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February 2013

Financial Incentives Proposed to Encourage Oyster Recycling

Karl WilleyTo encourage more businesses and people to recycle oyster shells, Maryland Delegate Stephen Lafferty of Baltimore County and colleagues recently proposed legislation that would give income tax credits worth a dollar per bushel for contributing old shells to oyster restoration projects.

“We have been seeing over past decades a real loss in the amount of shell that is available for oyster restoration projects,” said Lafferty (below).  “And oyster shell really is the best surface upon which new oysters can grow in the Bay.”

LaffertyThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other partners in a coalition called the Oyster Recovery Partnership for the last four years have been encouraging recycling through the “S.O.S.” or “Save Oyster Shell” campaign.

Karl Willey, Oyster Restoration Program Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said he hopes the Maryland General Assembly will pass the legislation to create the financial incentive.  “I think the bill will help educate people about the value of oyster shells, and the need to recycle oysters in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Willey (pictured above left).

For thousands of years, oysters defined Chesapeake Bay.  Today, only a tiny percentage of their historic populations remain because of overharvesting, pollution, and disease.

But oysters still define Chesapeake restaurants.

At the Hellas restaurant in Millersille, Maryland, for example, co-owner Michael Stavlas recently brought out a tray heaped with several of his oyster delicacies. The aroma made my stomach growl.

Continue reading "Financial Incentives Proposed to Encourage Oyster Recycling" »

Winds Shift to Favor America's First Offshore Wind Farm

Wind turbinesThe political winds are blowing favorably for what could be America’s first offshore wind farm.

On Tuesday, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee –- where wind power legislation hit the doldrums the last two years –- voted 7-4 in favor of Governor Martin O’Malley’s bill that would help subsidize 40 huge wind turbines east of Ocean City.

Last Friday, the House of Delegates voted 86 to 48 in favor of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013.

The final hurdle will be an upcoming vote by the full state senate.

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Time for Some Virginia ‘Ataboys

Some clean water good news from Virginia...

First, the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned last weekend (Feb. 23) but not before approving a state budget containing $216 million in additional funds for clean water projects.

Specifically, the funding will help Virginia localities upgrade their sewage treatment plants, better manage stormwater runoff, and invest in other sewer and water infrastructure projects. The money represents the biggest investment in clean water by Virginia in several years, and the legislature and the administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell are to be applauded for their support.

The additional state dollars not only will help reduce water pollution, flooding, beach closures, and hikes in local utility rates; cleaner water also will provide a better quality of life for Virginians and greater economic, tourism, and recreational opportunities for everyone. 

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Return of the "Name the Critter" Contest!

WigglersLike a ghost crab pot in the Chesapeake Bay, the Bay Daily "Name the Critter" contest has washed up again.

The first reader to correctly identify the denizens at left will win a free Chesapeake Bay Foundation t-shirt. 

To compete, you must enter your guesses as comments below. Ready, set, go!

UPDATE: They are juvenile American eels, also called "glass eels."  And the winner is K. Faull. . Congratulations!


Maryland Lawmakers Vote to Support Anti-Sprawl Law

FarmCBFGreat news for everyone who cares about the farms and forests of Maryland: 

The Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday voted 7-4 to kill an attempt to repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, a law that discourages suburban sprawl and pushes development into existing towns and areas served by wastewater treatment plants. The action followed a 19-5 vote last week against a similar repeal bill.

Lawmakers who stood strong for the Sustainable Growth law deserve great praise, because they helped to defend Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.

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Fighting for the Life of a River... and Watching the Fish Return

Jeff with smallmouthWhen Jeff Kelble was working for a software training company, he would find himself playing hooky, forwarding calls to his cell phone –-  in what he jokes was his real “office,” out on the river.

“The rivers in the Mid-Atlantic are, in my opinion, the best rivers in the world for smallmouth bass fishing,” Kelble said, as he rowed down the Shenandoah River on a recent afternoon, about an hour and a half west of Washington DC.

Kelble put down his oars to cast  into the scenic river, which flows through Virginia and West Virginia into the Potomac River, and then the Chesapeake Bay.  The water was green and smooth. The banks are lined with the white trunks of  sycamores. And the sun was like a silvery quarter burning a halo in the overcast winter sky.

As he fished, he explained that he left the computer business to become a full-time fishing guide in 1998. He’s 41 years old now. But he said he’s been obsessed with fish since he was five years old.

“I remember the first girl that I was supposed to kiss, who I don’t ever think I did kiss,” Kelble said. “She agreed to go fishing with me. And once she agreed to go fishing with me, I kept her around for a while, and she kept me around. We’d fish together.  I think I made everybody in my life fish with me.  My wife.  All my friends.”

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First in War, First in Peace, First to Wet a Line

Monday is President’s Day, and what better way to celebrate it than to go fishing. That’s certainly what our first president, George Washington, might have done.

Apparently Washington was quite the angler, whether standing on the banks of the Potomac River at his Mount Vernon, Va., home or traveling around the new nation.

“In his diary George Washington shares stories of several great catches that include a dolphin and GW and Bill mutantshark in Barbados, a legendary catfish in the Ohio Country, and trout and perch during the recess of the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787,” says George Washington Wired, a website maintained by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

According to the website, Washington owned a fairly extensive tackle box of hand-wrought hooks, horsehair and silk fishing lines, and wax that remains in the Mount Vernon collection today. In 1762, he ordered a pocket fishing kit from London. His invoiced described it as “1 fishing reel compleat.”

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O'Malley Again Makes Pitch for America's First Offshore Wind Farm

OMalley at wind hearingMaryland Governor Martin O’Malley is again pushing for state legislation that would help finance the construction of America’s first offshore wind farm.

“This legislation is important to our jobs future, for our energy future, and it’s important therefore for our children’s future,” O’Malley told the Maryland Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

For the third year in a row, O’Malley and allies are arguing for a bill that would create state incentives for developers to build 40  turbines  in the Atlantic Ocean 10 to 30 miles east of Ocean City.  The goal of the governor’s offshore wind power legislation, also known as Senate Bill 275, is to generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power about a third of the homes on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Similar legislation did not pass in 2012 or 2011, in part because of concerns about the cost to electricity consumers, because wind power is more expensive to generate than power from coal or natural gas.

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Looking for a Few Green Men…and Women

BECrenderingThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is seeking a little help from our friends to keep Pleasure House Point green.

As many Bay Daily readers know, CBF is planning to construct one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly buildings in the world on a small parcel of Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, Va. The parcel is part of a much larger, 118-acre tract that was saved from intense residential development last year and is now preserved permanently as a public natural area.

CBF’s green building will be called the Brock Environmental Center and is designed to have “net zero” impact on the surrounding environment (for more about the building, click here). Groundbreaking for the Brock Environmental Center is slated for early fall.

In preparation for construction, CBF will soon be moving trees and shrubs from within the construction footprint to habitat restoration areas around the site.  The intent is to save as many of the native plants as practical. The transplanting will be done in two phases: first, interested volunteers will help move small trees and shrubs; later, heavier equipment will be used to move the larger trees.

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Cast Your Vote! Should Softshell Crab Become the Maryland State Sandwich?

Soft shell crab sandwichMaryland has an official state fish (the striped bass), a state crustacean (the blue crab), a state flower (the black-eyed susan), even a state drink (milk). That last one was a surprise to me, as I had always assumed that the official state beverage was Natty Boh.

But here’s the big question:  Is Maryland big enough -- and important enough -- to deserve an official state sandwich? 

A state legislator has introduced a bill that would designate the softshell crab sandwich the official Maryland sandwich.

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