But don't worry . . . we'll be back real soon to tell more stories of the Chesapeake and how our waters are so important to our health, economy, and way of life. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the events we have going on in the field this spring—from tree plantings to oyster restoration workshops to Bay Discovery trips on our skipjack the Stanley Norman! Come join us in the field to help Save the Bay!
It is labeled as the "Chesapeake Bay Program," but it means clean water for Pennsylvania. That's why we're alarmed by the proposed federal budget that would eliminate all funding for this critical program.
Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's budget is not at stake, we're concerned about the fate of EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program because it plays an important role in coordinating and sustaining the federal/state partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams. Most of the Bay Program's $73 million budget is distributed as grants to the Commonwealth and other states and Washington, D.C. to develop and implement pollution-reduction plans.
But where exactly does the money go and how does it support clean water? In Pennsylvania, Bay Program support goes to state and county agencies and nonprofits to help farmers and municipalities in designing and installing measures to cut down on polluted runoff. Bay Program money also provides fundamental support for water quality monitoring of rivers and streams feeding the Bay.
If this money is lost, projects likes these could be at stake:
- A development of a cost-effective regional polluted runoff-reduction effort in York County.
- Restoration of the drinking water in the Octoraro Reservoir through work with Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster County.
- Reduction of flooding and polluted runoff into the vulnerable and world class trout fishery, LeTort Spring in Carlisle, Cumberland County.
Those efforts are paying off. Monitoring of water quality shows pollution is going down. The Bay and its rivers are streams are the cleanest they've been in decades.
But the proposed federal budget threatens to derail this success. The crippling effect that eliminating the Bay Program would have on pollution-reduction efforts in Pennsylvania is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen.
We urge you to make it loud and clear to Congress that clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Join more than 25,000 concerned CBF members, and sign our petition urging Congress to keep the Chesapeake Bay Program fully funded. If you've already done so—great! Please go one step further and call your members of Congress to let them know how important it is to fully fund the Bay Program. Click here to find phone numbers.
Pennsylvanians are already standing up for clean water. Actions like this are so important because losing significant investments from the Chesapeake Bay Program couldn't come at a worse time for Pennsylvania. While our rivers and streams are cleaner, the progress is tenuous, and the Commonwealth is facing significant state budget shortfalls.
But clean water is good for Pennsylvania's economy. A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of the Commonwealth's natural benefits by $6.2 billion a year.
Roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are fouled by pollution. Without critical support from the Chesapeake Bay Program, progress will be reversed. Our economy, our health, and our quality of life will suffer.
—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director
To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the proposed federal budget and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.
Since the release of the federal budget proposal to eliminate all funding for EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, we've been getting a lot of questions about what the cuts could mean for Virginia and for CBF.
Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's budget is not at stake, we're concerned about the fate of the Chesapeake Bay Program because it plays an important role in coordinating and sustaining the federal/state partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams. This funding is critical to keeping Virginia waters clean. For starters, Bay Program funding has supported dozens of projects across the state that help clean up our local waterways, often via grants through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. For example:
- In the Shenandoah Valley, Trout Unlimited is restoring habitat for native brook trout.
- In Hampton, CBF and our partners are improving the health of the Hampton River by restoring oyster habitat, installing rain gardens, and engaging the community.
- In Richmond's Southside, CBF worked with a local church to build a massive vegetable garden that is irrigated by rain water harvested from the roof. The project provides fresh produce in an underserved community and transforms the property so that pollution no longer enters local streams that flow to the James River.
EPA's Bay Program also provides about $9.3 million annually to the Commonwealth for programs that develop and implement clean-up plans to reduce pollution and monitor progress towards cleaner rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Removing this funding would put human health at risk by adding pollution to our waters. Virginia's already tight budget can't absorb those cuts, which could eliminate enforcement and accountability of laws that protect local water quality.
A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of Virginia's natural benefits by $8.3 billion annually. In many ways, Virginia has the most to gain economically from a restored Bay.
Support for the Bay Program crosses party lines. Republican and Democratic members of Congress from Virginia recently asked the president to support full funding for the Bay Program and both of Virginia's senators have urged leaders in Congress to reject the cuts.
Across the state, Virginians are concerned about the implications of these cuts. Even Virginians who largely support the administration's proposed budget are against slashing Bay Program funds. Just take a look at the Richmond Times Dispatch editorial, headlined Trump is right on the budget but wrong on the Bay.
