Spat-on-Shell, Smart Growth Success, and Sewage Spills
Even though school is out and many of us are thinking more about backyard BBQs, swimming, and summer vacations, there is no shortage of Bay restoration activities happening around Maryland. CBF and our partners are out on the water and in our communities making sure that water quality issues and restoration continues even in the lazy, hazy days of summer.
CBF's Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost. Photo by Nikki Davis.
Oysters, Oysters and More Oysters!
Our oyster restoration program is in full swing right now thanks to many of you who volunteer with the program. A critical part of CBF's oyster restoration effort is our oyster gardening program where Marylanders "foster" baby oysters for a year. Once the oysters have grown up a bit, we take them and plant them onto reefs throughout the Bay. Between a program focused in Baltimore Harbor and elsewhere in Maryland, our oyster gardeners returned a little more than 210,000 oysters this year.
Another important part of our oyster restoration program is "spat-on-shell," where tiny baby oysters (AKA spat) are set on oyster shells to grow and mature. So far this season we have set 25 million spat on shell and then placed these oysters on a reef in the Little Choptank River.
We are also currently working with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) to deploy more than 70 reef balls (some of which will be set with baby oyster spat) in late July on a Tilghman Island Reef. All of these reef balls were constructed through a partnership with CCA and CBF. We provided the reef ball molds, as well as some guidance, and CCA provided the labor in the form of local high school VOTECH/masonry programs throughout the region. Some of the concrete was donated by Lehigh Concrete Company, and the students constructed some good-looking reef balls!
Victory in Charles County
I'm also excited to share some great news from one Southern Maryland county, where common sense, persistence, and the wishes of ordinary residents have won out over the desires of land developers.
On Tuesday, July 12—after five years of deliberations—the Charles County Commissioners adopted big changes to the county's future growth plan to better protect the fragile and treasured Mattawoman Creek, Nanjemoy Creek, and Port Tobacco River, from proposed sprawl development. An earlier draft of the plan would have turned the small village of Bryans Road into a super-sized suburb, increased pressure for a major highway expansion, and would have permitted the bulldozing of thousands of acres of wooded land around the creeks to make way for dense housing developments.
Instead, with the commissioners' actions, the oversized development district will be replaced with a Watershed Conservation District. Extensive areas of forest will be designated as a priority for preservation. And development will be focused in areas suitable for growth, providing better access to transit, shopping, and recreation.
I am extremely grateful to thousands of Charles County residents and CBF members who showed up time and time again at various public meetings to demand a smarter way to grow in the county and who contacted officials. When we win, it is almost always because there are persistent and passionate local citizens who carry the banner for however long the battle lasts.
I also want to thank Commissioners Peter Murphy, Ken Robinson, and Amanda Stewart who listened to the public's overwhelming desire to retain the rural way of life in Charles while reinvigorating existing cities such as Waldorf and La Plata.
They have set an example for counties across the Bay watershed who face constant pressure from land speculators interested in replacing open spaces with subdivisions. Their actions will prevent new sources of pollution from overdevelopment negating all the hard work we've done to reduce pollution in existing communities.
It's time to celebrate—please join us! Charles County Comprehensive Plan Celebration: Sunday, July 31, 1-4 p.m., at Gray's Beach Place, Marbury, MD, 20658. Food, soft drinks, and fun! Please RSVP to CCCPCelebration@gmail.com.
Action Needed in Baltimore
We are going to need similar leadership from Baltimore City's elected officials, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to turn Baltimore City's poor water quality around. Baltimore City continues to be plagued with an 18th century problem—raw sewage leaking from its pipes and contaminating local waters and communities. The problem gets even worse during the heavy rains that we see in the summer months.
The City, MDE, and EPA have just agreed to a new plan (a modified Consent Decree) that is supposed to address this problem once and for all. CBF is reviewing this latest proposal and encourages residents of Baltimore and others to join us on July 21 for a Town Hall Meeting to discuss this latest plan and what it means for cleaner water in local waters, Baltimore Harbor, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
The meeting will be held at Church in the Square, 1000 S. Ellwood Ave., Canton from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Click here to RSVP to this important meeting. To see real results from this revised plan we will need the same persistence, involvement, and political support that brought success in Charles County.
Thank you for standing up for clean water across Maryland. Click here to find out how else you can get involved.
Maryland Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation