Category Archives: Maryland

Will we ever finally “Save the Bay”?

Chesapeake Bay viewed from Hart-Miller Island
Chesapeake Bay viewed from Hart-Miller Island

The Chesapeake Bay is an amazing and beautiful place.  The Bay covers an area of 4,479 square miles making it the largest estuary in the United States.  It drains over 64,000 square miles with a watershed that stretches from Virginia to New York including 6 states and the District of Columbia.  An estuary is a body of water where fresh and salt water mix creating a unique ecosystem.  The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish, and animals and is home to 29 species of waterfowl.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Chesapeake Bay Watershed

The Bay is also surprisingly shallow.  The average depth is 21 feet, but 25% of the Bay is less than 6 feet deep.  The size of the Bay’s watershed combined with its shallow waters make it particularly susceptible to pollution.  For decades environmentalists have chanted “save the bay!” but the policies implemented by state governments have had mixed results at best.  In 2009 the Chesapeake Bay Foundation graded the health of the Bay as a “D” for the 10th year in a row (source).

So why is the Bay so hard to clean up?  Continue reading Will we ever finally “Save the Bay”?

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Dead tree in the Blackwater wetlands

This winter I had an opportunity to visit the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  The Blackwater watershed contains one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, however, sea level rise, erosion, subsidence, salt water intrusion, polluted runoff, and invasive species have resulted in the loss of over 8,000 acres of marsh (at a rate of 150 acres per year).  The marshes are a great place for viewing wildlife, especially bald eagles, and are used by over 50,000 migratory birds as a stopover during fall migration.

I have to admit that when I visited and looked out at the open water I thought I was looking out on to the Chesapeake Bay.  Only after coming home and looking at a map did I realize how far removed the wetlands are from the bay. Continue reading Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge