins in a wishing well and falling to sleep lulled by the broken bass groans of bullfrogs. These halcyon days along the Chesapeake aren’t gone. They are happening even as we flee our suburbs and cities for the ocean, dismissing the Bay that still has so much summer’s essence to be savored.
Admittedly, the Chesapeake is no longer the clear water refuge of the past. As our population grows along its shores, the Bay’s quality attenuates accordingly. But to hold the Chesapeake Bay to a past standard is an effort in futility. That old Bay, the one my grandfather progged for softshells in 6-foot visibility, probably isn’t coming back.
Our nostalgia for the past, though, shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating the Bay we have before us, even if our grand cleanup efforts have not yet yielded the pristine results we are striving for.
There are problems with this modern Chesapeake Bay—places where we can’t swim or fish. In the thick fug of the summer, it has algae blooms. But these issues are not universal. A short drive can lead to a shady swimming hole, an osprey-circled fishing spot or a quiet stretch of sand, loblollies and dunes.
Within Maryland parks alone, there are 16 public swimming beaches, 27 spots with canoe and kayaking facilities and 48 anglers’ paradises. Watershed wide there are hundreds of such sites.
But too often, our kids grow up spending summers at the ocean because we are so poisoned by the bad news we read and hear that we’ve dismissed the Bay, whole cloth. If we no longer introduce our children to the Bay, there will be a generation that is oblivious to the Chesapeake’s many charms, and doesn’t care what it becomes. For them, it will be just another landmark to tick off on their way to the ocean, which seems safe, for now.
For the Bay to have a fighting chance, we watershed residents have to care about it. And that can only come from positive experiences. Those can be fostered in a camp kayak, but better yet, on family trips where old and young wade in and squish the mud between their toes, hear cicadas singing in a cypress grove, and swim with breath held and eyes open, watching minnows part fore and aft to make way.
So, pack some sandwiches and sunscreen, and head toward your local swimming hole, whether it’s Flag Ponds Nature Park, Betterton Beach or Sandy Point. You’ll cut the ocean driving time, and best of all, you’ll get to see firsthand the pure undiluted joy our Chesapeake can still create.
Our 2014 Photo Contest is now open to both amateur and professional photographers. We want to see your vision of the Chesapeake watershed—from Pennsylvania to Virginia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Eastern Shore. All photos must include water from the Chesapeake Bay or river or stream within the Bay watershed.
A panel of CBF employees will judge entries on subject matter, composition, focus, lighting, uniqueness, and impact. The public will also have the opportunity to vote online for their favorite photo in the Viewers' Choice Gallery. Winners receive cash prizes!
- First Prize: $500
- Second Prize: $250
- Third Prize: $150
- Viewers' Choice: $100
All winners will also receive a one-year CBF membership and will have their photos displayed on CBF's website, in CBF's e-newsletters, and in CBF's Save the Bay magazine. (The first-prize photo will be featured in CBF's 2015 calendar.) All winners will be notified of the outcome, and their images will be posted on the CBF website by May 30, 2014.
We look forward to seeing your pictures!
—Jen Wallace, CBF's Managing Editor
Michael Redmond captured this stunning shot during a late summer sail on the North East River looking back at the sun setting over Carpenters Point. "[It] was a perfect evening to end three full days on the water," says Redmond.
Ensure that Michael and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!
Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!
On September 28 and October 19, CBF will hold two paddles through the marshes of Maryland's Kings Creek, a tributary of the mighty Choptank. With beautiful Eastern Shore scenery and autumn bird watching, these paddles offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy being out on the water during what is often thought of as the most beautiful season of the year.
These are also opportunities to learn more about our work, including defending and implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the science-based, multi-state plan to restore the Bay by 2025. The Blueprint incorporates the best science that we have available and provides a plan for each state within the six-state watershed to reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the Bay. But most importantly it provides a way for each person in the community to get involved with the effort to restore our shared national treasure.
There are many things that we can do as individuals to save the Bay. We can plant native plants in our gardens, participate in stream clean ups, and encourage our legislators to make Bay-friendly decisions. We can also continue to enjoy the incredible environment that surrounds us by joining us for a canoe paddle for instance! The Bay is a part of the heritage of the Eastern Shore, and if we connect with and experience it, we will be motivated to preserve it.
—Bess Trout, CBF's Eastern Shore Grassroots Field Specialist
This article originally appeared the AnneArundelPatch earlier today.
Dirt is cold in March. The Harlem Shake is harder in a crab costume. A sycamore tree sapling is taller than a pin oak sapling. Those are just a few of the things you might have learned this past Saturday if you were Collin Kroh.
Kroh, a senior at Chesapeake High School, was one of about 20 student council representatives from several county schools who volunteered to plant trees at a farm in Gambrills. The effort was part of a growing collaboration between student councils around the state and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"Most of my friends Saturday morning are still sleeping, but my friends here and I did all this," said Kroh with a wave of his hand.
"This" was nearly 1,000 trees planted along Towsers Branch Creek where it runs in a gully through the Maryland Sunrise Farm. Those trees will help buffer the creek—stop nutrients from cow manure from washing into the creek, and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay. A herd of black Angus cattle watched the crowd at work Saturday.
"It's like cleaning up my home," said Kroh, referring to the Chesapeake Bay.
And that's the type of realization the collaboration is meant to foster. Kroh lives on Bodkin Creek, a tidal creek in Pasadena. While his home is a 30-minute drive inland to Sunrise Farm, Kroh has realized that nutrients from inland sources make their way downstream and eventually to the Bay. Nutrients produce algae blooms which result in dead zones—low oxygen for aquatic life. And some types of nutrient pollution also carry bacteria which can make Bodkin Creek or any water body unsafe for swimming, or other recreation. So what happens on the land impacts the water which impacts each of us.
CBF and the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC) started working together formally this past year. MASC is a student-run organization composed of high school and middle school students from throughout the state. Many MASC members have taken CBF field education courses through their schools. Leaders in the group recognized many more students would benefit from the learning and service opportunities offered by CBF. In turn, CBF recognized that a group of energetic, responsible youth could be great ambassadors for the Bay. The collaboration began.
Last year a core organizing group of MASC students took a trip to one of CBF's education centers on the Maryland Eastern Shore. Some also participated in a lobbying day at the Maryland General Assembly, learning how to advocate for strong Bay legislation. MASC chose CBF as its Charity of the Year for 2012.
Saturday's tree planting continued that collaboration, with the aim of providing a fun, hands-on learning experience, but also an opportunity to spread the news about Bay problems and solutions.
Sarah Lily, a senior at Chesapeake High School, said she had learned some things about the Bay in fifth grade at the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. But it wasn't until ninth grade that she learned more. Then last year, she attended the multi-day experience at the CBF education center in remote Dorchester County on the Shore, and learned by doing: investigating crabs, sea grass, menhaden and other aquatic life from the deck of a workboat, or canoe, or on a marsh "muck." The trip sparked two questions: How can I can keep learning about this stuff, and what more can we do? She e-mailed a CBF staff member who led the Dorchester trip, Jeff Rogge. A second trip was planned—to CBF's Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro. And then the lobbying event.
Now Lily says the focus is getting more students involved. So she Tweets about tree plantings, and other happenings, and solicits blogs from students. Kroh attempted a time-lapse video of Saturday's planting to post on YouTube.
And together with other organizers they planned a Harlem Shake video shoot after all the planting was done Saturday, with all 20 students participating, complete with crab costumes and other props.
"The interest is there for fun," Lily says. "I think showing kids that helping out is fun is important."
Students came from Chesapeake High School, South River High School, and Arundel Middle School. In addition, about 20 employees of the Allegis Group, an equal number of "alternative spring break" students from the University of Maryland, and others also volunteered at Saturday's planting. The event was also part of a plan devised by CBF and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make Sunrise Farm more environmentally friendly. The farm is the largest organic farm in the state. The farmer also raises cattle. It is the former Naval Dairy Farm.
