Photo of the Week: So Many Things That We Love

IMG_1580At Suggetts Point in Warsaw, Virginia.

My husband and I live near the James River and have a place on the Rappahannock River. We are avid kayakers and participate in all forms of water fun. The tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay are where we spend most of our time, but we realize the health of the Bay is critical to the health of so many things that we love.

Education is the only way to ensure the Bay is there for our descendants.

—Amy Bram Sowers

Ensure that Amy, her husband, 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 Senior Manager 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!


Cuidando los Ríos

DSC_0588Click here for the English translation of the following blog post.

Efraín Carcamo y sus tres hijos cruzan rocas en la orilla del río James en Richmond, buscando basura que la corriente dejó entre piedras y ramas. "Este lugar es un filtro enorme," dijo Carcamo. "Atrapa mucha basura."

La familia busca metódicamente, y usan palos para recoger latas de cerveza y botellas de plástico, depositándolas en bolsas de basura. Por años, Carcamo ha repetido esta rutina varias veces al mes. Es su campaña personal para limpiar el río.

Su interés por la naturaleza empezó desde niño, cuando vivía en una finca en la sombra del volcán San Vicente en El Salvador. Desde mudarse a los Estados Unidos en 1989, ha estado fascinado con los ríos que desembocan en la Bahía de Chesapeake. "Llegué aquí y vi la belleza de este lugar y me enamoré," dijo mientras veía los pozos cristalinos del río James.  

DSC_0592Para Carcamo, cuidar los ríos también es una terapia. "Todos tenemos seres queridos que han fallecido," dijo Carcamo, quien perdió familiares en la guerra en El Salvador. La esposa de Carcamo falleció en un accidente en el 2008. Desde entonces él encuentra paz en los ríos. "Regresé a la naturaleza," dijo. "Creo que tiene el poder de consolar el alma y de cambiar muchas cosas en la vida. Creo que tiene un poder terapéutico."

Como padre, Carcamo ha enseñado el respeto de la naturaleza a sus hijas Elysha, 13 y Emaya, 11, y su hijo Eljah, 8. En los senderos de Belle Isle los niños buscan ranas y señalan donde una vez vieron un castor enorme. "Les enseño cuidar el medio ambiente," dijo Carcamo. "Ellos exploran, disfrutan, y ven con quienes comparten este planeta, no sólo personas, pero animales que debemos cuidar."

Carcamo también ha inspirado a más personas que quieren cuidar el río. "He conocido a mucha gente de todas las clases de la sociedad y todas las razas," dijo. Si le preguntan porque está limpiando, Carcamo explica que la basura daña los ríos y los animales. "Lo que digo les impacta … Regresan con sus bolsas de basura y limpian," dijo Carcamo. "Cuando se dan cuenta que alguien lo está haciendo les anima y ellos mismos lo hacen. Se siente bien."

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

 

 

 


Healing Waters

Haz clic aquí para la versión en Español.

Efrain Carcamo and his three children hop across boulders along the James River in Richmond, hunting litter lodged by the current among rocks and branches. "This place is like a huge filter," Carcamo says. "It traps a lot of trash."

The family moves methodically, using sticks hardened in the sun to flick beer cans and plastic bottles into trash bags. It's a routine Carcamo has repeated several times a month for years, his personal effort to clean up the river.

EfrainHis connection with nature began during his childhood growing up on a farm in the shadow of the San Vicente volcano in El Salvador. Since moving to the United States as a teenager in 1989, he's been drawn to the rivers and streams that flow to the Bay. "I came up here and saw the beauty of this place, and I fell in love with it," he said, standing alongside the river's sun-splashed pools.

For Carcamo, healing the waters is part therapy. "We all have people who we love who have passed away," he said, listing family members killed in El Salvador's Civil War. Since losing his wife to an accident in 2008, the James River has been a source of peace. "I went back to nature," he said. "I truly believe it has the power to comfort your soul and for you to change your approach to a lot of things in life. I believe that it has therapeutic power."

A single father, he has passed on his love of nature to his daughters, Elysha, 13, and Emaya, 11, and his son Eljah, 8. Walking the trails of Belle Isle, the kids chase tiny frogs and eagerly point out where they once spotted a giant beaver. "I teach them to appreciate the environment," Carcamo said. "They get to explore, enjoy, and see who they share this planet with, not just other humans, but other animals that they need to take care of."

DSC_0592Others on the river are often inspired to action after seeing Carcamo. "I meet a lot of people from different backgrounds out here, from all levels of society, different races," he says. If they ask why he cleans up, Carcamo explains how litter damages rivers, how trash harms wildlife, and how important waterways are to everyone. "Somehow, they are affected by what I tell them . . . They bring their trash bags. They pick up," Carcamo said. "When they realize there is someone doing it, they get courage, and they start doing it themselves. That feels good."

—Text, photos, and video by Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Carcamo recently volunteered for his first CBF cleanup at Día de la Bahía, the first Clean the Bay Day event promoted in both Spanish and English. Click here to learn more about this special event where more than 50 volunteers picked up about 36 bags full of trash and debris along the James River.

 


Photo of the Week: Then It Was Gone

Chesapeake Fall Light

Looking east out over the Chesapeake [Stingray Point to the left, Gwynn's Island to the right] with crisp fall light in abundance! Could not believe the light so late in the morning (around 10 a.m.). Looks like fall . . . then it was gone. 

—Dixie Hoggan

Ensure that Dixie 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! 

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 Senior Manager 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!


Slowing the Flow: A Pioneering Parking Lot

How Virginia Can Stop Polluted Runoff with the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund

Aerial Completed Project
An aerial view of the completed project.

A parking lot isn't usually something to get excited about. But believe it or not, the Ashland Police Department's new lot is pretty innovative when it comes to fighting pollution.

It started a few years ago, when it was time to repave the aging asphalt at the police station in Ashland, a small town north of Richmond. At that time, Ashland Town Engineer Ingrid Stenbjørn was beginning to look for ways the town could cut the amount of polluted runoff entering local waterways in an effort to meet new Virginia requirements.

Instead of just covering the parking lot with a new layer of asphalt, Stenbjørn suggested installing permeable pavers. On most paved areas, when it rains, water just runs off the hard surfaces, washing dirt, oil, grime, grease, and other pollution into nearby streams and rivers. However, permeable pavers allow water to pass through, effectively stopping much of this polluted runoff.

Stream Before
Before the project started.

The project at the police station was the perfect chance to upgrade the lot with something more environmentally friendly. "Every time we have a maintenance need here in the town, we consider if there's a way we can also reduce the amount of pollution that goes into our waters," Stenbjørn said.

There was just one problem. Ashland had a tight budget that year, and permeable pavers aren't the cheapest option upfront. Fortunately, the town was able to get support from Virginia's Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which provides matching funds to effective projects that reduce runoff. Together with a separate grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ashland could pay for the whole effort. "It was a really bad budget year, but those grants made this project possible," Stenbjørn said.

Even better, the grants also funded the restoration of a small stream that runs next to the parking lot. Before the work, the stream was in bad shape. It had a huge drainage area, and storms would send polluted runoff gushing through its deep channel, doing a lot of damage in the process. There was almost no life in the stream.

Stream After
After the project was completed.

The restoration widened the channel, which now allows flow from storms to spread out and slow down. Native plants are now taking hold in the new floodplain, helping absorb more of the water. Frogs and birds have returned to the stream.

Since the project's completion in November 2015, it's not only cut down on pollution, but has also created a mini oasis next to the station. Ashland Police Department Chief Douglas Goodman said that the Department "was pleased to be a part of such an earth-friendly project. In addition to being environmentally sound, the new creek bed is such a pleasant sight to see and can be quite calming."

The Numbers

 
Total Project Cost $367,957 
Stormwater Local Assistance Fund Share $168,500
Construction Start June 2015
Project Completion November 2015

 

Stay tuned for more stories of how innovative projects like these can help Virginia stop harmful polluted runoff from entering our rivers, streams, and Bay!  

