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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: April 2011


You Can Eat More Striped Bass from Chesapeake Bay, According to Revised Maryland Fish Consumption Advisories

New tests by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) show lower levels of contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay’s striped bass (rockfish), prompting the agency to increase its recommendation for the amount of the popular fish residents can safely eat.

Revised fish consumption advisories increase the recommended meal limits for striped bass caught in the Bay for nearly every population group.

The recommended meal limits for the general population for smaller striped bass increased by 50 percent, from two meals to three meals per month

The advisories no longer include the recommendation that had existed for women and children for certain striped bass

The new recommendations stem from recent test results that show a significant decline in PCB levels in striped bass from Maryland waters. Median PCB levels fell by more than half in fish analyzed between 2001-2005 versus in 2009-2010.

Data also suggest that contaminant levels are even lower in striped bass fillets prepared without fatty portions of the fish.

“Contamination has decreased in the striped bass we tested,” said MDE Acting Secretary Robert M. Summers. “Although we do not have the data to identify a specific explanation for the decline, PCBs have been banned in the United States since 1979, and we’re encouraged by this positive indication of the improving quality of our waters.”

MDE has also released new consumption advisories for bluefish caught in the Bay. Based on new data, MDE recommends a limit of two meals per month for bluefish less than 15 inches long. Residents should avoid eating bluefish larger than 15 inches.

Fish consumption advisories provide recommended limits on how often certain fish can be eaten and still enjoy health benefits while minimizing risks. For Maryland waters, fish consumption advisories are available on MDE’s website and posted at many public fishing areas.

For more information about the revised striped bass consumption advisory, including detailed consumption advisory charts, visit MDE’s website.


21 Earth Day Events around the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Once a year a holiday comes around that is all about giving back and celebrating what we have been given. Trees are often an integral part of this celebration, which involves families coming together to celebrate and volunteer. It is Earth Day, of course! (What were you thinking it was?)

Earth Day began in 1970 as a nationwide rally for the environment. Since then it has evolved into a day of education and service. Local and national organizations around the country hold events and celebrations. Attending an Earth Day event is the perfect way to get your family outdoors and learn what you can do to help the environment.

Here are 21 Earth Day celebrations happening this month around the Chesapeake Bay watershed.


Anacostia Tree Planting
April 16, Riverdale

Help plant 200 native trees and shrubs along the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River with the Maryland-National Capital Parkand Planning Commission and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. This is a great opportunity for students to gain community service credit hours while helping the environment. Get some exercise and learn about the Anacostia River at the same time.

Green Week
April 16-23, Baltimore

Baltimore Green Week (BGWeek), now in its eighth year, is a week-long series of educational workshops, lectures and events. During BGWeek, members of the public can learn about, voice their concerns and take action on issues such as climate change, sustainable food and agriculture, water conservation and home efficiency. BGWeek kicks off with the EcoFest, an outdoor festival with music, yoga classes, bike rides and more than 100 local, sustainable vendors and exhibitors.

Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Baltimore

The Banneker Park & Museum’s Earth Day Celebration is sure to be filled with environmental fun! Activities will include arts and crafts, guided nature hikes, a planting workshop, climate change lecture and presentation, astronomy presentation by a NASA scientist, Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society presentation, and a composting display and Q&A session with a Baltimore County Master Gardener.

Earth Day at the Salisbury Zoo
April 23, Salisbury

Come and celebrate Mother Earth during the Salisbury Zoo’s annual Earth Day celebration! The event will feature more than 20 earth-friendly exhibitors that will teach attendees how to help the environment. There will be green demonstrations on the Zoo stage, recycled craft activities, educational activities, zookeeper talks, food and more!

Pacers' Third Annual Earth Day 5K
April 30, Silver Spring

Want to help the Chesapeake Bay while also getting your morning workout? Register for the Pacers’ Third Annual Earth Day 5K! Proceeds from the race go to the Nature Conservancy’s Bay restoration work. Last year, the event sold out. Each of the 1,200 runners who participated helped seed the Chesapeake with 5 million baby oysters (called “spat”), a critical part of restoring the Bay. Don’t feel like running? No problem! You can still make an online donation.

