Tag Archives: virginia

Privatizing Environmental Cleanup “Ripe for Fraud?”  Seriously? 

In a recent news story about the stalled Maryland nutrient program which is showing little outcome since 2008, The Baltimore Sun points up some of the concerns of environmentalists and other opponents of nutrient trading, settling on a lack of scientific verification and general lack of interest by landowners in the voluntary state run program.  Among the claims in the story are fears that ‘privatizing environmental cleanup is ripe for fraud.’

All this comes as neighboring Virginia’s pollution trading program moves ahead and is touted for its “innovative market-based approach” to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.  >Read More

http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/green/blog/bal-nutrient-pollution-trading-in-limbo-in-maryland-as-it-expands-in-virginia-20141216-story.html#page%3D1&page=1

From the Field Today – A Mantis Selfie

proc praying MantisTHI

We couldn’t resist posting this selfie of a THI field technician and a Mantis.  The creature was safely returned its habitat during field assessment work on this project site in Virginia.  More than 20 species of Mantis are native to the United States, including the common Carolina Mantis, with only one native to Canada. Two species (the Chinese Mantis and the European Mantis) were deliberately introduced to serve as pest control for agriculture, and have spread widely in both countries.

 

“Teeth, Plus Slime, Plus Torque, Equals Trouble”

In “Behind the Snakehead Legend” Reuters photographer Gary Cameron describes both in words and beautiful images what it’s like to capture and study the dreaded northern snakehead.  Snakeheads are slimy, toothy, exotic fish, projected to devour native fish, as they air-gulp and slither their way  from waterway to waterway.

Out on a Virginia Department of Game and Inland fisheries biologists “stunboat” for a day of chasing, capturing, studying, and releasing the northern snakehead, Cameron finds out snakeheads might not be so bad – especially baked with a little ginger and soy sauce.

 View the slideshow: http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTX1061T#a=1

Read the photographer’s blog account: http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2013/05/30/behind-the-snakehead-legend/

Dirty Water Means No Dips in the Potomac for D.C. Residents

During the hot, sultry, humidity-laced days of summer in Washington, D.C., scores of residents can be seen on the Potomac River.  What most of them don’t know is that the 45 miles of the Potomac watershed that is in the District is considered so polluted that swimming in it poses risks of illness and disease, and is prohibited. 

Even after decades and millions of dollars of sewer and storm drainage upgrades, the Potomac River still poses a serious health hazard.  During rainstorms, these systems commonly overflow into the Potomac and the neighboring Anacostia River.  Besides sewage, hazardous substances, like motor oil, animal waste and fertilizers are continuously washed into the waterways largely due to poor natural filters and inadequate stream buffers. 

The simple measure of “clean” water under the federal government’s Clean Water Act, is a “swimmable” river, lake or stream.  According to a recent report from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, half of the Commonwealth’s assessed river miles are deemed unsafe for swimming, and 43 percent of assessed lake acres are impaired for aquatic life.

While much progress has been made, and continues to be made to address these issues, the ban on swimming in the Potomac provides a stark reminder of how far we still need to go to achieve clean, swimmable waters in our country. 

To read more about the Potomac River issue, please see:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/dirty-water-puts-washingtons-stretch-of-the-potomac-river-off-limits-to-swimmers/2012/06/25/gJQAw3eW2V_story.html?hpid=z4

Author Doug Pickford of Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI), an environmental planner with 20 years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area, follows events in the bay watershed as the tide turns from voluntary to mandatory for bay cleanup regulations and protections.   Doug’s blog series for THI will document what is likely the largest and most significant watershed clean up effort in the history of the U.S., and offer his insights into some practical ways to assist the health of this magnificent natural resource.

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Groups Clash Over Nutrient Trading

A recent article in the Washington Posts highlights a wedge that is growing between environmental groups working to  clean-up the Chesapeake Bay.  Environmental groups are clashing over the inclusion of nutrient trading in the EPA’s comprehensive plan to reduce pollution in the bay.  Threats of lawsuits and pulled funding could derail the plan.

The Washington Post reports about the plan, “If it unravels because of a legal challenge, or lack of support from the states charged with implementing the cleanup, it might take 10 years to draft another plan to stop millions of tons of pollution from flowing into the bay, according to the [Chesapeake Bay] foundation.”

Under a nutrient trading program, farmers who exceed pollution reduction goals set by the EPA would receive credits they could sell to corporations such as coal-fired power plants that fail to reach their own reduction goals.

In theory, the program would help farmers pay for expensive crop covers and buffers to soak up rain. Storm runoff from farms is a major problem because it carries nitrogen from fertilizers and phosphorus from animal waste into streams and rivers that flow to the bay.

Riverkeeper group members and others say that nutrient trading is a shell game that will allow more pollution to creep into the bay. They say that because of lax farm regulations in bay watershed states — Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York — the EPA would have no sure way of knowing whether farmers have met pollution reduction goals.

The most ardent backers of the EPA’s aggressive new pollution diet — the Choose Clean Water Coalition of 230 groups, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council — view the pollution diet as the Chesapeake’s last hope. 

Such a splinter argument between environmental groups could be a major threat to years of limited progress in the bay clean-up effort.

Read the full story at the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/chesapeake-bay-cleanup-groups-are-at-odds/2012/04/29/gIQAf3q5pT_story.html

 Author Doug Pickford of Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI), an environmental planner with 20 years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area, follows events in the bay watershed as the tide turns from voluntary to mandatory for bay cleanup regulations and protections.   Doug’s blog series for THI will document what is likely the largest and most significant watershed clean up effort in the history of the U.S., and offer his insights into some practical ways to assist the health of this magnificent natural resource

 

The Little Fish with a Big Impact – Atlantic Menhaden Decline Concerns Many

If you like fish, or even steak or chicken, you’ve likely eaten something that has consumed an Atlantic menhaden.  These smallish, oily and bony fish are one of the critical links of the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay food chains. 

Menhaden feed the oceans, but they are also harvested by the ton, ground up, and added to livestock and aquaculture feeds.  And their numbers are in decline; maybe as a result of overfishing , or a decline in water quality, or both.

The Washington Post recently ran an informative article on the importance and controversies surrounding the harvests and conservation of this critical fish. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/as-an-essential-atlantic-fish-declines-experts-debate-course/2011/07/29/gIQAC3vNmI_story.html.

Why though, would a river and wetland restoration company have an interest in what has been called the“most important fish in the ocean?”  Barry Commoner, one of the pioneers in ecosystem revitalization put it best when he noted that everything is connected to everything else.”  The decline of the menhaden is a relevant example for Commoner’s four laws of ecology, as written in The Closing Circle in 1971.  And we should all have an interest int hese laws. The four laws are:

1. Everything is connected to everything else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.

As the Atlantic menhaden go, so do numerous other species, including popular sport and eating fish as the rockfish (Striped Bass), bluefish, swordfish, king mackeral, tuna and wildlife such as loons, and other predatory shore birds like eagles and osprey.  Many of these species populate the tidal streams, rivers and riparian areas in the Chesapeake Bay region.  We understand and embrace the philosophy that “everything is connected to everything else.” 

2. Everything must go somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.

According to biologists, menhaden feed on the phytoplankton that “contribute to algae blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones” that have become epically large in the Chesapeake Bay.  It has been documented that these “dead zones” are directly attributed to nutrient overloads in the Bay.  THI, through its ecosystem-based, holistic planning philosophy, advocates for a reduction in the amount of nutrient and sediment runoff entering the Bay. 

3. Nature knows best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system.”

THI’s philosophy is to take a light-handed approach to the restoration of aquatic ecosystems.  We like to say “we help nature help herself.” Nature knows best, but we must remove or mitigate the disturbances that impact these systems, while sometimes giving nature a little boost toward renewal and repair.

4. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.

There might be a short-term free lunch if the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission doesn’t act properly.  But the bill will come, eventually. According to the Washington Post, the Omega Protein corporation accounts for 80 percent of all menhaden harvests.  The other 20 percent are small, local fishermen who sell their catch for sport fishing bait. 

 According to the Post, “thirteen coastal states, from Maine to Florida under the commission’s jurisdiction have banned Omega Protein from harvesting menhaden in state waters with its huge ships and large purse seine nets. Only Virginia allows thecompany full access to its waters in the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay. North Carolina gives very limited access. Virginia also stands alone in managing its menhaden fishery from an unusual place,the state General Assembly.” 

Virginia’s reluctance to restrict the menhaden harvest may have something to do with the location of Omega Protein’s largest menhaden processing plant -Virginia.

Will the Chesapeake Bay change from a “useful to useless form?”  There are many dedicated, impassioned individuals, organizations and companies that are working to prevent such an outcome.  As we move forward in our efforts to restore the Bay, may we all keep environmentalist Aldo Leopold’s succinct observation in mind. Leopold, the author of “A Sand County Almanac” wrote, “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” That would include even the small, oily menhaden.

Author Doug Pickford of Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI), an environmental planner with 20 years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area, follows events in the bay watershed as the tide turns from voluntary to mandatory for bay cleanup regulations and protections.   Doug’s blog series for THI will document what is likely the largest and most significant watershed clean up effort in the history of the U.S., and offer his insights into some practical ways to assist the health of this magnificent natural resource.