—Text by Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator; Photos by Ingrid Stenbjorn

 


Photo of the Week: A Really Nice Backyard

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[This] is a photo my wife Roberta took of us cruising across Nomini Bay on the lower Potomac leaving Shark Tooth Island and heading back to our summer place on the Lower Machodoc Creek [earlier this summer]. It took a few shots to get the boat waves to align with the sunset and clouds. 

We spend a great deal of time on the Lower Potomac and Bay around Point Lookout, fishing, crabbing, and pleasure cruising. Roberta always comments that we have a really nice back yard!

—Greg Sharpe

Ensure that Greg, Roberta, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

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 Senior Manager 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!


We Should Ramp up Bay Restoration, Not Roll Back Protections

The following first appeared in the Gazette-Journal.

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Gloucester County is considering reducing regulations for land use rules which protect water quality. Photo by Garth Lenz/iLCP.

After decades of restoration efforts, the Chesapeake Bay is finally starting to show promising signs. The oyster population is beginning to rebound. At times, water has been the clearest in decades. Underwater grasses sway in the shallows.

But this recovery is fragile. That's why it's troubling that Gloucester County's Board of Supervisors may back off from its restoration commitments. At its September 6 meeting, the board will consider weakening protections under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act that have been in place for decades, the first Virginia locality to consider reversing course in this manner.

Instead of rolling back protections, we need to remain on course to save the bay. Gloucester's rivers, creeks, and inlets have always been one of its biggest assets. Their natural beauty attracts people who visit and stay. Their bounty has long sustained watermen and is leading to the comeback of the Middle Peninsula's oyster industry.

In fact, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Virginia Oyster Restoration Center at Gloucester Point depends on a healthy York River to raise oysters for the bay.

Gloucester shouldn't put its waterways or the bay's recovery at risk. More pollution would threaten aquatic life and increase human health risks. The proposal to reduce countywide protections won't spur growth or reduce administrative costs. Instead, it would actually add costs and paperwork to citizens and businesses that buy and develop land.

The proposal would reduce the area within the county covered by the Bay Act's Resource Management Area (RMA), where current land use rules protect water quality. Right now, the Gloucester County RMA is countywide, meaning that everyone follows the same rules.

But the proposal in front of the board would reduce Gloucester's RMA to just about the smallest total area allowed. However, state law would still require sensitive areas like wetlands, floodplains, and places with erodible soil to be covered by the RMA. Defining these areas would cause headaches for developers, businesses, and homeowners. In the end, Gloucester would have a patchwork of development rules across property lines, creating uncertainty and adding to project costs.

Gloucester County staff have opposed the change. Likewise, the local realtors, business owners, and residents on the board-appointed Go Green Gloucester Advisory Committee recognized that the proposed changes would create "a regulatory landscape that is needlessly complex."

Even large commercial development wouldn't see benefits from the proposal. Development projects over an acre must meet state rules for stormwater management and erosion and sediment control. Given that, changes aren't likely to "have a great impact on economic development in the form of attracting new business," county staff said this summer in a memo to the board.

In short, the county has little to gain economically and a lot at risk for the environment. Fortunately, it's not too late. Gloucester residents can meet with their supervisor or go to the September 6 meeting to ensure that future generations have cleaner water than we do today.

—Rebecca LePrell, CBF Virginia Executive Director

Gloucester Residents: Contact your member on the Board of Supervisors and attend the meeting on September 6 to join us in defending the Chesapeake Bay Act rules.


Photo of the Week: Bioluminescence Beauty

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Possibly one of the coolest images I've ever taken in the Bay. This is a 30-second exposure taken at 11 p.m. in Peary, Virginia.

The color you see in the water is the result of bioluminescence. I had my tripod set up and while the exposure was taking place, I walked through the water in the image to create a disturbance that allowed the water to light up. Look closely and you'll see my footprints in the image where my body blocked the light from reaching the sensor in the camera.

It was magical.  You could see stingrays swimming six feet down. A pod of dolphins swam by, leaving a 30-foot trail of light. Crabs clicking their claws even lit up the water. Never seen anything like it. 

—Scott Phillips

Ensure that Scott, his family, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

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 Senior Manager 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!


Lea's Clean Water Story

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Girl Scout Lea Bonner with CBF's Heather North.

Since my early childhood, I have had a passion for marine science and protecting our coastal ecosystems. My interest started with spending lots of time on the beaches, bays, and sounds in California, North Carolina, and Virginia. I enjoy swimming, sailing, and surfing and am concerned about how human activities are impacting our coastal systems.

For the past two years, I have participated in Marine Science summer education programs at the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute on the Outer Banks. When I discovered that currently there is no oyster collection program in the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, I decided to create one. My hope is to create a collection program that will help sustain the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay and educate restaurants on the importance of oyster restoration.

The Chesapeake's native oyster population plays a critical role in the Bay ecosystem. Oysters filter algae and pollution from the Bay waters. In fact, one adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day! But with pollution and overharvesting, the Bay's oyster population has been reduced to more than 90 percent of its historic level.

2Through establishing a collection program for oyster shells in Chesapeake-area seafood restaurants, this project will assist in recycling shells to create oyster reefs to repopulate the Bay with healthy oysters. This project will also include an outreach and education program with restaurants and residents to support pollution prevention and sustainability of the Chesapeake's oyster population. 

As a member of Girl Scout Troop 643, I rely on a sound foundation of science, community service, and written/verbal communications. Working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and local restaurants requires teamwork and development of partnerships. Through this project, I hope to gain knowledgeable insights in marine science, ecological science, and public engagement as well as valuable leadership skills.

Recently, I went to different restaurants around Chesapeake, asking them to participate in the collection program. I explained the details, including pick-up information and why I am doing the project. I showed the kitchen managers or owners the size and type of bucket we are using, and showed pictures of the oysters and collection centers. I gave them my contact information, brochures, and stickers, and answered any questions they had. I also showed them the list of restaurants that already participate in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Hampton. The restaurants that agreed included The Black Pelican, Surf Rider, Pirates Cove, Red Bones, Butcher's Son, and Kelly's Tavern. I plan to start collecting the oyster buckets from the restaurants very soon!

—Lea Bonner

What does the Bay and its rivers and streams mean to you? Share your clean water story here!

Image1UPDATE: I have been picking up oyster shells from various restaurants around Chesapeake, including Black Pelican, Surf Rider, Pirates Cove, Red Bones, Butcher's Son, Kelly's Tavern, and Wicker's Crab Pot. I take the buckets to my house, rinse the shells and buckets, and keep them in oyster baskets. Then, I take them to either the Ernie Morgan Environmental Center in Norfolk, Virginia, or the Norfolk Public Library. There, I empty the shells so they can later be taken to Gloucester Point, Virginia, and then back into the Bay!

On July 27, CBF's Virginia Oyster Restoration Specialist Heather North and I presented to Junior Naturalists attending a camp at The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. We talked to them about the importance of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, such as what they do and how they help the ecosystem. I explained my project to them and we both answered any questions they had. Then, they helped us by unloading baskets, creating oyster baskets, and filled the baskets.

On August 6, I did a presentation at CBF's Brock Environmental Center. After creating oyster nets, Heather North and I did a presentation on saving oyster shells, my project, and oyster gardening.

 

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Photo of the Week: Summer Storm Over Horn Harbor

LighteningStrike

This is a 30-second exposure taken from our pier last Friday evening in Peary, Virginia, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

This storm rolled down the Mobjack Bay and took direct aim at Cape Charles. The lightning strike is directly over Cape Charles.

I travel weekly for work all over North America. Likewise, my family is very active, going in different directions all week long. Every Friday when we cross the bridges in West Point on our way to Mathews County, we simply relax and begin to enjoy the peace, quiet, and solitude of the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up on the Bay as a kid, and I'm so thankful that I can raise my children on that same Bay today almost 50 years later!

—Scott Phillips

Ensure that Scott and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

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 Senior Manager 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!