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Chesapeake Bay News: Restoration

Jul
02
2015

Connecting communities to the Chesapeake Bay

Unique among the exciting goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement is the commitment to establish 300 new public access sites in the region by 2025—the only goal specifically aimed at physically connecting people with the Bay and its tributaries. This goal is important for two reasons.

Image by Sheri Armstrong/Shutterstock

First, people care for the places they love and enjoy. As they interact with the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, they develop an appreciation for this wonderful natural resource. This leads them to become stewards and caretakers who have a vested interest in the decisions affecting local waters.

Second, there is an increasingly high demand for additional public access to the waters of the Bay and its rivers. The six watershed states—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia all noted a high need for additional public access in their State-wide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans, public access plans and boating infrastructure plans. Throughout the region, water-based activities—including fishing, boating, swimming and beach use—rank among the top twelve recreational activities. Wildlife observation and views from the water’s edge are also highly desirable.

The demand for water access is also affected by the region’s growing population—now nearly 18 million—and the increasing popularity of relatively new forms of water recreation, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, kite boarding and sail boarding. Unlike larger power craft, these paddle craft are relatively inexpensive, can be easily stored and transported by one person, and may not require much more than a good path to the water’s edge to launch. When you combine these with the more traditional activities of boating, fishing, sunbathing, swimming and enjoying views from the water’s edge, it is not surprising that regional residents and visitors increasingly seek opportunities to connect with the waters of the region.

To help track and implement the goal of 300 new public access sites, sites are lumped into four major categories: boating access, which includes access for all types of water craft; fishing access, which includes fishing piers or bank fishing locations; swimming access, which includes areas specifically designated for swimming; and view access, which includes sites developed at the water’s edge to provide views out over the water or of natural areas and waterfowl. In addition to sites that transition from the land to the water, there is also a need to provide access from the water to the land. This includes points of interest along water trails, campsites, restroom facilities and places where people can explore interesting environments or just stop to picnic.

Image by Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

Meeting this demand and reaching the 300 site goal requires collaboration among multiple partners. While the National Park Service has been assigned the lead role in coordinating the effort, partnerships between local, state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations have been essential in developing new access. One major project recently completed on the James River in Virginia involved a partnership between the local government, Dominion Power, the Chesapeake Conservancy and a state agency. On the Susquehanna River, a boat dock, wildlife viewing platform and fishing access were established at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage with support from Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Transportation, with additional funding from the National Park Service and local donors. National Park Service funding for public access projects serving local communities comes through the congressionally authorized Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. This partnership approach has been a continuing pattern throughout the watershed, and it will take this approach to continue to enhance public access opportunities.

State, federal and local governments are generally the guardians of these opportunities, providing public sites where everyone can enjoy the natural and cultural bounty of the Chesapeake Bay watershed—relaxing, learning and reflecting in direct interaction with the region’s treasured waters. Some sites provide direct access to the Bay and its rivers for boating, sunbathing and swimming. Others provide spots where visitors without watercraft can fish, observe wildlife, walk trails and camp along the water’s edge. The Watershed Agreement’s public access goal reaffirms both the need for and benefits of providing citizens access to these resources.

 

Written by John Davy, National Park Service - Chesapeake Bay Office. John Davy is chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program's Public Access Planning Team.



Jul
02
2015

Report proposes behavioral research could promote Bay restoration

For more than three decades, improvements in Chesapeake Bay health have been guided primarily by science-based policy. But the study of human behavior could have key applications for Bay restoration, according to a new report from an advisory committee of scientific experts.

A recent report suggests that the study of human behavior could boost participation in restoration activities. For example, homeowners may be more likely to implement conservation practices like planting rain gardens.

The field of behavioral economics seeks to understand how individuals interpret information and why they make certain choices. In the report, experts from the Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) explore the subject and its potential uses for the Bay region.

With a better understanding of human behavior, the report suggests, Bay Program partners could meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement in a more effective way. Several recommendations for research are included, such as how community recognition could make homeowners more likely to implement conservation practices. The report suggests that partnerships between policymakers and social scientists could help identify additional ways to blend behavioral research with restoration work.

The report, Exploring Applications of Behavioral Economics Research to Environmental Policy-making in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, is available on the STAC website.



Jul
01
2015

Blue crab population shows modest rise, stock considered sustainable

While the abundance of adult female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay is below target, fisheries experts have reported the blue crab stock is not depleted and overfishing is not occurring.

Image by 4736202690/Shutterstock

According to the 2015 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Advisory Report, released by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee (CBSAC), the start of the 2015 crabbing season saw 101 million adult female blue crabs in the Bay. This marks a 47 percent increase from last year’s abundance of adult females, which the Chesapeake Bay Program tracks as an indicator of Bay health. Because blue crab abundance is above the 70 million threshold, the blue crab stock is not considered depleted. And because just 17 percent of adult females were harvested in 2014—well below the 25.5 percent target—overfishing is not occurring.

An estimated 17 percent of adult female blue crabs were harvested in 2014. This is below both the target (25.5 percent) and the maximum number that can be taken (34 percent).

In its report, CBSAC urged the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) to maintain a risk-averse management approach to protect juvenile crabs, whose numbers fluctuate from year to year. The committee, which is made up of scientists, academics and government representatives and housed under the Bay Program’s Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team (GIT), also recommended evaluating the establishment of a Bay-wide allocation-based management framework.

An allocation-based management framework would allocate an annual “total allowable catch” of male and female crabs to Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC. In the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Bay Program committed to evaluating the establishment of this framework. “[This report] directly supports our efforts to achieve the blue crab outcomes set forth in the [Watershed] Agreement, using the best science available to provide meaningful input to management decisions made by jurisdictions,” said Peyton Robertson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office Director and Sustainable Fisheries GIT Chair, in a media release.

Learn more.



Jun
24
2015

Photo Essay: General Clinton Canoe Regatta

Before the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, before it churns through Conowingo Dam, and before it winds through the farmlands of Pennsylvania, it begins its 464-mile journey with a calm exit from Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. Every Memorial Day weekend, an assortment of canoe and kayak paddlers share the first 70 miles of that journey, taking in the green landscape of central New York during the General Clinton Canoe Regatta.

This year, over 200 vessels entered the full course from Cooperstown to Bainbridge, with most holding two or more paddlers. Entrants came from across the country, and Canada was also well represented — English and French could be heard throughout the race. Paddlers shouted as they portaged their vessels past spectators at three dams. Support crews cheered while making quick, timesaving handoffs of energy drinks and food. Shallow water following a dry spring season may have slowed things down this year, but the racers remained focused, and the leading professional team still finished in less than eight hours.

Competitors enter the water at Lake Front Park in Cooperstown, N.Y., before the start of the C-2 Pro division of the 2015 General Clinton Canoe Regatta on May 25, 2015. The 70-mile canoe race started at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, with the first professional paddlers taking about eight hours to reach the finish line in Bainbridge, N.Y.

Dominic Thibault, left, of Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, Québec, and Dominic Chamberland of Champlain, Québec, enter the water at Lake Front Park in Cooperstown, N.Y., before the start of the race.

Competitors round a buoy on Otsego Lake before paddling toward the mouth of the Susquehanna River.

Teammates Andy Triebold, bottom right, of Grayling, Mich., and Steve Lajoie of Mirabel, Québec, paddle hard at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Cooperstown, N.Y. The duo had won the General Clinton race six times before the 2015 competition.

Competitors follow the Susquehanna River in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Support crews resupply paddlers with drinks and snacks on the Susquehanna River near Milford, N.Y., in Otsego County.

Prepared fluids with long drinking straws await a resupply effort at Milford Bridge in Otsego County, N.Y.

Paddlers approach Goodyear Lake Dam in Milford, N.Y. The dam marks the second of three portages during the race.

Teams and spectators line the shore below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.

Competitors rush to re-enter the water below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.

Competitors carry their canoe through the third and final portage during the 2015 General Clinton Canoe Regatta below Southside Dam in Oneonta, N.Y.

Spectators cheer for paddlers at the finish line in Bainbridge, N.Y.

Paddlers Andy Triebold, right, of Grayling, Mich., and Steve Lajoie of Mirabel, Québec, recover with chocolate milk after finishing in first place with a time of 7 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds for their seventh General Clinton Canoe Regatta victory as a professional duo.

To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Flickr page.

Images and text by Will Parson.

Will Parson's avatar
About Will Parson - Will is the Multimedia Specialist for the Chesapeake Bay Program. A native of Bakersfield, California, he acquired an interest in photojournalism while studying ecology and evolution at University of California, San Diego. He pursued stories about water and culture as a graduate student at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, and as an intern at several newspapers in New England before landing in Maryland.



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