Earth Day at the Izaak Walton League
May 7, Gaithersburg

The Izaak Walton League will host a free Earth Day Celebration for people of all ages. Participate in a rain garden planting, build a nest box, talk with Master Gardeners, or hike along a new environmental education trail. Students will have the opportunity to receive their Student Service Learning hours. The first 100 attendees will also receive a free tree seedling!


Earth Day Staunton
April 16, Staunton

What better way to spend Earth Day than educating yourself about environmental issues in your community! If you live in the Staunton area, take the whole family to the 5th Annual Earth Day Staunton event. Earth-friendly organizations like Wild Virginia and the Virginia Native Plant Society will host interactive educational booths, while kids can take part in activities like face painting, live music and a 3-D “Planet Earth” art demonstration. Get an up-close look at some live native wildlife from the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and then learn how you can protect these animals. There will also be a native plant sale with Master Gardeners on hand to answer questions.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Chantilly

Celebrate Earth Day by getting dirty! Volunteer to plant native trees and shrubs during the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day Celebration. You can also help prevent erosion in the park by mulching and repairing park trails. End the celebration by recycling your household materials into new items.

Earth Day Festival
April 23, Richmond

More than 5,000 people attended last year’s Earth Day Festival in Richmond, and you can be one of them this year! Enjoy local food and music while participating in environmental workshops, speaking with local vendors and helping your kids learn about the environment.

Alexandria Earth Day
April 30, Alexandria

Come to Ben Brenman Park on April 30 to celebrate Earth Day with a Trashion Fashion Show! To raise awareness about the importance of recycling, local residents and students were asked to design an outfit made of recycled items. The event will also include exhibits from the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and more!

Run for the River
April 30, Louisa

Join the second annual Run for the River and enjoy beautiful, historic farm views while helping to protect the South Anna River. The race will feature both 5K and 10K routes along gravel roads through the pastoral Green Springs National Historic Landmark District. Stick around after the race for an environmental fair, where you can learn some simple ways to protect the river and the Chesapeake Bay.

Earth Day 2011 Mount Trashmore Park
May 1, Virginia Beach

Help make our world a healthier place by discovering and exploring ways to green your lifestyle at this Virginia Beach Earth Day event. Enjoy live music, delicious food and fun children’s activities at this former landfill-turned-beautiful park. Bring your old computers, hard drives and waste paper to be recycled safely and confidentially, and pick up a rain barrel or composter!

Washington, D.C.

American University Earth Week 2011: Green Campus, Green Communities
April 18-22

Join the students and faculty of American University for EarthWeek 2011. Each day of the week has a different theme, such as transportation, food and water, and a day of service. All of the week’s activities lead up to an Earth Day celebration on the 22nd! The public is invited to participate in all activities, from tree plantings to workshops.

National Zoo Earth Day Celebration
April 22

Celebrate Earth Day at the National Zoo! The event will feature crafts made from recycled materials and information about the Zoo’s sustainable practices. Be sure to bring old electronics like cell phones, batteries and accessories, which will be recycled to help raise money for the Zoo’s environmental activities!


The Great American Cleanup of PA
Various dates and locations

The Great American Cleanup of PA provides listings of restoration events throughout Pennsylvania to help citizens get involved in their local community. Events are organized by county. The Great American Cleanup of PA website lists many events ranging from tree plantings to roadside trash pickups. Celebrate Earth Day by picking an event that suits you in your area!

Earth Day 2011 at Penn State University (Harrisburg Campus)
April 21, Harrisburg

Come to Penn State Harrisburg’s annual Earth Day Event and tree planting for activities such as tie dying, container gardening and a mechanical bull! The event will also feature food, music, presentations on environmental issues and more.  

Earth Day 2011
May 1, Reading

Come to Riverfront Park for a fun, day-long event dedicated to learning about the health and wellness of people and the earth. Enjoy music from local bands while stopping by eco booths and participating in workshops. Local eateries will serve food while your kids participate in free Earth Day-related activities!

West Virginia

2011 Art and Earth Celebration
April 16, Martinsburg

Bring the whole family to War Memorial Park on April 16 for a day full of fun and environmental education. There will be free Earth Day activities for kids including a recycled costume contest. Fill your free recyclable shopping bag with crafts from local artists while you enjoy music by local bands.

Panhandle Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Shepherdstown

The 3rd Annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration will be held at Morgan's Grove Park, just outside of Shepherdstown. This family-friendly, community-oriented event will include music, art, crafts, food, kids’ activities, demonstrations, environmental and conservation groups, activists, vendors, a farmers market and more!


DSWA Earth Day Festival
April 16, Felton

The Delaware Solid Waste Authority's annual Earth Day Festival is the largest such celebration in southern Delaware. The event will feature fun and exciting "EcoStations" complete with hands-on displays that teach visitors about soil, forestry and wildlife issues. There will also be crafts and games for the children daring enough to venture through "Trash Can Dan's EcoWorld."

New York

Earth Fest 2011
April 30, Binghamton

Earth Fest 2011 will be held at MacArthur Park and School in Binghamton. Sponsored by Earth Day Southern Tier, Earth Fest is one of the longest-running continuous Earth Day celebrations in the nation.

Still looking for an Earth Day event in your area? Visit the Earth Day Network. And if you know of an upcoming Earth Day event that we haven't listed here, let us know about it in the comments!


West Virginia to help fund pollution-reducing wastewater treatment upgrades

West Virginia will invest $6 million annually for 30 years toward wastewater treatment plant upgrades that will reduce nutrient pollution to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

The money, which will come from excess state lottery funds, will fund about $85 million in bonds that will help pay for upgrades. The funding will cover about 40 percent of the expected cost for the upgrades.

The upgrades will help West Virginia meet new pollution-reduction goals that are part of the federal pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. West Virginia has 13 wastewater facilities that need to be upgraded to meet nutrient limits.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the bill into law on April 6.


Ask a Scientist: How do heavy spring rainstorms affect the Chesapeake Bay?

Welcome to the latest entry in our "Ask a Scientist" series! Each month, we take a question submitted through our website or Twitter (@chesbayprogram) and have a scientist from the Bay Program partnership answer it here on our blog.

Today’s reader question is about the effect of spring rainstorms on the Chesapeake Bay's health. We asked Scott Phillips, Peter Tango and Joel Blomquist, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and members of the Bay Program’s Nontidal Water Quality Workgroup, for their explanation on why heavy rains have such a big effect on the Bay and its local rivers.

They say April showers bring May flowers. But around the Chesapeake Bay, rainstorms bring a whole lot more.

The rain and snow that falls on the Bay watershed, an area of land that stretches from New York to Virginia, drains into local streams and rivers, which eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay. About half of the water in the Bay comes from its rivers; the other half from the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Geological Survey measures river flow throughout the Bay watershed and estimates the amount of fresh water that enters the Bay each month and year.Typically, 52 billion gallons of water drain into the Chesapeake Bay each day.

The river water that flows into the Bay has a significant impact on the Bay’s water quality, habitats, and fish and shellfish. Spring rains affect the amount of pollution going into the Bay. During periods of higher river flow, more nutrient and sediment pollution enters the Bay. During dry periods, fewer pollutants are washed into streams and carried into the Bay. In general, river flow into the Bay is highest during the spring, when there are more rain storms.

This past March started with noteworthy flooding across the watershed. River flows in March were some of the highest ever recorded. Field crews mobilized to collect nutrient and sediment samples that help determine the amount of pollution that washed into the Bay.

Too many nutrients and sediment contribute to pollution in the Bay and local streams. Elevated nutrient levels in the Bay tend to cause excessive algal growth. As algae decay, dissolved oxygen levels drop. This leads to unhealthy conditions for fish, crabs and other underwater life. Algae and sediment also block out sunlight that underwater grasses need. For these reasons, Chesapeake Bay Program partners are working to reduce these pollutants.

River flow also affects the salinity, or amount of salt, in the Bay’s water. The Bay’s salinity ranges from fresh water near the top of the Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland, to ocean water near Norfolk, Virginia. In dry years, there is less river flow so saltier water moves further up the Bay.  During wet springs, more fresh water enters the Bay, pushing salty water farther south.

Changes in salinity affect fish, oysters and underwater bay grasses. For example, some underwater grasses cannot survive if the water is too salty, while others can only survive in fresh water. Diseases spread to more oysters in saltier waters. Finally, sea nettles are more common in saltier water. So salinity and river flow influence our choice of places to swim to avoid frequent and painful jellyfish stings!

For more information on river flow to the Bay, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. You can also read our March 22 article about Maryland DNR's monitoring after the heavy rains in early March.

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