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Chesapeake Bay News: Animals and Plants

Mar
03
2017

Six groups working to grow and diversify the green sector

The “green sector” is the part of the economy that includes jobs aimed at reducing energy, protecting ecosystems, managing natural resources, increasing efficiency and much more. It’s a growing part of the economy that includes a wide range of jobs, but will always be in need of people with the support and training to fill those positions. As the Chesapeake Bay Program takes steps to increase the inclusion of diverse communities in our environmental efforts, here are a few of the groups working to support and build skills among those who are entering, or are already part of, the green workforce.

Reggie Parrish speaks during the Chesapeake Bay Program Diversity Workgroup Meeting at Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center in Baltimore, Md., on Nov. 2, 2016. In February, the Bay Program released the results of its first-ever diversity profile assessment.

Green 2.0

Green 2.0 is an effort to increase racial and ethnic diversity within the environmental field. The group’s 2014 report, The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations, found that the minority composition in environmental groups has not broken through the “green ceiling” of 12 to 16 percent, despite the country’s overall increase in diversity. Members of Green 2.0 aim to change that statistic within the field by advocating for transparency and accountability, which includes tracking progress toward increased diversity.

Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences

Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) is one of many organizations working to break the “green ceiling” identified by Green 2.0. The national organization—with chapters at nine colleges in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.—promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in the environmental sciences. With both student and professional members, MANRRS serves as a forum for professional development, networking and mentorship for students as well as a source of prospective and qualified employees for professionals.

Chesapeake Bay Trust

The Chesapeake Bay Trust supports engagement in restoration activities its many grant programs. One of those, the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) grant program, helps support the green sector by funding projects that require those services. The grant funds projects that increase green spaces and incorporate practices that help control stormwater runoff.

The G3 grant focuses on green streets, because by doing so—as its name implies—it also supports green jobs and creating green towns. Addressing stormwater runoff issues enhances local water quality and increases a community’s livability. Building and maintaining these projects can help support the green jobs market, and enhance economic vitality.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

In January 2017, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay formally pledged to foster diversity and inclusion in its structure, policy, goals, and staff and leadership. This commitment formally stated what the organization has been working toward in many of its projects and programs.

One of those programs is the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) Program, which the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay began in 2012 in partnership with local organizations in Howard County, Maryland. The program has the explicit goal of developing job skills in young adults, while also helping the county meet stormwater needs. However, READY particularly focus on engaging communities that are traditionally underserved when it comes to environmental activities.

Aimed at residents between the ages of 16 and 24, the program is designed to provide jobs for young adults with limited or no access to environmental jobs, allowing them to develop the skills necessary for a future in stormwater management. Over the course of a summer, participants learn to install rain gardens, assist in tree plantings and engage with the community around improving local water quality. They come out of the program with the experience, knowledge and skills to continue down the path toward a career in the environmental field.

Washington Parks and People

Like READY, Washington Parks and People’s Green Corps program has two goals: increase employment among the residents of Washington, D.C.’s underserved Seventh and Eighth Wards while also addressing the city’s urban forestry needs.

This eight-week program provides trainees—many of whom are ex-offenders—with entry-level training in fields such as urban forestry, stormwater management and green infrastructure. Along with learning job skills, trainees build self-confidence, gain experience working on a team and work to improve their community. Upon completion of the program, trainees receive a certificate as well as help with referrals and finding job opportunities.

Civic Works

Video credit: Civic Works, Baltimore Center for Green Careers

Civic Works is a Baltimore-based organization that aims to strengthen the city’s neighborhoods through education, skill development and service. They operate a number of programs with a particular focus on creating jobs, growing and promoting healthy food, reducing and conserving energy and creating a more livable city.

One program in particular, the Baltimore Center for Green Careers (BCGC), trains participants to enter emerging green industries including solar installation, weatherization and brownfield remediation. Participants complete classroom training, a practicum and, in most cases, paid on-the-job training. Through the program, trainees receive industry-recognized certifications.

Along with learning the skills and techniques necessary for these career paths, participants learn skills such as financial literacy and conflict management to help them make the most of their placement after the program. BCGC partners with almost a dozen companies that have committed to hire exclusively BCGC graduates and pay “family-sustaining” wages.

 

Are you looking for an environmental job or to fund a green project? Our weekly newsletter, Bay Brief, is full of current job openings and grants available around the Chesapeake region.

What other groups provide job training or support in the environmental field? Let us know in the comments!

Image by Will Parson; READY video by Steve Droter

Joan Smedinghoff's avatar
About Joan Smedinghoff - Joan is the Communications Office Staffer at the Chesapeake Bay Program. Originally from Chicago, she was introduced to the Chesapeake Bay region through the streams of central Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor's in Environmental Studies from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., where she first discovered her passion for storytelling.



Mar
02
2017

Photo of the Week: Migrating river herring face upstream struggle

A school of alewife spawn in the calm shallows where Deer Creek meets the Susquehanna River in Susquehanna State Park in Havre de Grace, Maryland, on April 16, 2015.

Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and their close relative blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) are collectively known as "river herring." The two can be difficult to distinguish from one another—both are thin, silver-sided fish, each with a single dark spot located behind its head. Alewife, however, can be distinguished by their bronze-green backs, whereas the aptly named blueback has a blue-colored back.

River herring are anadromous: they spend their adult lives at sea, returning to freshwater areas only to spawn in the spring. The small fish serve as important prey for larger predators like striped bass and bluefish. They also once served as one of the largest fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay; in 1931, over 25 million pounds of river herring were harvested from the estuary.

But the destruction of spawning habitat, the constructions of dams restricting migration and increased fishing pressure led to a major decline in river herring abundance. In 2006, commercial catch of river herring for the entire Atlantic coast totaled just 823,000 pounds. By 2012, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River had harvest moratoriums for river herring in place, as did many other states along the East Coast.

To restore herring to the Chesapeake Bay, experts like the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Fish Passage Workgroup are helping to remove barriers such as dams and culverts where they block waterways and prevent river herring from migrating. Where structures are unable to be removed, fish ladders and lifts help fish get over or around larger barriers.

Learn more about alewife, or learn about the Chesapeake Bay Program’s work to open the region’s streams to the migration of fish.

Image by Will Parson

Stephanie Smith's avatar
About Stephanie Smith - Stephanie is the Web Content Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Program. A native of the Midwest, she received her Bachelor’s in Professional Writing from Purdue University and Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan. Stephanie’s lifelong love of nature motivates her to explore solutions to environmental problems and teach others what they can do to help.



Mar
01
2017

Websites aim to promote planting, protection of trees in Bay region

Charlie Conklin, President of Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, cuts a protective tube from a tree planted along Dulaney Branch in Baltimore County, Md., on April 21, 2016. The trees are part of a 75-acre riparian forest buffer project planted in Baltimore County between 2005 and 2007.

Two new websites will help those working to plant and protect trees throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Riparian Forest Buffer Network and Chesapeake Tree Canopy Network—both launched through partnerships between the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Forestry Workgroup, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service—were created to help communities meet their forest buffer and tree canopy goals.

Chesapeake Riparian Forest Buffer Network

In recent years, the rate of streamside forest buffer plantings has been declining. But forest buffers are considered one of the most cost-effective practices for reducing pollution because of their ability to efficiently trap and filter pollutants carried by runoff. The Chesapeake Riparian Forest Buffer Network website was developed as a resource for those who are working to increase the amount of riparian forest buffers in the Chesapeake region.

The website’s features include:

  • An interactive map showing the progress of counties across the watershed in enrolling landowners in forest buffer programs,
  • Information on the importance of forest buffers and tips on how to successfully plant and maintain buffers,
  • Success stories illustrating the multitude of benefits buffers can provide, from water quality to economic benefits, and
  • Resources on funding opportunities and outreach strategies.

Chesapeake Tree Canopy Network

Trees in urban and suburban communities provide an array of benefits: cleaning the air, reducing polluted runoff, providing shade and enhancing quality of life. The Chesapeake Bay region is home to a hard-working network of champions for community trees, and the Chesapeake Tree Canopy Network was created to help them on their way toward reaching their tree canopy goals.

The website’s features include:

  • Community Spotlight stories to connect, support and showcase the existing network of tree canopy champions,
  • An interactive map showing the results of local tree canopy assessments, community tree canopy goals and points of contact,
  • Information on the importance of urban and suburban trees and how to assess, expand and maintain community tree canopy, and
  • Resources on funding opportunities and outreach strategies.

As part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, Chesapeake Bay Program partners committed to meeting goals for both riparian forest buffers and tree canopy. The riparian forest buffer goal is to restore 900 miles per year of streamside forest buffers, as well as conserve existing buffers, until at least 70 percent of the areas along streams throughout the watershed are forested. The tree canopy goal is to expand urban tree canopy—the layer of trees covering the ground when viewed from above—by 2,400 acres by 2025, providing air quality, water quality and habitat benefits throughout the watershed. The websites were created to support the achievement of these goals.

Visit the Chesapeake Riparian Forest Buffer Network or the Chesapeake Tree Canopy Network.



Feb
28
2017

What do we really know about cownose rays?

Cownose rays have been in the news a lot lately, due to proposed legislation in Maryland that would place a ban on cownose ray hunting tournaments. Held in the summertime, these tournaments are popular among bowhunters who want to reduce the cownose ray population.

Cownose rays tend to get a bad reputation because of what they are eating—or what people think they are eating. Cownose rays are highly specialized to eat bivalves like softshell clams, macoma clams and razor clams. But if other prey are unavailable, they occasionally snack on oysters and hard clams, a fact that has concerned watermen and the shellfish industry.

According to a report released by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team, while oysters and hard clams are not a significant part of a ray’s diet, if they do choose to chow down on these bivalves, intense feeding in one localized area can occur. This feeds the fear that cownose rays will impact oyster restoration and aquaculture operations. However, because of the rays’ jaw size and the force it takes to crush large bivalves, feeding on oyster clusters found in sanctuaries or aquaculture operations can be very difficult for them. The most recent study on the diet of cownose rays shows small, soft shell clams and crustaceans make up most of what they eat.

Another popular misconception of the cownose ray is that it is an invasive species. In fact, they are native to the eastern seaboard of the United States and have been observed in the Chesapeake Bay for centuries. From May through October each year, cownose rays travel to the Chesapeake Bay to give birth in early summer and mate a few weeks later.  Because of this females are almost always pregnant. They have extremely slow reproductive cycles, producing only one pup a year, which then takes seven years to mature.

Map of cownose ray migration routes, courtesy of Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

In the Chesapeake Bay, cownose rays are commercial bycatch of the fishing industry and are often targeted for recreational fishing. Rays that are caught by recreational fishing are typically disposed of and not used. Often, the remains end up as sources of fertilizer. For those who may try to eat them, rays can be difficult to cook—only 30 to 34 percent of the flesh is edible—and have a very bitter taste.

Last week, the Maryland Senate passed a bill recommending a moratorium on hunting tournaments until July 31, 2018, with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources developing a management plan by December 31, 2017. The House of Delegates is expected to vote on the ban in the next few weeks.



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