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Chesapeake Bay News: Chesapeake Bay Program

May
25
2016

New public access sites bring opportunities to boat, fish, enjoy nature

With spring underway, people across the region are heading out on the water to fish, swim, boat and more. In 2015, 22 public access sites were opened in the Chesapeake Bay region, bringing the total number of boat ramps, fishing piers and other access sites to 1,247. Below, take a closer look at four of these new sites that are putting people in touch with the rivers, streams and open spaces that surround the Chesapeake Bay.

Joe Wright of Stafford, Virginia, fishes off the end of the Port Royal Landing in Caroline County, Virginia, on May 9, 2016. Wright said he only fishes for an hour at a time—just long enough to finish a cigar. The new pier also features a soft launch for paddlers and was funded by grants from the National Park Service, Friends of the Rappahannock, the Chesapeake Conservancy and other organizations.

1. Port Royal Landing in Port Royal, Virginia

Nestled along the Rappahannock River, Port Royal is located in Caroline County, Virginia.
The small historic town borders the Port Royal Unit of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, where a 1.4-mile wildlife trail and two viewing platforms allow for visitors to hike and observe the river and surrounding land. In 2015, the Town of Port Royal worked with Friends of the Rappahannock to open a new fishing pier and soft launch, with a living shoreline installed alongside.

In the future, Friends of the Rappahannock and the Town of Port Royal will be working with the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge to establish a water trail that will provide access to the Styer Bishop, Port Royal and Toby’s Point areas of the refuge.

Hans Hanson of Harbor Dredge and Dock puts the finishing touches on an accessible kayak and canoe launch at the end of a newly constructed boardwalk on Accokeek Creek at Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County, Virginia, on Nov. 18, 2014. Crow's Nest features 2,872 acres on a high, narrow peninsula rising above the Potomac and Accokeek Creeks.

2. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford, Virginia

For the nearly seven years since the creation of Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County, Virginia, access to the land has been limited. Open houses and small events allowed some visitors to explore part of the nearly 3,000 acres of hardwood forest and wetlands, but an unfinished road prohibited access to the majority of the preserve. Good news came in April 2015, however, when an accessible canoe and kayak launch site was opened at the preserve’s Brooke Road access point, along with a shoreline nature trail along Accokeek Creek.

Further access to the preserve should come soon: plans are underway to improve the 1.6-mile access road from Raven Road, so visitors can reach hiking trails and interpretive exhibits on the history of Crow’s Nest.

Beachwood Park on the Magothy River in Pasadena, Maryland, on Feb. 29, 2016.

3. Beachwood Park in Pasadena, Maryland

Just south of Magothy Bridge Road in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, lies a 100-acre park that for years was underutilized by nearby residents. Purchased by Anne Arundel County in 2002, a lack of funding left the property—which runs alongside the Magothy River—mostly untouched. But in recent years, the county and the Magothy River Association began cleaning up the park: picking up trash, opening a path through the woods to the riverbank, building a small nature trail and adding new park signs. Fishing, canoeing and kayaking access already existed in the park, but in 2015 a designated soft launch area gave visitors additional access to the waterway.

Outdoor retail organization REI offers free kayak rides to attendees of the Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival in Washington, D.C., on April 30, 2016. Kingman Island is part of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, and in 2015 the site gained a dock for canoe and kayak public access to the Anacostia River. 

4. Kingman Island in Washington, D.C.

Walking along the crowded, developed streets of Washington, D.C., it might be surprising to think that just nearby, among the waters of the Anacostia River, is a lush, 45-acre oasis: Kingman Island. This manmade island is home to the annual Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival—but aside from special events, the park remains one of the last “wild” spaces in the capital city. In October 2015, the Anacostia Watershed Society, National Park Service and District Department of Energy and Environment worked to open a new floating dock where visitors can launch canoes and kayaks, offering access to a portion of the Anacostia that’s restricted to motorized boats.


Do you have a favorite place where you boat, swim or fish? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to explore both new and existing public access sites to enjoy all the Chesapeake Bay has to offer.



May
24
2016

Report offers insights on adapting stormwater management to a changing climate

A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) looks at how local planners and decision-makers can incorporate the effects of a changing climate into their efforts to manage stormwater runoff.

Stormwater runoff, or rainfall that picks up pollutants as it flows across paved roads, parking lots, lawns and golf courses, is the fastest growing source of pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. And the effects of climate change—such as the amount and intensity of rainfall—can influence the amount of runoff that needs to be managed.

To look at how local stormwater managers can incorporate climate change adaptation practices into their work, EPA and NOAA hosted a series of workshops and community efforts throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes regions. In the Chesapeake region, workshops were held in York County, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; and Stafford County, Virginia.

Throughout the discussions, several common themes and challenges emerged. Uncertainty can make it difficult to incorporate climate change predictions into planning efforts. Local-level professionals may lack the resources and interagency cooperation needed to design, construct and permit projects that deal with stormwater runoff. And because the benefits of managing polluted runoff can be difficult to quantify, managers need better information on the costs and benefits of different climate adaptation strategies. Further assessing these common challenges and opportunities will help planners and decision-makers better incorporate climate change into their stormwater management efforts.

The report, Stormwater Management in Response to Climate Change Impacts: Lessons from the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Regions, is available online.



May
23
2016

EPA releases environmental justice action agenda

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the EJ 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020), a strategy to advance the agency’s environmental justice efforts. Over the next five years, EJ 2020 will serve as a framework to advance environmental justice—particularly in communities where a combination of environmental, health, social and economic factors disproportionally affect the community.

Fourth grade students from Federal Hill Preparatory School learn about water quality and the environment with educators from Living Classrooms Foundation at Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center in Baltimore, Md., on March 23, 2016. Once the site of an illicit dump, Masonville Cove has been cleaned up and transformed into 54-acres of wetlands, nature trails and bird sanctuary in an underserved area of southern Baltimore.

According to the EPA, environmental justice is the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” Under the strategy, the EPA will work to improve results for overburdened communities, incorporate environmental justice in decision-making, build partnerships with states and co-regulators, strengthen their ability to take action on environmental justice issues, and demonstrate progress on critical national environmental justice challenges.

EJ 2020 will build on the groundwork laid by EJ 2014, the agency’s previous environmental justice strategy. The framework lays out a set of priorities structured around three goals. First, to deepen environmental justice practices within EPA programs. Second, to work with federal, state, tribal and community partners to increase positive impact within overburdened communities. And finally, to demonstrate progress on critical national environmental justice challenges, including lead, drinking water, air quality and hazardous waste sites.

The Chesapeake Bay Program is similarly committed to advancing environmental justice throughout the region and in its work. Environmental justice is one of the guiding principles of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, and through the Diversity Action Team, the Bay Program is working to identify groups that are under-represented in its activities and looking for ways to create meaningful opportunities for engagement.

For more information and to read the entire document, visit the EPA’s EJ 2020 Action Agenda page.



May
23
2016

Local, state, federal agencies open 22 public access sites in Chesapeake Bay region

In 2015, Chesapeake Bay Program partners opened 22 boat ramps, fishing piers and other sites that grant public access to creeks, streams and rivers in the region. Virginia opened 10 sites along eight waterways; Pennsylvania opened six sites along the Susquehanna River; Maryland opened five sites along three waterways; and the District of Columbia opened one site along the Anacostia River. There are now 1,247 public access sites in the watershed for boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities.

A dock for canoes and kayaks on Kingman Island is a new public access site in the District of Columbia. Photo courtesy Tommy Wells/Flickr.

The varied ownership of the region’s public access sites demonstrates the importance of establishing strong partnerships and public access initiatives at all levels of government and with nongovernmental organizations: nine of the new sites are owned by local governments, nine are owned by state governments, two are owned by the federal government and two are owned by nongovernmental organizations.

“As the state with the most public water access points in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Maryland will continue to seek out innovative partnerships to create, enhance and improve water access so more of our citizens can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Bay,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton in a media release. “Expanding public access, either through creating new access points or improving existing sites, is a worthwhile goal for Bay restoration, our citizens and the state.”

Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve is a public access site in Stafford County, Virginia, that allows wildlife viewing and boating access to Accokeek Creek. 

Increasing public access to open space and waterways creates a shared sense of responsibility to protect these important natural environments. Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, our partners have committed to increasing public access as part of a larger effort to engage communities in our conservation work. The number of public access sites in the watershed is on track to reach 1,439 by 2025. Since tracking began in 2010, our partners have opened 108 sites, meeting 36 percent of our goal to open 300 sites over the next decade.

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the National Park Service—a Chesapeake Bay Program partner—encourages people to visit parks of all kinds to connect with history and culture and enjoy the natural world.

Learn more.



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