Photo of the Week: Urbanna Sunrise

Sunrise 11=12Photo by John H. Whitehead.

"This is a photo I took on 11/12/12 of a beautiful sunrise over the mouth of Urbanna Creek in Urbanna, Virginia . . . I've spent most of my life on the Bay and never tire of the adventures and pleasures it offers."

—John H. Whitehead

Ensure that John and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. 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!


Larry Simns: The Bay Has Lost a Leader

 

LarrySimmsOMalley
President of Maryland Watermen's Association Larry Simns (left) with MD Governor O'Malley (right) at a press conference last year. Photo by John Surrick/CBF Staff.
We have known for months this day was coming, but it was still a shock when I heard that Larry Simns had left us. Maryland's watermen lost their spiritual leader. The Chesapeake Bay lost a piece of its spirit. 

I often said that Larry had the hardest job of any of us that worked on Bay fisheries.  Maryland watermen are as diverse as the state: Eastern Shore/western shore, upper Bay/lower Bay, fishermen/crabbers/oystermen/clammers. But somehow Larry was able to unite those voices around their common heritage of working the water. Just look south to Virginia where there are a dozen different watermen's associations to appreciate how hard that is. This unity of purpose aimed at preserving that heritage may be Larry's biggest legacy, and if the Maryland Watermen's Association is able to maintain it, that will be a fitting memorial to Larry.

Larry and I often disagreed. The MWA and the Bay Foundation often were at odds. We took our "turn in the barrel," as Larry called them, in his Watermen's Gazette editorials many times. Usually this was a result of disagreeing on short term issues, but in truth we shared the same long-term vision of a healthy Bay that supported vibrant fisheries. But even when our disagreements were strong, or even emotional, Larry could always find a way to put those things aside when we needed to work together on common interests like protecting the Bay. He was able to "agree to disagree" on some things and still work together on others better than anyone I know, and that trait served Maryland's watermen and Chesapeake Bay very well all those years.

Larry represented Maryland watermen. Sport fishermen and charter captain leaders represent those groups. CBF tries to represent the Bay. While there are plenty of differences between us, there is also a lot of common ground. In Larry's memory, I hope we can keep the focus on the common ground. That's the best recipe for saving the Bay and its fisheries.

—Bill Goldsborough
CBF's Director of Fisheries


Photo of the Week: A Dramatic Kent Island Sunset

IMG_1739Photo by Doug Edmunds.

A dramatic sunset on Kent Island from this past summer.   

Ensure that Doug and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. 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!


Localities Making Progress in Implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint

Lila in the bayThe following appeared yesterday on Center Maryland.

How heartening it's been recently to watch many Maryland localities start to put their minds and shoulders into the difficult but critical work of finishing the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Knowing full well that restoring clean water is neither easy nor inexpensive, officials in many counties and towns throughout Maryland are rolling up their sleeves. They've found or are exploring ways to implement their share of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The Blueprint is the regional agreement by six states and the District of Columbia to reduce pollution sufficiently to make the Chesapeake safe for swimming and fishing.

Howard, Anne Arundel, and Harford counties and Baltimore City are considering fees that would be dedicated just to reducing polluted runoff. Currently, residents throughout Maryland are advised not to swim in local creeks, rivers, and the Bay for two days after a summer thunderstorm due to the pollution that runs off the land. These localities realize investing in a solution now will pay off later.

The small town of Berlin on the Eastern Shore already has approved a similar fee. Berlin officials said upgrading the town's inadequate storm water system will help reduce flooding and clean up local creeks.

Harford County recently adopted a "tier map" for future growth that preserves farms and forest, but still allows enough room for development. Without this sort of managed growth, new development in Maryland will add more pollution to our water, and cancel out all our current expenditures and efforts. For instance, Maryland has spent $40 million to retrofit existing septic systems that discharge nitrogen pollution, yet all that money and work has been completely negated by the installation of new septic systems over the same period throughout rural areas, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.

Localities and individuals outside Maryland also are pulling their weight. Lancaster, PA, vowed to become "a big green sponge" for runoff pollution by making over the city with "green infrastructure." About 50 Amish farmers in Lancaster County are fencing their cows out of streams, and implementing other conservation measures.Charlottesville, VA, just approved a stormwater fee. Everyone is sacrificing something: money, a strip of valuable farmland, something. But so too will everyone get something in return: cleaner water.

Innovations also are emerging to reduce costs. Falls Church, VA, figured out how to reduce by 60 percent its initial cost estimates to upgrade its storm water system. Talbot County launched a pilot program to use existing farm and street ditches to reduce pollution. That idea could save tens of millions of dollars from initial county cost estimates.

And just as heartening is the outpouring of support for such efforts from citizens around the state.

"We care about what happens to God's creation. We care about unemployment in Howard County, and we care about our youth," said the Rev. Robert Turner, senior pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Columbia, to the Howard County Council recently.

Turner and about 100 residents who belong to People Acting Together in Howard voiced support for the county's proposed stormwater fee, saying it will reduce both pollution and unemployment.

"Like most county residents, I do not like the thought of paying new taxes or fees," fisherman John Veil recently told the Anne Arundel County Council in support of a similar fee there. "At the same time, some problems will not be adequately addressed in the absence of a funding source."

But some localities still won't come to the table, preferring to criticize rather than cooperate, or to continue to look for a single solution rather than the regional approach which is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

But here, too, residents are pushing these localities to do the right thing.

Over on the Eastern Shore, former Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest spoke up in Cecil County recently against the county's proposed plan to allow large subdivisions to sprawl throughout most of the remaining rural and agricultural areas of Cecil. It's precisely this sort of unmanaged development that is fouling local creeks throughout Maryland, and contributing to water quality problems in the Chesapeake.

This groundswell of support for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the quiet but resolute efforts of many localities throughout Maryland to implement the plan reaffirm my confidence we can finish the job of restoring the Bay.


Alison Prost
CBF's Maryland Executive Director

Photo by Heather Haffner.


Photo of the Week: "It Was That Beautiful"

ByMichaelRedmondPhoto by Michael Redmond.

"A winter Bay photo taken from Red Point, Maryland, looking across the Flats to Havre De Grace at 2 a.m. with some ice on the water. Thirty-second exposure. No Photoshop or Instagram. It was that beautiful...I am a life-long lover of the Bay and supporter of [CBF's] work."

—Michael Redmond

Ensure that Michael and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. 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!


A Model for Conservation Practices on Amish Farms

 

Raymond king farm LS Lamonte Garber
Raymond King's home and farm. Photo by Lamonte Garber/CBF Staff.

Rambling across a scenic 75 acres in Lancaster County is the home and farm of Raymond King. King honors the Amish farming traditions that have inter-connected his family and community for many generations. At the same time, he is building on those traditions by incorporating conservation practices that will benefit his farm and the creek that runs through it for generations to come.

 

One such practice is the use of no-till planting techniques, which have been used on the farm since 1979. No-till has kept the soil in place and the crops in good condition. Contour strips also add extra benefit and improve crops. 

Working through CBF's Buffer Bonus program, and in partnership with NRCS and the Lancaster County Conservation District, King was able to plan and construct a variety of on-farm conservation improvements that will do for the rest of his farm what the no-till and contour strips have done for his fields; improvements like the construction of a new manure storage facility, a stormwater collection system, streambank fencing and crossings, and the planting of streamside trees and shrubs.   

Wendy Coons, Soil Conservation Technician for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has been working with King for two years. "When we first met," Coons says, "he wanted to better deal with barnyard runoff, and he also wanted to improve his manure storage capacity. He wanted to be able to store excess manure for up to six months, thus allowing him to get through the winter without having to spread it onto his fields. We got all of that work, plus a whole lot more done on the farm." 

Additionally, very important to any on-farm conservation improvement effort is having the required conservation and nutrient and manure management plans, which King now has. 

King says, "I'm particularly glad to have a certified nutrient management plan. I had previously been broadcasting nitrogen, which, I learned was wasting time and money. The plan saves me both by showing me the correct amount of nitrogen to apply, when to apply it, and exactly where to apply so that the plants get the most benefit. My nitrogen lasts a lot longer and I'm saving money.

Raymond King farm manure storage Lgarber
Manure Storage. Photo by Lamonte Garber/CBF Staff.
CBF hopes to demonstrate that on-farm conservation practices are very achievable within a community that has traditionally avoided interaction with government and outside groups. Lamonte Garber, CBF's Pennsylvania Agriculture Program Manager, says "Raymond's farm really addresses all the conservation needs that we might find on a Plain Sect farm and beyond. More and more farmers are willing to fence cattle out of their streams, but Raymond has restored a wider, forested buffer through the CREP program. He is even considering the option of permanently preserving the buffer to protect it for future generations. That commitment is to be commended."

Through the Buffer Bonus Program and all of CBF's watershed restoration work, CBF strives to create "clusters" of forested buffers and conservation improvements like those on King's farm on connected reaches of streams, in order to maximize impact. To do so means getting neighbors on board.

Ashley Spotts, CBF Buffer Specialist in Lancaster County, worked with King throughout the process and is encouraged by his willingness to install these conservation practices and his mindset toward sharing what he has learned with his neighbors and others. "As with any farming community, people learn about new techniques by watching what happens on their neighbors' farm and by talking to each other. We are encouraged by the prospect of installing a streamside buffer on a farm just downstream from Raymond. The neighbor has seen the changes happening next door and is now considering conservation practices on his farm."

Raymondking lgarber
Photo by Ashley Spotts/CBF Staff.
Wendy Coons continues, "I consider King's farm a success story because he 'gets it' [conservation] and wants to pass on what he has learned about conservation to other farmers."

The end goal of CBF's efforts is the restoration of entire stream systems--restoring water quality, bringing back fisheries and aquatic life, and in some cases even removing streams from the state impaired waters list.

King's farm is a model for conservation improvements. The work done approximates what will be required of all farms in order to meet our clean water obligations for Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay. It also demonstrates the benefits achieved through the collaborative efforts of agricultural and county agencies, nonprofit organizations, and conservation programs like Buffer Bonus.

—Kelly Donaldson

Conservation practices implemented on the King Farm:

  • a new manure storage facility; 
  • barnyard waste and run-off collection system;
  • stormwater collection system, including gutters and downspouts;
  • milk house waste rerouting system takes milk waste to newly constructed manure storage pit;
  • streamside tree planting of mixed native shrubs and trees;
  • streambank fencing and stream crossing;
  •  cropland terrace; and
  • grassed waterway.

Special thanks and credits to:

Mr. King and his family

Jim Saltzman, Kara Kalupson, Greg Heigel, Lancaster County Conservation District and Wendy Coons, Natural Resource Conservation Service: The dedicated staff from the Conservation District and NRCS provided a variety of technical services for this project including the design and construction oversight for the new manure storage facility, and other barnyard improvements. Staff also developed the overall conservation plan for Mr. King’s farm.


Raeann Schatz, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency: The streamside buffer established on Mr. King’s farm was made possible through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Raeann Schatz is the FSA point person for CREP in Lancaster County, and her role is integral to achieving on-farm and water quality improvements. Meeting with farmers on their farms, and walking them through the program requirements and incentives has lead to a better understanding and increased interest in CREP in the Plain Sect communities of Lancaster County. Special thanks to Raeann for her efforts.


Chris Sigmund, Jeremy Weaver, TeamAg, Inc.: TeamAg is an agricultural consulting firm based in Ephrata, PA, and is a valued partner in our Buffer Bonus Program. Chris and Jeremy had early discussions with Mr. King regarding the creation a forested stream buffer on his farm. 


Photo of the Week: Sunrise on Back Creek

IMG_1350Photo by Doug Esposito.

Annapolitan Doug Esposito captured this moment on an early December morning leaving Back Creek and headed out to do some fishing. The trip resulted in a 45-inch rockfish! (See photo below.)

Ensure that Doug and future generations continue to enjoy early morning fishing trips like these in our watershed. 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!

Doug rockfish


A Legacy to Save the Bay

Danny Bowles.jpgIn life, Daniel "Danny" Bowles was a loving father, son, husband, brother, and loyal friend. Now, after his passing, those who love him are committed to ensuring his legacy lives on.

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).

—Brie Wilson


Photo of the Week: We're Back!

RonLandonPhoto by Ron Landon.

"Snow geese along Maryland Route 298 near Kennedyville, Maryland.

We have lived on the shores of the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay from May through October for some 20 years now. The Bay means everything to us: a semi-annual home, beautiful scenery, a peaceful way of life in retirement, and our little 'slice of heaven.'"

—Ron Landon

Ensure that Ron and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. 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!


Bay's Health Showing Real Progress

The following op-ed appeared in Gazette.net Maryland Community News Online late last week.

SOTB_2012CoverThis is a historic moment in time for the Chesapeake Bay and all the rivers and streams throughout its entire six-state, 64,000-square-mile watershed. In fact, this is the moment in time for the Chesapeake. Never before have the stars aligned so well for the Bay's future. While there has been some squabbling, and even lawsuits, by extremists on both sides, cooperation between individuals, businesses and government has led to real progress. The state of the Bay is improving.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's State of the Bay health index, the first such Bay report card and the longest running, shows a 14 percent improvement since 2008. Cooperation and sound science have overcome the narrow interests of opposition. We can clearly see a saved Bay in our generation.

But make no mistake, the Bay is not yet saved. A D+ is not a grade my parents, at least, would ever accept ("Report: Slight uptick in Bay’s health," Jan. 4). The Bay is still dangerously out of balance.

Overall, our State of the Bay Report shows that five of the 13 indicators are up, seven are unchanged, and only Bay grasses are down. In the last two-year reporting period, the levels of phosphorous pollution have declined, the amount of land permanently protected in conservation has increased, blue crabs have increased, and dissolved oxygen levels have increased. All of this shows a Bay fighting for survival, and the fact that the dissolved oxygen levels have actually improved during a period of high storm events may be a strong indication that the Bay's legendary resilience is returning.

Ironically, we worry that the good news, albeit modest, may breed a certain level of complacency among the public and even our elected officials. This would be a huge mistake, as the gains have been modest, incremental, and the system is still fragile. If we have learned anything over the years at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, it is the fact that the Bay is a study in contrasts, even contradictions.

Consider the one down indicator of the 13 in our report card—underwater grasses. Upper Bay grasses on the Susquehanna Flats tripled over the past 20 years, but declined in the last two-year reporting period. Grass beds in the Severn River are abundant, but in much of Virginia, grasses decreased, a victim of high water temperatures.

Going forward, here is what we all want for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers: clean and safe water, abundant seafood and healthy habitat. Over the centuries, all three have been thrown out of balance. Now, thanks to good science informing good policy, supported and implemented by a broad base of cooperation, each is starting to show signs of improvement.

That some are lobbying Congress and suing in federal court to stop the progress is not only tragic, it is mind-boggling. All of us who value the Chesapeake and are determined to see a better future for our children and grandchildren must let our voices be heard. It is time to finish the job.

—William C. Baker
President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Learn more about our Save the Bay efforts through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.