|Environmental Center to serve as model for bay
PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
From growing underwater grasses to nurturing oysters to planting
cover crops, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. hopes to use the restoration
programs at a Queen Anne's County environmental center as examples
for saving the Chesapeake Bay.
Mr. Ehrlich said during a visit yesterday to the Chesapeake Bay
Environmental Center in Grasonville that a comprehensive approach is
needed as development continues to strain the watershed.
"Maryland will grow, and those pressures will
be there," Mr. Ehrlich said.
must respond by cutting down on excess nutrients, boosting the
oyster population and other revitalization methods, he said.
While the state grapples with the proposed
introduction of Asian oysters to the watershed, the center will
begin building a 5-acre native oyster bed next week, in hopes of
applying its findings on a wider scale.
The new bed may not keep the oysters free from
disease, said Judy Wink, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay
Environmental Center, but it will develop habitat in a bay too sandy
in spots to support them.
on the privately owned, 700-acre preserve already are
such as planting underwatergrasses, replacing bulkheads with natural
"living" shorelines and putting large, Swiss cheese-like concrete
"reef balls" in the water to attract fish.
Torrey Brown, president of the environmental
center and a former natural resources secretary, said it's a perfect
location to show off bay restoration techniques.
"It's got every kind of habitat area that
surrounds the bay, in one spot," he said. "We're going to make it a
fabulous place to show off."
vegetation, said Ms. Wink, is particularly important because the
grasses produce oxygen, and - like oysters - filter pollutants.
But sediment runoff and excess nutrients have
choked out many of these grasses, and the center may farm them on a
Since the diseases Dermo and
MSX were first discovered in bay oysters 50 years ago, the state's
oyster harvest has progressively plunged to record lows. The 2.5
million-bushel average in the 1970s dropped to 26,000 bushels this
"The plight of the watermen,
it's pathetic," said Ms. Wink "They can't harvest enough."
Officials with the state Department of Natural
Resources, who are involved with most of the restoration programs,
said it's difficult to say how much money the state is putting into
the demonstration project. Most of DNR's money for the projects at
the center comes through federal grants, and the state's
contribution largely is in the form of man hours from state
Mr. Ehrlich said he hopes to
get even more money from the federal government to pay for bay
restoration programs. Maryland residents already are in line to do
their part, by paying the recently-passed extra fees on their water
bills to fund $1 billion worth of upgrades to aging sewage treatment
But current federal funding
levels are "not even close" to what's needed to clean up the bay,
Mr. Ehrlich said.
"We need to continue on
a very, very aggressive path," he told reporters after his tour,
adding the bay needs more than just "fives and 10s and 20s" from the
Judson Berger of
the Capital News Service contributed to this story.
- No Jumps-
Published November 05, 2004, The Capital, Annapolis,
Copyright © 2004 The Capital, Annapolis,