Sunday, December 28, 2008

Newsflash: Bay Clean-Up Efforts Have Failed

Approaching the 25th anniversary of the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement, several local media outlets have decided to run pieces outlining its miserable failure.

The Washington Post has a series called Failing the Chesapeake.

Today's Capital features an article trying to determine whether EPA deliberately lied about it's lack of success cleaning up the Bay or whether it was just a well-intentioned cover-up of incompetence.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Peared Down

For several decades now, Prince George's County has had the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) as its County tree. This has been a source of some embarrassment for the botanically inclined, as this cultivated pear tree is both extremely weak-wooded and a non-native invasive.

Now, County residents are taking steps to have the tree de-listed and replaced with serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), a beautiful native with high wildlife value. Good luck to them.

Do you know what the Anne Arundel County tree is? You can find out here.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

DNR Blunders, Guided By Politics Rather than Science

Tuesday's Capital reported that the Department of Natural Resources is poised to remove a "botched" oyster reef in Sillery Bay, in the Magothy River. The truth of the matter is there is nothing "botched" about the recently installed reef at all, aside from the fact that at least three navigationally impaired souls ran their boats aground on it.

Now, at the behest of pitchfork wielding boaters and a misguided Delegate, DNR is going to spend some $40,000 additional dollars to rip the reef out (they spent $150,000 to install it) and get back to the business of building failed oyster reefs "at least 8 feet deep." Somehow, they even managed to get the Magothy River Association on board.

Perhaps those managing the resource and others ostensibly concerned about the success of the oyster fishery Bay-wide will eventually get a clue and look the successful aquaculture operations on the Choptank River, where, believe it or not, they are growing oysters at the surface. And to those who would say, oyster reefs shouldn't be a hazard to navigation, I would direct them to the words of Francis Louis Michel, a Swiss visitor to the Chesapeake in 1701, "The abundance of oysters is incredible. There are whole banks of them so that the ships must avoid them. They surpass those in England by far in size, indeed they are four times as large."

At this juncture, I think we need to ask, "Are we going to manage the fishery for beer addled boaters or for the success of the organism?"

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Impact Fee Committee's Modest Proposal

According to today's Capital, the Impact Fee Committee appointed by the County Council, has arrived at a proposal. Unfortunately, for the residents of the County, it both waters down the basis on which the impacts were estimated by Dr. Nicholas, it also only recommends taking them up to 80% of that basis......over 5 years.

Should the Council follow the recommendations of the Committee, the impact fee that would have been levied upon a three-bedroom will drop from Dr. Nicholas' recommendation of $18,669 to $12,800, about the place Dr. Nicholas recommended the fee be placed 7 years ago.

The only measure by which this recommendation could be considered a success is when one compares it to the recommendations of the Impact Fee Committee appointed in 2001.

Once the Council decided defer this decision downward, it was clear that the development community was going march the impact fee number downward. Now, we're left having to hope that the Council disregards the recommendations of the Committee that it appointed.

One curious fact about the article is that the Capital writer went out of her way to repeat Ed Middlebrooks canard: "At one point, a councilman accused County Executive John R. Leopold of rushing through a proposal with huge hikes to distance himself from the development community, which had made large campaign contributions."

As someone who is concerned deeply about quality of life issues in Anne Arundel County, I will gladly take a County Executive who makes a habit of raising millions in campaign funds from the development community, if these sorts of policies are the way he chooses to pay them back.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

You Gotta Know When to Sue 'Em...

Late last week, the Capital reported that the South River Federation had reached a settlement with the developers of Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole over their discharge of sediment-laden water into the River during construction. The lawsuit claimed that the development project had violated the Clean Water Act by allowing the pollution of Church Creek as a result of stormwater runoff.

Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp., the group developing the site, denied the allegations, but agreed to pay $120,000 to repair damage to the creek, monitor the site for future compliance, and legal fees.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Some Relief at the Water's Edge

Looks like the General Assembly is poised to grant some much needed relief to our weary shorelines. Rather than continue to allow the rocking (and to a lesser extent, bulkheading) of our shorelines, the new law, requested by MDE, would require shoreline stabilization take the form of "living shorelines", unless "a property owner could prove erosion is so severe that only an armored shoreline will do."

That's great news for the Bay, even though hundreds of miles of of its periphery have already been hardened. Looks like a number of strong environmental bills are going to come out of the 2008 session. I will re-cap them here after the Assembly adjourns.

From L to R: Wooden Bulkhead, Stone Rip Rap, Headland Breakwater with Living Shoreline

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Potomac Tests Bode Ill for Local Waterways

Today's Post reports that man made pesticides, herbicides and fragrances are making their way into the Potomac River and wreaking havoc on the hormone systems of aquatic life.

The River is so polluted with hormone disrupting chemicals that some male fish have begun to produce eggs.

This report comes on the heels of last week's release that 56 human and veterinary pharmaceuticals were detected in Philadelphia's drinking water, unable to be filtered out through conventional processes.

How is it that we can tolerate this?


South River Federation Releases Scorecard

Like the Magothy, Severn, and Patuxent, the South River had a rough 2007. The South River Federation's latest report gives the River a 34 out of 100.

The full report can be found here.

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