Monday, May 02, 2005

Monitoring the Bay's Band Aids

According to the Sunday Capital, a research team based out of the University of Maryland has found that groups performing restoration efforts on the Bay have done a poor job of monitoring the results of those restorations to see, what if any, improvements to the Bay have been produced by them. It's a serious finding, both for the health of the Bay, and the future of over $1 billion in funds spent annually across the nation on stream restoration projects.

Over 4,700 projects in the Chesapeake region were reviewed, but less than 6% of those projects had any sort of follow-up monitoring. Bay restoration guru, Keith Underwood concurred with the UMD researchers that more follow-up is required, and offered that, "The monitoring that's going on doesn't mean anything."

As someone who has taken part in a number of these projects, I certainly concur, but with a few caveats. First, most of these projects are the result of hard work by an almost completely volunteer workforce. The people planting trees, using biologs to help prevent erosion, and working to save shoreline are everyday citizens. They've chosen to give their time to help improve their creek/river/and the Bay, but chances are, they may well not have the long-term committment to follow-up monitoring these projects, or the skills to do so even if they did. Surely, it would add some additional costs to the operating expenses of the Foundations and Agencies that fund these projects, but it would seem to make sense for them to have at least one or two people on staff who were trained in water-quality monitoring who could examine the efficacy of these projects and then make that information publicly available.



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