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Bay Blog: questions

Dec
17
2010

Do female striped bass feed while spawning?

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 Larry, who asked, “Do female striped bass feed while spawning?”

This question has an interesting -- but brief -- answer. In May 2006 the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control published research on striped bass food habits. Through a method called gastric lavage, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife determined that female striped bass seem to eat very little just before spawning. Even the largest female striped bass ever caught during their spawning stock sampling (pictured in the link above) had an empty stomach when studied. This seems to be a trend for most striped bass during the spawning season.

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.



Dec
10
2010

What do Bay critters do during the winter?

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 Sarah, who asked, “What do all the Bay critters do during the winter? Do they hibernate?”

Winter habits of Chesapeake Bay critters vary by species because each species tolerates the temperature changes of winter differently. Most critters don't actually "hibernate" but instead migrate to a different place.

Blue crabs have less of a tolerance for colder water temperatures in the winter, so they have to relocate. Blue crabs retreat to deeper waters and spend the winter months burrowed into muddy or sandy bottoms. This is not technically considered hibernation, but rather a dormant state.

Striped bass from the Chesapeake tend to head south to the warmer waters of the Virginia and North Carolina capes during the winter. Some do stay in the Bay throughout the winter.

Other Bay critters don't mind the cold. Oysters, for example, are actually in their best condition in the winter and early spring, or the “R” months of September through April.

While it may seem like all of the Bay's critters have left until spring, don’t forget about the many species that make yearly winter migrations to the Chesapeake. Each year, about one million swans, geese and ducks make the Chesapeake Bay their winter homes until it is time to head back north in the spring. And even more make rest stops in the Bay watershed before heading further south to even warmer climates. 

So even when the weather is cold, take some time to bundle up and see if you can spot any of these migratory waterfowl species during their winter stay along the Bay!

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.



Dec
03
2010

Can I plant eelgrass in a sandy bottom in Virginia?

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 Raymond, who asked, “Can I get eelgrass planted in Kingscote Creek at my cottage? Would this grow in a sandy bottom?”

We often receive questions about what species of bay grasses and plants would grow best in certain environments at people’s houses. There are a variety of resources out there to help you learn about the growth requirements of different species of bay grasses

As far as eelgrass goes, our field guide entry was helpful in answering Raymond’s question. Eelgrass is found in the middle and lower Bay, south of the Eastern Shore’s Honga River, meaning that Raymond’s location in Virginia’s Kingscote Creek should be a safe place to plant eelgrass. Eelgrass can grow in a variety of areas, from shallow and sandy to deep and muddy bottoms. There does not appear to be any reason Raymond should not be able to plant eelgrass near his cottage in Virginia.

One good resource for finding out about bay grasses is the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. It has a wealth of information about bay grasses in the Chesapeake Bay, the different species found in the Bay, and bay grass restoration. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources also has an extensive bay grasses section on its website.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question ofthe 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.



Nov
19
2010

What problems are invasive species causing and what is being done about them?

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 Katherine, who asked, “What problems are invasive species causing in the Chesapeake Bay, and what is being done about them?

Invasive species can be very harmful to the ecosystems they invade. Many invasive species thrive in their new habitats because they lack the natural predators and diseases that may threaten them in their native habitats. Without these things keeping their populations in check, invasive species are able reproduce and thrive.

However, invasive species seriously threaten our native plants and animals by encroaching on their food and habitat, often leaving native species without food or shelter in their natural environments. For example, mute swans can destroy bay grass beds while feeding. Without bay grasses, many other animals have nothing to eat or nowhere to take shelter, and the health of the Bay suffers as well.

It is estimated that about 42 percent of the native plants and animals listed as threatened or endangered in the United States are at risk for further decline due to invasive species.

Once established in a new habitat, invasive species are very difficult to completely eradicate. Controlling invasive species can be very expensive and requires a lot of time, cooperation and commitment among multiple agencies and jurisdictions.

A variety of control tactics are used, depending on the species and the state where the problem exists. In Maryland, mute swans have been successfully controlled to the point where only 500 were estimated to be present in the state in 2009. Water chestnut, an invasive aquatic plant, is controlled by hands-on removal. Scientists and volunteers remove the plants by hand, pulling them from where they grow in rivers and creeks so the plants are not able to spread their seeds. Water chestnut was thought to have been eradicated multiple times but has come back repeatedly, so the struggle to control it continues.

The best way to control invasive species is to not allow them to be introduced in the first place. Zebra mussels are one invasive species that you can help to control. If you boat in freshwater areas, make sure you wash your boat off thoroughly and let it dry completely so the mussels can't "hitchhike" to another water body.

If you spot an invasive species, notify the appropriate agency so that the proper measures may be taken to deal with it.

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.



Nov
12
2010

What invasive species are in the Bay and how did they get there?

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 Katherine, who asked, “What invasive plants and animals exist in the Chesapeake Bay and how were they introduced?

Invasive species are animals and plants that are not native to a certain area and harm the ecosystem they invade. There are as many as 200 invasive species present in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that are causing some serious issues in an already-stressed ecosystem.

Invasive species can be introduced in many ways. Some travel accidentally through human trade and tourism, while others are deliberately introduced.

Six invasive species that live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are mute swans, nutria, phragmites, purple loosestrife, water chestnut and zebra mussels.

Mute swans were introduced into North America in the late 1800s, mainly for the purpose of “decorations” for zoos, parks and private estates. The Chesapeake Bay region’s mute swan population formed when five swans escaped from an estate in Talbot County, Maryland, in 1962. By 1999, an estimated 4,500 mute swans were living in Maryland and Virginia.

Nutria were introduced to Maryland in 1943 to establish an experimental fur station at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, but it proved to be unprofitable. The rest of the nutria from the project were released or escaped, leading to an overwhelming population of the marsh-dwelling rodents at the beginning of the 21st century.

Phragmites is thought to have been introduced from Eurasia in the 19th century by way of dry ballast from ships. Today it dominates many mid-Atlantic marshes.

Purple loosestrife was introduced to the U.S. from Eurasia in the early 1800s for ornamental and medicinal purposes, as well as via dry ballast dumped by foreign ships. It spread through inland canals, increased development, the sale of the plant for use in gardens and seed generation for bee forage.

Water chestnut was first found in the U.S. in 1859 in Massachusetts, but has since spread to other locations in the northeast. It is believed that water chestnut was introduced as an ornamental plant in ponds and spread from there. It was found in Baltimore County, Md., in 1955 and has gone through several cycles of eradication and reappearing since that time. 

Like phragmites, zebra mussels were introduced to the United States via ballast water from European ships traveling from the Caspian and Black seas. The freshwater mussels were spotted in the Great Lakes in 1988 and have since spread to many other water bodies throughout the United States, including the Susquehanna River.

Come back next week to find out about the damage invasive species are causing and what is being done to solve it!

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.

Image: The invasive plant phragmites dominates many marshes in the mid-Atlantic region. 



Nov
05
2010

How can you tell the difference between a hardshell crab and a peeler crab?

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 Larry, who asked, “How can you tell the difference between male hardshell and peeler crabs?”

Peeler crabs are actually just hardshell blue crabs that are showing signs of molting. Molting occurs when a crab's hard shell is shed and a new soft shell is grown. “Peeler crab” is a term assigned to crabs that are in pre-molt stages.

The physical signs of change to a peeler are evident in the shell itself as well as the shell color. The new soft shell should be visible beneath the hard outer shell, which is easily seen on the outer edges of the swimming fins. The new shell will first appear as a white line around the edge, gradually turning pink and then red. A red line is a pretty reliable sign of a peeler about to shed its shell. Fine white wrinkles may also appear on the blue skin between the wrist and upper arm.

Abdomen color may also be a sign, but that is a much less reliable sign than the emergence of the new shell. A freshly shed male crab’s abdomen is often whiter, but a crab with a yellow abdomen can still be weeks from shedding.  

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.

Image courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources.



Keywords: questions, wildlife
Oct
29
2010

What role might oysters play in the Bay's future?

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 Soohyun, who wants to know: “What role might oysters play in the Bay’s future?”

Oysters are vital to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, but are in serious need of continued restoration to thrive. Oysters are extremely significant both economically and ecologically in the Chesapeake Bay region, but without effective management of the oyster fishery, the bivalve -- which is still at just 1 percent of historic levels -- will continue to suffer.

When populations are sufficient, oysters create reefs that can provide a large area of nooks and crevices for aquatic species. Oyster reefs can create 50 times the hard habitat surface area of a mudflat of the same size. Many Bay species, including sponges, sea squirts, and small crabs and fishes, need the hard surfaces provided by these oyster reefs to survive.

Another important function oysters play in the Bay ecosystem is their role as a filter feeder. Oysters pump large volumes of water through their gills to filter out plankton and other particles, including algae, suspended sediments and chemical contaminants. One oyster can filter more than 50 gallons per day.

