Chesapeake Bay

Angela Byrd

BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) - The overall health of the Chesapeake Bay improved some last year, but an annual report card for the nation's largest estuary says there is still a long way to go.

Scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science on Monday gave the bay an overall score of 54 percent in the 2016 Chesapeake Bay Health Index. That's compared to 53 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2014. They are giving the bay's health a "C" grade overall.

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May 8, 2017
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BALTIMORE (AP) - The Chesapeake Bay's 2016 report card is being released.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is releasing its 11th annual report on the health of the nation's largest estuary on Monday in Baltimore.

Sen. Ben Cardin is scheduled to attend a news conference at Baltimore's Inner Harbor to discuss the report.

Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, and Mark Belton, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, also are scheduled to attend.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A $1.1 trillion budget bill that would keep the federal government running through September fully funds the program that has coordinated Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts for decades.

The bill contains $73 million for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program, which President Donald Trump has called for defunding.

Chesapeake Bay Program Website

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A record amount of underwater grass has been reported in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that there are 59,277 acres of underwater grass in the state's portion of the nation's largest estuary.
 
Underwater grass is important, because it is a key indicator of improving water clarity and quality. It is the fourth straight year bay grasses have increased.
 

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HAMPTON, Va. (AP) - An annual survey has found a record-high number of spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and predicts another year of improved harvests.

The results of the survey conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland Department of Natural Resources were released Wednesday.

They show the total population of blue crabs fell this year by 18 percent. But the female spawning stock was the highest ever recorded in the survey's 28-year history.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

A proposed budget by the Trump administration would slash funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration by 93 percent. But environmentalists a confident that the proposal by the Office of Management and Budget will not stand. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush spoke with Kim Coble, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, about the the push back against such a spending cut. 

Don Rush

Plans by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources would give watermen more room to harvest oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports the agency has plans to reduce the sanctuary acreage by 11 percent or around 1-thousand acres.

For the Lower Shore around 100 acres would be opened up in the Tangier Sound while the 17-thousand sanctuary acres on the Nanticoke River would be expanded by over 800 acres.

The paper reports that the Manokin and Nanticoke rivers could be two of eight potential sites for oyster reef restoration.   

Don Rush

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - A researcher at William & Mary says that "big, honkin' grandma oysters" could improve the Chesapeake Bay's oyster stock.

Geology Professor Rowan Lockwood says in a university press release that larger, older oysters produce more offspring. And some studies suggest they're more tolerant to disease. 

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate is scheduled to vote on a resolution to empower the attorney general to sue the federal government without the governor's permission.

The Senate is expected to vote Friday on the resolution, which would clear the way for the Democratic attorney general to sue the federal government for policies with which it disagrees, including President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority counties.

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Senator Ben Cardin says he will oppose the nomination of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Maryland Democrat says that he is concerned about whether Pruitt truly believes in the EPA’s mission to protect the public health and environment.

Cardin said he does not understand why Pruitt would want to head the agency after repeatedly suing and criticizing it.

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Senator Chris Van Hollen says he will vote against three of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations.

The Maryland Democrat says he will oppose Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General saying that he is trouble by his record on voting rights and the rights of women, minorities and the LGBT community.

He also said he did not believe that Sessions would provide an independent check on Trump’s push to bar Muslims from coming into the country.

Maryland’s Junior Senator said he opposed Chris Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The annual Polar Bear Plunge benefiting Special Olympics Maryland has raised over $480,000 with three weeks to go until the plunge.

In a statement, organizers said that more than 10,000 people are expected to jump into the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay on Jan. 28 as part of the fundraiser.

This year is the 21st annual plunge, which is hosted by the Maryland State Police.

Participants raise at least $75 each to plunge into the water at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A new report finds water clarity in the Chesapeake Bay is the best it's been in decades, and native rockfish, oyster and blue crab populations are rebounding as the overall health of the nation's largest estuary improves.
 
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's biennial State of the Bay report gave the estuary a C-minus grade, an improvement from a D-plus two years ago. It's the highest score since the first report in 1998.
 

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Not long ago, we learned that water quality in the Chesapeake Bay is improving, thanks to EPA’s pollution diet for states in the Bay’s watershed. But one part of one state—south central Pennsylvania—has lagged behind in reaching its pollution reduction goals, mostly because of fertilizer that runs off farm fields into Bay tributaries.

Now, Pennsylvania, the US Department of Agriculture and the EPA have committed to spend $28 million to accelerate pollution reduction efforts in that region.

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The stakes could be high for Delmarva when it comes to the effects of climate change in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the White House.

The Republican has declared climate change “a hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.

On the peninsula great efforts have gone into plans for dealing with the loss of coastline.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the three states have serious vulnerable areas ranging from the wetlands along the Delaware Bay Shore and the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia’s coastal barrier islands.

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With the closing days of the presidential election coming next week, little has been said by the Democratic or Republican candidates about the health of the Chesapeake Bay. And climate change has barely come to the surface. John Lee prepared this report for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative.

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Maryland's First Congressional District will see incumbent Republican Andy Harris seek a fourth term in this year's election after being swept into office during the Tea Party wave of 2010. His rival is Harford County Democrat Joe Werner who won a surprising victory over former Salisbury Mayor and now council member Jim Ireton. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush caught up with the congressman to talk about the issues and the possibility that Washington could once again see divided government.

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With the general election just days away voters on the Eastern Shore will decide whether they will reelect incumbent Republican congressman Andy Harris or go with his Democratic Challenger Joe Werner. The Democrat won a surprise victory in the primary, but his odds against the incumbent are long. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush spoke with the challenger about national issues as well as those facing the First District.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - An environmental sciences professor says eating less meat can help the Chesapeake Bay.

James Galloway of the University of Virginia tells the Daily Press that farm animal waste is a big part of the nitrogen runoff that depletes oxygen in the bay.

Galloway says eating one-third less meat from cows, pigs and chickens in the watershed could make the difference. He says Americans typically consume 30 percent more protein than they need. 

Angela Byrd

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Scientists say they will soon help Chesapeake Bay fisherman by mapping the water's low-oxygen dead zones in real time.

Poor oxygen levels often force fish out of the bay's cool bottom waters. William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science says it will show anglers where the fish may have gone.

The university says it's using experimental computer models to map and forecast the bay's dead zones. The oxygen-poor areas are created when excess nitrogen from fertilizers and wastewater flow into the water and boost the growth of algae.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - The levels of dissolved oxygen within the Chesapeake Bay plummeted in July after a promising start to the summer.

The Baltimore Sun reports that state environmental officials are blaming a recent heat wave for the decline since warm water holds less oxygen than cold water.

The Department of Natural Resources wrote in a statement that a lack of winds also prevented surface oxygen from mixing with bottom waters to increase the oxygen levels.

Angela Byrd

FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) - Researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have found a surprising explanation for the improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay: cleaner air.

Professor Keith Eshleman (ESH'-el-men) in the center's Frostburg office said in a statement Tuesday that his team found nearly universal improvement in water quality since 1986 across the Upper Potomac River Basin. The area includes parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Maryland panel has been formed to study ways to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution that comes by way of the Conowingo Dam.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the multi-agency work group Thursday.

The Hogan administration announced it will be looking to determine whether dredging the dam and re-use of dredged materials can be done efficiently.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

BALTIMORE (AP) - Officials say there is a smaller than normal "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as clearer water, more bay grasses and an increase in the crab population.

According to a joint forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, the bay's low-oxygen dead zone is expected to be 1.58 cubic miles this year. That's about 10 percent less than the long-term average of 1.8 cubic miles dating from 1985.

Don Rush

EDGEWATER, Md. (AP) - Authorities say they've found the body of a man who jumped from a boat into the South River to retrieve his hat and didn't resurface.

Maryland Natural Resources Police identified the man Sunday as 47-year-old Joseph Vincent Rossi of Edgewater.

Don Rush

WINGATE, Md. (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says a boat that sank in the Chesapeake Bay - sparking the emergency rescue of two dozen passengers including schoolchildren - was in a prohibited area.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class David Marin said by telephone that the boat was in an off-limits area when a distress call went out Wednesday evening. Authorities say boat and helicopter crews were launched but a commercial boat arrived, rescued everyone and took them to shore.

Marin said the area was off-limits because of obstructions in the water.

Angela Byrd

BALTIMORE (AP) - A report by environmental scientists says the health of the Chesapeake Bay has improved as efforts to reduce runoff from land continue.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science released the report Tuesday. The center says improvements in 2015 in water quality, chlorphyll and nitrogen levels contributed to a resurgence in aquatic grasses.

One indicator that declined was total phosphorus, excess quantities of which can lead to algae blooms.

The numbers of striped bass held steady, blue crab and bay anchovy improved.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The results of a survey of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population suggest a good summer for local crabs.
 
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says its annual dredge survey in Maryland and Virginia shows there are more than 550 million blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, the fourth highest level in two decades.
 
That number is a 35 percent increase in the crab population compared with last year, which was a 38 percent increase over 2014's results.
 
Officials credit favorable weather and previous harvest restrictions.
 

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CAPE CHARLES, Va. (AP) - The Coast Guard says it rescued four people from a disabled sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay, three miles west of Cape Charles, Virginia.

No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard says in a news release that it received a report Friday evening that a sailboat with two men and two women aboard had been disabled because of stormy weather. A 25-foot response boat launched from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles and towed the sailboat back to shore.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has turned back a challenge by the American Farm Bureau Federation and others to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

The Farm Bureau claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in efforts to clean up the Bay and its tributaries.

The high court’s decision let’s stand lower court panel’s ruling that the EPA did not exceed it authority.  

The Farm Bureau and the National Association of Homebuilders among others had argued that the Blueprint trampled on state authority in setting clean up goals for the Bay.

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