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Bay Journal

Bay Journal is published by Chesapeake Media Service to inform the public about issues and events that affect the Chesapeake Bay. With a print circulation of 50,000, the Bay Journal is published monthly except for midsummer and midwinter and is distributed free of charge. To be added to the mailing list, fill out the online subscription form. Bundles of the Bay Journal are also available for distribution.

Below are some recent stories from Bay Journal.

Latest Issue

What not to plant

We know that planting something right now might involve shoveling the yard first, but spring is just around the corner (so they say). Whether you’re planting your garden this month or just dreaming about it, Virginia has a friendly reminder: don’t plant invasive species. The Virginia…

Residents can only watch as sea slowly devours their towns

This is the fifth in a series of articles — produced by the Bay Journal and Chesapeake Quarterly, the magazine of Maryland Sea Grant — that explore the impacts of, and policies related to, sea level rise around the Bay. All over low-lying Dorchester County, MD, residents are living…

An overdue honor

In December, Congress enacted and the president signed a law to create the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and a sister park in New York. The parks honor Tubman, who became a hero in the abolitionist movement and who is the first…

Sailor’s Creek & High Bridge state parks

The Appomattox River valley in central Virginia’s Piedmont has two relatively new — but very different — state parks that are forever linked by the battles fought at each during the days before Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.…

Hairy woodpecker’s presence a wake-up call for one homeowner

Our friend’s passive solar house was built on a Pennsylvania hilltop more than 30 years ago. The open interior architecture showed off the large stone wall that captured heat from the many windows. The rough-hewn beams and plank flooring completed the handsome, rustic feel of the place.…

U.S. coasts can’t afford another Deepwater Horizon disaster

The recent Interior Department proposal to allow offshore oil– and gas-drilling along the East Coast is simply absurd. Waves of drilling could likely precede waves of oil lapping at the shores of our beloved beaches and storied seaports — imperiling fish, wildlife, local economies and…

Urban tree canopy efforts branching out

In urban settings, trees benefit both water quality and human health. They moderate temperatures and beautify neighborhoods. They provide habitat for birds and shade for park benches. But, while urban trees might not need a public relations campaign, they could use some organizing.…

Some watermen using ‘skipjack’ loophole to dramatically increase oyster catch

When the Maryland Department of Natural Resources began getting calls from watermen seeking to register skipjacks for oystering, they were excited that an old way of life was coming back to Maryland waters. But that’s not the case. The watermen are actually taking advantage of a loophole…

Tilghman Island man gets 18 months in prison for fish poaching

A Tighman Island waterman indicted in a massive federal poaching case was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison — the harshest of four watermen sentenced in the case. Prosecutors called Michael Hayden “the most culpable member of the conspiracy” in which four Eastern Shore…

Groups threaten suit over coal ash pits contaminating VA waters

The Southern Environmental Law Center said in separate legal notices filed in late 2014 that coal ash pits at two separate Dominion Virginia Power plants are leaking toxic substances into groundwater and nearby surface waters. The pits are located at the Possum Point Power Plant, which sits on…

Legislature, Governor start debating a fix for phosphorus overload

You could call it the battle of the PMTs. That’s phosphorus management tools. But these days, a lot of us probably know way more about this acronym - and manure - than we ever thought we would. The problem: Many fields on the Eastern Shore have too much phosphorus, and farmers should…

MD manure-to-energy plant appears to be going nowhere

Maryland was supposed to be deep into the planning stages for a manure-to-energy plant by now, a plant that was a key component in the state’s strategy to reduce pollution from poultry manure.  The state signed a contract in October 2013 with Maryland Bio Energy, a subsidiary of…

Conservation burial lets you restore a landscape long after you are gone

Life’s still good, but death’s just become more interesting. I always figured on cremation — modest expense, no concrete, bronze and embalming chemicals in the earth; friends and family would enjoy scattering the ashes in cool places I’d enjoy designating. But Doug…

Skunk cabbage, jack-in-pulpit spring up to remind us warm days are ahead

As a child, I loved to romp in the swampy woods near my neighborhood. During winter, my friends and I would fearlessly traverse icy streams and frozen mud, taking shortcuts to favorite destinations like the local reservoir. As the upland woods and meadows lay dormant, these forested wetlands were…

Let’s follow Arkansas’, Oklahoma’s lead in controlling phosphorus

On the U.S. farm, necessity has always been the mother of invention. Maybe that’s part of the reason the poultry industry along the Arkansas and Oklahoma border has been able to reduce by 75 percent the amount of chicken manure it applies on farm fields in one watershed area. Necessity in…

New review of menhaden stock reveals population is in good shape

Just two years after fishery managers slashed menhaden harvests to prevent overfishing, a new review of the menhaden stock has concluded that the population of the small, oily fish has actually been in good shape in recent years, and hasn’t been overfished in decades. This upbeat…

Obama budget includes $33 million for Bay rivers initiative

Nearly $38 million could flow into Bay watershed land protection efforts, mostly along Chesapeake rivers, under the budget proposed by President Obama in February. If approved by Congress, it would be the largest federal investment to protect the region’s open spaces and historic sites in…

West Virginia oil spill has Bay environmentalists urging immediate rail safety action

This is one way to describe what happened when a train derailment in Fayette County, WV, on Monday afternoon:  30 cars went off the tracks, causing multiple fire balls and explosions, with an ensuing evacuation of 100 people. One house was destroyed, one person hospitalized and one car…

Required reading for anyone who cares about VA’s future

“Virginia Climate Fever” By Stephen Nash University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville. 2014. Looking for fast-paced, well-written book to read this winter? One with a story arc from the ancient geologic epochs to our modern day? One that leaves you hanging, wondering whether a…

Get down to Earth on fighting phosphorus pollution — use a soil test

Maryland’s newly elected governor, Larry Hogan, recently repealed the state’s Department of Agriculture’s Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulation. His act made me gnash my teeth. Farmers and legislators on the Eastern Shore had begged him to repeal the regulation because it…

MD lawmakers introduce phosphorus rules bills in both chambers

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. pulled the state’s proposed phosphorus regulations just hours after he was inaugurated, but that doesn’t mean the state’s push to limit phosphorus is dead. Maryland Sen. Paul Pinsky has introduced a bill in the state Senate that mirrors the…

Mark Belton named new DNR secretary

 Governor Larry Hogan today announced retired Rear Admiral Mark J. Belton as his appointee for the secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Here is what the governor said in a press release: “I am thrilled that a person like Mark Belton, a public servant of unique…

UPDATE: Bills would open bay to power dredging for oysters; restrict aquaculture leases

Two bills have been introduced in Maryland’s General Assembly in the past 24 hours that, if passed, could change the way Maryland watermen harvest oysters and the way aquaculture farmers plant them. It’s unclear what the chances are the bills will pass.  Every year, for as long…

Proposed Maryland budget cut endangers $8 million in federal funds

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Jr.’s new budget proposal has cut the state’s $1 million share of the cost to remove the Bloede Dam, a move that could jeopardize nearly $8 million in federal funding committed to the project. The cut in the 2015 budget raised concerns among the federal…

Entrepreneurs try to land Potomac Piranhas

It’s one thing to say that you’ve created a revolutionary device or process that’s going to solve the world’s water problems. It’s quite another to tell a panel of well-heeled investors about it — and then ask them for money. That’s what five…

Washington, DC, is a capital place to see wildlife in the winter

Washington, DC, is teeming with wildlife in the winter, and we aren’t talking donkeys and elephants. In fact, winter is a great time for wildlife watching: little or no vegetation to block the view, fewer tourists to get in the way and no mosquitoes! Here are five birds that can be spotted…

Lessons from a fruit tree

About this time every year, the age-old rabbinic story of Honi, The Circle Maker makes its rounds. It goes like this: Honi was a minor miracle worker in first century Palestine. Once, in his youth, he happened upon an old man planting a carob tree. Now the carob tree was legendary for taking 70…

Even as water shortages occur where least expected, there’s hope

“Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability” By Brian Richter Island Press, Washington, DC. 2014. I recently sat down with Brian Richter, chief scientist of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Water Program, to talk about his recent book, “Chasing…

Debate rages over whether pesticides benefits outweigh risks

A report released this fall argues that pesticides have done more good than harm as they’ve bolstered food production across the United States and Canada — and that their application should be expanded to help feed the world’s growing population by 2050. The report, released as…

VA state, wildlife officials to go whole hog to eradicate feral swine

Feral hogs rank right up there on the lists of invasive species considered “bad actors” — bad for wildlife, bad for ecological systems, bad for the economy. Like other nuisance species, feral hogs (also called feral swine) take advantage of opportunities. For Virginia’s…

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