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Bay Blog: Chesapeake Bay Commission

Jun
20
2016

In review: Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week

In 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Commission worked with the legislatures of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to designate the second week in June of each year as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week—a time to celebrate the culture, history and natural beauty of the nation’s largest estuary.

From June 4th through 12th this year, residents and visitors alike participated in this inaugural celebration by attending events, participating in restoration activities and learning about the importance of the Chesapeake Bay. Below are just a few of the ways communities marked the occasion.

Across the watershed, the first day of Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week coincided with National Trails Day. Events across the watershed encouraged hikers young and old, beginners and experts to enjoy the outdoors.

Mindy Ehrich, left, and Melissa Merritt of the Chesapeake Bay Program pick up trash in Annapolis, Md., on June 8, 2016. The cleanup was held to celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. (Image by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

In Maryland:

  • The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts hosted a screening of Beautiful Swimmers Revisted, a film by author Tom Horton, photographer Dave Harp and filmmaker Sandy Cannon Brown that looks back at William Warner’s 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning book about the Bay’s iconic blue crab.
  • Hundreds of kayakers took to the waters of the Inner Harbor for the inaugural Baltimore Flotilla for a Healthy Harbor, to draw attention to water quality in the city.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation held its annual Bands in the Sand at the Philip Merrill Environmental Center.
  • Former State Senator Bernie Fowler measured a ‘sneaker index’ of 31 inches in his annual Patuxent River Wade-In.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, center, tours the Gross Family Farm in York County, Pennsylvania, on June 7, 2016. (Image courtesy Pennsylvania Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program)

In Pennsylvania:

  • State Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding toured a family farm in York County, supporting the work that farmers in the area are doing to reduce agricultural runoff. The Gross Family Farm was highlighted as a model for best practices that help prevent excess nutrients and sediment from flowing into the Bay.
  • Hundreds of cyclists toured Harrisburg’s 20-mile Capital Area Greenbelt, which follows along the Susquehanna Riverfront, at the Tour De Belt event.
  • Dozens of Susquehanna sojourners set off from Laceyville on a five-day canoe and kayak trip down the river’s North Branch.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hosted a variety of events, from guided hikes to birding workshops to educational talks.

As part of Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, conservation farmer Bobby Whitescarver gave a tour of where his land meets the Middle River in Swoope, Virginia. Left, a root wad is installed to stabilize a stream bank in 2004. Right, the same streambank on June 12, 2016. (Images courtesy Bobby Whitescarver)

In Virginia:

  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation kicked off Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week with their annual Clean the Bay Day. According to the nonprofit, nearly 6,000 volunteers at more than 260 sites across the state cleaned up 138,000 pounds of litter.
  • State Senator Emmett Hangar visited with farmers from Augusta County to recognize their work to improve local water quality, such as using fences to prevent livestock from entering nearby streams.
  • Bobby Whitescarver—a conservation farmer in Swoope, Virginia—gave a tour of where the Middle River runs through his land, showcasing the buffers and fences he uses to protect the waterway’s health.
  • The Nature Generation hosted more than 70 guests for its Catch and Count Creek Creatures event, where participants worked to test and improve the water quality of South Fork Catoctin Creek.

 

How did you celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week? Let us know in the comments!



Apr
20
2016

Microplastic pollution could threaten underwater life, report finds

More research is needed to understand the effects that nearly imperceptible bits of plastic, called “microplastics,” could have on underwater life in the Chesapeake Bay, according to a report from an advisory committee of scientific experts.

Microplastics from the Patapsco River are pictured at the laboratory of Dr. Lance Yonkos in the Department of Environmental Science & Technology at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., on Feb. 6, 2015.

In response to growing concern surrounding microplastic pollution, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) was asked by the Chesapeake Bay Commission—a tri-state legislative body representing Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia—to investigate the issue. The resulting technical report provides information on the fate and transport of microplastics, potential impacts on wildlife, treatment options and the urgency of the issue.

Estimates suggest trillions of pieces of plastic persist in surface waters around the globe, including in the Chesapeake Bay. At five millimeters or less in size, much of this pollution is classified as microplastic. A subset of this category is microbeads: plastic particles roughly the width of a strand of hair that can be found in products like face wash, cosmetics and cleaning supplies.

Although the panel found more information is needed to understand the impacts of microplastics on underwater life, research is growing. Among the concerns is the ability of microplastics to accumulate chemical contaminants from the surrounding water, potentially exposing aquatic plants and animals to harmful chemicals.

According to the report, the simplicity of removing microbeads from products has helped propel regulations like the federal Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which requires companies to stop using the beads in their products by 2017. But the report stresses that microbeads are just one type of microplastic, and that solving the greater issue would require the management of more than microbeads alone.

For a close-up look at microplastics from the Chesapeake Bay region, view our photo essay.

The report, Technical Review of Microbeads/Microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay, is available on the STAC website.



May
07
2015

Streamside fencing could improve water quality, livestock health

Preventing livestock from entering streams could improve the health of both local waterways and the animals themselves, according to a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

Image by Cloud Mine Amsterdam/Shutterstock.com

When hoofed farm animals—such as cattle, horses, pigs, sheep and goats—have clear access to streams, they trample and erode the banks and bottoms of waterways, freeing sediment and nutrients to flow downstream to the Bay. Animal waste contributes additional nutrient pollution, as well as bacteria that can cause human health concerns.

“Livestock exclusion” is an agricultural best management practice (BMP) that uses fences, streamside buffers and alternative water sources to draw animals away from streams and wetlands. The practice benefits not only water quality but the health of the animals themselves: in operations that have installed fences along streams, farmers have reported decreases in injuries and disease in their herds. In the report, the Bay Commission details the benefits of livestock exclusion; describes current efforts throughout its member states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; and looks at factors affecting the widespread implementation of these practices.

By lowering the amount of sediment and nutrients flowing to the Bay, practices like livestock exclusion help meet the clean water goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which encompasses the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

The report, Healthy Livestock, Healthy Streams: Policy Actions to Promote Livestock Stream Exclusion, is available through the Chesapeake Bay Commission website.



May
04
2012

Nutrient credit trading could cut cost of cleaning up Chesapeake Bay, according to new study

Nutrient credit trading could significantly trim the cost of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, according to a new study released by the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

Nutrient credit trading is a system that enables one pollution source to meet its pollution reduction goals by purchasing those reductions from another source.

The economic analysis showed that nutrient credit trading could save 20 percent to as much as 80 percent of costs to meet pollution reduction goals called for in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, the federal “pollution diet” to clean up the Bay. State and local governments must reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater systems and other sources to meet these goals by 2025.

The study recommends that governments define trading rules and protocols, provide information and technical assistance, and ensure compliance and enforcement to maximize cost benefits and guarantee trading programs actually deliver pollution reductions.

To date, four Chesapeake Bay watershed states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – have initiated water quality trading programs.

Visit the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s website to learn more about the study and download the full analysis.



Jan
28
2011

What is the Chesapeake Bay Commission?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week. Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question came from John, who asked: “What is the Chesapeake Bay Commission? Who are they and what do they do?”

The Chesapeake Bay Commission is a tri-state legislative body representing Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The commission was created in 1980 as a bi-state commission to help Maryland and Virginia collaborate and cooperate on Chesapeake Bay management. Pennsylvania became a member in 1985, after which time the Commission began advising each state's general assembly on matters deemed to be of Bay-wide concern.

The Commission also serves as the legislative arm of the Chesapeake Bay Program, advising each of the jurisdictions represented by the Bay Program partnership.

Since its establishment, the Commission has worked to promote policy in several areas that are vital to Chesapeake Bay restoration, including nutrient reduction, fisheries management, toxics remediation, pollution prevention, habitat restoration and land management.

The Commission has 21 members from the three states. Among those members are:

  • Five legislators each from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania
  • A cabinet secretary from each state who is directly responsible for managing his state’s natural resources
  • One citizen representative from each state

The chairman position rotates among the three states each calendar year. As of January 2011, Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Brubaker took over as Chairman of the Commission.

One of the Commission's main goals is to make sure that member states' common interests are thoroughly represented in regard to any federal government actions that may affect them. This has become a vital part of the process of developing the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Executive Order strategies.

To learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Commission, check out their About Us page.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week. You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events.



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