Because of the importance of oysters, several organizations around the watershed are building artificial reefs from recycled oyster shells and other hard materials. Artificial reefs provide habitat that is similiar to natural oyster reefs, giving oyster spat (baby oysters) the hard surfaces they need to attach to and survive. Over time, it is expected that oysters will build up on the artificial reefs and create natural reefs.

There has also been a lot of focus on raising baby oysters in hatcheries, protecting existing oyster reefs as harvest-free "sanctuaries," and developing and promoting oyster aquaculture programs. Other projects, such as Marylanders Grow Oysters and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's oyster gardening, get citizens involved in restoring oysters.

The Bay's oyster population may never be as healthy as it once was, but with new and innovative restoration efforts taking place across the region, it seems like it will be possible for oysters to continue to be an important part of the Bay ecosystem for many years to come. If you’d like to help restore oysters, check out some ideas from the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

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.



Keywords: questions, oysters
Oct
01
2010

What effect does heavy rainfall have on the Bay?

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 is all about the wet weather we’ve had in the region lately: “What effect does heavy rainfall have on the Bay?”

The amount of rainfall the Chesapeake Bay region receives affects the amount of water that flows into the Bay from its rivers. This is called river flow. When we get more rain, it increases the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that gets into local streams and rivers, and eventually the Bay.

When it rains, stormwater runs off lawns, farms, streets and parking lots, picking up pollution and carrying it into the nearest storm drain or waterway. A lot of rain can also erode stream banks, which causes more sediment to make its way to the Bay. Excess nutrients and sediments are harmful because they block sunlight from reaching bay grasses. Excess nutrients also fuel the growth of algae blooms that can lead to low oxygen levels.

But heavy rainfall can also carry with it much more visible signs of pollution: namely, trash.

The Baltimore Sun’s B’More Green Blog posted some compelling photos this morning, taken at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore by the National Aquarium. It seems that not only did all the rain likely carry a lot of nutrients and sediment into the Bay, it also "trashed" the harbor.

The EPA has officially dubbed Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as “impaired” by trash. The Anacostia River watershed in Washington, D.C., has a similar, if not more severe, issue. The Anacostia recently became the first interstate river to have a Clean Water Act “trash pollution diet” imposed on it.

If there's one good thing about all this rain, it's that seeing all the trash it carries into our local waterways reminds us to try and minimize the trash we use in our day-to-day routines. After all, do you want to be swimming with a bunch of old coffee cups -- or eating seafood that has been doing the same?

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.



Sep
17
2010

How do you protect dolphins in the Bay?

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 comesfrom Tim, who is helping his students with environmental projects. Many of them focus on dolphins and how they are being protected around the world. He asked: “What is being done to protect the dolphins in the Chesapeake Bay?”

Small "pods" of bottlenose dolphins are frequent visitors to the Chesapeake Bay during the summer months. They are most often seen in the saltier lower Bay but have been spotted as far north as Annapolis, Baltimore and the Chester River.

Bottlenose dolphins are not thought to be endangered, but have been considered a “depleted” species since 1987-1988, according to the Bay Journal.

One of the major threats to dolphins that visit the Chesapeake Bay is excess pollution in the Bay and its tributaries. Dolphins depend largely on fish for food. If the fish they consume are not healthy due to water pollution, the dolphins' health can be affected. Because of this, some see the health of dolphins as a true indicator of the Bay’s health.

Other threats to dolphins include getting caught in nets that are targeting other species and boat traffic that may disrupt courtship, nursing or calving activities.

In all of these cases, regulations exist or are being develop to try to protect dolphins and all other aquatic animals. By imposing limits on the amount of pollution that is allowed into the Bay and its tributaries, all of the species that depend on clean water will be more likely to survive.

Those who spend time fishing or boating in the Bay's waters should watch out for pods of dolphins to prevent inadvertently harming them.

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



Keywords: questions, wildlife
Sep
10
2010

What is the waste product of a Bay oyster?

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 comes from Lillian: “What is the waste product of a Bay oyster? Is it toxic and is there a use for this product?”

This question ended up being a little bit complex because there are several different interpretations of what the “waste” of an oyster is. Are you referring to the waste left from their filtering of the Bay’s water? The solid waste they expel? Or the waste shells left from human consumption of oysters? So we addressed all of these facets of the question for Lillian.

When oysters feed on algae -- filtering the water in the Bay at the same time -- some waste is left behind. Oysters take in water, filter out what they need for nourishment and expel the rest back into the water. This waste is often consumed by other organisms. In this way, oysters truly do provide for many of the Bay's other creatures.

Oysters also expel solid waste in the form of pellets, which decompose into the atmosphere as nitrogen. This type of nitrogen is not harmful to the Bay like the nitrogen that comes from fertilizer, animal manure, wastewater, cars and other sources that pollute the Bay.

The oyster waste caused by human consumption is perhaps the most useful, if proper procedures are followed. Instead of just tossing your oyster shells at the end of the night, they can be collected and used to rebuild the Bay's oyster population by providing habitat for oyster spat. This process, known as oyster shell recycling, is valuable to the Bay ecosystem because it gives spat a hard surface to grow on.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership has information on its website about how to get involved in its oyster shell recycling program. The Marylanders Grow Oysters program is another great way to get involved with oyster restoration if you live on one of the waterways that are part of the program.

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.



Keywords: questions, oysters
Sep
03
2010

What do algae blooms mean for water quality?

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 comes from Peg: “We have a second home on a creek in Virginia. While there last week, I noticed an unusual quality in the water. The water appeared unusually murky and quiet and there was a large ribbon of a reddish brown color, very distinct, stretching through our cove.  Contrary to normal situations there was a period of time where there were no fish noticeably jumping or swimming and no birds fishing. Could this have been some sort of red tide or algae bloom and what does that mean as far as water quality?”

Each spring and summer in the Chesapeake Bay region, low-oxygen “dead zones” and harmful algae blooms appear in various parts of the Bay and its creeks and rivers. The size and severity of algae blooms and dead zones in the Bay depend on the amount of water that flows into the Bay. That water brings excess nutrients and sediment from the land. Combined with high temperatures, the excess pollutants can fuel the growth of algae blooms and cause the water to become clouded and discolored.

The water condition Peg may have observed is called a mahogany tide, which can cause the water to appear reddish brown. Mahogany tides may also deplete the water of oxygen, which may be why Peg did not see fish in the water as she normally does. Algae blooms make conditions difficult for much of the aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Algae blooms can be very detrimental to the health of the Bay. Some are considered harmful algae blooms (HABs) and can be toxic to aquatic life such as fish, oysters and crabs. They can also cause skin irritation or other sickness to people who come into contact with them.

Even if algae blooms aren’t toxic, they can still be harmful to the Bay. When algae blooms get dense enough, they block sunlight from reaching bay grasses growing at the bottom of the Bay. Of course, bay grasses are vital to the Bay's health, so when fewer bay grasses grow, the cycle of poor Bay health continues. When algae blooms die they create more problems, as the decomposition process sucks up most of the oxygen that fish, oysters and crabs needs to survive.

Since algae blooms are fueled by excess nutrients, you can do your part to help prevent algae blooms in your local waterway by taking small steps to decrease polluted runoff. Small steps such as not fertilizing your lawn, picking up your pet's waste and planting more trees in your yard can make a difference.

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



Jul
16
2010

Question of the Week: Where are public access points to the Chesapeake Bay?

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 is one people ask at least every few weeks, especially in the summertime when they're itching to get out on the Bay: “Where are public access points to the Chesapeake Bay?”

One of the goals here at the Chesapeake Bay Program is to Foster Chesapeake Stewardship and Education, including through the restoration of public access to the Bay.

We have a map on our website that allows you to select your region to see all available public access points. If you click on a point on the map, it will give you information such as the name, location and amenities available at that spot, such as boat ramps, parking, fishing, swimming, trails and restrooms. You can also request a printed copy of this map to be mailed to you.

As of the 2009 Bay Barometer, the Bay Program had reached 98 percent of its goal of for public access. There are currently 761 public access sites, 166 Chesapeake Bay Gateways and more than 2,000 miles of water trails in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Be sure to check out the public access points and Gateways locations near your home or vacation spots this summer for your chance to enjoy all Chesapeake Bay has to offer.

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!



Jul
09
2010

Question of the Week: How can you tell where sea nettles will be this summer?

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 is one many people ask this time of year, especially during the recent heat wave when they will be trying to cool off on and in the water: “How can you tell where in the bay sea nettles will be this summer?” 

Sea nettles (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) are the most abundant jellyfish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. These whitish-colored jellies soar in numbers in summer and can be a pesky (and painful) nuisance to swimmers. But thankfully, scientists can predict when and where sea nettles will be present in the Chesapeake Bay based on environmental conditions. 

Scientists use a computer model to predict the probability of encountering these stinging jellies in your local river or favorite Bay swimming hole. The computer model compares salinity, water temperature and sea nettle density data from the spring, summer and fall of 1987-2000.

Based on this data, scientists found that sea nettles prefer water temperatures ranging from 78.8 - 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a salinity of 10-16 PSU (practical salinity units). For comparison, seawater has an average PSU of 35 and tidal fresh water has a PSU of less than .5. So when conditions in the Bay are within these temperature and salinity ranges, you will likely encounter sea nettles.

NOAA has created a sea nettle presence probability map that displays the likelihood of encountering sea nettles throughout the Bay and its rivers.  This is your best resource to beat the sting and see if sea nettles are present in your area.

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!



Keywords: questions, wildlife
Jun
25
2010

Question of the Week: What is the difference between the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation?

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 comes from Megan: “What is the difference between the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation? Are they the same organization?”

The Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are not the same organization, although they are frequently confused.

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership leading the Bay restoration effort since 1983. Our partnership comprises:

Bay Program partners work together toward Bay health and restoration goals in five areas:

Each of these areas includes goals set by the Goal Implementation Teams and reported on annually in the Bay Barometer.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in the 1960s and committed to the mission of “Saving the Bay.” The Foundation works to do four things: educate, advocate, litigate and restore. The Foundation hosts a comprehensive education program for students; actively advocates for issues the Bay faces; executes litigation to enhance enforcement, defines an agenda and enforce progress; and works hands-on to restore the Bay to its former beauty and health.

CBF actively accepts members into its organization and is an advocacy group, whereas the Chesapeake Bay Program is a partnership among government and non-government organizations working on the policy and regulations of Chesapeake Bay restoration. CBF works closely with the Chesapeake Bay Program on a number of issues and goal areas.

For more information about how the Chesapeake Bay Program works, go here for a listing of partners, organizational structure and actions.

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, check out their About Us page or Strategic Plan.

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!

 



Jun
04
2010

Question of the Week: How can I keep mute swans from attacking me?

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 in New Jersey. John has been experiencing problems with mute swans while kayaking in his local waterways. He has seen them before, but never had any issues with them until last year. He and other kayakers were attacked several times last year and the attacks have resumed this year. He asked: “Short of quitting my favorite weekend sport, what can I do to deter the swan from attacking me?"

For this question, we contacted Jonathan McKnight, the associate director for habitat conservation with the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

McKnight said that, unfortunately, mute swan attacks are not uncommon. Mute swans are an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and other parts of the East Coast (such as New Jersey), causing problems for humans, other wildlife and the habitats where they live. Mute swans are very territorial of their nesting areas and near their young. With wingspans that can reach 6 feet long, mute swans are capable of causing serious injury to humans.

In Maryland, any mute swan attacks or sightings can be reported to DNR, and DNR officials will go out to the site and remove the swans. If mute swans are prohibiting use of the waterways near you, McKnight suggests contacting your state’s wildlife agency.

The best advice McKnight could offer John was to wear a life preserver when out in his kayak and to make his posture taller than the swan.

“If you are smaller than the swan, it will attack mercilessly,” McKnight said.

John had also mentioned an idea of using a bird repellent to ward off the swans, which McKnight said might be successful.

Visit our page on mute swans for more information about these invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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!



May
28
2010

Question of the Week: What is a cownose ray doing in the Gulf of Mexico?

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 Gail in Florida: "For the past three days there have been hundreds of cownose rays along the beach. Not knowing what they were, we are surprised to find they are from the Chesapeake Bay when we researched them. Thought you would be interested to know they were down here in the gulf...even with the oil! Why would they be here?"

It's important to remember is that many of the species we associate with the Chesapeake Bay are actually just seasonal visitors. So, while an Internet search for a cownose ray may have brought Gail to, for example, our Bay Field Guide entry on the cownose ray, that does not mean they are only present in the Chesapeake Bay.

In fact, in the case of the cownose ray, they are mainly summer visitors to the Chesapeake Bay area, reaching about as far north as Kent Island, Md. from the months of May through October. They are the most common ray found in the Bay, but are not necessarily found more often in the Bay than in other places.

Cownose rays are actually found throughout the Atlantic: in the eastern Atlantic near Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea as well as in the western Atlantic from New England to Florida and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. So Gail spotting hundreds of cownose rays in the Gulf is not that unusual. While they are not "from" the Chesapeake, those that she saw may have been in the process of migrating from the Gulf north to the Bay for the summer months.

Now to turn the tables: Have you ever seen a cownose ray in the Chesapeake Bay?

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!

Information from the Florida Museum of Natural History and ARKive.



Keywords: questions, wildlife
May
23
2010

Question of the Week: Is a muskrat the same thing as a beaver?

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 comes from Sammy: “Is a muskrat the same thing as a beaver?”

Muskrats and beavers are two different, distinct animals. They are easy to identify on land, but can be confused for one another when seen in the water.

One of the most obvious differences between the two species is their size. The American beaver (Castor canadensis) is the largest North American rodent, weighing 35-68 pounds and measuring 39-47 inches in length. Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) are much smaller, weighing just 3-4 pounds and measuring 16-25 inches long.

Tails are another way to distinguish the two species. While the beaver’s tail is wide and flattened horizontally, resembling a paddle, the muskrat’s tail is narrow and flattened vertically.

The way muskrats and beavers use the land is also different. Beavers are the only ones that chew down trees. Tree limbs with the bark removed or lodges made of limbs and mud are telltale signs of a beaver’s presence. Muskrats also build lodges, but they are much smaller than those built by beavers and are made from marsh vegetation rather than trees.

Nutria (Myocastor coypus) are another rodent that look similar to muskrats and beavers. They typically weigh between 12 and 15 pounds and measure about 24 inches in length. Nutria are found mostly on the Delmarva Peninsula but have also been seen around the Patuxent, Potomac and Rappahannock rivers.

So if you see one of these animals in the wild, make sure to look at the shape of its tail and the overall size of its body, which are the two main ways you can tell the difference between a muskrat and a beaver.

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!

 

Information from Woodland Fish and Wildlife and University of Massachusetts.



Keywords: questions, wildlife
May
14
2010

Question of the Week: What can I do at my waterfront home to help keep the water clean?

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 and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Helen, who just bought a waterfront house in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wants to do her part to keep the water as clean as possible: I would like to do what I can – plant the right things, don’t plant the wrong things, etc. What can I do that entails my labor rather than money?

People are often at a loss, especially in difficult economic times, about what they can do to to help the Bay -- and not break the bank at the same time. While there are some environmental options that are costly, there are many actions you can take every day that will make a positive difference to your local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

Helen mentioned that she already cleans debris out of the creek with a net, but that there appears to be an oily film near the “shore.” Removing trash and debris from the ground and water is simple and something that anyone can do. By cleaning up your surroundings, you can save litter from flowing into the Bay via stormwater runoff.

As far as the “oily film” Helen mentioned, this may be caused by runoff from the land, which carries chemicals and contaminants into the water. One great way to prevent this from happening is by planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses along the water’s edge. Plants added to the edge of your property act as a natural buffer to slow and absorb polluted runoff before it can flow into the creek. If you're concerned about interrupting your waterfront view, just plant low grasses and shrubs, which will have the same pollution-absorbing benefits as tall trees.

Check out last week’s Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area? for links and information to help you figure out the best native plants to use and where you can purchase them.

Other simple things to do on your waterfront property include picking up your pet's waste, using fertilizer and pesticides sparingly (or not at all), and using electric-powered lawn mowers and tools as opposed to gas-powered ones. Each of these are simple ways to limit the amount of pollution and nutrients that enter your creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, remember to share your efforts with neighbors, family and friends so they, too, can learn what they can do to make a difference.

Visit the Bay Program's website for more things you can do to help the Bay in your backyard. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot to do a lot. Every little step you can take to do your part can make a difference!



May
07
2010

Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area?

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 comes from Claudia: “This past winter, a tall Japanese pine on [our bay property] uprooted and fell over in one of the storms. I would like to plant some small trees and bushes [to replace it]. What are the best to plant in this area?” 

It’s a great idea to learn about plants that are native to our area before taking on a new landscaping project. Native plants are acclimated to the climate, soil and pests in our area. This usually means they require little to no fertilizer and pesticides. Native species also provide better habitat for wildlife such as bees, birds and butterflies, encouraging a healthy ecosystem.

An excellent resource to learn about native plants in our area is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s guide to Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This document includes a wealth of information about Chesapeake natives.

You can search by type of plant, including:

  • Ferns
  • Grasses and grasslike plants
  • Herbaceous plants (wildflowers)
  • Herbaceous emergents (for wetlands)
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
  • Vines

Once you choose a type of plant, you can select an individual plant by its scientific name for more information, including height, flowering months, fruiting months, soil and light requirements, what wildlife it attracts and other details. For example, switchgrass grows 3-6 feet in clay, loam or sand, and has flowers July through October. It provides food for sparrows and is effective at controlling erosion. All of this information is vital to successful planning and maintaining your native landscape. 

You can also search plants that have special purposes, including plants that are good for:

  • Coastal dunes
  • Saltwater or brackish water marshes
  • Freshwater wetlands
  • Bogs or bog gardens
  • Dry meadows
  • Wet meadows
  • Forest or woodlands
  • Slopes
  • Evergreens
  • Groundcover
  • Spring and fall color
  • Deer resistant plants

This section is helpful if you are trying to reproduce the natural habitats that plants are used to and to prevent excessive runoff and erosion.

Once you have determined what plants you want to plant, check out one of the following websites to find nurseries that sell native plants:

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!



Apr
23
2010

Question of the Week: Where can I get a free rain barrel?

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.

Recently, we’ve had several people ask us about rain barrels. They all want to know: “Where can I get a rain barrel for free? How can I make a rain barrel?” Quite often around this time of year, watershed organizations sponsor events with rain barrel giveaways or sales. After searching, we couldn’t find any resources for free rain barrels in the Bay watershed right now, but you may want to check with your local watershed group for more resources near where you live. It is possible that there are rain barrel giveaways going on that we don't know about! Rain barrel sales, however, are much easier to find. Ready-made rain barrels can be purchased from many different places. A few that are listed on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website include:

There are plenty of other places to find rain barrels, including smaller, local companies, like Rain Barrels of Annapolis, for example. Search on the Internet or ask around to find out where you can get a rain barrel in your area. As an alternative to spending the money on a pre-made rain barrel, you can opt to build your own for a fairly low price. Maryland DNR estimates that it costs about $15 to build a rain barrel using the following materials:

  • One 55-gallon drum
  • 3 1/2ft vinyl hose (3/4" DD x 5/8" ID)
  • One 4" diameter atrium grate
  • One ½" PVC male adapter (will be attached to bottom of rain barrel)
  • One 3" vinyl gutter elbow
  • Waterproof sealant (i.e. plumbers goop, silicone sealant, or PVC cement)
  • One 3/4" x ½" PVC male adapter (will be attached to end of hose and readily adapted to fit standard garden hose)
  • Teflon tape

Installing a rain barrel is great for the environment and the Bay because it diverts stormwater from storm drains, reducing polluted runoff from making its way into your local river and eventually the Bay. For more information about rain barrels and how to make them, visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/ed/rainbarrel.html 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!



Apr
15
2010

Question of the Week: What can I do around the Bay for Earth Day?

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

With the 40th annual Earth Day just around the corner on April 22, many people in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are looking to get involved at the local level:

"What can I do around the Chesapeake Bay or my local river to make a difference on Earth Day?"

There are restoration and cleanup activities happening all over the Bay watershed for the next week or so, and some events have already been completed. This past Saturday at the 22nd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, volunteers removed more than 100 tons of trash.

Here is a list of Earth Day events around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Hopefully you can find something near your house to participate in so you can celebrate Earth Day 2010 by doing your part for the Bay and your local waterway.

If you know of other Earth Day or Earth Week events in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, leave them in the comments so we can inform the rest of our readers!

Ongoing events:

Event: Earth Day Network Billion Acts of Green
Location: Worldwide
Description: Brought to you by Earth Day Network, the core of Earth Day's 40th Anniversary program is the Billion Acts of Green campaign. This effort is focused on the facilitation and cultivation of service on behalf of the planet. The goal of the campaign is to aggregate the millions of environmental service commitments that individuals and organizations around the world make each year - thereby sending a powerful message that people from all walks of life are committed to solving climate change.
More Info: http://billionactsofgreen.com/

Event: Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania
Time: Varies throughout March, April and May
Location: Various locations throughout Pennsylvania
Description: Join Pennsylvanians across the state — and Americans across the nation — in cleaning up litter and trash along our roadsides, streams, parks, forests and neighborhoods. Anyone can help!
More Info: http://www.gacofpa.org/

 

 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Event: Annapolis Greenscape
Time: All day
Location: Various locations, Annapolis, Md.
Description: The City of Annapolis hosts its annual community greening event. People will fan out across the city to spruce up public spaces.
More Info: www.annapolis.gov   

Event: Walk for the Woods
Time: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Bacon Ridge Branch Natural Area, Crownsville, Md.
Description: This annual event includes nature walks and bird walks at the Bacon Ridge Branch Natural Area in Crownsville, which is normally closed to the public.
The event benefits the Scenic Rivers Land Trust, a local land preservation group. Free, but donations welcomed.
More Info: www.srlt.org/woods.

Event: Baltimore City Spring Cleanup
Time: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Various locations, Baltimore, Md.
Description: Join your neighbors and choose a location that needs a special cleanup. Community representatives should call 311 to register. Containers for debris collection will be available on a first call basis. Trucks will NOT be available. Even communities without a container can participate by bagging and stacking debris at a designated location so that it can be picked up on Monday, April 19th. Please provide your designated collection point when you register your clean up with 311.
More Info: http://www.baltimorecity.gov/Government/AgenciesDepartments/PublicWorks/PressReleases/tabid/285/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/254/Sign_Up_for_Mayor_Stephanie_Rawlings-Blakes_Spring_Cleanup.aspx

Event: Bowie Stream Cleanup
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Location: Various locations, Bowie, Md.
Description: Join the 4th bi-annual Bowie stream cleanup to keep Bowie’s streams free of litter and trash.
More Info: www.cityofbowie.org

 

 

Event: New Kent County Envirothon
Times: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: New Kent Extension Office, New Kent, Va.
Description: The New Kent Clean County Committee and the New Kent Extension Office will host Envirothon Earth Day to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A day of activities is planned for all ages.
More Info: http://www.cvwma.com/storage/File/1-Envirothon-Earth%20Day.pdf

 

 

Event: Chesterfield County’s Environmental Fair
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: John Tyler Community College – Midlothian Campus
More Info: http://www.cvwma.com/education_and_outreach/earth_day.wbp

 


Event: Earth Day week tree and milkweed planting at Potomac Overlook Regional Park
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Arlington, Va.
Description: We will be planting trees, hundreds of milkweeds and also removing invasive plants that have been killing trees at the park. The number of volunteers will be limited to approximately 50-60, so call park staff at 703-528-5406 to sign up.
More Info: http://earthday.org/events/earthday-week-tree-and-milkweed-planting-potomac-overlook-regional-park or call 703-528-5406

 

 

Event: Earth Day Celebration
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Location: Three Lakes Park, Richmond, Va.
Description: The Division of Recreation and Parks is teaming up with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program, James River Advisory Commission, County of Henrico Energy Management Plan, and Keep Henrico Beautiful! Activities and entertainment will include educational booths and displays, a children’s puppet show, recycling games, the Henrico County Bookmobile, arts and crafts, face painting, and more. The Wildlife Center of Virginia will be on site with live animals and will educate you on animal rescue. Three Lakes Nature Center will also feature hands on activities as well as educational displays.
More Info: http://earthday.org/events/earth-day-2010-celebration-three-lakes-park or Call Jeannie Murray at 501-5121

 

Saturday and Sunday, April 17-18, 2010

Event: Earth Day Network Global Days of Service
Time: All day
Location: Worldwide
Description: The Global Days of Service will feature Volunteer Actions by tens of thousands of global participants, from April 17 – 18, 2010. These projects in parks, beaches, schools and forests will focus on climate change solutions like tree planting, energy efficiency retrofits, water protection, urban gardens and forest restoration. Produced with the help of Earth Day Network, along with local community organizations and governments, the activities will address current challenges and will help cities and organizations streamline their energy needs, and ‘green up’ their communities. Suitable for individuals of all ages, including children and families, these activities encourage active lifestyles and healthful living, while also connecting volunteers with the green solutions.
More Info: http://www.earthday.net/globaldaysofservice

Event: Earth Day on the National Mall Exhibitions and Performances
Time: All day
Location: The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

 

 

Sunday, April 18-25, 2010

Event: Maryland Public Television's Chesapeake Bay Week
Description: Maryland Public Television hosts special environmental programming through April 25.
More Info: www.mpt.org/bayweek

 

 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Event: The Nature Conservancy in Maryland/D.C.’s 2nd Annual Earth Day 5K Race
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Silver Spring, Md.
Description: Net proceeds raised at this event will help build an oyster sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay. The goal? Raise $25,000 to plant 5 million baby oysters (called spat) in Maryland waters.
More Info: http://www.silverspring5k.com/ or http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/maryland/events/events6127.html

Event: Irvine Nature Center's Earth Day: Kids Unplugged
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Owings Mills, Md.
Description: Earth Day: Kids Unplugged, Irvine Nature Center's GET OUTSIDE initiative, encourages children and families to literally "unplug" from video games, television, movies, iPods and other forms of electronics to participate in activities focused on Mother Earth.  On Sunday, April 18, 2010, children and families will engage in forest exploration, making reusable lunch boxes and bird feeders and tree planting to help with the reforestation of a portion of Irvine's 116-acre property, and more.
More Info: http://www.explorenature.org/index.php

Event: Earth Day on the Square
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: Downtown on the Square, Washington St., Leonardtown, Md.
Description: Celebrate the Earth; organic plants and produce, land/sea/bay conservation, recycling, music, games, food, entertainment.
More Info: leonardtown.somd.com

Event: Earth Day CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) and GeoCaching Event
Location: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Grasonville, Md.
Description: Join in our 2nd Annual CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) event hosted by the Military Association of GeoCachers (MAGC). Help clean up the marsh and go geocaching! The event is open to everyone and pre-registration is required.
More Info: www.bayrestoration.org

 

 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Event: Students’ Environmental Service Day
Time: 9:30 a.m. to noon
Location: R.B. Winter State Park, Mifflinburg, Pa.
Description: HELP WANTED: STUDENTS WHO CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT! Teachers, celebrate Earth and Arbor Day with your class by getting involved in some environmentally friendly projects at the park. Public, private and home-schooled students are encouraged to attend. Planned projects include shrub and tree planting, mulching trails, and park cleanup activities. A brief program on Earth and Arbor days will kick off the event followed by projects. Classes and families need to pre-register by calling the office at (570) 966-1455. Only a limited number of students can be accepted so please make arrangements as soon as possible.
More Info: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/Calendar/view_event.asp?CalendarID=12830&Location=List

Event: Green Drinks for the Bay
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Severn Inn, Annapolis, Md.
Description: Informal networking group Green Drinks will be hosting an Earth Day happy hour at 5:30 p.m. on April 22 at the Severn Inn. Groups around the Chesapeake region will be meeting at the same time to try to break a record held by a group in Australia for the largest Green Drinks gathering.
More Info: www.annapolisgreen.com

 

 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Event: Earth Day Cleanup at the National Zoo
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Location: The National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Description: Join Zoo staff and other visitors in keeping our ecosystem healthy and picking up litter, aluminum cans, snack food wrappers, and other litter that will be sorted into recyclables and trash. Talk to members of the Zoo's Green Team about sustainability initiatives and representatives from other organizations about what ordinary people can do to build solutions to global issues such as climate change. Children can participate in fun and educational activities.
More Info: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/


Event: Anacostia Watershed Society’s Annual Anacostia Watershed Cleanup
Time: 8:30 a.m. to noon; rallies noon to 3 p.m.
Location: Various locations in Washington, D.C. and Maryland
Description: Join AWS as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day! Our annual Earth Day event brings together hundreds of volunteers to participate in a massive trash cleanup along the shores of the Anacostia River in DC and several upstream tributaries in Maryland.  An Earth Day Celebration will follow the morning cleanup featuring free food, music and presentations from government officials.  Last year, approximately 2,000 volunteers helped remove more than 60 tons of trash from the Anacostia River, so sign up today to help make it happen this year!
More Info: http://www.anacostiaws.org/programs/stewardship/earthday


Event: Isaak Walton League Earth Day Pollinator Garden Planting and Lake Cleanup
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Location: Isaak Walton League, Gaithersburg, Md.
Description: Our beautiful wooded property (707 Conservation Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878) offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Dig into a pollinator garden project to help feed the bees and butterflies or splash on the shores of Lake Wiles for a habitat clean-up and restoration project. There will be workshops on composting, stream conservation, and other environmental topics. Free refreshments and giveaways! Free tree seedlings to first 100 participants.
More Info: Contact Rebecca Wadler for further information at 301- 548-0150 x243 or rwadler@iwla.org. Rain date: April 25th.


Event: Havre de Grace Maritime Museum Earth Day Celebration
Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Havre de Grace, Md.
Description: Participate in Riversweep, and have fun learning how you can protect the Bay. Enjoy lunch and live music at the Maritime Museum. Receive a special pass to visit local attractions. Children’s Games and Activities will be available.
More Info: http://www.hdgmaritimemuseum.org/


Event: Canoe Creek State Park Clean Up Day
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Location: Canoe Creek State Park, Hollidaysburg, Pa.
Description: Join us in recognition of Earth Day - step outside on a spring day to help put the park in shape for the season. Volunteers are needed to help with litter pick up, trail trimming and more. Pre-register yourself or your family or group on-line to help. Meet at Education Center to get materials.
More Info: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/Calendar/view_event.asp?CalendarID=12896&Location=Search


Event: Earth Day at Quiet Waters Park
Time: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, Md.
Description: Enjoy a day in nature and spending time outside with family and friends to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Event activities will include live music on 2 stages by our area’s popular artists; kite flying; hot air balloon rides; the Sierra Club 5K race; nature-oriented scavenger hunts; scales and tales, horse shoe crab and native critter displays; presentations of environmental projects by public and private schools, plus a lot more. Live music by Doug Segree (12n-1p) and Pressing Strings (4p-5:30p) will be featured at the Amphitheater Concert Stage and Bates Middle School Choral and Dance (11a-12n) and Neil Harpe (1p-2p) will be featured at the Formal Garden Stage. Garrett’s Light kites (10a-4p), hot air balloon rides (11a-4p) and food and beverages will be available for purchase to continue to raise funds to support environmental education within the park and a new park attraction, the Reading and Butterfly Garden. Admission is free and park entrance fees will be waived.
More Info: http://www.friendsofquietwaterspark.org


Event: Alexandria Earth Day
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria, Va.
Description: Come and celebrate with us what our children are doing to make Alexandria an eco-city we can all be proud of.
More Info: http://www.alexearthday.org/

Event: Greater Severna Park Earth DayExpo
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Location: St. Martin's-in-the-Field Church, Severna Park, Md.
Description: St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Church on Benfield Boulevard is the site of this annual festival from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Discounted rain barrels can be ordered in advance.
More Info: www.gspwag.org


Event: Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Treasure Our Waters Cruise
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Annapolis Maritime Museum, Annapolis, Md.
Description: In Honor of Earth Day, learn about one of our most valuable natural resources, water, and its interaction with people and the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. Explore water conservation, observe the roles of wetlands, and learn about the importance of oysters in water quality. You will spend half the time ashore at the Annapolis Maritime Museum and half on a boat examining Bay waters up close.
More Info: http://tickets.watermarkjourney.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=27&c=3&pg=


Event: Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Earth Day 40th Anniversary Family Science Day
Time: Noon to 4 p.m.
Location: Howard B. Owens Science Center, Lanham, Md.
Description: The Howard B. Owens Science Center will be hosting a free, community day to celebrate "Earth Day 40" on April 24, 2010 from 12-4 pm. The afternoon will include fun, hands-on activities, planetarium programs, display tables, informative talks and more. Come join us for the day and bring the entire family. This year's theme, Take the Green Route, focuses on efficient and eco-friendly transportation options such as walking, bicycling, ridesharing, and riding public transit. Activities include recycling and composting demonstrations, live music, an Arbor Day tree planting, a performance by Blue Sky Puppets, and a launch of the Eco-City Action Plan Phase II.
More Info: http://www1.pgcps.org/howardbowens/index.aspx?id=110202


Event: Earth Day at the Maryland Science Center
Time: Noon to 4 p.m.
Location: Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, Md.
Description: Green is the new black here at the Maryland Science Center. We’ll be exploring family-friendly ways to adopt a greener lifestyle and help conserve our planet’s resources. Make flower baskets from plastic bottles, make your own recycled paper, make a reusable tote bag, play recycle games and receive your own sapling to take home. Learn how to plant your own veggies, too. Folks from the American Chemical Society as well as the Citizen Science program will be on hand with environmental experiments and plenty of information about how to keep our planet healthy. More green activities will be announced. All activities are free with paid admission.
More Info: http://www.mdsci.org/events-calendar/events/EarthDay.html


Event: Second Annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration
Time: Noon to 9 p.m.
Location: Morgan’s Grove Park, Shepherdstown, W. Va.
Description: There will be music, art, crafts, food, kid’s activities, demonstrations, environmental and conservation groups, activists, vendors, a farmers market and more! This is a family-friendly, community oriented event that is free and open to the public, so bring the family and come on out! This is a leave no trace event. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch, lawn chairs, blankets, recreational equipment and comforts for an afternoon in the park. Please leave dogs at home. The celebration will be held rain or shine.
More Info: http://www.earthvibeproductions.com/


Event: Earth Conservation Corps Annual Earth Day Project
Time: TBD
Location: Pope Branch Park, Washington, D.C.
Description: The Earth Conservation Corps is a nonprofit organization that engages the strong minds and muscles of Anacostia’s youth in the restoration of the Anacostia River. As corps members improve their own lives, they rebuild the environmental, social, and economic health of their communities. The ECC along with local partners, friends, the community and the Anacostia Watershed Society, are looking forward to this Annual Earth Day event.
More Info: http://www.ecc1.org/

 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Event: Montgomery County Earth Day
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Md.
Description: As part of Montgomery County Earth Day, you can take a tour of the award-winning Recycling Center, get Leafgro® and compost bins available at no charge while supplies last and make earth-friendly crafts. You will have the opportunity to learn more about: environmentally-friendly homes, vehicles & landscaping; recycling and waste reduction; and buying recycled products. There will also be special drop-offs for Montgomery County residents only. You can bring your personal papers for on-site shredding provided at no charge by Office Paper Systems (limit 3 paper bags or 1 office paper-sized box of paper per person). Bring your unwanted jeans and denim clothing for recycling into insulation for houses in areas of need, a partnership between Cotton Incorporated and Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County ReStore, in collaboration with Amicus Green Building Center.
More Info: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/swstmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/solidwaste/education/earthday.asp


Event: Richmond Earth Day Festival
Time: 12 to 5 p.m.
Location: Richmond, Va.
Description:  Activities include: recycled art, hands-on workshops, local food, local music, eco-friendly resources, kids’ activities, fly fish demonstrations, shad fishing for school children and exhibits on river water quality.
More Info: http://earthdayrichmond.org/  

Event: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Earth Day Tree Planting
Location: Holly Beach Farm, Annapolis, Md.
Description: Help us celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by planting more than 1,000 native trees and shrubs at CBF's Holly Beach Farm. All the vegetation we plant will help filter out pollution and sediment from adjacent farm fields.
More Info: Contact MDRestoration@cbf.org


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!



Keywords: questions
Mar
26
2010

Question of the Week: How is the Bay harmed if we don't recycle?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Colleen, who asks: How is the Bay harmed if we don’t recycle?

Reducing our waste by recycling is a huge help to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. We're not just talking about recycling your typical bottles, cans and paper -- you can recycle all kinds of materials: water, food, cooking oil and even electronics, to name just a few.

 

When you don't recycle, you create much more waste that has to be treated or disposed of in some way. This includes something as simple as water. When it gets dumped into our sewer systems, it requires treatment that uses a lot of energy and money. If too much water goes to wastewater treatment facilities, those facilities will eventually need to be upgraded, which costs even more.

 

To save water, all you need to do is put a bucket in your shower or sink to catch the water from your faucet while it warms up. You can then use that water in plants, as drinking water for pets, or in regular household cleaning. You can also install a rain barrel in your yard to recycle rainwater that would normally run off your yard into the nearest storm drain.

Putting food down the garbage disposal is another example of creating waste out of something that can be recycled. Instead of letting food and grease get into your septic system or public sewer by putting it down the disposal, try “recycling” it by creating a compost pile. Composting reduces waste in landfills and is useful for fertilizing and enriching gardens

Cooking oil is one thing many people overlook when thinking about recycling. Some people just toss it down the drain, but this can be very hazardous because it can build up in sewer lines over time and cause harmful, expensive bloackages. There are facilities that will accept used cooking oil; find one near you at Earth911.org.

Recycling anything ultimately helps the Chesapeake Bay and the environment as a whole. Recycling cans, bottles, paper and other items reduces the amount of waste that travels to landfills, helping to make those landfills last longer so no new landfills need to be built. And properly disposing of recyclables reduces the amount of trash that can get into our waterways.

If you’re not sure about what can be recycled or where you should take it, you can check Earth911.com to find centers near you.

 

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen at the next Question of the Week! Feel free to suggest other questions that will encourage reader discussion as well!



Mar
19
2010

Question of the Week: Have you seen an osprey yet?

Welcome to this week's installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! We usually take a question submitted by a visitor on our website and answer it here for everyone to read. This week, we decided to turn the table and ask our readers a question.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring and there are definite signs of the changing seasons around the Chesapeake Bay. Traditionally, many people in the Bay region believe ospreys are the truest sign of spring, as they return to the region around St. Patrick's Day each year. After wintering in the Caribbean and South America, ospreys respond to changes in daylight and make their way back home to the Chesapeake for nesting. A fellow Bay Program staff member said she saw her first osprey of the season last night. 

With St. Patrick's Day behind us, National Wildlife Week coming to a close and spring looming just over the horizon, here's our question to you:

Have you seen an osprey yet this spring? If so, where? Have you seen any other signs of spring in the region?

Share your sightings and stories in the comments so we can track the return of the ospreys and the coming of spring. Everyone seems to be struck with a little bit of spring fever, so while you're spending time outside to embrace the early warm weather, you can probably find a few more signs of spring near you. Come back here to join in the conversation and share your experiences!

UPDATED 03/24: Check out http://www.ospreycam.com for a live view of ospreys! If you haven't seen one in person yet, you can through the power of the Internet! Thanks to Pamela Wood, the Annapolis Capital's Bay reporter, for this head's up via our Twitter account.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen at the next Question of the Week! Feel free to suggest other questions that will encourage reader discussion as well!



Keywords: questions, birds
Mar
12
2010

Question of the Week: What do invasive species do to the Bay?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question came from Elizabeth: “What kind of effect does the zebra mussel have on fish like the striped bass?”

This is a great question, and one that can be applied more broadly by addressing how invasive species affect native species in the Chesapeake Bay.

The important thing to remember is that every species that is native to an ecosystem plays an integral role in the food web for that particular ecosystem. So in the Chesapeake Bay, everything from plankton to blue crabs and striped bass are important to the health of the Bay.

When an invasive species is introduced into an ecosystem, it puts additional stressors on the native species that live there. In the Chesapeake, not only do native species have to deal with pollution, they also have to worry about invasive species depleting their food sources.

For example, the zebra mussel is an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay. It is also a filter feeder. While this could be seen as a good thing – improving the clarity of the water – it is really an issue to contend with when the zebra mussel consumes the plankton that is vital to the survival of many primary consumers in our ecosystem, like Atlantic menhaden and other small fish. These smaller fish are then prey for larger fish such as striped bass.

If there is not enough plankton to feed the menhaden, in turn there will not be enough menhaden to feed the striped bass, and so on. In the food web, every species fluctuation results in a domino effect in the rest of the ecosystem.

Invasive species can take a toll on an ecosystem. Not only do zebra mussels significantly reduce the plankton available to native filter feeders, they also hinder boat navigation and cause damage to the power industry by clogging vital pipes.

While eradication of invasive species is typically very difficult and extremely expensive, there are things you can do to help the problem. Boaters are encouraged to check their hulls, trailers and recreational equipment for zebra mussels before moving them to a new water body. You can also do your part to reduce pollution to the Bay, which will help the Bay watershed's native plants and animals.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen at the next Question of the Week!



Mar
05
2010

Question of the Week: Why did an oyster drill kill a naked goby?

Welcome once again to the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Rodney. Rodney told us how he had a saltwater aquarium with an oyster drill, a small oyster and a naked goby living in it. One day, he found the oyster drill attached to the goby and when he separated them, the goby was dead.

He asked, “Have there ever been any studies of an oyster drill actually catching and killing small fish? The oyster drill attached itself to the oyster, but never actually drilled or ate the oyster. Why is that?”

After doing some initial research into this interesting occurrence, we couldn’t find any other documented incidents of an oyster drill feeding on something other than an oyster. We sought further advice from Dr. Roger Mann, professor of marine science and director of research and advisory science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at William & Mary.

“While this is very unusual, I would not be completely surprised by such action,” Dr. Mann wrote. “Oyster drills are predators and will take available prey.”

He explained that the mouthparts of predatory gastropods are species specific and that those of oyster drills are designed for “rasping through shells, then devouring the meat of the prey.” But they could still be used for eating tissue of fish. Other gastropods, such as some cone shells, have mouthparts designed specifically for mobile prey like fish.

“As to why the drill never ate the available oyster, it probably was not hungry enough, especially if it has an easy meal in the goby,” he said.

This instance proves that while most species are creatures of habit, they will often do whatever is necessary to survive. To learn about more interesting creatures and critters in and around the Chesapeake Bay, check out our Bay Field Guide.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen for our next Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions
Feb
26
2010

Question of the Week: Road Salt, Snow Melt and the Bay

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week. Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Daniel, who came to our website seeking information about the effects of road salt on the Chesapeake Bay and its local waterways. He said, “With all the information that is out there about the pollution in our Bay…it seems like we have created another major source of pollution by throwing all the salt into the Bay.”

Much of the Chesapeake Bay watershed has experienced record-breaking snow storms this winter. With roads covered in snow and ice, road crews had to use the most effective deicer at their disposal: salt, and lots of it. Controversy struck when it was announced that plows in Baltimore would begin dumping snow from the roadways into the Inner Harbor. What would all of that salt do to the water? Isn’t there a better way to handle it?

While public safety was the most important factor during these major snowstorms, the decisions made by public officials also took environmental concerns into consideration.

Dumping snow into the Inner Harbor or the Chesapeake Bay, which are already brackish (a combination of salt and fresh water), is not necessarily bad because salt is already present in the water. However, dumping salt-treated snow into freshwater streams and creeks is dangerous because it can drastically change the amount of salt in the water, harming the freshwater species that call these waterways their home.

Of course, even without dumping snow directly into a body of water, salt will end up there as snow begins to melt and run off our streets, lawns and driveways. Since runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, scientists in the region will closely monitor the effects of snow melt and runoff.

The runoff caused by snow melt, however, is generally more gradual than that of a strong rain storm, giving road salt and other pollutants more time to absorb into the ground, where they can be filtered out by trees and vegetation. Heavy rainfalls, on the other hand, accelerate the speed at which polluted runoff flows into streams, rivers and the Bay.

To get back to the question from Daniel, yes, the salt used on roadways during snowstorms can become a pollutant in the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers, creeks and streams – but so can fertilizers, dirt, oil, trash and other substances carried by runoff into waterways. There are other deicing agents that could be used, but most are more expensive and some have not yet been tested for environmental effects.

Since this year was a rarity in terms of snowfall for most parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, hopefully the problem of too much road salt and snow melt won’t be something we’ll have to address very often in the future!

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Submit it on our website and it could be our next Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, weather, winter
Dec
11
2009

Question of the Week: What Are the Main Sources of Pollution to the Bay?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week, Dave is trying to get a sense of “who is causing what” in relation to the Chesapeake Bay’s pollution issues. He wants to know: what are the main sources of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment to the Bay?

It’s important to know where Chesapeake Bay pollution comes from because we can use that knowledge to do our part to reduce the amount of pollutants each of us contributes to the Bay and its local waterways.

Nitrogen

sources of nitrogen

Nitrogen occurs naturally in soil, animal waste, plant material and the atmosphere. However, most of the nitrogen delivered to the Bay comes from:

  • Manure, emissions and chemical fertilizers from farmland and animal operations (38 percent)
  • Nitrogen oxide emissions from sources including vehicles, industries and electric utilities (27 percent)
  • Human waste treated and discharged from municipal wastewater treatment plants and wastewater discharged from industrial facilities (19 percent)
  • Chemical fertilizers applied to lawns, golf courses and other developed lands (10 percent)
  • Septic systems that treat household wastewater and discharge effluent to groundwater in the Bay watershed (4 percent)

Phosphorus

sources of phosphorus

Phosphorous, like nitrogen, occurs naturally in soil, animal waste and plant material. But these natural sources account for just 3 percent of the phosphorous loads to the Chesapeake Bay. Here are the major sources of the Bay’s phosphorus pollution:

  • The largest source is agriculture: manure and chemical fertilizers from farms contribute 45 percent of the total phosphorus load to the Bay.
  • Runoff from developed cities, towns and suburbs, as well as legacy sediments from streams, account for 31 percent of the Bay’s phosphorus pollution.
  • Municipal and industrial wastewater is the source of the remaining 21 percent of phosphorous loads.

Sediment

Sediments are loose particles of clay, silt and sand. When suspended in the water, sediment can block sunlight from reaching underwater bay grasses. As sediment settles to the bottom of the Bay and its rivers, it smothers bottom-dwelling animals (such as oysters). Sediment can also carry high concentrations of phosphorus and toxic chemicals.

Most of the sediment to the Bay comes from agriculture. Natural sources, stormwater runoff and erosion from streams make up the rest of the sources of sediment to the Bay and its local waterways.

sources of sediment

While some sources of pollution may be larger than others, one source is not more important to prevent than any other. We must take any and all steps to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment loads to the Bay. Think about how your daily actions contribute pollution to the Bay and its rivers. Be sure to check out our Help the Bay tips to learn how you can do your part.



Dec
04
2009

Question of the Week: What Role Do Oysters Play in the Bay's Health?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

Alvina asked: “What role do oysters play in the heath of the bay? What role might oysters play in the Bay’s future?”

Every native species is vital to the health and survival of any ecosystem. The eastern oyster in the Chesapeake Bay is no exception.

One major role oysters play in the Bay is filtering the water. Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they pump large volumes of water through their gills to sift out plankton and other particles they need for nourishmnet. But this process serves a double purpose: As the oysters feed, they also filter out harmful pollutants from the Bay's waters, helping to keep the water clear and clean for bay grasses and other underwater life.

Oysters also provide habitat for many species in the Chesapeake Bay. By forming reefs, oysters create small ecosystems with nooks and crannies where tiny aquatic animals hide from predators. Reefs can create 50 times the surface area of a flat, muddy Bay bottom of the same size, which is vital to sponges, sea squirts, skilletfish and other organisms that live attached to a hard surface.

Chesapeake Bay oysters are also a food source for various other Bay creatures. Anemones and sea nettles depend on oyster larvae for survival, while flatworms and mud crabs feed on new oyster spat. Older spat and first-year oysters are consumed by blue crabs and some types of fish. Some adult oysters even end up as prey for shorebirds like oystercatchers.

The roles of this important species are dramatically affected by variations in the oyster population. A diminished oyster population is not the sole reason for the Bay's poor health, but it is certainly detrimental. One of the challenges of Chesapeake Bay restoration is to restore and maintain a healthy oyster population for ecological purposes while also supporting an oyster fishery.

The future of the Chesapeake's oyster population depends on restoration and management efforts today. For instance, Maryland just introduced a proposal to increase the amount of oyster sanctuaries to one-quarter of the remaining quality reefs in that state's portion of the Bay. Oyster sanctuaries are reefs where harvesting is off-limits, allowing the reefs to expand and provide the important ecological services.

As with every living thing in the Bay, there is a domino effect. Because of all their important roles in the Bay, if oysters suffer, other creatures do as well.

For more information, check out our pages on oysters and oyster management and restoration.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose it for our Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, oysters
Nov
20
2009

Question of the Week: Is it safe to use an organic fertilizer?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Tom: I recently purchased a house on the Potomac near the Chesapeake Bay and I want to fertilize the lawn this fall.  Is it safe to use an organic fertilizer?

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall rather than in the spring is a great step toward protecting the Bay. Many people believe the spring is the best time to fertilize, but heavy seasonal rainfall can actually wash fertilizers off your lawn and carry them into your local creek or stream. This polluted runoff, which contains nitrogen and phosphorus, fuels the growth of algae in the Chesapeake Bay. Algae blooms are harmful to fish, crabs, oysters and other species that call the Bay home.

Organic fertilizers are a safer choice to use on your lawn because they tend to release nutrients more slowly than regular fertilizers, thus reducing the pollution that could run off your lawn. A variety of organic fertilizers are available, made from all sorts of natural materials. Check out The Organic Gardener for more information.

One of the easiest ways to naturally fertilize your lawn is to recycle your grass clippings and compost the leaves that fall from your trees this time of year.

  • After mowing your lawn, instead of bagging up the clippings, leave them on the grass. The clippings will slowly break down and release up to half of your lawn’s nitrogen needs.
  • In autumn, as leaves cover your yard in a blanket of reds and oranges, consider mulching them with a lawn mower instead of raking and bagging them. Using leaves as a natural mulch for your lawn and garden will not only reduce nutrient pollution from fertilizer, but will cut back on the waste generated from lawn and leaf bags.

Visit our Help the Bay in Your Backyard page for more tips on how to fertilize your lawn for a healthy Bay.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose it for our Question of the Week!



Nov
13
2009

Question of the Week: The effect of storms on the Bay's health

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

This week’s question is one a lot of people have been asking in recent days: With the nor’easter from Hurricane Ida blowing through the region, high winds, flooding and stormwater are on everyone’s minds. So what effect does a storm like this November nor’easter have on the Chesapeake Bay?

The amount of rain that falls on the Bay watershed has a direct effect on river flow, which is the volume of fresh water that flows into the Chesapeake from its tributaries. Typically, fresh water makes up about half of the Bay’s entire volume. When large amounts of rain fall in the region, such as during this nor’easter, it can tip the balance of fresh and salty water in the Bay.

A major issue associated with more rainfall is an increase in stormwater runoff, which carries dirt, trash, nutrients and other pollutants from our roads, lawns and parking lots into the Bay and its local waterways. Once in the water, this pollution can fuel the growth of algae blooms and harm underwater life, including crabs, oysters and bay grasses.

We’re already seeing the effects of this storm in Virginia, where officials have implemented a temporary ban on shellfish harvesting. The fear is that clams, oysters and scallops could become contaminated due to human and animal waste being washed into the Bay from tidal flooding.

High tides and flooding are certainly of concern to those who live by the Bay’s shores, but large storms like this have an effect on every stream, creek and river throughout the region. You can do your part to minimize the impact of storms and eliminate as much pollution as possible by picking up litter on the ground and covering bare spots in your yard to reduce erosion.

For more information about how weather affects the Bay and its watershed, check out our weather page.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, weather
Nov
06
2009

Question of the Week: How do vehicles affect water pollution?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Roshni, who asked, “How does water become polluted when automobiles are used for transportation?”

The most important thing to understand is that almost everything we do as residents of the Bay watershed has an effect on the Chesapeake in the long run. With the movement of people from city centers to more suburban areas, we have had to rely more on traveling by car, which has led to the creation of more hardened “impervious” surfaces such as highways and parking lots.

Transportation and the roads, parking lots and driveways that facilitate it account for 55 to 75 percent of all paving in cities and towns. These lands used to be forested, and when they are paved over, there are fewer habitats for wildlife and fewer filters for Bay-bound pollution. Transportation infrastructure has also caused the land across the Bay watershed to become more fragmented over the past few decades, making it even harder for animals to find habitat or complete their migration routes. (Learn more about forest fragmentation.)

The act of driving vehicles also emits pollution into our air. The pollution from these emissions eventually falls back to the earth and is transported by runoff and groundwater into streams and rivers.

Stormwater runoff is a massive problem due to the ever-increasing amount of paved surfaces in the Bay watershed. Instead of rainwater being filtered and absorbed into the ground, it simply runs off hardened areas into nearby streams and rivers, eventually carrying the pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, stormwater runoff is the fastest growing pollutant to the Bay.

Remember, everything we do affects the Chesapeake Bay, beginning with your local creek or stream. But every little change helps! So help the Bay by starting a carpool with your coworkers or using public transportation to lessen the number of cars on the road and the amount of pollution being released into the air during your commute.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Oct
30
2009

Question of the Week: Wastewater Treatment Plants

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

This week’s question comes from Matt:

“How are limits at wastewater treatment plants set? Is it based on water quality standards or limit of technology?”

Ultimately, nutrient discharge limits for wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are set to improve water quality, but many plants face limitations because of technological capabilities. Nutrient discharge from wastewater treatment facilities is one of the biggest causes of poor water quality in the Bay. Because of this, the Chesapeake Bay Program has been working to reduce nutrient pollution from these sources since 1985.

In 2005, the Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions introduced a new permitting process limiting the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that the watershed’s 483 major wastewater treatment plants could discharge. These limits meant that most facilities had to make major renovations and upgrades to include biological nutrient removal and enhanced nutrient removal technologies.

In the biological nutrient removal (BNR) process, microorganisms remove nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater during treatment. The wastewater treated in this process contains less than 8 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of nitrogen.  Enhanced nutrient removal improves upon the BNR process, with wastewater treated at these plants containing 3 mg/l of nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l of phosphorous.

Some of those facilities that are required to meet stricter limits but cannot afford more advanced upgrades still have options. Nutrient trading programs have been implemented in Pennsylvania and Virginia for precisely that reason. These programs encourage facilities to invest in upgrades with greater nutrient reductions and then sell their excess nutrient credits to other facilities. This provides plants a cost-effective way to meet the limits imposed on them to improve water quality if they are lacking the technological advances.

And remember, you can do your part to help wastewater treatment plants reduce nutrient discharge too. Two easy steps are conserving your water so the facilities have less water to treat and switching to low- or no-phosphorous dish detergents. For more information, check out our Wastewater Treatment page.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, wastewater
Oct
22
2009

BayBlog Question of the Week: Do I Live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed?

Welcome to the third installment of our newest feature, the BayBlog Question of the Week. Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week's question comes from Sacha:

“My husband and I just recently bought a house in Gainesville, Virginia, and were told that the creek that runs on our property is part of the watershed. I’d like to know how I can find out if that is true and if it is, where I can get more information on what that means for us as property owners.”

Your creek is, in fact, part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As you can see in this map, Gainesville, Virginia, lies within the Potomac River watershed, and the Potomac River flows to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers more than 64,000 square miles in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, and contains thousands of creeks, streams and rivers that all eventually drain to the Chesapeake Bay. But no matter where you are, every creek or stream is a part of a watershed -- it’s just a matter of finding out which one.

If you want to find out which watershed you live in, start off by going to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Surf Your Watershed” site and plug in your zip code, city, or even the name of the stream itself. The site will then generate information for you about your specific watershed, including:

  • The name of the watershed
  • The congressional districts within the watershed
  • The names of citizen-based groups working in the watershed
  • Water quality monitoring data
  • Links to environmental websites dealing with that watershed
  • A link to the National Watershed Network
  • An assessment of the watershed’s health
  • Information from the United States Geological Survey including stream flow, science in that area and water use data
  • A list of places included in the watershed (counties, cities, states and other watersheds upstream and downstream)

As property owners, it is important to learn about this information so you are aware of the health of the water near where you live. You also might want to look into the citizen groups that work in your watershed to help improve or maintain the health of your local waterway. Volunteering with your local watershed group is a great way to help the environment and the Chesapeake Bay.

With that information, check out our Help the Bay section, which details dozens of ways you can make a difference around your home and backyard to help the Chesapeake Bay and your local stream.

The health of the Chesapeake Bay begins with the health of every creek or stream that flows into it. So treat your local waterways well, and the Chesapeake will one day follow!

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Keywords: watershed, questions
Oct
16
2009

BayBlog Question of the Week: How was the Chesapeake Bay formed?

Welcome to the second installment of our newest feature, the BayBlog Question of the Week. Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week's question comes from Samantha. She asked:

What forces of nature caused the Chesapeake Bay to form?

The Chesapeake Bay as we know it today took on its current shape about 3,000 years ago, but its geologic history can be traced back about 35 million years. Around this time, a rare bolide, or a comet-like object from space, impacted the Earth. This impact did not create the Bay, but it did contribute to natural processes that eventually formed the Bay as we see it today.

The bolide collided with the Earth near what we now call Cape Charles, Virginia, on the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, and created a crater. The crater is thought to have been as large as Rhode Island and as deep as the Grand Canyon. According to this article from National Geographic News, the impact of the bolide led to tsunamis and the decimation of marine life in the surrounding areas. The crater lay beneath sand, silt and clay for millions of years before it was discovered.

It was about 18,000 years ago when the Bay really began to form, as glaciers from the last Ice Age began to melt. During this time period, mile-thick glaciers existed as far south as Pennsylvania and the Atlantic coastline at that time reached about 180 miles farther east than it does today. As the glaciers melted, they carved rivers and streams flowing toward the coast and sea level rose continually. This led to the eventual submersion of what we know now as the Susquehanna River Valley.

History is rich in the Chesapeake Bay; evidence of the ancient Susquehanna River can still be found in a few deep troughs that form a channel along a large portion of the Bay’s bottom. But the Chesapeake’s 3,000 year history in its present shape does not mean there haven’t been changes. In fact, the Bay is constantly changing due to the forces of erosion and sediment transport.

For more information about the history of the Chesapeake Bay, visit our Bay History  page.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, geology
Oct
08
2009

BayBlog Question of the Week: Balloons and the Bay

We're starting a new feature here on the BayBlog called the BayBlog Question of the Week. Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week's question comes from Elaine. She asked:

I would like to use balloons as promotional give-aways, but I am concerned for the environment. What is your position on balloons and the environment?

The Chesapeake Bay Program does not have an official position on balloons and the environment. I did some research on this topic and found that releasing balloons into the air is the issue that can have environmental consequences. When balloons are released into the air and eventually deflate, they can fall back to earth and become litter on our ground and in our waterways. In this 2004 Baltimore Sun article, a staff member with the National Aquarium in Baltimore noted that animals such as fish, gulls, dolphins and sea turtles can confuse deflated balloons with food.

If you decide to use balloons as promotional giveaways, perhaps you could include a note that encourages users to dispose of the balloons properly and not intentionally release them into the air. Because we all love balloons -- we just don't want them to become litter, or worse, food for wildlife and aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.

And remember, if you're outside and you see a deflated balloon lying on the ground or in a tree, pick it up! We all need to do our part to help keep litter out of our parks, beaches and waterways.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!



Keywords: questions, Pollution
Apr
14
2009

What are you doing to help the Bay?

Are you doing your part to help the Bay or your local river? Have you installed a rain garden at your home? Do you volunteer for a wateshed organization?We're looking for great examples of people making a difference in the Bay cleanup effort, one small step at a time. If you'd like to tell us your story, send me an e-mail at apimenta@chesapeakebay.net. Or you can add your photo or video to our new Flickr group. If you're chosen to be featured on our website, you'll get a Bay-friendly freebie, such as a reusable mug or shopping bag.



Keywords: questions, volunteer
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