Chesapeake Bay's Future Imperiled

The following first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.

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An algal bloom in Norfolk's Lafayette River. The health of the Bay and its rivers and streams is improving, but if draconian cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program are enacted, scenes such as this might become the norm. Photo by Christy Everett/CBF Staff.

I'm angry and I'm upset. President Donald Trump has proposed something terrible. I'm not willing to trade a healthy Chesapeake Bay for a wall on the Mexican border.

Trump's budget proposal zeroes out the EPA's funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program: from $73 million to $0. You don't have to take my word for this: Please read the president's statement at the top of "America First, A Budget Blueprint to make America Great Again," then skip to page 41.

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure.

In the late 1970s, headlines declared that the bay was dying. Since then, government at all levels, business, and individuals have rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to "Save the Bay."

The effort has been bipartisan and, when tested in federal court, declared a model of cooperative federalism. It's working. The bay is recovering, but our progress is fragile, and the Chesapeake is far from saved.

The road to recovery, while clearly laid out, will not be easy and needs strong federal participation. The EPA Bay Program makes grants to states and municipalities to reduce pollution, monitors water quality, and coordinates the state/federal partnership that is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The bay program's participation is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, there are checks and balances in our government. Congress appropriates and passes the budget, and we have time between now and the new fiscal year (which starts on Oct. 1) to make sure Congress restores funding for the bay.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in Hampton Roads have a deep connection to the environment. The James, Nansemond, Elizabeth, and the Lynnhaven Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay flow back and forth into each other.

We cross bridges and crawl through tunnels to get from one place to another. The water defines us.

We have celebrated recent signs of recovery in our waters. Oysters and crabs are rebounding, lush beds of underwater grasses thrive in some areas, and the water was so clear last summer that you could see the bottom six to eight feet below the surface. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's most recent State of the Bay Report gave the estuary its highest score in the report's 18-year history. But, that score, a C-, is a stark reminder that much work remains.

The bay's nascent recovery comes after years of hard work. In his 1984 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan said, "Though this is a time of budget constraints, I have requested for EPA one of the largest percentage budget increases of any agency. We will begin the long, necessary effort to clean up a productive recreational area and a special national resource — the Chesapeake Bay."

Since then, every administration has worked with the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Virginia Beach), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many similar organizations to "Save the Bay."

Trump's proposed budget zeroing out the EPA's bay program is an outrage. If passed by Congress, this could drive a stake in the heart of the Chesapeake's recovery.

Cuts to the EPA program could cause the bay and our rivers to revert to the national disgrace they were in the 1980s: fouled waters, sickly fish populations, and threats to human health. Zeroing out efforts to assist in restoring the Chesapeake Bay in favor of a wall makes no sense.

This is important. Please join me in sending a serious message to Congress that the Chesapeake Bay is a priority for Hampton Roads and the states all around the bay.

This is not about politics, it's about being good stewards of our environment. It's not about negotiating; it's a moral issue.

For assistance in contacting your congressional delegation please go to www.cbf.org/findmyreps.

—Harry Lester, Chairman, CBF Board of Trustees

More than 8,000 Bay lovers have taken action by calling on Congress to stand up for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If you have not yet signed our petition, please do so now. If you have already, thank you. Please be sure to go one step further and call your congressional representatives. Click here to find their phone numbers. A clean and healthy Bay now and for generations to come depends on your voice!


Tell Your Legislators You Support Efforts to Clean up Water, Bay

The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.

HeartThe Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint is working. By all metrics we are seeing progress. Citizens, businesses, and governments are working together to reduce pollution. You can actually see the progress in the clear water.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Bay Report Card issued last spring, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2016 State of the Bay report, and the Bay Program's Bay Barometer all document improvements. Bay grasses and crabs are up, and the dead zone is trending smaller. While celebrating progress, no one thinks the Bay is saved. Far from it. And, no doubt the recovery we do enjoy is fragile.