The efforts coordinated by the Bay Program are working. We're seeing clearer water, more oysters and crabs, and more underwater grasses. There's still time to let Congress know that you do not support these cuts. Already, more than 25,000 passionate CBF supporters like you have taken action calling on Congress to stand up for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If you haven't signed our petition yet, please do so now. If you have—great! Please go one step further and call your members of Congress to let them know how important it is to fully fund the Bay Program. Click here to find phone numbers.
—Rebecca LePrell, CBF's Virginia Executive Director
To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget proposal and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.
Though Walter Zadan recently celebrated his 90th birthday, the Williamsburg resident keeps up a schedule that is unusual for a nonagenarian. Every week he stops by several Williamsburg restaurants to pick up heavy buckets laden with empty oyster shells. He then drives these shells a few miles away to dump into outdoor collection bins.
Zadan is part of a network of volunteers across Virginia that collects these shells for oyster restoration efforts by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. For Zadan, his routine at the restaurants incorporates the three things needed for a long and happy life.
"The first thing is to eat good food. The second thing is to exercise. The third thing is to stay connected to society, and feel like you are doing something good," Zadan said.
The volunteer job is a great match for someone who has spent decades both working with restaurants and as an environmental advocate. Zadan has lived in Williamsburg since 1998, but he was born in New Jersey and has moved around the East Coast. While in Pittsburgh in the 1960s, he became involved in fighting smog and pollution.
That interest carried over after he arrived in Norfolk in 1987 to work as a culinary teacher. Back then, when contacting seafood suppliers he was surprised at the lack of local fresh fish, crabs, and oysters in a city on the water. "I was shocked by what I was hearing compared to what I had been used to," Zadan said.
Zadan learned about sources of pollution to the Bay and resolved to do something about it.
"I got very concerned about it," he said. "Why should I, as a citizen, be abused by people who dump stuff into the Chesapeake Bay. I support the fishermen. People who work the Bay have a right to earn their living."
Since the early 1990s Zadan has been a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and volunteered with various projects, including public speaking on reducing pollution in waterways. He has worked on oyster shell recycling for about nine years.
The foundation has about 15 oyster shell recycling volunteers in Williamsburg and estimates there are more than 50 shell recycling volunteers in the state, spread out from the Charlottesville area all the way down to the city of Chesapeake.
The shell recycling process is a full cycle. Restaurants save shells after meals to become building blocks for new oyster reefs. Volunteers pick up these shells to deposit in designated oyster shell recycling bins around the state. Zadan normally recovers shells from Berret's Seafood Restaurant and Waypoint Seafood & Grill to drop off at a bin on the campus of William and Mary.
When the bins are full, Zadan and other volunteers help shovel the shells into a truck to be driven to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's oyster restoration center in Gloucester Point. There the empty shells are cleaned and placed into large tanks with free-swimming baby oyster larvae, called spat. The empty shells make great homes for spat, which must attach to a hard surface in order to grow into oysters. Just one empty shell can become the home for a dozen or more full-grown oysters.
The spat-laden shells are loaded onto a boat, where they are dropped onto protected oyster reefs to boost the wild oyster population. Just last year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation planted 5 million oysters in the Lafayette River in Norfolk.
Volunteers like Zadan are crucial to every step of the process, from gathering shells from restaurants to planting the baby oysters in rivers and the Bay, said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Oyster Restoration Specialist Heather North. "There is no way we could do this without our volunteers," North said.
"Walter is a real inspiration. At 90, he is showing us all just what is possible." North added that Zadan's long career in the food industry has helped the program work better with restaurants.
For his part, Zadan said that being part of the process gives him hope. "I feel like I'm making a contribution," he said. "It's a good thing both from a moral point of view and because it encourages business activity." He hopes that he can continue to inspire younger generations to work toward a healthier Chesapeake Bay. "Someone who's only 65 may look at me and say 'if a guy who is that age can do it, I can do it too,'" he said.
—Kenny Fletcher, CBF Virginia Communications Coordinator
This photo was taken in Shady Side with a view of the sunset on the West River. Living on the West River for more than 25 years I have enjoyed amazing sunsets and beautiful views of the local wildlife. Our community is located on the point of the peninsula where the Chesapeake Bay and the West River meet.
