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July 2010

The James River – A Playground of History and Nature

The 25-mile stretch of the James River just below Richmond, Va., is a pretty special place.

129 For starters, it’s full of Colonial history and dotted with 17th Century settlements and plantations, among them Henricus, Bermuda Hundred, Appomattox Manor, Curles Neck, Shirley, Berkeley, and Westover. All owe their location on the banks of the James to the river’s early and enduring role as a conveyance of people and goods – and the fact that ocean-going ships can navigate no farther up the James than the fall line at Richmond.

This stretch also contains some wonderful natural areas to explore, such as Presquile and James River National Wildlife refuges, and Fourmile, Herring and Queens creeks, small meandering tributaries that are largely undeveloped.

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Big Question of the Campaign: Which Governor is the Real Bay Hero?

Omalleymug Ehrlichmug Which candidate for governor in Maryland is the real Bay hero? How about the governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania?  How clean are their green credentials? Let us know your opinions.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley and his main opponent in the November election, former Governor Robert Ehrlich, are engaged in a hot debate over who owns the better environmental record. The Washington Post called it a "brawl" over their enviro-credibility.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, is forbidden from taking sides in political campaigns, so I am not going to voice my opinion on this matter.

But I will say this: It would be great for the Chesapeake Bay if the environment (a frequently neglected subject in state and federal elections) surges to the top of the list of topics that the gubernatorial candidates fight about over the next three months before the election.  The more Ehrlich and O’Malley slug it out over the Bay, the more the voters will hear about their plans and promises for environmental restoration – and the more the next governor will be held accountable after the election.

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Bulldoze This Insult to the Chesapeake Bay

DarrylwagnershouseMemo to the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, government:

Stop ignoring the law and bulldoze this house, on Little Island in the Magothy River. Flatten it, ASAP. Demolish the cheesy faux lighthouse. Uproot the fake palm trees. Replace the manicured lawn and wall of rocks with the natural trees and grasses that filtered the water before developer Daryl Wagner built this monstrosity without permits almost a decade ago.

If he steps outside to ask you why you're swinging a wrecking ball at his palace, tell him: For the sake of peace, justice and the Chesapeake Bay. His mansion is an insult to the basic concept of legal protections for the Bay.

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Why Climate Change Has Melted As a Political Issue

Icecube When it’s so hot, why are people so cool on climate legislation?

US Senate leaders recently conceded there is no chance of passing a climate bill this year.  While the scientific evidence of the damage caused by greenhouse gases remains solid, the political will and public support for passing federal legislation to address the problem are melting faster than ice cubes on a July afternoon. What's cooking here?

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Releasing Exotic Species to Fight Invasive Species: Gambling With Mother Nature?

Deadash Up and down the street in Prince George’s County, Maryland, ash trees are dead or dying.  The stately hardwoods are being killed by a shiny green beetle from Asia called the emerald ash borer. It’s an invasive species that has wiped out more than 30 million trees since it hitchhiked from China on a shipping crate more than a decade ago.

The beetles threaten not only to eradicate one of the most popular suburban shade trees in America, but also to harm water quality in rural streams, by removing trees that cool and filter waterways.

At first, Maryland officials tried to contain the bark-burrowing leaf eaters by cutting down trees to deny them food. But that didn’t work. 

Emerald ash borer And so now the bug hunters are playing hardball: they’re pitting exotics against invasives.  Over the last year, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has released more than 9,000 Chinese parasitic wasps here, with the hope that they will prey upon the emerald ash borer, as they do in Asia.

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Virginia Not on Track to Meet Latest Bay Cleanup Goals

Bayfromspace Some disheartening news: A CBF analysis of Virginia’s efforts over the past year to speed the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay indicates the Commonwealth is falling short in doing what state officials promised just a year ago. This doesn’t bode well for achieving what all acknowledge will be even more ambitious commitments needed to save the Bay in the coming years.

First, some background. As most people know, because more than two decades of voluntary agreements, unmet commitments, and missed deadlines failed to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the Obama Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now aggressively pushing forward with a federal plan to clean up the Bay.

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