In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that citizens of all walks of life let their elected officials know that the need for clean water is a shared value and important priority. Cleaning up local rivers and streams will reduce risks to human health, create jobs, and benefit local economies.

We must insist that our state legislators make the needed investments to reduce pollution; that our governors speak up for the Blueprint; and that our federal representatives ensure the Environmental Protection Agency's full participation in guiding and implementing the Blueprint.

Elected officials do listen to their constituents.

In early February, more than 50 citizens attended a lobby day at the General Assembly in Richmond supporting the CBF, James River Association, Lynnhaven River NOW, and other clean water allies.

Liz Worsham and her husband, Brad, traveled 70 miles from the Northern Neck to Richmond to meet with their state legislators. "We are concerned about clean water because we like to swim in our creek, for starters, and kayak and fish. My husband hunts. It's really important for the businesses in the area and for the watermen," Liz Worsham said. "This is a great opportunity to have an impact and express my views to my representatives."

The most effective way to be heard is to visit a politician in his or her office or to speak up at a town hall meeting. Politicians will take note.

Other effective ways are to write your representatives or call their district offices.

In these uncertain times, two facts are certain. One: The desire for clean water unites us, regardless of age or political persuasion. Two: Elected officials need voter support. We can make a difference.

I urge all Bay Journal readers to go on the record — our job of restoring the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams is far from done. We must push forward.

—Elizabeth Buckman, CBF Vice President of Communications

Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.


One-For-One Replanting Bill Will Help Preserve Maryland's Forests

The following first appeared in the Frederick News-Post.

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Photo by Justin Black/iLCP

Pit a bulldozer against a tree and the tree rarely wins. But for four years, fiscal 2007 to 2011, Frederick County found a way to stem the loss of forests to new development: insist that an acre be planted for every acre cut down.

It was a sensible move that saved county residents money and protected local rivers and creeks.

Forests are natural sponges. A forest soaks up tens of thousands of gallons of water during a rain storm, and thousands of tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

Without forests, runoff from storms flows into and pollutes local streams. We expect Frederick realized how expensive it is to fix that problem. It made sense not to lose any more forests than necessary.

What if forests were cut down and taxpayers had to pay to plant rain gardens and other devices to soak up the runoff forests used to hold? How much would that cost? A 2015 study by the Low Impact Development Center in Beltsville concluded that Prince George's forest reduces polluted runoff by 4.3 billion gallons a year in the county, a service worth $12.8 billion annually.

Frederick County has more forest than Prince George's. So the benefits could be worth even more.

Frederick County's 2007 action set standards higher than minimal state requirements for how much builders have to replant if they cut down forest on a development site. The state Forest Conservation Act requires builders only to replant one acre for every four cut down. Frederick's ordinance required one acre replanted for one acre cleared.

The results were immediate. While other counties continued to lose forests at alarming rates, Frederick actually planted more acres of forest — 424 acres — than developers cut down from 2008 to 2011.

Save forests. Save money. And protect clean water and air.

Then, suddenly in 2011 the next Board of Commissioners repealed the replanting ordinance. Since that repeal, forest loss in Frederick County has increased, according to annual reports the county submits to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, although other aspects of the county's FCA program have encouraged a relatively high replanting rate.

Now, only neighboring Carroll County has the one-to-one replanting requirement. Not surprisingly, Carroll is the only county where forests are actually increasing, according to the DNR data.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes this is unfortunate. Thankfully, legislation in the Maryland General Assembly this session, (Senate Bill 365/House Bill 599), offers a solution. It would strengthen the FCA by requiring one-for-one replanting across the state. The bill effectively mimics what Frederick County successfully did locally in 2007 — before the repeal.

The state legislation also would give counties the option to charge a builder more who wants to clear more forest and not replant. Currently, developers often avoid replanting by paying a small fee that doesn't always cover the cost of replacement.

Frederick County Senator Ron Young is the lead sponsor in the Senate. We urge all Frederick County residents who value trees to support these bills.

—Erik Fisher, CBF's Maryland Assistant Director

Speak for the trees! Send a message to your legislators today letting them know you want them to support strengthening the Forest Conservation Act.


Stand up for Clean Water

The following first appeared in the York Dispatch.

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Rock Run in Pennsylvania's Lycoming County. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Now is the time for Pennsylvanians to stand up for clean water and let elected officials know they should make reducing pollution a higher priority.

Tell legislators considering budgets at the state and federal levels to follow-through with more investments in clean water that protect the health, livelihood, and economic welfare of every Pennsylvanian and those downstream.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) State of the Bay report indicates that the Clean Water Blueprint is improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but Pennsylvania's efforts lag far behind the other principle Bay states.

Unfortunately, the message hasn't changed much in recent years. Roughly 19,000 miles of the Keystone State's rivers and streams are harmed by pollution.

Agriculture is the leading source of water pollution, so Pennsylvania needs more acres of stream-side trees, fewer cattle in the streams, and healthier soils. But at the state level, Pennsylvania's investments in pollution reduction are an affront to all who care about safe water.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 is the second consecutive plan since the Commonwealth committed to a new clean water strategy that does not include adequate investments in the right places and on the right practices to ensure Blueprint success.

General Fund support for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been cut by $94 million since 2002-03 and the agency has 800 fewer staff members.

Pennsylvania's investments in Growing Greener programs that support conservation districts, stream restoration, stormwater efforts and more, have gone down 75 percent in the last 16 years.

Reduced financial support for DEP, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, seriously threatens their abilities to assure public health and provide clean water that is the right of every Pennsylvanian.

The Environmental Protection Agency notified the DEP, and it should be a warning to Pennsylvanians, that because it lacks resources, the agency cannot enforce minimum federal safe drinking water regulations.

In addition to increasing support through in the General Fund, we urge state lawmakers to pursue additional sources of revenue, so the Commonwealth can meet the commitment it made to its citizens to help restore and protect our rivers and streams.

Ninety percent of Pennsylvanians who responded to a 2015 Penn State University survey said they support investments in saving clean water, forests, and farms.

Investments in federal Farm Bill programs also play a critical role in the ability of Pennsylvania farmers to reduce pollution, improve soil health, and make their farms more profitable.

CBF has joined the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, conservation districts, Audubon Pennsylvania and 500 other organizations nationwide asking members of the congressional Budget and Appropriations committees to reject calls for cuts to 2018 Farm Bill programs.

We expect Pennsylvania's own members of Congress to remember that clean water counts, and to likewise protect Farm Bill investments.

Clean water is a legacy worth leaving future generations. Legislators at all levels must remember that the health, way of life, and economic well being of every Pennsylvanian depend on it.

—Harry Campbell , CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director

Pennsylvanians: Take action today to urge your legislators to invest in protecting the state's rivers and streams. Our health, way of life, and economic well-being depend on it. 


Marylanders Agree: Hands off Our Oyster Sanctuaries

With more than six million residents, Maryland is a melting pot of diverse citizens, with different political leanings, religious beliefs, and racial backgrounds. Differences aside, all Marylanders are affected by the health of the state's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Integral to the health of the Bay is the mighty oyster. A keystone species of the Bay, a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. In addition to their filtering prowess, oysters settle on one another and grow, forming reefs that provide shelter for other critters.

Despite their hallmark status in the Bay's ecosystem, the native oyster population is just a fraction of what it once was as a result of disease, pollution, and overharvesting. In 2010, Maryland and other Bay states joined together to increase the native oyster population, establishing sanctuary reefs to allow oysters to proliferate unencumbered by harvesting. These reefs grew and expanded, with the estimated number of oysters in the Bay more than doubling between 2010 and 2014.

A recent poll conducted by a bipartisan research team found Marylanders understand and appreciate this success, with overwhelming support to maintain existing Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuaries.

The numbers speak for themselves:Oyster Poll Results Graphic-1200

This strong support exists across party lines, as approximately 91 percent of registered Democrats, 89 percent of Independents, and 82 percent of Republicans support sanctuaries. Moreover, public support for the sanctuaries actually increased after the survey summarized the oyster industry's reasons for wanting to expand harvesting, rising from 88 percent to 91 percent.

This consensus is quite a contrast to the recently submitted proposal by the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission to let the oyster industry harvest nearly 1,000 acres of oyster reefs which currently are off-limits to harvesting.

Currently, the Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill (HB 924) which would require the state to hold off on any alterations of the oyster sanctuaries until a scientific assessment of the oyster stock is completed in 2018.

The success of Maryland and the Bay, North America's largest estuary and a true national treasure, are mutually interdependent. Shaping more than just the state's coastline, Maryland's economy, culture, and history are covered with the Bay's fingerprints. No critter is more important to this success than the oyster. And while the recent State of the Bay report finds the health of the Bay is rebounding, it remains a system dangerously out of balance.

Those who call the Old Line State home might have their differences, but Marylanders across the board agree on this: Our oyster sanctuaries are worth protecting.

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate

Take action right now to urge Maryland legislators to protect oyster sanctuaries and the value they provide to clean water and countless marine species.


The View of an Oyster Sanctuary

The following first appeared in the Chestertown Spy.

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Maryland's oyster sanctuaries are under threat. Photo by Dave Harp.

The fate of Maryland's oyster population is being worked out in a church basement in Annapolis.

That's where the state Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) meets the second Monday of each month. This is the group appointed by Governor Hogan to review the state's oyster management system, and to recommend changes, if necessary. 

This past Monday night was perhaps the most important OAC meet so far. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) presented a proposal to open up about 970 acres of 'sanctuary' oyster reefs to harvest.

As I have on several occasions, I sat in on the OAC meeting. But it was difficult to sit still.

The makeup of the OAC is controversial, filled mostly with watermen and those who sympathize with their views. The direction the OAC is taking also is controversial. 

The controversy brings out the crowds. The OAC meetings used to take place in a meeting room at the DNR headquarters right next door. So many people began showing up, DNR had to move the meeting to the fellowship hall of the Calvary United Methodist Church on Rowe Blvd. Now even that room is often jammed.

Watermen feel the state has cheated them. Under prior governor Martin O'Malley the state increased the acres of productive oyster reefs set aside as sanctuaries—those areas that can't be harvested. O'Malley himself was guided by scientists' warnings that so few oysters remained in the Chesapeake that the status quo was no longer viable.

With input from everyone involved with oysters, the harvest industry included, O'Malley increased from nine percent to 24 percent the portion of oyster bars protected as sanctuaries. Three-quarters of reefs were to remain open to harvest. He also relaxed decades-old regulations to give watermen more opportunities to farm oysters rather than harvest them in the wild. In Virginia, oyster aquaculture is a booming business, but at the time of O'Malley's new plan it was negligible in Maryland. The idea was to boost watermen's earnings, and simultaneously to take out an insurance plan for the future of oysters in the Bay.

There's no doubt short term watermen took a hit. They had fewer places to harvest, although fortunately for them Mother Nature provided strong oyster reproduction for several years, resulting in strong harvests. 

Scientists and groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) where I work sympathized with the watermen. But we believed someone had to take the long view before oysters were wiped out completely.

CBF, along with a host of western and Eastern Shore groups such as the Midshore River Conservancy, St. Mary's River Watershed Association, and others, believe the OAC proposal to shrink the sanctuaries is ill-advised. At a minimum, the state must wait till DNR finishes a stock assessment of the oyster population. You wouldn't start spending more money without knowing what's in your bank account. That's exactly what the proposal would do.

