Bay Ecosystem: A Walk In The Woods With A Different Kind Of Forester by Tom Horton

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It was a chill November morning, the rising sun sloshing light on the tree tops. Larry Walton and I were about half a mile into the woods that line the Nanticoke River near Vienna, MD, when he wrapped his arms around a great old Atlantic white cedar.

That tree species once shaded thousands of acres of Delmarva Peninsula swamps with its dense, evergreen canopies, until rampant logging and wetlands destruction made cedars relatively rare. Today, you seldom see specimens like this.

Larry Walton

I was about to kid my friend Larry, a career commercial forester, that he’d become a tree hugger as he approaches retirement at age 65. But he was just measuring the massive, columnar trunk to see how much wood the cedar’s added since he was here some years ago. “(I) used to be able to reach around it; not now,” Larry said.

But I also know he was happy to see that cedar thriving, standing tall, promising to thrill hikers here long after he and I are gone.

With Larry, it’s never been “hug or log” or “for us or against us.” Maybe that’s why his recent farewell party was a unique assemblage of the region’s logging community and a number of environmentalists. Only for Larry, I thought.

He could have cut that big cedar and others like it anytime during the years he managed around 60,000 acres of woodlands and wetlands around the Bay’s tidal rivers for Chesapeake Forest Products, a Virginia-based commercial timber corporation.

The company surely was not shy about clear-cutting or the almost complete leveling of the forests it owned hereabouts. That’s simply the most effective way to harvest the predominantly pine stands that are the mainstay of commercial timbering in this region.

Clear-cuts, to most non-timber people, are visually shocking, ugly. Far less apparent was what Larry and Chesapeake were electing not to cut, which included some beautiful forests and magnificent trees, including woods buffering tidal creeks and rivers like the Nanticoke and Pocomoke.

Where we were hiking could easily have been a giant sand and gravel pit, he said. Instead, it’s a fine tract of pine and hardwood, with patches of forested swamp, sloping down to the Nanticoke. It’s understory of wild rhododendron will bloom gorgeously in May and June. It features a nature trail now, open year-round to the public.

“A mining company approached us about selling this and forests up on the Marshyhope,” he said, referring to a tributary of the Nanticoke, where sturgeon are making a historic comeback. “We just didn’t like that kind of future for the land.”

Back in the early 1990s, stung by environmental criticism of his company, Larry and one of his woodland managers, the late Tom Tyler, began opening up to environmentalists, taking us through their operations. It gave us a lot to think about, and it began to build trust. More than anyone I knew on the logging side of things, Larry understood us greenies and respected where we were coming from, even if it wasn’t his view.

“A lighter shade of green,” is how he describes himself. Even as a New Jersey kid growing up in the shadow of New York and Newark, he loved wandering the phragmites-lined local brook, which wound through landfills and developments on its way to the Passaic River. Summers with family in the Maine woods probably steered him to Clemson University’s forestry school, he said.

Around 2000, as his timbering career flourished, something happened that would delight environmentalists but threaten to end life as Larry knew it. In a massive land deal, assembled in secrecy until it was done, all of the forests he managed for Chesapeake Forest Products were sold out from under him, to be added to Maryland’s public timberlands as the Chesapeake Forest.

“I was about as welcome as a pig at a Bar Mitzvah,” recalled Neil Sampson, a nationally known conservationist and forestry consultant who came to the Eastern Shore to handle the transition with Larry and his staff.

The giant Chesapeake acquisition, which added 58,000 acres, or 1 percent of the state’s area, to public lands, was intended by state officials to set the standard for sustainable, verifiable, long-term forest management.

Larry and his crew “made it happen,” Sampson said. Eventually he and Larry would form a new company, Vision Forestry, and take over management of the whole forest for several years.

Today, 17 years later, “it is a heck of a lot better forest . . . huge improvements,” Sampson said.
Larry plans to soon head back to the Clemson, SC, area for retirement. “[There are] opportunities in disagreement,” he said during our walk. “But it seems like it’s getting harder to disagree respectfully anymore.”

Years ago, Larry gave me a bumper sticker. “Trees Are the Answer,” it said. I told him I was always leery of simplistic solutions. But you know what? He was right.

Bottom line, there is no other land use better for the Chesapeake Bay and its flora and fauna. The worst clear-cut, if left to regrow, is still better for air and water quality than farming or suburban development, and it leaves your options open for an older, more diverse forest next time.

Tom Horton has written about Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, MD, where he is also a professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal.

Bay Ecosystem:Tangier Island Recovers from Icy Grip

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As temperatures on the Chesapeake Bay dropped as low as 9 degrees early this month, a barricade of ice up to 10 inches thick formed around Tangier Island, preventing boats from bringing groceries, medicine and other supplies to the 722 residents on that speck of Virginia off the Eastern Shore.

Fortunately, a variety of agencies came to the rescue — the U.S. Coast Guard out of Maryland, the Virginia National Guard and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources organized emergency ice-breaking operations to free Tangier Island.

Nearly two weeks after the snowstorm, regular activity on the waters around Tangier resumed Wednesday, and the mail delivery ferry went out to Tangier’s residents for the first time Thursday morning.

“We’re happy to help with what is really life-saving work,” said Gregg Bortz, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Tangier is located in the Chesapeake Bay and consists of three villages — Ewell, Tylerton and Rhodes Point. The island depends on boats for mail and shipments, and single-digit temperatures and thick ice made that impossible.

Tangier Island falls within the Coast Guard’s 5th District, which includes Maryland and Virginia.

“The Coast Guard has a history of providing assistance to Tangier,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges. “The organizations that responded to Tangier Island were based on the availability of assets with ice-breaking capabilities.”

Then the Virginia National Guard flew in from Richmond, making two trips to deliver additional food.

Island officials sought assistance from the Coast Guard, which sent the cutter Chock on Jan. 3. The ship conducted ice breaking and supply delivery until Jan. 5, Hodges said.

“The Chock had to be redirected to break ice in another area, and second request was submitted to the Coast Guard by Tangier for assistance,” Hodges said. “The Coast Guard was unable to facilitate the request, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management took over relief duties.”

According to Bortz, a 100-foot Maryland icebreaker, the J. Millard-Tawes, was brought in from Crisfield, Maryland, 13 1/2 miles from Tangier.

Clearing a path, he said, was “the primary goal.”

The Maryland DNR was called to the island last in 2015. Bortz said the U.S. Coast Guard primarily responds to Tangier while Maryland DNR focuses on helping nearby Smith Island, Maryland.

Capt. Eddie Somers of the J. Millard-Tawes was part of the rescue team that met trucks of supplies at the city docks in Crisfield and took the two-hour journey to Tangier.

Besides the Tawes, the Maryland DNR has three ice-breaking vessels — the John C. Widener in Annapolis, A.V. Sandusky in Kent Narrows and Big Lou on the Choptank River.

Tangier Mayor James Eskridge said the island hasn’t experienced ice like this in many years. The community, he added, always pulls together.

“Some 40 years ago, folks would have bonfires and go ice skating,” he said. “This was the closest to an ice storm we’ve had since then.”

By Sophia Belletti and Katie Bashista.

Photos from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 

Bay Ecosystem: Ocean Deoxygenation Changes Pose Real Threat to Marine Ecosystems by Amy Pelsinsky

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An international team of scientists warns that the ocean may run out of breath unless action is taken to rein in climate change and nutrient pollution. In the first sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, published in Science, researchers reveal that the amount of oxygen in the world’s oceans and coastal waters is steadily decreasing.

The oxygen content of the open ocean and coastal waters has been declining for at least the past half century as a result of human activities that have increased global temperatures and nutrients discharged to coastal waters.

“Oxygen is fundamental to life in the oceans,” said Denise Breitburg, lead author and marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “The decline in ocean oxygen ranks among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment.”

In the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold. In coastal water bodies, including estuaries and seas, low-oxygen sites have increased more than 10-fold since 1950. For the upper ocean, oxygen and heat content are highly correlated for the period of 1958-2015 with sharp increases in both deoxygenation and ocean heat content beginning in the mid 1980s.

Many areas around the globe are looking at how we used sound science to make wise environmental management decisions to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay.

The study came from a team of scientists from GO2NE (Global Ocean Oxygen Network), a new working group created in 2016 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission that includes Mike Roman and Kenny Rose from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory.

The review paper is the first to take such a sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, in both the open ocean and coastal waters. The article highlights the biggest dangers to the ocean and society, and what it will take to keep Earth’s waters healthy and productive.

The Stakes

In areas traditionally called “dead zones,” like those in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond “dead zones,” the authors point out.

Even smaller oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death. It also can trigger the release of dangerous chemicals such as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and toxic hydrogen sulfide. While some animals can thrive in dead zones, overall biodiversity falls.

The ongoing recovery of Chesapeake Bay, where nitrogen pollution has dropped 24 percent since its peak thanks to better sewage treatment, better farming practices and successful laws like the Clean Air Act, is an example of what’s possible to reverse this trend. While some low-oxygen zones persist, the area of the Chesapeake with zero oxygen has almost disappeared.

“Many areas around the globe are looking at how we used sound science to make wise environmental management decisions to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay,” said Roman, co-author of the report and director of the UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Maryland.

Climate change is the key culprit in the open ocean. Warming surface waters make it harder for oxygen to reach the ocean interior. Furthermore, as the ocean as a whole gets warmer, it holds less oxygen. In coastal waters, excess nutrient pollution from land creates algal blooms, which drain oxygen as they die and decompose. In an unfortunate twist, animals also need more oxygen in warmer waters, even as it is disappearing.

People’s livelihoods are also on the line, the scientists reported, especially in developing nations. Smaller, artisanal fisheries may be unable to relocate when low oxygen destroys their harvests or forces fish to move elsewhere. In the Philippines, fish kills in a single town’s aquaculture pens cost more than $10 million. Coral reefs, a key tourism attraction in many countries, also can waste away without enough oxygen.

Some popular fisheries could benefit, at least in the short term. Nutrient pollution can stimulate production of food for fish. In addition, when fish are forced to crowd to escape low oxygen, they can become easier to catch. But in the long run, this could result in overfishing and damage to the economy.

“Getting the effects of low oxygen on fish populations and supporting food webs correct, especially as it worsens, will enable more effective analyses and decisions on how to sustainably manage many fisheries, from artisanal that support local communities to large-scale industrial fisheries,” said Rose, a co-author of the report and a professor at Horn Point Laboratory.

Winning the War: A Three-Pronged Approach

To keep low oxygen in check, the scientists said the world needs to take on the issue from three angles:

Address the causes: nutrient pollution and climate change. While neither issue is simple or easy, the steps needed to win can benefit people as well as the environment. Better septic systems and sanitation can protect human health and keep pollution out of the water. Cutting fossil fuel emissions not only cuts greenhouse gases and fights climate change, but also slashes dangerous air pollutants like mercury.

Protect vulnerable marine life. With some low oxygen unavoidable, it is crucial to protect at-risk fisheries from further stress. According to the GO2NE team, this could mean creating marine protected areas or no-catch zones in areas animals use to escape low oxygen, or switching to fish that are not as threatened by falling oxygen levels.

Improve low-oxygen tracking worldwide. Scientists have a decent grasp of how much oxygen the ocean could lose in the future, but they do not know exactly where those low-oxygen zones will be. Enhanced monitoring, especially in developing countries, and numerical models will help pinpoint which places are most at risk and determine the most effective solutions.

The Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) is a scientific working group organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Established in 2016, its scientists from around the world are committed to providing a global and multidisciplinary view of deoxygenation, advising policymakers on countering low oxygen and preserving marine resources.

Amy Pelsinsky is Director of Communications at  the University Of Maryland’s Center For Environmental Science. For more information please go here

 

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Sign Up for Lifelong Learning at Washington College

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Make a New Year’s resolution to rediscover the joy of learning with Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning’s exciting Spring Semester course line-up! There will be no quizzes, papers, or final exams – just learning for the joy of it. Plan to attend Spring Showcase on Thursday, January 11 at 4:00 pm in Hotchkiss Recital Hall on the Washington College Campus to meet teachers, enjoy refreshments and conversation, and learn about the 22 afternoon classes being offered between January 28 and April 27, 2018.

There are classes for every interest and passion.  Highlights of Session 1 (January 28-March 9) include “Sunday at the Movies: A Foreign Touch” with Nancy Hartman, featuring movies from 6 different countries. “From Fake News to Facebook” by Patrick McNabb will explore the new science of media psychology and offer ways to keep up with the breakneck changes in modern mass media and discern fact from fiction. “Technology in Kent County” with Dick Swanson will host a representative from a different local company each week to talk about their business and how technology is used as a key component in bringing their products to market. Health and wellness, astronomy, history, philosophy, and current topics in literature round out the offerings for the first session.

