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August 2012
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October 2012

We're Halfway There: Improving Soil and Water Quality on Mountain Valley Farm

This is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs), demonstrating that agriculture is halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

BazzleMike and Beth Bazzle own and operate Mountain Valley Farm, a beef cattle operation in Rockingham County, Virginia. But they had a big problem.

“Silt and runoff from heavy erosion areas were contaminating my well,” said Mike, holding up a nasty-looking sample of discolored ground water.

So the Bazzles teamed up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to make conservation programs work for their farm in the Smith Creek watershed of the Shenandoah Valley.

Bazzle installed stream fencing and planted vegetated filter strips along his stream banks, created livestock crossings, and put in additional troughs and cross-fencing to reduce polluted runoff from leaving his farm. He is now in the process of constructing confined feeding facilities for his livestock to further reduce pollution and to capture nutrients for later use on the farm.

Cory Guilliams, district conservationist for NRCS said, “We’ve got some really good programs to help farmers reduce pollution and improve the soil and water on farms, but there were some missing components Mr. Bazzle needed to make everything work for him. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation came through with some private funding to make it all fit together.”

“We could not have done all the projects to improve our water and our cattle grazing facilities had it not been for these programs,” said Mike, an independent sales representative for Vigortone Ag Products and Accelerated Genetics. “I can rest at night knowing we’ve got clean water to drink and the water leaving this farm is so much cleaner.”

Farming tips for improving soil and water quality:
Keeping livestock out of streams has proven herd health benefits. It is also a clear sign to downstream neighbors and other community members of your ethics and environmental stewardship. Try these options to keep cattle healthy by keeping them out of streams:

  • Off-stream watering systems
  • Stream fencing
  • Stream crossings
  • Buffer strips
  • Rotational Grazing

Both the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the state agricultural best management cost-share programs can help cover expenses for certain livestock stream exclusion projects that are built to specification.

—Bobby Whitescarver  

 Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Photo caption: Mike Bazzle holding a jar of his well water before Best Management Practices were installed. Photo by Bobby Whitescarver.

The Book that Started it All

 SilentSpring"Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song. This sudden silencing of the song of birds, this obliteration of the color and beauty and interest they lend to our world have come about swiftly, insidiously, and unnoticed by those whose communities are as yet unaffected." —Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Fifty years ago today, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring—the book that many credit for launching the modern environmental movement—was published. 

In it, Carson investigates the damage that the fast-growing use of DDT to control insects had inflicted on birds and other wildlife, and eventually humans.

Despite the initial uproar after the book's release, Carson ultimately changed the way people look at the natural world. "Her message that humans cannot totally control nature, or eradicate species we don' t like—at least not without harmful side effects—came through clearly. She advocated integrated management: using a minimum of chemicals combined with biological and cultural controls," says the PBS website.

The year after Silent Spring came out, President Kennedy directed his Science Advisory Committee to investigate Carson's claims. Its investigation vindicated Carson's work and led to an immediate strengthening of chemical pesticide regulations.

Seven years later, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency with one of its first tasks being to ban the use of DDT and other harmful pesticides.

Carson died of cancer two years after Silent Spring was published, at age 56. On the plaque by the sea where her ashes were spread read the words, "Rachel Carson (1907-1964), Writer, Ecologist, Champion of the Natural World, Here at last returned to the sea," along with a quote from one of her last letters: "But most of all I shall remember the monarchs."

Carson's foresight and courage to speak out about human activities that destroy our natural world and the necessity that we all need to be good stewards of the Earth, led to tremendous strides in the environmental community.

Here at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we are now facing an historic, unprecedented opportunity to really truly save the Bay through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Perhaps we would never have gotten here were it not for the heroic efforts of individuals like Carson. 

"We stand now where two roads diverge," said Carson. "But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one 'less traveled by'—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth."

—Emmy Nicklin


Photo of the Week: Kent Island Sunrise

DSC09826Photo by Doug Edmunds.

"This was taken on Kent Island at 6:30 in the morning last Sunday. I grew up in Maryland and have been here my entire life along with my extended family. I have enjoyed all that the Bay has offered for many years including the wildlife, boating and fishing, spectacular views, and great photo opportunities as well. Many thanks to CBF for the continuing efforts and programs to maintain the overall health and beauty of the Bay!"

Doug Edmunds

Ensure that Doug and others continue to enjoy sunrises along extraordinary waters like these. 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], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. Please also join our Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Flickr group and post your pics to our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing your photos! 


Bay Cleanup Is Worth It

The following appeared in The Frederick News-Post  earlier this week.

Neo_003703-01 1Will Harloff (age 10) of Copperstown, New York, fishes at the origin of the Susquehanna River. Photo by © 2010 Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

 The Frederick News-Post stated in a reasonable editorial ("Cost of the bay," Sept. 7) that farmers and developers need to hear stronger and more compelling economic arguments for saving the Chesapeake Bay.

Clean water is a common good, so any economic argument should consider benefits to farmers and builders, but also to the whole community. Here are a few of those arguments.

First, the effort to reduce water pollution in the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed benefits not just the main part of the bay, but all tributary creeks and rivers, including those in Frederick County, which are badly polluted. The Lower Monocacy River watershed, for instance, contains some of the most polluted waters in the multi-state region.

This problem will continue to get worse as the county continues its dramatic growth. Without changes from developers, for instance, Frederick County is expected to discharge more nitrogen pollution into its local water from new homes on septics than any county in the state over the next 25 years. This is a local problem, requiring a local solution. If the county opts out of this effort, it not only hurts those downstream, but also threatens the safety of local drinking water, the health of children and the county's economic vitality.

Second, history tells us the actual cost of this cleanup will be much lower than the perceived cost. In fact, the cost will be highest if we do nothing or wait for it to be cheaper. Technologies for cleaning our water are like any other; they will get cheaper as we scale up their use. That will be as true with septic or stormwater systems as it was with computers and televisions.

Investing in smart pollution reduction now will yield windfalls later. For example, installing stormwater pollution control technologies alone will produce 36,000 full-time jobs over the next five years in Maryland, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Montgomery County already is adding 3,300 jobs for that type of work. That's a compelling economic argument to the unemployed construction worker.

Third, while Maryland has been a leader in reducing pollution, other states are now stepping up precisely because of the new, tougher plan for reducing pollution.

Here's a sample of what Pennsylvania has achieved in the past two years, taken from a recent Chesapeake Bay Journal account of the state's record in meeting its short-term cleanup commitments:

  • For wastewater, the state met its nitrogen reduction goal, and exceeded its phosphorus goal. It actually achieved its 2025 reduction goal for phosphorus reductions from wastewater.
  • For urban/suburban lands, it slightly exceeded its goal of connecting 7,353 septic systems to sewer systems.
  • For agriculture, it more than doubled its goal of planting 19,059 acres of forest buffers.

Do we really expect Pennsylvania will continue its efforts if Maryland or other states step to the sidelines? All states agreed to specific pollution limits for the region, and have crafted their own blueprints for reaching those goals, precisely because there is a renewed sense of urgency and unity, but also because of real accountability.

Let's continue to lead, not break ranks. Watershed-wide, we are more than halfway to our goals of reducing pollution. If we can finish the job, the entire region stands to gain economically. One dollar of water and sewer infrastructure investment, for instance, increases private output (gross domestic product) in the long term by $6.35, according to a 2008 report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Finally, are we saying clean water has value measured only in dollars and cents? Tell that to a fly fisherman on a peaceful bend of a babbling creek as the mist rises one spring morning. Are we not stewards of the earth for future generations?

Let's all of us continue to discuss and debate this subject of clean water. I believe the more we know, the more we'll agree the effort is worthwhile.

—Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

 Learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint--our best hope for a saved Bay!

Hurray for Virginia's Lawn Fertilizer Bill!

The following appeared on field conservationist Bobby Whitescarver's blog. For more information, please visit his  website.

Lawn-fertilizerOne evening when I lived in town a lawn fertilizer truck stopped in front of the house. The driver got out and asked me if I wanted him to fertilize my lawn. He didn’t know I was an agronomist. I politely said, “no thank you.” He then proceeded to tell me how bad my lawn looked and that it needed not only fertilizer but pesticides as well. I asked him to tell me exactly what he was proposing to put on my lawn. He could not tell mehe didn’t know!

That was 20 years ago. We now have a law in Virginia protecting against the indiscriminate use of fertilizers on lawns, golf courses and parks (Va. Code Title 3.2, Chapter 36). This is the result of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with other conservation partners who well know, it’s not just farmers causing pollution in the Bay.

In the Chesapeake Bay watershed it is estimated that there are 3.8 million acres of lawns, golf courses and parks. Scientists predict this new Virginia law will reduce phosphorous pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by 230,000 pounds each year!

Farmers have been complaining about their urban neighbors for years. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, "It’s not us polluting the Bay, it’s all those city folks spreading fertilizer on their lawns.”

Homeowners in Virginia have been able to purchase and apply all the fertilizer they want on their lawn whether it is needed it or not.

That will stop on December 31, 2013.

Not only will lawn fertilizer with phosphorous (for maintenance) be banned from sale, commercial applicators of lawn fertilizer will be required to be certified nutrient management planners by the Commonwealth of Virginia. They will have to know what they are applying and how to apply it correctly.

In addition, golf courses will be required to have certified nutrient management plans by July 1, 2017.

And another biggie: De-icers for roads, parking lots, and sidewalks cannot contain nitrogen or phosphorous compounds after December 31, 2013.

This is a huge step forward and a sterling example of how grassroots organizations can work together to get something positive done for our environment despite a harsh political climate.

—Bobby Whitescarver  

Whitescarver is a recently retired USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist who spent more than 30 years working with farmers on conservation practices. He now has his own private consulting business where he helps landowners create an overall vision and plan for their land. He also works with CBF to help famers install more Best Managment Practices (BMPs) in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the recipient of a CBF Conservationist of the Year award. For more information, visit his website

Photo of the Week: Marker No. 6

MileMarker2Photo by Dixie Hoggan/

"For much of the year, I live on the Chesapeake Bay. The view from our house on Stove Point is unencumbered by land—just a jut of Gwynn Island to the right and Stingray Point to the left. In the distance almost directly in front of the house is Marker Number 6, a small black channel marker that blinks a red light at night. This marker is a beacon—a constant in an expanse of ever-changing light, wind, and color. Several years ago I decided to take a photo of this panorama every morning at dawn. While undertaking this project, I found that my long-time fascination with observing water and weather and sky turned into a fixation. This particular scene was shot in late May. Several summers ago, the morning skies were spectacular. But then, most mornings on the Bay are gorgeous, no matter the season.”

Dixie Hoggan, Deltaville and Richmond, Virginia

Ensure that Dixie and others continue to enjoy dawns along extraordinary waters like these. 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], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. Please also join our Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Flickr group and post your pics to our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing your photos!  

Making a Difference from the Sweetest Place on Earth

Ally Beitzel is a 3rd grader at Hershey Elementary School in Hershey, Pennsylvania. While it's true that Ally quite possibly lives in the sweetest place on Earth, that hasn’t stopped this 9-year old from recognizing the importance of clean water throughout the whole Chesapeake Bay Watershed and beyond.

This past spring, Ally entered The Hershey Company’s Kids’ Water Art Contest, which was one of several Earth Day initiatives sponsored by The Hershey Company. The goal for participants was simple—create an original drawing that depicts what clean water means to them. Entries were broken out by age group, with $2,000 donations being made by The Hershey Company on behalf of the winners to the charity of their choice.

Lucky for us, Ally won her age group and chose CBF!

The contest was right up Ally’s, well, alley. As an aspiring artist, Ally loves to draw and has hopes of being a professional artist one day. When asked why having clean water is so important to her, Ally responded that without clean water and a clean Bay, the animals and wildlife she’s come to love would be in real danger.

Not content to simply rest on her recent drawing accomplishments, Ally passed along a great tip that she practices every day. When brushing her teeth, she always makes sure to turn the faucet off while brushing. And let’s face it, all that water adds up, especially when you’re brushing in the sweetest place on Earth!

As an artist or as a conservationist, one thing is for sure—Ally will have an impact on creating a brighter future for us all.

Thank you, Ally!

—Kirk Swanson

Learn more about our efforts to Save the Bay and waters we love through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Photo of the Week: A Place in Time

SunsetfishermanonthebayPhoto by Diane Hotaling.

"We love sunset on the Bay! I was searching my files for a new screen saver and found this photo taken last summer during a dusk swim in the Bay with my daughter and some friends. We were on Chick's Beach in Virginia Beach not far from the Lesner Bridge. Sunset alone is beautiful, but nothing says 'Chesapeake Bay' like a fisherman in the foreground of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel when the sun is going down. It's a place in time."

—Diane Hotaling

Ensure that we continue to experience sunsets along extraordinary waters like these. 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], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. Please also join our Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Flickr group and post your pics to our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing your photos!