(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The 2019 Bay grasses assessment released by the Chesapeake Bay Program today found a 38 percent decline in grasses between 2018-19. In response, Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Director of Science and Agricultural Policy, issued this statement.
“The significant loss of Bay grasses this year is a sobering reminder that the Chesapeake Bay is still a system dangerously out of balance. The extreme flows of polluted runoff that damaged the grasses are also a clear sign that climate change is threatening the Bay’s recovery. This setback should be a wakeup call that climate change and increasing pollution cannot be ignored.
“In addition to providing critical habitat for aquatic life, a recent study demonstrated that underwater grasses also help diminish the acidification of the Bay caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels. Acidic water threatens the health of fish and shellfish. The study showed that Bay grasses can act as a ‘Tums’ to help alleviate acidification.
“The Bay jurisdictions, especially Pennsylvania, must accelerate efforts to reduce pollution and fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025. Fortunately, many of the pollution-reduction strategies called for in the Blueprint, including forested buffers and air pollution controls on power plants, have dual benefits of reducing pollution to local waters while also mitigating greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The time to act is now.”