It would open up 1,277 acres of sanctuaries for harvest in the following rivers and Bay segments: Upper Chester, Miles, Wye, Upper Choptank, Hooper Strait, Upper Patuxent, and Tangier Sound. It would expand sanctuaries by 300 acres in: Mill Hill/Prospect Bay, Eastern Bay, Lower Choptank, and Nanticoke River. The net result would be 977 fewer acres in sanctuaries, an 11 percent reduction in those sanctuary acres.

It's only 11 percent, you might say. But it's 11 percent of the most productive, healthy sanctuary bars in the Bay. And it is giving away these protected areas before we have any idea the true size of the oyster population. That's not scientific. That's not sound judgment. Harvesting oysters on those 977 previously protected acres could do irreversible damage to the fragile population.

A bill in the Maryland General Assembly, HB 924, would freeze any alterations in the sanctuaries till after the stock assessment. Oyster harvesting is the only major fishery in Maryland that isn't managed with a science-based plan. It pays us to wait till we have the science before we implement a major change such as OAC is considering.

The bill will be heard this Friday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m. in the House Environment and Transportation Committee. We urge people concerned about the proposal to shrink sanctuaries to make their voice heard.

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations

Stand up for oysters now! Ask your legislators to support a new bill that would stop changes to oyster sanctuaries from happening before there is sound science to back them up.


Speaking up for Clean Water

Just eleven years after Captain John Smith led the original exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, the Western Hemisphere's oldest legislative body was founded when Virginia's House of Burgesses met in 1619. Much has changed over the subsequent centuries, including the waning health of the Bay and its rivers and streams. The recent 2016 State of the Bay Report reveals the Bay is improving, but much work remains.

Approaching the quadricentennial of House of Burgesses, on February 9 over 50 people descended upon Virginia's Capitol in Richmond to advocate for clean water in Virginia's General Assembly. A crucial week in the legislative session, CBF partnered with the James River Association and Lynnhaven River NOW to bring Virginians from all over the Commonwealth to meet with their Senators and Delegates. They were gracious enough to share with us some thoughts on their experience.

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Brian Vincent Farmville, VA

"I'm a kayaker, I'm a kayak fisherman, I'm a canoeist. … You've got to protect the waterways in order for there to be areas that are worth recreating in."

"I think it's important for us to get out and actively engage in the process. That's what it's about. I'm tired of shying away from it and thinking I'll let other people take care of it."

 

 

 

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Carolyn O'Neal
Ivy, VA

"I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk. Over my lifetime, I'm 60, I've seen the Bay go from not so bad to really bad to better now and so I care a lot about it."

"Today I met my state senator and I spoke with the assistant of our state delegate and I feel so much more empowered. I can just go to their office and talk about it. They are human beings."

 

 

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Claire Neubert Hampton, VA

"We swim in the water, we boat in the water, we enjoy looking at the water, and we get a lot of sustenance from the water."

"This is the first time lobbying, but I always say that my passion puts me in some uncomfortable places."

 

 

 

 

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Liz Worsham Northumberland County

"We are concerned about clean water because we like to swim in our creek, for starters, and kayak, and fish. … It's really important for the businesses in the area and for the watermen."

"This is a great opportunity to have an impact and express my views to my representatives."

 

 

 

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Brad Worsham Northumberland County

"We love to eat crabs and oysters and we enjoy the ducks and the rockfish."

"It's nice to hear that our representatives are welcoming for us to visit them...We're cracking open the shell and perhaps we hope it fosters a more active relationship with our legislators in the future."

 

 

 

  —Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Couldn't make it to lobby day? Not to fear! Virginian legislators are meeting this week to discuss investing in these critical clean water programs. Take action now to ask them to make the necessary investment in programs that keep the Bay cleanup on target.


Chesapeake under Congressional Attack

The following first appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

—William C. Baker, CBF President

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

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


This Week in the Watershed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 21

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

July 22, 29, and August 5

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay—join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. Click here to register!

July 22

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

July 26

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

July 30

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

August 4

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

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


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.