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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

Appalachian Trail quiz

Chances are that if you or your family like to hike, you have already walked on part of the Appalachian Trail. Hikes can last anywhere from half a day to a multi-day backpacking trip. Then there are the thru-hikers: Hardy souls/soles who trek the trail’s entire length in one journey. Here…

Get to know the Bay better during Chesapeake Awareness Week

In 2016, the legislatures of each of the Chesapeake Bay watershed commonwealths and states designated the second week of June as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. This designation urges all Bay residents “to commemorate the week with events, activities and educational programs designed to raise…

Fish, seafood distributors tipping the scales in favor of safety

J. J. McDonnell & Co., Inc. processes thousands of pounds of fish a day: lobster trucked to its Howard County headquarters from Maine, crabs plucked from Tangier Sound, farmed oysters from Southern Maryland and tuna flown in from Africa. They’re different species, but their requirements…

Baltimore harbor safer for swimming in places, but still badly degraded

The outer reaches of Baltimore’s harbor were somewhat safer to swim in last year, but water quality overall in the harbor and the streams that feed into it continues to post failing or near-failing grades, according to the latest annual assessment. The Healthy Harbor campaign's report…

Localities not buying into nutrient trading – for now

Despite being touted as a less costly approach to curbing stormwater pollution, nutrient trading has yet to catch on among Chesapeake Bay localities. A recent report by the World Resources Institute and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation details the hurdles that are keeping the market-based approach…

Migratory birds shore up appetites on horseshoe crab eggs

Timing is everything. Each spring, shorebirds migrate from wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in the Arctic. These birds have some of the longest migrations known. Delaware Bay is the prime stopover site and the birds’ stop coincides with horseshoe crab spawning.…

Get on board for stand-up paddling

Stand-up paddle boarding came to the Chesapeake Bay region about seven years ago and shows no signs of waning. The sport is growing in popularity: There are paddle board races, paddle board team-building activities, paddle board yoga, paddle board youth camps and even a cool nickname for the sport…

Abandoning sanctuaries means giving up on oyster restoration

The views expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal. Maryland established its Oyster Advisory Commission in the latter half of 2007 to engage a wide range of interested people to consider strategies for bringing back a robust native oyster population in the…

Fishery managers weighing cuts in Bay crab harvest

Chesapeake Bay crabbers will likely face some harvest restriction this season to protect future generations of the iconic crustacean, a move managers say is necessary because of the low population of juveniles. Fishery managers for Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission…

Pennsylvania drinking water systems among nation’s worst violators, report finds

Millions of people in the Bay watershed and nationwide are drinking water from systems that have violated federal Safe Drinking Water standards, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Pennsylvania had the worst performance in the Bay region, and the third highest number of total…

Students bent on making hellbender PA’s state amphibian

With its huge, flat head and slimy skin, the Eastern hellbender won’t win any beauty contests. It’s picked up such unflattering nicknames as “snot otter” and “old lasagna sides.” But because the rarely seen giant salamander can only live in the most pristine…

Grackles’ aggressive behavior not helping its survival – a lesson?

Keeping the backyard bird feeders full is a relatively easy but endless task. Today’s ravenous flock of big black birds was making sure that the task was repeated frequently. They were gobbling down all manner of seeds, both from the feeder perches and the ground. They were keeping the usual…

Steamboats engineered change along the Chesapeake

Inside the foyer of the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, VA, 200 small white lights illuminate a map of the Chesapeake Bay. Together, they trace a constellation along the estuary’s shorelines, meandering up its rivers and marking ports of call for the large fleet of steamships that…

EPA letter to Bay states spells out cleanup expectations

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of articles examining issues related to the Bay Program’s “Midpoint Assessment” of Chesapeake cleanup efforts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has high expectations for Bay cleanup efforts in the coming years.…

We must turn instant gratification into burning desire for clean Bay

The views expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal. The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, or 4.5 eons. Of that time, humans have only been around for about 200,000 years, with civilization only beginning about 6,000 years ago and industrialization, a little…

Dominion reconsidering coal ash storage plans in VA

Earlier this year, it seemed inevitable that Dominion Virginia Power would be permanently storing coal ash underground at a power station near the Potomac River. The site is the first of four along Chesapeake Bay tributaries where the utility is looking to entomb the accumulated residue from…

Bay health gained slightly in 2016, assessment finds

The Chesapeake Bay’s ecological health improved slightly last year, according to a new assessment, with three of the estuary’s key fish populations in their best shape in decades. For the fifth straight year, the Bay’s condition in 2016 earned a C grade on the annual report…

Can you go the distance on this quiz?

A major portion of one of the world’s most famous hiking paths, the Appalachian Trail, passes through states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. How much do you know about the AT in general, and its route in the Bay states in particular? Answers are below. 1. Approximately how many people…

Sea Grant, which sustains more than 20,000 marine jobs, faces uncertain future

Once a month, Matt Parker and Suzanne Bricker drive along Penny Lane through a Southern Maryland forest until it dead-ends at the Chesapeake Bay. Then, they pull on their waders and hop into a skiff to maneuver out to aquaculture cages, where they grab samples of water and the oysters taking it…

Spring stroll along the Susquehanna

The gushing water of Mill Creek Falls, recharged by recent rain, announced the presence of the falls before I could see them. As the forest gave way to the streambed, I found a series of cascades tumbling through the woods along the lower Susquehanna River in York County, PA — an area known…

Science saved the day for crabs, but a hero’s battles are never over

The views expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal. Dear Governor Hogan, Please watch the Bay Journal’s recent film, Beautiful Swimmers Revisited. It celebrates a great Chesapeake success story, to which you seem dedicated to writing a bad new ending.…

Inspectors find most PA farms, while not all in compliance, are trying

On the day of the inspection of the 350 acres he farms, Jay M. Diller drove his skid loader from the barn to meet staff from the district conservation office. The farmer pulled out large files from his desk and got ready. “Nobody likes inspections,” said Diller, as he produced plans…

Neighbors don’t see eye-to-eye on viewshed, oyster leases

Tranquility Farm Lane, in St. Mary’s County, is tucked away from the bustle of the nearby naval base and ubiquitous strip malls. But the Patuxent River tributaries surrounding the dirt roads and cow pastures have been anything but quiet as an oyster war between shellfish farmers and…

Just when the Chesapeake news starting getting good…

Rarely has the news about the Bay been so starkly mixed. On the one hand, underwater grasses — one of the most closely watched indicators of Bay health — have hit record levels. Blue crabs also appear to have clearly bounced back from the persistent low-levels that had become the norm…

Assertions about menhaden population were a bit fishy

In his recent Bay Journal op-ed, Don’t let menhaden become a case of could have, should have, would have, March 2017, Bill Bartlett claims that menhaden are both scarce and unregulated in the Chesapeake Bay. Neither assertion is true according to the latest and best science on menhaden.…

Underwater grasses up 8%; acreage is highest in decades

Underwater grasses, one of the most closely watched indicators of Chesapeake Bay health, surged to the highest levels seen in decades, according to survey results for 2016. This is the second straight year that grasses have set a record. Nearly 100,000 acres of the Bay’s and its tidal…

Virginia faulted for handling of cattle pollution in Shenandoah

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is treasured for its natural beauty, its mountains and rivers, and its recreational opportunities. The Valley is also home to hundreds of farms, some of them dating back to colonial days, where cattle are the primary livestock. But those cows are a major source…

Dark skies shed light on Shenandoah stars

Astronomers say that the Milky Way — that thick swath of stars that stretches across the dark night sky — isn’t visible for 80 percent of the people who live in North America. For many, the bright city lights cause the beauty overhead to disappear. If you live in a…

SAV Olympics: Foreign embassies seek laurels for growing grasses for Bay

Blair Blanchette was halfway through her demonstration on growing underwater grasses indoors when she stopped midsentence, assessing her audience. “I’m getting faces from everyone that say, ‘This isn’t gonna work,’” said Blanchette, the Virginia grass-roots…

Parking lot project catches the eye as well as stormwater

An earthquake, and then a flood, forced officials to repair a parking lot retaining wall in hilly Ellicott City, MD. The wall, already weakened by the magnitude 5.8 quake that shook the East Coast in 2011, was damaged a month later when Tropical Storm Lee took its toll on the historic business…

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