Session 2 (March 18-April 27) has more for literature lovers with “American Immigrant Literature” by Jean Austin and a reading of John Barth’s Eastern Shore historical satire, The Sot-Weed Factor with Jim Block. Cinema offerings will continue with “Latin American Film” by George Shivers, “Silent Cinema: An Introduction” by John Wieczoreck, and another round of “Sunday at the Movies” featuring Asian films. Nautical enthusiasts will enjoy “They Call It a Ditch” about the history and commerce of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway by Jack Shaum and the “History of Yacht Design” by Hanson Robbins. Great Decisions, 21st century international art, how to write an op-ed piece for publication, and many more courses on topics of high interest will also be offered.

Ready to learn? WC-ALL is the place for you! You can check out the full course catalog at http://www.washcoll.edu/offices/wc-all/what-were-studying.php/. Sign up for classes at Showcase, on-line, or by mail by Tuesday, January 16. For more information call the WC-ALL office at 410-778-7221.

CBF to Honor Washington College with Conservationist of the Year Award

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) announced today that it will honor Washington College for its leadership and commitment to educating the next generation of Chesapeake Bay leaders. CBF President Will Baker will present the Conservationist of the Year Award to Washington College President Kurt Landgraf on Monday, February 26 at the third annual DC on the Half Shell gala in Washington, D.C.

“Now more than ever we need sound leadership to save the Chesapeake Bay and our natural world,” Baker said. “From our earliest days, we at CBF understood we must help students appreciate the wonders of the Bay and to become our future environmental stewards. Washington College has become preeminent in that effort.”

CBF will also award Virginia Wesleyan University with the Conservationist of the Year award at DC on the Half Shell.

“We’re thrilled that Washington College’s environmental programming is being honored in this way by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,” Landgraf says. “The students who explore our unique assets like our River and Field Campus and programs like the Chesapeake Semester, as well as hands-on learning opportunities through our fantastic faculty, leave here poised to find creative solutions to issues facing not only the Chesapeake Bay, but the global environment as well.”

A longtime leader in innovative environmental instruction, Washington College in recent months has announced several major expansions to its environmental programs. These include the launch of the 4,700-acre River and Field Campus, a new dual-degree program for environmental science or environmental studies majors with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, groundbreaking for the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, and a $500,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the college’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) to expand a project that motivates landowners to reduce polluted runoff into the Chesapeake.

Located on the Chester River, Washington College uses the Chesapeake Bay region as a learning laboratory. The River and Field Campus (RAFC) is home to the only bird banding station and observatory on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, an innovative native grassland restoration project, and part of the Chester River Watershed Observatory. In the future, it will provide a wild food and foraging lab for the new Eastern Shore Food Lab at Washington College, as well as expanded opportunities for collaborative student and faculty research. The College’s Center for Environment & Society, which focuses on the relationship between human communities and natural systems, oversees RAFC and also manages the school’s two research vessels.

Washington College’s environmental education programs emphasize critical analysis and investigation to find solutions to regional and global environmental problems. Those issues include depleted fisheries, world population concerns, loss of biodiversity, climatic changes, and land use management. The school’s environmental science and environmental studies majors are grounded in an interdisciplinary course of studies which include a focus on the local while also providing opportunities for comparative study in Bermuda, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Maine. The innovative Chesapeake Semester, overseen by CES, immerses a small group of students each fall in studies that examine the challenges facing the Chesapeake through the lenses of the Bay’s economy, culture, history, environment, ecology, and politics.

On a given day, a Washington College student might be banding migratory birds, planting an “edible forest garden” to demonstrate the benefits of perennial polyculture in agriculture, starting sourdough culture in his or her dorm rooms, or studying ocean sciences in Bermuda or the Galapagos Islands.

DC on the Half Shell is a celebration of the Chesapeake Bay, called a National Treasure by President Ronald Reagan. CBF also is celebrating its 50th year of working to Save the Bay.

The event will be held at 6:30 pm at Dock5 at Union Market. It will feature gourmet Bay cuisine, cocktails, live entertainment and oysters galore. Co-chairs of the event are Wendy Culp and Larry Culp, chair of the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors, and Kay and David Kaufman. Major sponsors include Kaiser Permanente and Jane P. Batten.

