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June 2006
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February 2007

Matthew Ehrhart, Chespeake Bay Foundation, on REAP

Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, comments on proposed Resource Enhancement & Protection Tax Credit Program legislation pending in the Pennsylvania Senate and House. (From PA Environmental Digest)

“I introduced House Bill 2878 because I firmly believe that this new and innovative approach to encouraging the implementation of best management practices merits serious discussion by all stakeholders,” said Rep. Stern. “As the Representative from a district where there is a large and viable agricultural sector dominated by family farms, I am very aware that the vast majority of these farmers put a high priority on managing their farm operations in an environmentally friendly manner.

How much is a clean bay worth?

"Our political leaders need to know how close and within our grasp a restored Chesapeake watershed truly is." So writes David Bancroft, president of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in the February issue of the Bay Journal. Bancroft makes the point that, unlike so many other societal challenges facing our political leaders, this challenge has "well-known and well-documented" technical solutions, as well as a known cost - about $2.4 billion per year. According to Bancroft, that equals an average contribution of $166 per person in the Bay watershed.

So, how much is the Bay worth to you? Would you willingly pay $166 per each member of your household for a clean Bay?

What have we been doing for 19 years?

An article in today's Washington Post includes the following quote from J. Charles Fox, a former head of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources about efforts over the past 19 years to clean up the Chesapeake Bay:

"We have done a truly tremendous job of defining the problem, and we have done a truly tremendous job of defining the solution. But we have not yet succeeded in actually implementing the solution."

National and local legislators throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed will be tackling tough questions during this session. Keep David Fahrenthold's article in mind when the time comes to decide what efforts need your support.

More from the Washington Post:

Stormwater Solutions for PA

186708CBF has opened registration for "Confluence 2007--Preparing for the Storm: Stormwater Solutions for Pennsylvania Communities," to be held April 5 & 6. If you're a PA engineer, consultant, developer, municipal official, conservation professional, or watershed stakeholder interested in finding out more about the benefits and challenges of good stormwater management, check out the details.

VA Commits $2 Million to Oysters

VA officials have adopted a $2.7 million plan for restoring oysters in the Chesapeake Bay this year, including funds for hatcheries, oyster farming training and equipment, buying seed from private growers, and combating cow-nosed rays. The Daily Press reports that, for the first time, Virginia's plan puts a major focus on what's called "spat-on-the-shell" oyster replenishment. The method has been produced millions of oysters a year in Maryland. Last year, CBF and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission partnered on this new approach with 4.4 million oysters being transplanted to the Piankatank and Lynnhaven Rivers.

However, The Virginian-Pilot reports that the Virginia Seafood Council also asked the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to extend its experiments with Asian oysters. The commission expects to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its February 27 or March 27 meeting.

Indigo Dunes Debate

Portfolio Weekly cover A 69-acre development is proposed for one of Virginia Beach's last open waterfront landscapes. The proposal will impact four acres of wetlands and about 34 percent of protected area overlooking Pleasure House Creek and the Lynnhaven River. Portfolio Weekly features the story in it's current edition.

After analyzing the Joint Permit Application (JPA) for Indigo Dunes, Joe Lerch, CBF Virginia Land Planner, provided his technical analysis of the JPA to local citizens.

In summary, Lerch proposes that the JPA doesn't comply with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act regulations, meaning developer L.M. Sandler & Sons will need to seek an exception from Virginia Beach to develop the majority of the Resource Protection Areas (canals and wetlands - including a 100-foot protective buffer). Aerial photo showing proposed development

He also disputes the claim made by engineers for the developer that the existing wetlands and canals were manmade and therefore not worthy of protection under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. "(This) doesn't this follow the logic or letter of the law and regulations. Looking at the aerial photographs going back to 1937, it appears that the site was historically a wetland. Furthermore, when the years of spoil and dredge activity ceased it makes sense that nature would begin the process of returning wetland vegetation. Lastly, there is no reasonable justification (within the Bay Act regulations) for allowing an exception to remove the existing RPA features (water bodies, wetlands, and buffers)...Clearly, the exception being sought is due to a proposed "self-created" or "self imposed" hardship. I recommend contacting Shawn Smith (principal planner with DCR's Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance office) to verify this interpretation of the regulation."

You can read Joe's full comments about the proposal on the Shore Drive Community Coalition website and Shawn Smith's reply here (pdf file) .Aerial view showing location of the proposed development

You can take a virtual walking tour of the site or sign a petition opposing the Indigo Dunes project proposal at The Chesapeake Bayfront website. Stay up-to-date on the project with the Shore Drive Community Coalition blog.

Who's Watching the Rising Tide?

The Baltimore Sun Business section today features Zoe Johnson, a coastal planner with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Johnson studies shoreline erosion and other effects of rising sea levels and climate change. Thirteen Chesapeake Bay islands have disappeared over the years, and the water level in the bay is rising at a rate of about a foot per century, twice the national average.

For more information on Maryland shoreline changes, including an interactive map, visit Maryland ShorelinesOnline.

Bob Doyle, columnist with the Cumberland Times-News looks at how the bay formed 35 million years ago.