A Farmer's Support Means Cleaner Water

Donor Charles Bares
Charles Bares, a dairy farmer from upstate New York, is a generous supporter of CBF’s work to defend and implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. He believes, like CBF, that the Blueprint can improve waterways across the United States.

"I was an environmentalist before I was a farmer," Charles Bares says by phone one warm September morning. Bares has taken time out from managing his dairy farm–which comprises 5,000 acres and a few thousand cows–to speak about his support of CBF.

Bares and his family live in upstate New York–outside the Bay watershed. In fact, he's only been to the Chesapeake Bay region a handful of times. Yet, he generously supports CBF's work.

"You're going out there and fighting the good fight, and that's what I appreciated," he says.

Bares strongly believes in CBF's work to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, a plan that he hopes will foster change and influence the cleanup of other polluted bodies of water. 

From defending the Blueprint in the courts, to our hands-on restoration work and educational programs, Bares believes that CBF is laying groundwork that will help provide clean water to people all over the United States.  

"The work that CBF is doing . . . people are going to stand on those shoulders," he says, adding, "[CBF is at] the forefront of changing opinions and getting policy makers behind you and showing how many people care and how [they] can make a difference."

Bares emphasizes that the American Farm Bureau Federation—the group challenging the legality of the Blueprint—does not speak for all farmers. "They certainly don't speak for me," he says.

Bares traces his passion for protecting the environment to his enjoyment of the outdoors, which began during his childhood in suburban Cleveland. He remembers summers spent fishing, birdwatching, and exploring nature, experiences that taught him to appreciate the environment and inspired him to become a farmer.

Over the years, the amount of time he has spent outdoors has given him a unique perspective on the impact of pollution. As an example, he mentions toads, a species that has been hit especially hard by pollution and habitat loss. He describes seeing the amphibians during summers while he was growing up and compares it to what his children see today. "To my kids it would be unbelievable. It would be like the world is being overtaken by toads!"

Not content to passively watch these changes occur, Bares and his brother formed a company that uses technology to reduce agricultural pollution. Known as Rowbot, the company produces small robots that roll through cornfields applying the exact amount of nitrogen fertilizer that the plants need. This is a departure from traditional farming practices, in which fertilizer is sprayed broadly across fields by large machines. Although the robots are still being tested, the idea holds the potential to reduce pollution and save farmers money.  

"[We wanted] to do something that could make a difference," Bares explains, noting that the project utilizes his expertise in farming, and his brother’s background in engineering.

In addition to his company's innovative use of technology, Bares is an advocate for more traditional methods of reducing agricultural pollution as well, including the use of BMPs or best management practices. These techniques, such as utilizing cover crops to prevent erosion, and fencing livestock from streams and creeks, make farming more sustainable. "It [doesn't] take a lot of money, it takes a willingness," he says.

He emphasizes that being a farmer and caring about the environment aren't mutually exclusive. "There are lots of farmers out there who don't want to pollute. They want to leave their creek behind the barn the way they found it . . . for their kids and grandkids," he says, adding, "We all just have to take care of our own little piece [of land] and lead by example."

—Melanie McCarty
CBF's Donor Communications Manager

Are you interested in joining the clean water movement just like Charles Bares? Click here.


The Blueprint Is Like Cash in the Bank

DSC_4731CBF President Will Baker at this morning's press conference: "Today we can confirm what we long advocated: Reducing pollution makes great sense for our health and environment." Photo by Rob Beach/CBF Staff.

This morning, we released our report, The Economic Benefits of Cleaning Up the Chesapeake. The results of the report are breaking new ground in our case for implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—our best chance for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

For the first time ever, we can put a dollar figure on the value of implementing the Blueprint. That figure is staggering. When the Blueprint is fully implemented, the added benefits of clean water, clean air, and healthy land will reach $22.5 billion per year. Just as important, the report shows that abandoning the Blueprint now would cost $6 billion annually in natural benefits lost to polluted waters.

Economic Report CoverThese numbers are a conservative estimate that came from rigorous work by CBF's water quality expert, Dr. Beth McGee, and the respected natural resources economist Dr. Spencer Phillips of Key-Log Economics. Together, they reviewed more than 70 previous studies to calculate the economic value of the natural benefits the Bay system provides.

Of the two dozen potential benefits the natural environment provides, the authors looked at the eight benefits most directly related to water quality. These are the ones they evaluated:

  • Climate Stability
  • Food production
  • Protection from flooding
  • Clean water supply
  • Clean air
  • Treatment of waste
  • Recreation
  • Aesthetic value

All tallied, those benefits to the Chesapeake Bay's six states and the District of Columbia are worth more than $107 billion annually. When the Blueprint is fully implemented, that number rises to nearly $130 billion.

