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Bay Journal

Bay Journal is published by Chesapeake Media Service to inform the public about issues and events that affect the Chesapeake Bay. With a print circulation of 50,000, the Bay Journal is published monthly except for midsummer and midwinter and is distributed free of charge. To be added to the mailing list, fill out the online subscription form. Bundles of the Bay Journal are also available for distribution.

Below are some recent stories from Bay Journal.

Latest Issue

Spot waterfowl from a warm car at Merkle sanctuary

Nothing says winter like a V-shaped formation of Canada geese winging across a steely sky, their honking carried on a chilly breeze. Cold weather brings tens of thousands of geese, migratory ducks and other waterfowl to the Chesapeake Bay region as the birds seek warmer (or at least less frigid)…

Pepco agrees to pay $1.6 million penalty, curb pollution of Anacostia River

Potomac Electric Power Co. has agreed to pay a $1.6 million penalty and pledged to take steps to reduce toxic contamination of the Anacostia River via storm runoff from a company service center in the District of Columbia, federal officials have announced. The U.S. Justice Department and the…

Rusty patched bumble bee’s buzz fading

The buzz is not good for the rusty patched bumble bee. Once common across more than half of the United States, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed, this wild pollinator is now so rarely seen that it’s believed to be on the brink of extinction. Distinguishable from other black and yellow…

Plan floated for Mallows Bay national marine sanctuary

Mallows Bay on the Potomac River has been proposed as a national marine sanctuary, the first in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and now the public has a chance to comment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft plan for protecting a portion of the Potomac 40 miles…

Bay’s elusive bobcats are more likely to be heard than seen

Few Americans have seen the shy and elusive bobcat (Lynx rufus). And yours truly is no exception. Though the most widely distributed wild cat in North America, the bobcat is not commonly seen as it is mostly nocturnal and avoids developed areas with dense human populations. The bobcat is the…

Volunteer pilots offer environmentalists an eye in the sky

Jeremy Jacobsohn guided his Piper Arrow down a runway at Lee Airport toward a kaleidoscope of fall color in the woods ahead. As the plane ascended, leaving suburban Edgewater behind, the houses became tiny dots and the Chesapeake Bay came slowly into view. “This is the roller coaster…

Cardin voices “major concerns” about Trump’s choice to run EPA

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin said Tuesday that he has “major concerns” about President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after quizzing him about his attitudes towards federal enforcement of the Chesapeake Bay pollution diet, climate change,…

Did acceleration of building ditches dig the grave for Blackwater’s marshes?

“Don’t stand up while we’re moving. If we come to a sudden stop, we could lose you.” Ray Paterra, visitor services manager of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, had just given us lifejackets, earmuffs and a safety briefing for the airboat. As we took off on the Little…

Funding common theme as Bay states confront 2017 environmental issues

Fracking, renewable energy, sewage overflows, pollution trading, oysters, cownose rays. These contentious topics, and more — some with implications for the health of the Chesapeake Bay — awaited legislators in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia as they returned to work in January.…

Skunk cabbage rules the winter wetlands

The annual “swamp stomp” at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a wet, midwinter hike along the forested edge of the Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County, MD. For hike leader and sanctuary volunteer Siobhan Percey, it’s a pilgrimage of love — for the quirky, cunning and…

Baltimore group can see the urban forests amid the trees

With apologies to Robert Frost, these woods in Northeast Baltimore are lovely and dark, if not so deep. Towering oaks screen out the sun, while fallen leaves carpet the ground of this sylvan oasis in the Chesapeake Bay region’s second largest city. A faded sign on the street corner…

Bay earns C-minus in latest report card on its health

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has taken the pulse again of the nation’s largest estuary, and found its health has improved a bit, though it’s still far from out of the woods. The Annapolis-based environmental group released its latest “State of the Bay” report on…

Hogan proposes legislation on renewable energy, pollution trading

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan this week announced an environmental agenda for the upcoming General Assembly session that asks lawmakers to approve new spending on clean energy, but also seeks to divert $10 million raised for sewage-treatment plant upgrades to instead jump-start the state’s…

Maryland fracking rules put on hold, setting stage for legislative debate

A group of Maryland lawmakers has put on hold the Hogan administration’s plan for regulating “fracking” for natural gas in the state, setting the stage for a debate in Annapolis early next year over whether to permanently ban the hotly disputed drilling practice. In a letter…

Maryland still mulling cownose ray bowfishing limits

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources still wants to hear from the public on how it should manage cownose rays, a migratory species that bowhunters enjoy killing for sport and conservationists wish to save because of their beauty and importance to the ecosystem. The department has put a…

Gadwalls, ducks show that birds of many feathers can flock together

Opalescent skies brightened under the rising sun. A soft wind ruffled the waves lapping the cove, which was alive with countless waterfowl. The birds were waking, filling the morning sky with a cacophony of honks and quacks, along with softer whistles and burbles. There were almost too many to…

Prepare to be ticked off when messing with biodiversity

Protecting the environment is usually easier to the extent we can link it to human health concerns. The tough federal Clean Air Act, for example, has been driving the Chesapeake Bay cleanup by reducing nitrogen pollution from dirty air; but the real impetus for the law is the U.S. Environmental…

Derelict pots killing 3.3 million crabs annually in the Bay

When Virginia closed its winter dredge fishery in 2008, waterman Clay Justis turned his attention from catching crabs that season to collecting the gear that captures them. He was one of several watermen hired under a program that taught them to use sonar to find and remove lost and abandoned…

Patuxent Research Refuge serves humans, flora and fauna

The Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, MD, is a wonderful surprise, a 12,841-acre nature preserve tucked between two major cities that is a world unto itself. A turn or two off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway puts visitors on Scarlet Tanager Loop, a tree-lined winding road that leads through…

Wish list!

It’s the time of year when many of us make wish lists about what we would like to find under our trees. Here are some Chesapeake Bay watershed creatures, and lists of what they might want to find in or under a tree as well as under water or the ground. Can you match each animal to its list?…

To make Chesapeake great again, red & blue must strive for green

All of us awoke on Nov. 9 to some unexpected feelings. Whether you felt joy or fear, the future seemed a bit more uncertain. That uncertainty extends to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed as well. For nearly 50 years, the environmental community has been involved in a…

Many Pennsylvania farmers have stepped up to curb pollution, survey finds

For several years, regulators have been sounding the alarm about Pennsylvania agriculture’s lagging pace in meeting its Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals. For nearly as long, the farmers have been telling the government that they have been putting in a lot of pollution-controlling practices, but…

Alexandria’s plan to deal with sewage overflows draws criticism

Whenever it rains hard in Alexandria, VA, millions of gallons of sewage-fouled stormwater pour untreated from the city’s aged, overwhelmed sewer system into the Potomac River and its tributaries. It’s a problem caused by centuries-old infrastructure that the city has been studying…

Loudoun County state park new but not unknown

Robert and Dee Leggett wanted to buy a little natural land in Virginia, to preserve it and provide a local campground for Boy Scouts. But, in 1998, they ended up with closer to 900 acres of deep woods, babbling brooks, wildflower meadows and historic farmsteads after finding land that might be…

Maryland’s shoreline protections keep getting nibbled away

Maryland’s Critical Area law was part of a revolutionary suite of environmental protections passed in the wave of enthusiasm to save the Chesapeake Bay that followed the 1983 launch of the federal-state restoration effort. . The idea was to protect water quality and waterfront wildlife…

DuPont agrees to pay $50 million to restore contaminated Virginia rivers

Chemical giant DuPont has agreed to pay more than $50 million to deal with mercury contamination of two Virginia rivers caused by the company’s one-time operations in Waynesboro, federal and state officials announced Thursday. The Justice and Interior departments and the Commonwealth of…

Oyster reef restoration resumes in Tred Avon River

Oyster reef construction has resumed in the Tred Avon River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore after watermen successfully lobbied for a delay last winter. But how much more restoration work occurs this winter in the contentious oyster sanctuary — and with what material — remains to be…

First Day hikes

Expect a rustling in the woods across the Chesapeake Bay region on Jan. 1. Along with shuffling in the sand and, depending on the weather, some sloshing in the snow. That’s because more than 10,000 people will likely be out for a First Day Hike at state parks in Maryland, Pennsylvania and…

Eden sprouts from VA church’s gardens

A little bit of Eden grows in South Richmond. That’s the name members of the Second Baptist Church have given to the community garden they started last spring beside their building. That quarter-acre patch of ground has yielded a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables through summer and…

Mistletoe’s berry special for humans and birds alike

Mistletoe has been part of many European cultures and used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. When these peoples migrated to the New World, many brought their practices with them. Mistletoe is still gathered for holiday decorations. This evergreen does not grow in soil but on the tops…

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