For ticket information, cbf.org/dconthehalfshell. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Taryn Dwan at tdwan@cbf.org or 443-482-2111.

All proceeds from the event support CBF’s own award-winning environmental education and habitat restoration programs. CBF takes 35,000 students, teachers and principals per year on field experiences of hands-on learning and critical analysis. CBF also engages thousands of volunteers in raising oysters, restoring oyster habitat, restoring underwater grass beds, and restoring forest buffers.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Camping under Meteors

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The Leonid Meteor Shower lit up the Eastern Shore sky on a cold evening this past month. The annual event happens around November 17th and often requires its viewers to bundle up – and this year was no exception. The near freezing temperatures would not deter the Junior Naturalist of Pickering Creek Audubon Center from an opportunity to spot a meteor.

A periodic warm-up by the fire for some of the Junior Naturalists participating in the Meteor Shower campout.

The Junior Naturalists are local 7th-12th graders who spend the school year learning about and visiting Maryland’s diverse environments and the summer volunteering during Pickering Creek’s popular EcoCamp. The students are as diverse as the habitats they explore – they come with different interests, hobbies, and knowledge of our environment – but all are excited to spend more time outside.

Pickering Creek planned a campout along the waterfront for the Junior Naturalists so they could quickly escape to their warm tents but the teens had another idea. Starting around 8:00 pm, they started counting off meteors. The tents were quickly abandoned. The Junior Naturalists decided instead to zip into their sleeping bags at the end of Pickering Creek’s dock.

“I counted 18 meteors!” exclaimed Harrison, a new Junior Naturalists, the next morning. As they warmed up over a pancake breakfast, the Junior Naturalists shared stories of the meteors, nighttime sounds over the water, and compared the thickness of frost found on their sleeping bags. Hopefully their next monthly meeting won’t be quite as cold as they hike into the forest for an owl prowl.

To learn more about the yearlong Junior Naturalist program, contact Krysta Hougen at Pickering Creek Audubon Center (khougen@audubon.org).

Earthquake Off Delaware Coast

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The area in red where the November 30, 2017, earthquake was felt.

Did you feel anything odd just before 5:00 pm yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 30?  Some shaking? A bump or jolt while driving?  Did anything fall or break in your house?  If so, you might have experienced the 4.1 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday at 4:47 pm off the Delaware coast about 6 miles northeast of Dover, Delaware.

A 4.1 earthquake is considered strong enough to cause moderate to considerable damage. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is trying to determine the extent and severity of the quake.  If you felt the quake, MEMA would like to hear from you. The full message from MEMA–with a link to report where you were and what you felt–is at the end of this article on the Dover earthquake, along with a copy of the earthquake survey questions. MEMA needs help from residents to make a “shaking intensity map” of the affected areas.

Earthquakes are rare in the Mid-Atlantic area. In fact, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), earthquakes are rare east of the Rockies Mountains. The last tremor felt in Delaware was in 2011–that from the 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia that was felt all up and down the East Coast and, in DC, caused cracks in both the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.  Thursday’s quake was felt as far inland as the I-95 corridor in Maryland, Delaware, and southeastern Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and New York to the north.  It was felt over 90 miles away in Washington, DC, in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, and 125 miles north in New York City. However, many in these areas said they didn’t notice anything. The USGS said that light shaking was felt as far south as Virginia and as far north as Poughkeepsie, New York and Connecticut.  The quake registered at a depth of five miles, which is considered a shallow quake and that shallowness causes the quake to be amplified and felt over a larger area. Earth tremors on the East Coast tend to cause shaking in a wider area than those in western states due to the type of quake, the depth of the quake, and to the type of bedrock.

Partial map of Eastern Shore of Maryland showing epicenter –starred– of the Thursday, Nov. 30, 4.1 magnitude earthquake. The quake’s epicenter at the wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

Closer to the quake’s center in Dover, houses shook, windows and loose items rattled, and many people reported a boom and a sound like a train that was loud but only lasted a second or two.   In Dover, the ground shook for 10-20 seconds, sending people pouring out of buildings and into the streets where others were already gathering for the Dover Capitol Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting ceremony. The celebration, which was scheduled for 5 -8:00 pm., continued despite the disruption of the earthquake.

The quake was originally reported at a magnitude of 5.1 then shortly afterward downgraded to 4.4.  After examining readings from multiple monitoring stations, the tremor was downgraded to a probably final magnitude of 4.1.

No aftershocks have been reported so far.

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency believes the epicenter was in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. No injuries, major damage, or interruption of services were reported in the first few hours after the quake. The wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

The Delaware earthquake was one of five earthquakes registered on Thursday in the US’s lower 48 states. But it was the strongest.  It was not just the strongest quake on Thursday, Nov. 30, but also the strongest in the US for the month of November.  Just 30 minutes after the 4.1 quake in Delaware, there was a tremor–magnitude 3.6–near Salida, Colorado.

Here are the questions on the earthquake survey form from MEMA.  To record your experience click on the “jump” link below then click on the 3rd box in the first row with the title “Felt Report–Tell Us!”

Jump to Navigation

  Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake – 10km ENE of Dover, Delaware

Felt Report – Tell Us!   Expires 05/31/2018

Your location when the earthquake occurred

Choose Location

Did you feel it?


  • Yes

  • No

The remainder of this form is optional.

Help make a shaking intensity map by telling us about the shaking at your location.

What was your situation during the earthquake?


  • Not specified

  • Inside a building

  • Outside a building

  • In a stopped vehicle

  • In a moving vehicle

  • Other

Were you asleep?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Slept through it

  • Woke up

Did others nearby feel it?


  • Not specified

  • No others felt it

  • Some felt it, most did not

  • Most felt it

  • Everyone/almost everyone felt it

How would you describe the shaking?


  • Not specified

  • Not felt

  • Weak

  • Mild

  • Moderate

  • Strong

  • Violent

How did you react?


  • Not specified

  • No reaction/not felt

  • Very little reaction

  • Excitement

  • Somewhat frightened

  • Very frightened

  • Extremely frightened

How did you respond?


  • Not specified

  • Took no action

  • Moved to doorway

  • Dropped and covered

  • Ran outside

  • Other

Was it difficult to stand and/or walk?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Did you notice any swinging of doors or other free-hanging objects?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, slight swinging

  • Yes, violent swinging

Did you hear creaking or other noises?


  • Not specified

  • Yes, slight noise

  • Yes, loud noise

Did objects rattle, topple over, or fall off shelves?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Rattled slightly

  • Rattled loudly

  • A few toppled or fell off

  • Many fell off

  • Nearly everything fell off

Did pictures on walls move or get knocked askew?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, but did not fall

  • Yes, and some fell

Did any furniture or appliances slide, topple over, or become displaced?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Was a heavy appliance (refrigerator or range) affected?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some contents fell out

  • Yes, shifted by inches

  • Yes, shifted by a foot or more

  • Yes, overturned

Were free-standing walls or fences damaged?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some were cracked

  • Yes, some partially fell

  • Yes, some fell completely

Was there any damage to the building?


  • No Damage

  • Hairline cracks in walls

  • A few large cracks in walls

  • Many large cracks in walls

  • Ceiling tiles or lighting fixtures fell

  • Cracks in chimney

  • One or several cracked windows

  • Many windows cracked or some broken out

  • Masonry fell from block or brick wall(s)

  • Old chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Modern chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Outside wall(s) tilted over or collapsed completely

  • Separation of porch, balcony, or other addition from building

  • Building permanently shifted over foundation

Additional Comments

Contact Information (optional)

Name

Email

Phone

Submit Cancel

New Jersey is also surveying their residents to discover the range of Thursday’s quake.  Their site has an interactive map and totals per town of those who felt the quake.

Official Message from Maryland Emergency Management Agency Monitoring After Earthquake Near Delaware Coast

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (November 30, 2017) — In the wake of the earthquake that hit off the coast of Delaware this afternoon, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency is monitoring for any reports of damage.

The quake, which the United States Geological Survey currently lists as a 4.1 magnitude, hit just before 4:50 p.m. off the Delaware coast, about 6 miles east/northeast of Dover. Reports say it was felt as far east as the I-95 corridor in central Maryland.

The United States Geological Survey asks anyone who may have felt the quake to report it on their website.

While earthquakes are not common in this region, they do happen. In August of 2011, most of Maryland felt a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that was centered near Mineral, Va.

For more information about earthquakes in Maryland, please visit the MEMA website.

For more general information about earthquake preparedness, visit the federal government’s earthquake website.

End Official Mema press release

###

Eastern Shore River Keeper Organizations Unite

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Easton, MD (November 17, 2017) – Chester River Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and Sassafras River Association officially announced today the merger of their three organizations to form ShoreRivers, a new nonprofit dedicated to healthy waterways across the upper and middle Eastern Shore.
“I am thrilled to lead this exciting organization and its passionate staff as we work to develop real solutions to improve the health of our waters,” says Jeff Horstman, who will serve as the new Executive Director of ShoreRivers. “ShoreRivers is more than just the sum of our parts – we are now one committed voice with more influence on policy, more capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large regional agricultural and restoration projects to reduce pollution.”
ShoreRivers will keep the local focus of its legacy organizations by maintaining their existing volunteer networks and local watershed boards. The new organization’s mission is to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. The combined organization will work with other environmental organizations, local businesses, farmers, families, local governments and a diverse community of Eastern Shore stakeholders to reduce pollution and protect natural resources.
“Each of our three legacy organizations has a proud and productive history of advocacy and restoration work on the Shore,” said Brennan Starkey, incoming Chair of the ShoreRivers Board of Directors. “By merging together, we draw upon our collective expertise, passion, and innovation to improve our Eastern Shore rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.”
ShoreRivers marked today’s announcement event with remarks from Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Governor Larry Hogan’s Chief of Staff, and Mark Belton, Secretary of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“Congratulations to ShoreRivers on this exciting merger. We look forward to continuing our productive partnership with them to accomplish bigger and bolder projects to help enhance and restore the Chesapeake Bay and our local waterways,” said Secretary Belton.
ShoreRivers has a dedicated staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of our rivers. The new nonprofit will have more than 3,500 members and supporters across the Eastern Shore to help achieve the organization’s vision for healthy waterways.
The new organization will include four Waterkeeper programs, the most among any Maryland nonprofit: Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Sassafras Riverkeeper. Waterkeepers regularly patrol and monitor area waterways and serve as key spokespersons for those waters.

Today’s announcement event was held at the new headquarters in the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in downtown Easton, MD. The nonprofit has regional offices in Chestertown and Georgetown, the former offices of the Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association, respectively.

ShoreRivers also announced several staff changes to coincide with the merger. Isabel Junkin Hardesty, formerly the Chester Riverkeeper, will become ShoreRivers Regional Director for the Chester and Sassafras Rivers. Tim Trumbauer, formerly the watershed manager for Chester River Association, will become the new Chester Riverkeeper. Elle O’Brien Bassett, formerly the education and outreach coordinator for Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, will become the new Miles-Wye Riverkeeper.
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ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.  www.ShoreRivers.org 

Opinion: Tangier Island needs Help no Matter how you Define its Woes by Tom Horton

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When I began a documentary film this year about climate change and the Chesapeake, I knew that even though local residents were affected by it, I’d never be able to record most of them talking about sea level rise.

They know what they see. And around Dorchester — Maryland’s lowest-lying county and the focus of our film — residents see erosion of the shoreline, high tides that seem to come more often and forests dying along the marsh edges.

It’s easy to talk past one another, we who are comfortable with the lingo and concepts of climate science, and those who are not — even while all talking about the same thing.

This was on my mind recently when my friend, James “Ooker” Eskridge, the mayor of Tangier Island, VA, appeared on a CNN Town Hall with former Vice President Al Gore, one of the world’s foremost proponents of how humans are warming the planet.

Eskridge, who’s not convinced that this is really happening, was invited on the cable TV show because of a phone call he got earlier this summer that brought him in early from fishing his crab pots.

The caller was President Donald Trump. He’d heard about Tangier’s plight: battered by erosion that will soon spell its demise if it can’t find an estimated $25 million to $30 million to bulwark its Bay shore with rock. He’d also heard that the island of some 400 residents, with a culture harking back to 17th century England, had voted nearly 90 percent for him last November.

Ooker heard Gore out, but maintained: “I’ve lived there 65 years and I just don’t see it (sea level rise).”

I talked about the disjunct between the two men with Michael Scott, a colleague at Salisbury University and a professor of geography whose specialty is environmental hazards.

He and I are both in Gore’s camp on climate; but Scott has as good a feel as any scientist I know for explaining the nuances and complexities of such global, long-term phenomena at the level of the average citizen.

“I was upset that CNN portrayed (Eskridge) as this sort of pro-Trump nut job,” Scott said. Eskridge is not wrong at all when he says Tangier’s problem is erosion, the professor said, adding that it’s happening very quickly and is very noticeable.

“But there are really two processes going on and they are not separate,” Scott added.

The second process he refers to is sea level rise, propelled by a warmer climate that is melting glaciers. That’s exacerbated by land around the Bay sinking back to its original contours after being pushed upward by the glaciers that extended into Pennsylvania during the last Ice Age.

Add to that the thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm and the potential slowing of the Gulf Stream that could back up more seawater in the Chesapeake.

Rising sea levels make erosion worse. But Scott’s not at all surprised that Tangier’s mayor said that he “didn’t see it (sea level rise).”

Sea level rise at this point, unlike erosion, “is happening very slowly,” coming up mere inches throughout Eskridge’s lifetime on the Chesapeake.

“It’s been slight enough up to now that it’s actually very difficult to measure unless you’re taking very precise scientific measurements,” Scott said.

But the overwhelming scientific consensus, he continued, is that the Earth’s temperatures have reached the point where a measurable acceleration in sea level is under way. In the Bay, it will add 2 feet or more to everyday tides by around 2050.

The forecasts for 2100 are less certain because we can’t tell how fast the massive ice sheets of Antarctica will melt. But estimates foresee everyday tides 5.5 feet above present levels, “and that’s probably on the low end . . . every time we look at it, it seems our estimates are too low,” Scott said.

A couple wrinkles disguise the coming impact further, he said.

First, it is quite possible for waters locally to shallow up as seas rise. In our filming, we’ve found examples of this in Dorchester County. The sediment eroding from shorelines and disintegrating marshes has to go somewhere, and it may fill in channels and other places where currents carry it.

The larger complication, Scott said, “is that sea level rise is not linear.” In other words, it isn’t going to happen steadily, inch by inch, over the years. That would be relatively easy to predict and respond to.

Unfortunately, the path to 2, 3, 5 or more feet of daily tide around the Bay is going to resemble a curve that steepens as average high tide levels rise.

“The trouble with an increasing curve is that for a while, things will seem as if they’re OK, but then the rate’s going to really increase and you’re going to lose the ability to adjust to it,” Scott said.

Helping localities around the Chesapeake adjust is where Scott’s passion lies; and he said we’re still at a point on the curve where we can act reasonably and cost-effectively.

“This (Delmarva) Peninsula is very precious to me and to my family . . . we want to preserve it for our children and we can do that if we are honest with what’s happening and with how we can try to respond,” he said.

He finds most people don’t care too much about why the tides and the erosion are getting worse, or about the politics of climate change.

“They want to know what is going to happen to them and what they can do about it,” Scott said. For many, the real threat won’t come in their lifetimes, and they aren’t likely to pay tens of thousands of dollars to jack up their houses.

The key he said, is to honestly acknowledge the threat and install public policies that over time guide “the way that development takes place, rearrange the way people build their homes, the way roads are maintained.

“And as we lose marshes we are going to need spaces on the landward edge for them to move into. . . . We’re going to need to buy the development rights to such places from the people who own them now . . . a very appropriate response.”

In low-lying places like Dorchester County, he said he thinks that “if we can get a hold of this in the next five to seven years, we have time to fix it that way. If we wait, then we will be in crisis mode, and things are going to happen in a very shocking and upsetting way.”

As for Tangier Island, it won’t make much difference now whether Mayor Eskridge and his townspeople vote yea or nay on closing coal-fired plants to reduce the long-term buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Tangier needs rock, pretty soon, and no change in energy policies is going to change that.

Even the best seawall at Tangier is not the same as a dike, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and realistically isn’t going to happen. Even less likely are Trump’s assurances to Eskridge that his island would persist for “hundreds more years.”

But a seawall would buy time for another generation or two of Tangier residents to continue the island’s unique culture and heritage, time enough for hundreds of thousands of us to visit and enjoy that — a reasonable investment in my opinion.

Tom Horton has written about Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, where he is also a professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal.