Total Eclipse: Maryland Prepares to See Some of It

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One of the most anticipated celestial events of our time happens August 21 when the moon passes between the earth and sun, creating a total eclipse visible through a large swath of the United States. Although Maryland is not in the path of totality, skies will darken that afternoon and there will be plenty of opportunity to experience a true wonder of the natural world.

Many people from around the globe are traveling to various points along the path of the moon’s shadow, which will run from Oregon to South Carolina, to see the total eclipse. Maryland will experience a partial eclipse that will obscure about 80 percent of sun throughout the state at peak.

The exact times for this eclipse may vary within a few minutes depending on location, according to Maryland Geological Survey Director Richard Ortt. The eclipse will occur over Maryland at these times:

Western Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:12 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:38 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 3:57 p.m.

Central Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:18 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:43 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:02 p.m.

Coastal Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:22 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:47 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:05 p.m.

The only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, do not provide adequate protection. Viewers must be sure the glasses they use are CE and ISO certified for direct sun viewing.

“For anyone who wishes to view the eclipse, safety precautions must be taken to prevent the sun’s harmful rays from causing severe eye damage,” Ortt said.

Observations of the eclipse’s effects aren’t limited to the sky. Maryland’s coastal areas and the bay will experience a higher-than-normal “perigian spring tide,” when the gravitational pull of both the moon and sun are at their strongest due to their alignment with earth.

Also, biologists have noted during a total or partial solar eclipse, fish react to both the falling air temperatures and decrease of light. Fooled into thinking the sun has set, some species have been observed heading to deeper water. For the duration of the eclipse, nocturnal fish may become more active while daytime fish become less active. Similar impact may be found on other wildlife as well.

“Anyone who plans spending the eclipse on the water may have a rare opportunity to view this impact on aquatic species,” said Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer.

Maryland’s public lands provide some ideal viewing locations. The Maryland Park Service is offering various events around the state, including:

– Assateague State Park will host an exhibit at the Nature Nook to include information and viewing glasses for lending use.

– The Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park will be monitoring temperature, bird song and species shifting. The center will also have viewing glasses on hand.

– New Germany State Park will have glasses on handand host a guided discussion.

– North Point State Park offers visitors a short hike through the Black Marsh Wildlands and stunning views of the eclipse on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Preregistration is required by emailing andrea.townsley-sapp@maryland.gov.

– Rocky Gap State Park offers a free, family-friendly walk along the Lakeside Loop Trail, offering scenic views of Lake Habeeb during the eclipse. The 45-minute hike begins at 2 p.m. Visitors should arrive early to check in at the Camp Office and then meet at the Nature Center. Viewing glasses will be provided while supplies last.

– Tuckahoe State Park will hold a free solar eclipse party at the ballfield in the Cherry Lane Campground area from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will include themed crafts, music, snacks and a limited supply of viewing glasses.

“We’re expecting a lot of people to enjoy our beautiful public lands, guided by expert staff, as ideal places to experience the eclipse,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina.

Events are weather-dependent and capacity is limited in some parks, so visitors should check with their park of choice before leaving home.

From South of Left Field: Shaking the Ground by Jimmie Galbreath

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Lets pick up where ‘Definite Problems’ left off last week. From the chart in ‘Definite Problems’ over the last 30 years the bottom 80% of us have experienced continuingly falling income. This decline has occurred under both the Democrats and Republicans; the D-R Axis or DRAxis. Finally re-electing the DRAxis or doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a good definition of insanity.

If you are like me the idea of being in numerous mass protests waving signs or trying to run for office is too overwhelming. Leading a political charge is just not my cup of tea, although I am anxious to vote for it. Right now it seems all the new energy is out protesting after the elections are over. This ‘after the fact’ burst of activity makes a big splash and feels good for those engaged in it, but the real power lies in what befalls down the road at the polls. So how do we take the DRAxis out behind the woodshed?

Let’s discuss what needs to happen around the backside of the woodshed. Our current existing gaggle of miscreants lives for the financial support and the wealth that they get by selling their elected power. The key words here are ‘elected power.’ As long as we can be lured into voting the DRAxis by slick media and PAC ads, then we have no power. If we don’t vote at all, we have no power. The only way to take the DRAxis behind the woodshed would be large numbers of us refusing to vote for DRAxis candidates. This approach would have a dramatic impact. Chaos would ensue even greater than the Tea Party in the Republican henhouse. The more incumbents toppled, and the more people coming in from outside the DRAxis, the harder it would be for money to get what it wants. The DRAxis would fight back of course, and there would be plenty of stalemates and raging in the press. Like any path to real reform, it would take time, stubbornness, and pain. Is anyone salivating at the thought of this fight like I am?

It is true that the fundamental structure of our Government as laid down by the Founding Fathers will always resolve itself into a two party system. There is nothing about the structure that prevents new parties from gaining power and struggling with the two parties we already have.

At least one of the existing parties has to go! The internal structure of the DRAxis has proven itself highly capable of smothering any effort at internal reform. What will not bend must be broken.

Behind the real woodshed, there will be no votes for anyone with an (R) or (D) behind their names. It doesn’t matter if the new candidates are wing-nuts as long as they are not DRAxis. Until we pave the road outside of DRAxis with votes, no quality people or parties are going to be out there for us. Set your jaw, keep casting the votes, and in time better candidates will come. Keep doing this until they do.

The thing to remember is that wing-nut laws and tax codes can be reversed and failed policies overturned. Don’t let the fear of them stop you from paving a new path for new candidates and new parties. Until we are willing to provide a path to office for better candidates, there will be no better candidates. DRAxis will not change, we must. This is especially important for those who have stopped voting. Find your rage, turn your disillusionment into rage if you need too. Don’t wait for others. Pull the lever! Fire the shot! Keep doing it!

If there are only DRAxis candidates then utterly reject the incumbent. DRAxis uses polished spin doctors to sell these people, so reject every effort to paint them as being for you. If they were, we wouldn’t need to do this. Thirty years of data does not lie! Go to the primary of your choice and fire the first shot, it is the only bullet we have in this fight. Go to the general and fire another! As an example for us here in the First District

I currently have my hopes for Ben Jealous for Governor and Michael Pullen for The House of Representatives. I happen to personally know both and trust them. Their choice to run within DRAxis is unfortunate, but like Bernie Sanders, the current landscape drives them into the DRAxis meat grinder where money and tremendous pressure has successfully co-opted so many well-meaning people before. My choice will be very hard if a non-DRAxis candidate pops up, but the road to reform must be paved with votes to defeat the DRAxis. Nothing less will do. Good people like Ben and Mike who want to support us don’t see another path because we have not been paving another path with votes.

The choice I face will be faced by a lot of us. DRAxis will not reverse our falling standard of living because they are supported, elected, and ultimately paid by the wealth. It is our own fault that this has happened. We let them buy our votes with empty promises and slick advertising.

The DRAxis committees, DNC and RNC, are funded by the wealthy. They will continue to support the wealthy gathering ever greater income at our expense. Don’t let poverty and want swallow us slowly. Don’t turn away from those already swallowed, because if this decline is not reversed, it will swallow us all.

Let’s keep taking the trip to the woodshed, year after year until….

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

From South of Left Field: Definite Problems by Jimmie Galbreath

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“People with definite plans and definite expectations have definite problems.” My Dad drove me crazy with this little gem in my early years. I still have no idea where he got it. Somehow today it seems appropriate to our fractured nation.

The internet abounds with funny, comforting little memes suggesting simplistic solutions to issues that are interconnected and complex. Build a wall, ban gays, kill someone with bombs or drones, $15 minimum wage, the simple solutions go on and on. Like a child’s mobile no one part can actually be touched without every part moving as a result. Not that leaving it alone means nothing changes, everything changes as time passes.

We live in a complex ‘system’ that changes over time. No company, no government, no economy and certainly no society is ever unchanging. Even religion changes over time. Otherwise, the Crusades, witch trials and the Inquisition would still be with us. When an imbalance in our ‘system’ rises to the point of becoming a definite problem such as police violence, mass shootings, income inequality, lack of medical care and so on the social discourse settles onto some simple solution or particular plan. These definite plans come with a definite expectation of quick resolution that is seldom met.

Let me paint a picture and see if it makes sense to you. A stable ‘system’ would have the wealthy (corporate) and general population both exerting a fairly balanced influence on the government. The government should function to regulate the opposing desires of wealth concentration on the corporate/wealthy side and a reasonable standard of living on the population side. A good measure of whether this balance exists is the degree of income inequality. After all, more income for a few equals less income for the many. If in fact jobs are being created for the betterment of the many then we should see balanced income growth with all income levels increasing about the same.

Houston, we have a definite problem. Looking at these charts, it is apparent that since about 1980 increases in income have been largely confined to the upper 20% and the rest of us have been losing income. Now comes the definite expectation, the belief that the answer to this starts with an increase in the minimum wage. Folks I hate to point this out but the minimum wage is not why the increases in income are going to the top 20%. Government guides income increase through the tax codes, not the minimum wage! This doesn’t mean the higher minimum wage is a bad idea; it means it doesn’t do anything to address the actual problem.

Here’s another definite expectation, the belief that this can or will be addressed by one of the two existing political parties. The truth is that the tax codes and laws that have tilted the ‘system’ to favor those already wealthy were enacted by these two parties. Like everyone in a capitalist economy, the Parties work for money. That is why the Democrats push for the $15 minimum wage and the Republicans push for tax breaks for business. These things don’t change the cause of the ever increasing inequality; it is just a pretense at change that has no real impact.

The existing political parties are graveyards of popular political movements from both the right and left. Don’t believe it? Ask the Tea Party where the ACA repeal is. Watch as the Democratic Party slowly tries to absorb the Bernie folks and smother them in useless quibbling and ineffective goals like the minimum wage. All the while the wealthy grow ever richer, and we grow ever poorer. The function of the Republican and Democratic Parties is to smother popular will and continue to empower the upper class. The ONLY tool left to us other than open violent revolt is our vote.

So long as we continue to vote for the same old people and same old Parties we will get the same old results. It is insanity to expect anything different. Until the angry and disaffected finally begin to vote and refuse to vote for anyone with an (R) or (D) behind their name nothing is going to change. Think the Green, Independent or Libertarian is a nut? Look at the graph again. Look at our current President. A new Party is needed, one that does not have an existing bureaucracy which is paid by the wealthy and serves to smother the popular will.

The race is on, conditions are not and will not improve so long as the Republican and Democratic Parties have the power. Wealth demands ever more wealth and will rely on the police and military to control us. Over 1,000 citizens a year are already dying under the guns of the Police. That is more than any other country on earth! We have more citizens in prison than any other country in the world and the second highest incarceration rate in the world. These things are not accidents; they are the result of desperation and oppression in a population whose standard of living is falling.

The only way to shake the foundations and hopefully usher in real change is to reject the Republican and Democratic parties completely, shatter them and throw open the doors to new blood. Take risks, seek the people who will enact law and tax code to suppress excessive wealth and rebalance the life of all Americans. If we want America to be Great again, we must create an environment that allows Americans to become Great again. Let’s level the playing field.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned a dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served three years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Friends & Family Camp this Weekend at Pecometh, July 28-30

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Have you ever wished that you could come to camp and have the same fun as the children? Have you longed to come to Camp Pecometh and experience the same fun you had as a child? Friends & Family Camp is the opportunity for everyone to experience the fun of camp in a weekend no matter how young or young-at-heart.  This year “Friends and Family Camp” will be held Friday to Sunday, July 28-30.

Enjoy time in the Chester River kayaking or splashing around on our Splashdown equipment.  Relax with a s’more by the campfire or work on that long awaited scrapbook. Choose to tent camp or stay in either our traditional cabins or hotel-style lodges. Experience the fun, fellowship, and festivities of a weekend at camp! (Parents are responsible for their own children at all times throughout the weekend)

Friends & Family Camp is run by the Camp Pecometh Staff Alumni Association.

Click here for photos from this year’s friends and family camp!

Rates
*All rates include two nights accommodation, all program activities, and meals from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. 

Camp Site (Tent or RV Camping) 
Adults (each) $95
Children Ages 6-11 (per child for the 1st and 2nd child) $79
Additional Children Ages 6-11 (per child) $50
Children Under 5 Years Old FREE
Rustic Cabins
Adults (each) $109
Children Ages 6-11 (per child for the 1st and 2nd child) $95
Additional Children Ages 6-11 (per child) $50
Children Under 5 Years Old FREE
Hotel Style Rooms in the Riverview Retreat Center 
Adults (each) $199
Children Ages 6-11 (per child for the 1st and 2nd child) $99
Additional Children Ages 6-11 (per child) $50
Children Under 5 Years Old FREE

Op-Ed: The Good and Bad News on Oyster Restoration by CBF’s Tom Zolper

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New scientific information unveiled Monday, July 10 provides yet more encouraging news that the largest man-made oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay is working. The project is in Harris Creek.

Unfortunately, just as the investment in Harris Creek seems to be paying off, efforts to duplicate that success in two other tributaries of the Choptank River are hitting snags. Political pressure and substrate shortages threaten to bring restoration efforts to a screeching halt if the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not act quickly.

First the good news. New monitoring data indicate that 30 oyster reefs created in 2013 in Harris Creek have high densities of oysters, reported Stephanie Reynolds Westby, Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Westby reported the findings at the monthly meeting of the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC). The NOAA report can be found here.

Scientists have developed specific metrics to determine when an oyster reef can be officially called “restored.” About 97 percent of the 30 reefs planted in 2013 in Harris Creek met the minimum metric for oyster density, and 80 percent met a higher “targeted” density. In fact, only one of the 30 reefs failed to meet the metrics. OAC members speculated someone could have poached oysters off that reef, or that the seabed underneath could have been too muddy for the oysters to thrive.

Despite data to the contrary, some OAC members challenged the conclusion that a restoration project is successful simply because it achieves metrics such as oyster density and biomass. They said putting oysters in the water and having them grow and prosper is not enough. The real success will be if oysters at Harris Creek reproduce, and their larvae help seed oyster bars miles away where oystermen harvest. Some scientific modeling from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has suggested that could happen.

Scientists at the OAC meeting said a restored reef is successful even if it doesn’t seed far-away oyster reefs. They said a massive network of reefs such as in Harris Creek will attract fish, filter the water and provide other ecological benefits. Harris Creek is a “sanctuary reef,” meaning oysters can’t be harvested there.
Now the bad news. Also at the OAC meeting, officials with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) revealed oyster restoration in the Little Choptank and Tred Avon Rivers have hit political snags. Those two projects were meant to duplicate the success in Harris Creek – building large networks of man-made reefs where oysters had once thrived.

Chris Judy of DNR reported that the plan for Maryland to restore 118 acres in the shallow reaches of Little Choptank is still on hold. For several years DNR has delayed requesting a permit for the work, most recently after complaints from watermen representatives. Restoration work at the mouth of the river has nearly been completed by various partners, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but DNR has long delayed doing its part.

DNR recently asked NOAA experts to further survey the bottom of the river where restoration was planned to find additional suitable acres for restoration in deeper water. Initial estimates suggest that there may be as few as 20-30 acres of suitable area in deeper water, meaning a permit would still be required to complete the project. Because of these political delays and additional surveys, Judy estimated that construction in the Little Choptank won’t begin for a least a year, bringing restoration in the Little Choptank to a halt.

Also at the OAC meeting, Angie Sowers of USACE said her agency had to stop construction in the Tred Avon because of a shortage of mixed shell substrate. The Corps’ contractor was only able to complete 6 out of 10 planned acres. The use of mixed shell instead of other materials in the Tred Avon was a result of negotiations at the OAC after watermen halted restoration work there in 2016. When questioned at the OAC meeting, Sowers said the work could have proceeded with stone.

Ironically, within the new data on Harris Creek was a finding that oysters were growing to densities four times greater on rock substrate than they were on traditional oyster shell. The very thing that watermen object to in reef construction might be the best substance. A recent article in the Chesapeake Bay Journal reported that watermen in Virginia also have discovered the benefit of rock foundations for reefs. But Maryland watermen remain resistant because they claim rock substrate makes it difficult to catch crabs in the area with trot lines, or causes other problems.

Tom Zolper is Assistant Director of Media Relations at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. For more information about CBF please go here.

Letter to Editor: Chestertown Can Do Better

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Gas stations generate pollutants, including petroleum products and trash. When it rains, stormwater picks up these pollutants – that’s why it’s critical to install systems to filter this water before it runs into nearby streams.

The new Royal Farms in Chestertown sits directly next to Radcliffe Creek, which empties into the Chester south of Wilmer Park. Thanks to the observation and persistence of the Chester River Association, this gas station is now in compliance with Maryland’s minimum requirements for stormwater management –rain gardens are capturing and filtering 50% of stormwater generated on site.

But Chestertown can do better. While the Royal Farms gas station meets the minimum requirements of Maryland’s regulations, local municipalities have the authority under those regulations to require more than the minimum effort in order to ensure developments are not degrading our environment or quality of life.

By meeting only the minimum requirements, 50% of stormwater from the Royal Farms property is discharging without treatment into the adjacent wetlands and creek, which are sensitive and essential ecosystems within the Chester watershed. In addition, Chestertown is a member of Tree City USA, seeking to increase canopy coverage—yet there is now a conspicuous absence of tree cover along the rail-trail where the Royal Farms was constructed.

Meeting the absolute minimum stormwater treatment requirements is mandatory – we need to do better than the minimum. The Town has two upcoming opportunities to do so: the Chestertown Marina redevelopment and Washington College’s future waterfront campus. These are opportunities for Chestertown to define itself as environmentally progressive, not just through rhetoric but also through action. We urge the Town to hold these and future developments to a higher standard in our common effort to protect our natural resources and better serve Town citizens.

Isabel Hardesty
Chester Riverkeeper

Commentary: The Passage of Time by Philip Hoon

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The Passage of Time And so it goes, hour to hour & day to day . . . before long, it is week to week & year to year . . . and then it is gone with the wind.

We live in the now, but at the same time the history of our own lives, as well as the society in which we live. The future is an eternal mystery.

There are those many things that matter . . . friends & foes, cars & kids, things new & old, high tides & full moons, the Pirates & the Steelers.

And yes, family, hopes & disappointments, new experiences & old routines, challenges & successes, goals & failures, the Cardinal Virtues & the Deadly Sins.

The scope and scale of the perspectives of life can thrill & intimidate . . . ancient Greece & Rome, the Renaissance, Shakespeare, The Greatest Generation, the now.

All of those things are reflected in and embraced by the generations of families & friends, a universal truth for all but the unfortunate for whom it is elusive.

As our lives and living history march on, the death of a loved one causes an interruption for consideration on the meaning, perspective and temporary reality of life.

Albeit brief, that moment is one for reflection that the passage of time marches on . . . what was, what is and what might be.

And as our Founding Fathers expressed about the course of human events, some truths are self-evident, timeless and immutable.

Among them are the gifts of a father to a son . . . wisdom, humility, gentility and personal responsibility.

And then the stormy seas at the end of a voyage of life become the calm of eternity.

And so it goes . . . the passage of time and its gentle winds, with the memories of a loved one and the hopes for the future.

Op-Ed: Why Cut a $73 Million Program that Provides Billions in Benefits? By Kim Coble

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There is more good news for the Bay this year. The clear consensus in the scientific community is that the health of the Bay is improving. In the last five months, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “State of the Bay” report, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s “Bay Barometer,” and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s “Bay Report Card” all show progress.

Female crab numbers are up, oysters are beginning to rebound and underwater grass beds have hit new records in each of the last four years. Pollution is down, the Bay’s dead zone is getting smaller, and at times, the water has been clearer than many can remember. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working.

All three reports, though, show that much more needs to be done. The recovery is fragile. The EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, currently funded at $73 million annually, is the glue that holds the multistate restoration effort together. It coordinates Bay restoration science, modeling and monitoring. All are essential for measuring progress and guiding restoration activities forward.

The Bay Program also provides funding to state and local governments to help reduce pollution, as well as grants to universities and nonprofits to put practices on the ground to improve water quality.

In February, a bipartisan group of 17 Congressional representatives from Maryland and Virginia wrote to President Trump asking that he fully fund the Bay Program in his upcoming budget. “Significant progress has been made,” they wrote, “with six states and the District of Columbia, the 19 federal agencies, nearly 1,800 local governments, and more than 60 nongovernmental organizations working together to implement state-developed plans to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.”

When the Trump administration released the highlights of its proposed budget in March, it requested that Bay Program funding be zeroed out.

When Congress voted on funding for the rest of this fiscal year, it provided $3 million more funding than requested by President Obama for this fiscal year. In the next few months, Congress will be considering the fiscal year 2018 budget. With a formal request from this administration to eliminate the Bay Program, bipartisan support will be critical to save it.

Without that investment, there is the very real chance that the Bay will revert to a national disgrace, with deteriorating water quality, unhealthy fish and shellfish, and water-borne diseases that pose a real threat to human health. The argument for that investment is not a difficult one to make: the financial support translates directly into improved water quality and improved local economies.

Many businesses depend on clean local waters and a healthy Chesapeake. The Bay is one of the foremost economic engines of the region, providing billions in annual economic activity in the travel and tourism, recreational, and seafood industries. Furthemore, the Bay and its countless tributaries support hundreds of thousands of jobs and are critical to our quality of life, our property values and the safe, drinkable water we need.

The value of clean water to our economies has been validated repeatedly. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for instance, showed that the commercial seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia contributed nearly $3 billion and more than 31,000 jobs to the region’s economy. An EPA study found that for every $1 spent on source-water protection, $27 were saved in water treatment costs.

There are other benefits to restoring local rivers and streams. Every time a farmer fences cattle out of a stream, the fence posts, trees and shrubs are bought from local businesses. Every time a sewage treatment plant is upgraded, engineers and construction workers are employed. And then there are many indirect and less visible benefits: cleaner drinking water, cleaner air, hurricane and flood protection, recreation, and fresh, healthy food and seafood. These benefits extend to everyone in the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile drainage basin, from headwater streams to the Atlantic Ocean.

A peer-reviewed report commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found that the economic benefits provided by nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will increase by $22 billion annually if the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is fully implemented. If the region relaxes efforts, however, and does little more to clean up the Bay than what has been done to date, pollution will worsen, and the value of Bay benefits will decline by almost $6 billion annually.

To ensure continued bipartisan support for the Blueprint, its critical for citizens of the region to let their local, state and federal elected officials know that clean water is important. Along with the benefits to our quality of life, our health and our economy, it is the legacy we can leave to our children and future generations.

By Kim Coble

Kim Coble is vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal.

Summer Solstice and Thoughts About Birds by Nancy Mugele

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Welcoming Summer on my porch today watching the red-winged blackbird dine on my finally-filled bird feeder. The longest day of the year just might find me sitting on this porch all day long – lazy ceiling fans above match my mood. I am on a much needed staycation this week in my new hometown and I am really trying to resist email, social media and happenings at my school. I am not doing such a good job as I have already been there once to finish reading report cards and sign Honor Roll certificates. In my spare time I am reading from a stack of novels that have been on my coffee table since spring break, notating in some new educational texts, savoring Jamie Kirkpatrick’s Musing Right Along and doing some writing.  

My husband is in Baltimore today so the house is mine. I am not usually home alone during the week. My neighbors are at work or out of town and the quiet is a blessing – except for all of the birds chattering away in my yard. I am not a bird lover. Too many viewings of Hitchcock’s movie and living with pigeons in NYC as a young twenty-something fueled my dislike. Truth be told birds really scared me. 

When we found the red roof inn there was an osprey nest in the Chester by our dock. Instead of immediate disgust, I, strangely, felt a sense of calm. I knew it was an omen as Kent School’s mascot is the Osprey but I did not know at the time that it would completely ease my irrational fear of birds. Our two osprey – fondly named Olive and Oscar – sit stoically upon their roost. They arrived as predicted in April and we were so happy to welcome them to our family. We watched in awe as they built their love nest of wild branches. The first baby osprey sighting was on Mothers’ Day and we were thrilled by its existence. We mourned its loss days later when we realized it had simply disappeared. No explanation. The osprey talk loudly all day (like our family when we are all together) yet I wonder how sad they must be. I have grown very attached.

We also inherited a bird motel on a high rusted pole near the water’s edge. We need to take it down as it leans precariously towards the house, but it has no vacancies at the moment. So I sit, transfixed by all of the comings and goings of our birds. Funny thing, quiet, because it never really is. The birds’ calls to each other signaling new seeds or new flowers interrupt my solitude yet I feel like I have friends visiting my porch. Friends with huge appetites as the food I offered this morning has been devoured by day’s end. A lonely blue jay searches for the last remnants. There are a few morsels left but don’t get me started on the squirrels. 

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown