The work to save the Chesapeake Bay certainly has its peaks and valleys. Occasionally, these peaks and valleys come close together. This past week in the watershed, we were greeted with the good news that the Virginia oyster harvest is up 24 percent from last year. In addition to rebounding oyster numbers, we're seeing positive signs of improvement from pollution reduction throughout the watershed--underwater grasses are recovering, water clarity is improving, and levels of dissolved oxygen are rebounding. Despite this positive progress, we were reminded this week that there are still many obstacles to overcome.
Yesterday we were disappointed to learn that despite our efforts in conjunction with several conservation groups, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted to rezone Fones Cliffs. This treasured site on the Rappahannock River is a place like no other in the Chesapeake watershed. In addition to being one of the most important bald eagle habitats on the East Coast, the potential development is an environmental and economic threat to the community. While next steps are still to be determined, according to Peggy Sanner, assistant Virginia director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, one thing is clear--"It's not over yet."
The worst, albeit not surprising, news from the past week is the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural lobbying organizations once again challenging the legality of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, this time bringing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lauded in previous court decisions as a wonderful example of cooperative federalism, the legal challenges facing the Blueprint simply do not hold water (pardon the pun). As we have stated time and again, the Blueprint is the Bay's best, and perhaps last chance, to be saved. And although we are saddened by the Farm Bureau's groundless attempts to dismantle the Blueprint, we are confident the Supreme Court will lean on the sound legal and factual findings of the two previous court decisions, and reaffirm Bay restoration efforts.
This Week in the Watershed: Better, Bad, and Worst
- Disappointing news from Virginia, as the Richmond County Board of Supervisors has voted to rezone Fones Cliffs, a treasured site on the Rappahannock River. (Richmond Times Dispatch--VA)
- Excited to see that the Virginia oyster harvest is up 24 percent from 2014. (Associated Press)
- This editorial is spot-on, criticizing the Baltimore County Council for its short-sighted approach in repealing its stormwater remediation fee. (Baltimore Sun--MD)
- Polluted runoff is a central source of pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, but detecting violations is a significant challenge. (Bay Journal)
- We're saddened but not surprised that the American Farm Bureau Federation and other industry groups are taking their assault on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint all the way to the Supreme Court. (Bay Journal)
- Implementing agricultural best management practices in Pennsylvania is critical in saving the Bay and its rivers and streams. Lancaster County, PA is on the front lines. (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal--PA)
Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!
- The Susquehanna River is sick. For far too long, agricultural runoff, acid mine drainage, and polluted urban runoff have been fouling the Susquehanna River. This toxic brew threatens a powerful economic engine, a part of Pennsylvania's heritage, and the critters that call the river home. In the coming weeks, Pennsylvania's leaders have a chance to step in and start cleaning up our river, but if we want them to act, we must speak out in these next few crucial days. Stand with CBF and its partners in urging Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to save our river by listing the Lower Susquehanna River as impaired.
What's Happening Around the Watershed?
- Easton, MD: Volunteer to staff the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's exhibit in the iconic Waterfowl Festival! Lend a hand for just a few hours teaching the community about CBF's work on the Shore and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavor of the beautiful Eastern Shore. Contact Hilary Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
- Onancock, VA: Meet new people, learn all about water quality issues on the Eastern Shore, and enjoy some great food at CBF's Dine & Discuss: Fish 'n Fowl Taco Night! Receive updates on fisheries, agriculture, and water quality with a smattering of science and a peppering of policy. Eat fish and chicken tacos free of charge. A cash bar will be available. This is an adult-only event. Reserve your spot today!
- Virginia Beach, VA: Three to four volunteers are needed to staff a CBF display table at a local oyster roast! Volunteers will share current information with the attendees and enjoy this very informal event that includes all you can eat oysters with a portion of the proceeds going to CBF. For more information contact Tanner Council at email@example.com or 757-622-1964.
- Washington, D.C.: Join CBF at Greenbuild, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The green building community gathers to share ideas and mutual passion at Greenbuild, with three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city's green buildings. Click here for more information!
- Easton, MD: Attend CBF's Oyster Expo for a night of all things oyster! Staffed by leading scientists from around the region, this event will feature a variety of family-friendly exhibits, movies, and displays that bring to life the ongoing work to support the iconic Chesapeake Bay oyster. Learn about current oyster restoration projects and what you can do to help. Click here to register!
- Chestertown, MD: Come on out for a Bay Panel Discussion featuring farmers, environmentalists, and local residents talking about the challenges and success in the effort to achieve a healthier Chesapeake Bay while continuing to produce food. Click here for more information!
--Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate
Chesapeake Bay Foundation