The local waters hold much beauty—eagles, ospreys (the resident osprey returned this week!), dolphins last summer, and local watermen cruising passed to make their living on the river and Bay. I treasure the Bay and its rivers—majestic beauty that I am grateful for every day.
Ensure that Nancy and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights and places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay and its waters!
Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Director of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!
Last week, the Trump Administration issued a preliminary budget that eliminates all funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), a critical part of the state/federal partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams.
But what exactly does the Chesapeake Bay Program do, and how does potentially gutting it affect the health of the Bay?
The CBP is an unusual entity. It's an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but also a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies involved in the work of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, as well as a host of academic and non-profit partners. You can think of it as a large and diverse group working together, organized and partially funded by EPA. And it is responsible for hundreds of actions in the field that help Save the Bay, from rebuilding wetlands, to restoring oyster beds, and so much more.
That leads me to the Five Reasons the Chesapeake Bay Program Is Critical to Saving the Bay:
- It's working! At a time when we seem increasingly at odds about how to solve complex problems such as health care or terrorism, the unique collaboration to restore the Chesapeake is making concrete progress. Less pollution is entering the Bay, underwater grasses are thriving in certain areas, the dead zones of low oxygen are shrinking. The crab population is healthy. Even oysters are enjoying a modest comeback. But the recovery is fragile. The Bay Program is the glue holding it all together.
- The Program is really a family affair with partners sharing the wealth. The majority of its $73 million annual budget is distributed to the partner states, local governments, colleges, and non-profits for the work they do. They plant trees along streams, build "green infrastructure" in cities and suburbs to slow down and soak up polluted runoff, and help restore and protect oyster reefs. They increase public access to waterways, create habitat for crabs and rockfish, and work with farmers to reduce pollution from manure and fertilizer. The list goes on.
- We have the best scientific information and tools, thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Like a sick patient, the Bay needs a scientific diagnosis and treatment. The Bay Program is the doctor of the Chesapeake. It coordinates the monitoring of water quality, the computer modeling of Bay health and progress, and the rest of the science. Eliminating the program would be like throwing away the patient's medical records.
- The partnership helps keep six states and the District of Columbia on track to meet their obligations in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This is the regional plan to restore the Bay. After several decades of failed attempts to meet restoration goals, the jurisdictions agreed in 2010 to hold themselves accountable for reducing pollution in amounts set by science, and to report on their progress every two years. This accountability mechanism is working, with nitrogen pollution falling in nine main tributaries. Eliminate the Bay Program and you could stop this progress.
- The Bay Program takes the broad view. Its scientists and planners can see, for instance, how the entire region is developing, and inform individual states for their own land protection strategies. This is especially important for areas downstream of development, since pollution is likely to increase from growth. The Program also tracks how the region is doing to restore fisheries, and the habitat that crabs, fish, and oysters need. In an ecosystem of 64,000 square miles, it is critical to know how the whole system is functioning. No state alone can do this—only the Chesapeake Bay Program.
The Chesapeake Bay Program has been called a model of cooperative federalism, the system of government established in the American Constitution. It is the federal and state governments working together to solve a regional problem. Rather than eliminate it, we should be supporting it.
—Tom Zolper, CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations
To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget proposal and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.
The following first appeared in the Daily Times.
In the current hostile political climate, we can't seem to agree on any government policy.
The bipartisan poll was conducted by two polling companies, one Republican, one Democratic.
"This is about as overwhelming as you can get on any public policy issue," said Lori Weigel, a pollster with the Republican firm, Public Opinion Strategies.
There's just one problem. The future of Maryland oyster sanctuaries is at risk. A proposal presented by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) would open up a net of nearly 1,000 acres of oyster sanctuaries to be harvested.
Maryland established the sanctuaries years ago as an insurance policy for the future of the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.
Fifty-one of these areas are scattered throughout the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. They represent a quarter of all oyster reefs.
In these underwater nurseries oysters can grow large, and reproduce. At least until now.
Opening the sanctuaries for harvest would be a major policy change for Maryland. DNR Secretary Mark Belton emphasized to a legislative committee recently that the proposal is preliminary.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation adamantly opposes any reduction in the oyster sanctuaries. So do 29 other conservation groups that signed a letter in opposition, which was submitted to DNR and the OAC, whose members are appointed by DNR.
The oyster harvest industry favors harvesting in sanctuaries. The number of licensed harvesters has doubled in recent years, and the industry wants more places to work. About three-quarters of the oyster reefs in Maryland already are open to harvest.
Nevertheless, the industry has proposed harvesting once every four years in some nurseries, the idea being that oysters would be allowed to grow in the years in between.
The current oyster population in the Chesapeake is estimated to be less than 1 percent of its historic size. The population has been devastated by overharvesting, water pollution, and disease.
Scientists say the sanctuaries are critical to safeguard against the unthinkable – losing the last remaining oysters in the Chesapeake – and to reverse the fate of the iconic bivalve.
Following those warnings, the state increased the area of sanctuary reefs in 2010 from 9 percent to 24 percent. At the same time, the state loosened regulations on oyster farming to help watermen increase their livelihoods.
The current policy is working.
A DNR report this past July concluded oysters are thriving in many of the sanctuary reefs. And oyster farming has surged, bringing added income to many watermen.
We must leave well enough alone.
The oysters on sanctuaries develop resistance to the periodic bouts of disease that flare up when water salinity increases, and spread that resistance to other reefs.
Given time, these reefs will grow vertically by many feet. Oyster reefs around the bay used to be so tall, colonial ships would go aground.
But centuries of harvesting and other assaults have collapsed the reefs into oyster "beds" – structures easily covered up by silt. Leaving sanctuary reefs alone will allow them to rise above this perpetual problem.
Permitting even occasional harvesting in these protected areas destroys the vertical growth, removes the large disease resistant oysters, and kills the nursery function.
Oysters can play a vital role in restoring the bay to health. Undisturbed oyster reefs are habitat for fish and other sea life. They also can filter millions of gallons of water – for no charge.
These structures literally can provide the building blocks of a restored Chesapeake Bay.
Marylanders are saying in no uncertain terms: Protect oyster sanctuaries.
—Alison Prost, CBF Maryland Executive Director
The following first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.
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!
The following first appeared in The Talbot Spy.
Residents of Cambridge, this spring you can win an unusual prize: a yard make-over at no cost. And in the process you can help clean up the waters around the city, and the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, and everybody gets a free 'rain barrel.'
The whole idea is the brainchild of the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee. The group wants to encourage practical, low-cost activities that can improve water quality in the city.
The process is simple. Interested residents must first attend a workshop that's happening at the Dorchester County Public Library in Cambridge, Wednesday, March 22, 5:30-7:00 p.m. You will receive information about what possible changes could be made in your yard that treat polluted runoff.
For instance, "rain gardens" are a type of beautiful garden that also soaks up rain running off your property. This is helpful because this runoff often contains pollution from the air or the landscape. The pollution usually ends up in local creeks. You won't make any commitments at the workshops, just learn about possibilities for a make-over.
If you're still interested, next you will receive a free visit after the workshop from a professional landscaper who will look at your yard, talk with you, and come up with ideas such as rain gardens, native plants, pavement removal, and other possible modifications best suited for your yard.
You'll pay nothing for the make-over if you are selected. Only five properties will be chosen in the first year of the two-year program. In the second year, financial support drops from 100 percent to 90 percent as a way to encourage early participation.
Both homeowners and renters are eligible to enroll. Those of limited means are particularly encouraged to step forward as the project is intended, in part, to respond to needs in under-served communities. A community survey accessible online here will further help reveal how much people know about water quality and ways to improve it. All survey respondents are eligible to enter to win a $40 Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar and Grill gift card.
Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop on March 22nd. Each workshop participant will receive a free rain barrel and instructions on how to install it. For more information and to register, contact Hilary Gibson at 410-543-1999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fertilizers, soil, oil, grease, and other contaminants run off private property when it rains. Until now, cities such as Cambridge have been left with the responsibility to deal with this problem. It's difficult and expensive, especially to manage runoff from private property.
The work in Cambridge seeks to treat runoff before it becomes the city's responsibility. Recognizing the burden of treating runoff once it reaches the city's drainage system, the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee of private and public partners stepped in to try to demonstrate how runoff volumes and contaminants can be reduced before that point. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was awarded to pilot a program that offers homeowners and renters incentives to install native plantings, swales and other practices that naturally filter runoff on private property – minimizing runoff volumes and pollutants for the city to handle later.
—Alan Girard, CBF Director of Maryland Eastern Shore
The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.
The 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.
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