Maryland Communications Coordinator
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
After he passed away in 2011 at the age of 37, Danny's family and friends created the Daniel Bowles Memorial Foundation to raise money in support of causes that he believed in. As an avid crabber, fisherman, and boater, Danny had a special place in his heart for the Chesapeake Bay.
Recently, on what would have been Danny's 39th birthday, his friends and wife, Genine, visited CBF's Merrill Center to make a donation to CBF in his memory. The donation represented the proceeds from the highly successful Daniel Bowles Memorial Bull Roast held last October, which was attended by 150 of his closest friends and family. This annual event is just one way Danny's family is keeping his memory alive.
Memorial donations like these are vital to CBF's continued success in our efforts to save the Bay. If you would like to learn more about how you can memorialize a loved one with a gift to CBF, visit our website or call us at 410/268-8816 (or 888/SAVEBAY).
These Grasses for the Masses volunteers first will have participated in a CBF workshop this winter before growing wild celery grass from seeds planted in water-filled plastic tubs in their homes, schools, or offices. Wild celery is not only fun and easy to grow, but it is also a vital part of the Bay's ecosystem, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and offering safe haven for native critters.
And it's not too late to join in the fun! Registration for our Grasses for the Masses program is now open. But hurry, spots are filling up quick for this hands-on and rewarding activity, and we'd love to have you join us!
It's that time of year again: The time of sweet potatoes, turkey, and pecan pie!This week CBF staff celebrated with a potluck pre-Thanksgiving lunch yesterday—highlights included oyster stuffing, lentil loaf, and every kind of pumpkin pie you could imagine.
Besides the glorious food, we were also thankful for the incredible efforts across the watershed that many of you have taken to clean up our Bay and its rivers and streams through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Never before have we come so close to restoring the waters we all love. Thank you. Now, let's finish the job!
Finally, as you get yourself in the mood for my personal favorite holiday of the year, check out this yummy butternut squash gratin recipe courtesy of chef Rita Calvert.
Butternut Squash Gratin With Local Goat Cheese and Pecans:
8 to 10 servings
Squash is often sold already peeled and seeded, making this recipe even easier.
-3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-coarse kosher salt
-4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
-3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
-1 1/ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
-5-ounces soft fresh goat cheese ( about 2/3 cup)
-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/2 cup pecans coarsely chopped
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream mixed with curry powder evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).
TO GO: This gratin is a good choice for transporting because it travels well. Either complete the dish at home (wrap it tightly to keep warm) or wait until you get to your destination to add the cream and nuts and then bake.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving! —Emmy Nicklin
(Photos: CBF's Tiki Thanksgiving celebration. By Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.)
Halyards clanging, dealers dealing, and docks lined with the shoes of the shipboard can only mean one thing around Annapolis in October: The boat shows are in town.
For the next two weeks, thousands of boaters, yachties, and brokers will live their lives on temporary docks in downtown Annapolis. Breakfasts will be eaten during the morning rush to boats and booths, lunches will be devoured between clients and tours, and libations will be consumed to celebrate sales and purchases. A good time will undoubtedly be had by all, but what will happen to those bagel wrappers and emptied bottles?
Not to fear. This year Annapolis Green, partnering with WasteStrategies, is helping the United States Yacht Shows demonstrate its commitment to the environment by making recycling available (for the first time!) within the shows. As the biggest outdoor events in Annapolis, recycling at the boat shows not only sends a powerful message to the thousands of visitors who will attend, but will also demonstrate that locals care about the Bay and visitors should, too.
So if you’re in attendance, keep an eye out for the brightly colored "eco-stations" that will be set up around the show. Enjoy your time and—if you’re lucky—your purchases, but be sure to keep it between the navigational beacons and remember, "Red-Right-Recycling!"
But don't worry...we'll be back real soon to tell more stories about the importance of our waters and the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—our best hope for a saved Bay. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy the water—whether it's your backyard river, stream, or Bay!