The efficacy of the report has been confirmed by expert reviewers from the fields of ecological economics, water resources management, environmental policy, and water quality science. The evidence is absolutely clear: What's good for the Bay is good for the economy—not just in communities on or near the Bay where benefits to boaters and fishermen are obvious. Every state with rivers and streams that drain into the Bay stands to gain substantially from implementing the Blueprint.

Here's how the annual financial benefit of implementing the Blueprint break out by state:

  • Pennsylvania: $6.2 billion
  • Virginia: $8.3 billion
  • Maryland: $4.6 billion 
  • Delaware: $206 million
  • West Virginia: $1.3 billion
  • New York: $1.9 billion

Econ Report Infographic square FINALImplementing the Blueprint is about more than cleaning up the Bay. It's about fixing what's wrong with the way we use our land and water. It's about maintaining forested areas that help filter water, some of which ends up as drinking water in our wells. It's about smarter development, because reducing the amount of pavement and hard surfaces prevents pollution from washing into rivers and streams when it rains. Cleaning the Bay is about using best management practices on farms that minimize the fertilizer and waste running from the land into the water.

We know these things will lead to cleaner water flowing into the Bay, which will allow the return of sea grasses and increase habitat for fish and crabs that live among the grasses. Cleaner water will reduce the low oxygen zones—areas of the Bay where oxygen is so low that most marine life can't survive.
But that's not all it will do. It turns out, the very things that are needed to clean the Bay are going to improve groundwater, air quality, soil health. That in turn improves human health, property value, agricultural productivity, and recreational commerce.

We now have the proof. Implementing the Blueprint improves the economic value of the entire region—from New York to Virginia, from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the Nation’s capital.

Now it's time to get the job done, make the changes that need to be made to improve water quality in the Bay. We'll all reap the benefits!

—Kimbra Cutlip, CBF's Senior Multimedia Writer

Bay States Prepare to Fight Outsiders Who Would Derail Cleanup

21 State Amici FINAL
The following first appeared in 
Bay Journal earlier this month.

The battle lines have been drawn in the fight to defend the numeric pollution limits, known under the Clean Water Act as total maximum daily loads or TMDLs, and the state implementation plans. Taken together, they form the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, a road map for Bay restoration.

Having lost in the federal district court, the Farm Bureau and its allies have appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Attorneys general from 21 states, none of which touch the Bay, have joined them by filing a friend of the court brief in support.

Their key argument is that the plan is an EPA over-reach, which they say gives the EPA control over land use. They claim the EPA can now tell farmers where to farm and builders where to build.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement, "The issue is whether EPA can reach beyond the plain language of the Clean Water Act and micromanage how states meet federal water-quality standards. We think the clear answer is 'no,' and we would prefer to get that answer while the question surrounds land use in the Chesapeake Bay instead of waiting for EPA to do the same thing along the Mississippi River basin."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation respectfully disagrees, and supports the lower court decision citing the Blueprint as a model of the "cooperative federalism" that the Clean Water Act intended.

A little background: After years of failed agreements and several lawsuits to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and streams that feed it, the Bay states worked closely with the EPA to develop the Blueprint.

The pollution limits set the maximum pollution that rivers and the Bay can withstand and still be healthy. The states then worked with the EPA to assess how much pollution each state needs to reduce.

Knowing the numbers of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution that needed to be reduced to meet the goal, each state developed its own plan for how it could achieve the reductions. The choices were made by the states, based on how each state thought the reductions could best be achieved. The pounds that each state must reduce were determined using sophisticated watershed models and information provided by the states. Because the states had attempted to meet similar reduction goals at least two different times and failed, the states and the EPA agreed that the states would need to provide reasonable assurances that they could succeed.

Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring has also weighed in with a friend of the court brief supporting the EPA. He said, "When the most promising plan to protect and restore the Bay comes under attack, I am going to stand up for the health of Virginia's families, for Virginia's economic interests, for Virginia's efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay. Each Bay state, including Virginia, voluntarily entered into the current Bay restoration plan because of the economic, recreational, environmental and intrinsic value of a healthy Chesapeake Bay."

Lined up in support of the EPA are the other intervening parties, including: CBF; the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, which represents hundreds of Pennsylvania local governments; and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

In addition to the Virginia amicus brief, others filing amicus briefs in support of the Blueprint include Maryland, environmental groups led by the National Parks and Conservation Association and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, a coalition of Florida conservation organizations, a group of law professors, and cities and towns like New York City and Annapolis.

This a historic moment in time for the Chesapeake Bay. It is the best, and perhaps last, chance for restoration. Progress is being made, pollution is being reduced, and jobs are being created to achieve the clean water goals.

We are confident that the federal district court's decision will be upheld and that we will be able to leave a legacy of clean rivers and streams to our children and future generations.

—Jon Mueller, CBF's Vice President for Litigation

Stand up for the Bay and the rivers and streams that feed it! Sign our petition.

Photo of the Week: Hooper's Island Fly Fishing

ByJohnRiordanPhoto by Jack Riordan.

I go to school in upstate New York and with the semester coming to an end, I can always look forward to the summertime fly fishing in the Bay! This photo was taken last year off of the Hooper's Island Bridge. To me, the Bay is a getaway where I can leave my worries on the dock and spend the day with my friends adventuring through this incredibly unique area. Some of my fondest memories have been forged around Hooper's Island, and I can't wait to get back for a visit later this year!

—Jack Riordan, Conservation Biology Student at St. Lawrence University 

Ensure that Jack and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights 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] 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!


From Humble Beginnings

For the next four days we'll be sharing posts from photographer Neil Ever Osborne's trek across Pennsylvania for the Chesapeake Bay RAVE.

Will Harloff of Copperstown, NY fishes on the Susquehanna River at its origin in Otsego Lake.

From its humble beginning in Otsego Lake, the Susquehanna River winds 444 miles through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland before emptying into the Chesapeake Bay near Havre de Grace, Maryland. While the Susquehanna boasts statistics that define it as the longest river east of the Mississippi and the 16th largest river in the United States its most impressive feat is that it dumps more than 50 percent of the freshwater that enters the Chesapeake Bay. I came to the origin of this river for that reason alone as part of an iLCP Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE).

In short, the concept behind iLCP's RAVE initiatives is to address the challenges of modern conservation by creating a full visual and media assessment of a conservation issue or threat in a very short period of time.

On the Chesapeake Bay RAVE, of which I am one of nine photographers, the iLCP has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other experts on the ground that call the Chesapeake watershed home.

I am in Pennsylvania covering the northern region of the state with the hopes of capturing images that depict natural resource consumption, pristine rivers and creeks, and the aquatic wildlife that might inhabit the area.

Stay tuned for more work as my week in PA unfolds.

- Neil Ever Osborne

* Thirty of the hundreds of photographs collected by iLCP photographers during the RAVE will be on exhibit in the Capital Rotunda September 20 - October 1.

Read all posts for the Chesapeake Bay RAVE

Learn more about the International League of Conservation Photographers.

President Proposes Almost $24 Million in Cuts for Bay Region

Once again, the Bush Administration is proposing to reduce federal funding for pollution reduction, species preservation, and habitat restoration in the Bay region. This year the proposed decrease is almost 24 million dollars.

With only three years to go to meet the 2010 goals for the Bay, this is a step backwards, just when the Bay states have been stepping forward with unprecedented programs and funding to reduce pollution. 

However, there is still opportunity to turn around the President’s proposed cuts. Congress frequently makes significant changes to the President’s proposal before it takes final action. This is where you can help. 

Right now and through the middle of this month, your locally elected U.S. Senators and Representative are developing their own list of priority requests for consideration by the all-important Appropriations Committees. These requests are often even more important than the President’s. 

You can encourage your elected officials to reverse the trend set by this President and fight for increasing, not decreasing, federal help for the restoration of the Bay and the streams that feed it. 

The Bay needs your help. Click here to write to your Senators and Representative to let them know you care.

Take the Polar Bear Plunge and Fight Global Warming

Logo_polar_plungeOn December 8, CBF's president, Will Baker, will join hundreds of others across the country and take the Chesapeake Climate Action Network's third annual Polar Bear Plunge into the fridgid waters of Chesapeake Bay. Won't you join him?

CCAN's annual polar bear plunge draws prominent elected officials and journalists and allows us to dramatically communicate the dire threat to our planet’s environment – and to the Chesapeake Bay. We have one planet and it has a fever, and we need clean energy solutions now.

Join Will and other CBFers at this event and fundraiser. It all begins at 11 am on Saturday, Dec. 8th on the beach at CBF's Merrill Center headquarters in Annapolis. CCAN will have heated tents on the beach plus hot chocolate and donuts and even a trio of polar bears who sing rap songs for the Earth. It’s fun for the whole family for a cause that couldn’t be more vital.

Can't get to Annapolis? Check CCAN's Keep Winter Cold website for a plunge near you.

Register online at keepwintercold.org

And, again, keep in mind that this is also a fundraiser for CCAN and their work to fight global warming, such as the campaign to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act here in Maryland. Participants are simply asked to get their friends and family members to give pledges to sponsor their plunge. It’s easy, and CCAN will take care of all the details.

New Yorkers Find Eden

An article in the NY Daily News reveals that the Chesapeake Bay "is becoming increasingly popular with New Yorkers who can't quite believe how quickly they can reach the area."

Travel writers, B&B owners, and residents -- this is your chance to educate our New York tourists that they, too, belong to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and their help is needed if it is to remain a vacation destination.

To our New York visitors, share with us what lures you down to the 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: