OUR MISSION: MANAGED GROWTH
"To protect the unique environment and heritage of Talbot County --- its waterways, farmland and historic small towns."
Unneeded fertilizer pollutes Bay
From the Star Democrat "Letters to the Editor" Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Every spring when daffodils bloom and baseballs start flying through the air, television viewers are bombarded with commercials urging us to get up off our sofas and fertilize our lawns. Then, every year without fail, by the time All-Star break comes around or we harvest our first tomato, our newspapers report algae blooms in the Bay and lament that Bay waters are still sick.
The two subjects, lawn fertilization and algae blooms, are directly related. Although some nitrogen in lawn fertilizer is taken up by grass, some isn't. Instead, through either surface water runoff or via groundwater transport, some of the applied nitrogen gets into the Bay. Once there it stimulates the growth of algae, clouding the water and depleting its oxygen. Approximately 20 million pounds of nitrogen fertilizer is applied annually to Maryland lawns. If we know there's too much nitrogen in the Bay, why are we needlessly introducing more into the environment?
It is frustrating because, despite what various pitchmen say, our lawns receive sufficient nitrogen from rainfall and decomposing grass clippings. They will do fine without the application of additional nitrogen.
At least try not fertilizing your lawn for a year. Remember that it is normal for a lawn to go dormant in midsummer heat, but it will come back to life in the fall. You will save time and money, and you will have the satisfaction of having done the right thing for our rivers and Bay. TOM HUGHES, Easton
Bay Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Plunges to 1985 Levels
By Bay Journal on May 06, 2013 11:39 am
The amount of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake plunged 44 percent over the last three years, leaving the Bay with its lowest coverage of the crucial plants since 1986 — about the time cleanup efforts began.
Aerial survey data from 2012 show that submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV, acreage dropped 21 percent from the previous ... Read more
A Community Conversation: Talbot County: An Economic Profile
On May 13, 6 p.m. at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton, the Director of Talbot County’s Office of Economic Development, Paige Bethke, will present an analysis of current conditions and the prospects for our county’s future. Members of the community including Janice Bain-Kerr, LWV Mid-Shore, participated in the study that is the basis of this presentation. Hope you can come to discuss with Ms Bethke the outcomes of the study. This program is free and open to the public. www.tcfl.org
State of the Rivers report card released
Star Democrat April 16, 2013
By JOSH BOLLINGER @JBoll_StarDem
EASTON - The Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy's (MRC) State of the Rivers Party on Friday night wasn't just about presenting the 2012 report card for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, but about spreading a message of conservationism, too.
"It's not just about the Bay, it's about places that you all connect with - parks in your neighborhood, the local stream, the Tred Avon. It's all of it," Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, said.
According to MRC, 122 sites from the Miles and Wye Rivers Watershed and the Choptank Watershed were tested for dissolved oxygen levels, water clarity, algae growth and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.
The Choptank River scored a C+ grade on MRC's 2012 report card, which is roughly equal to its 2011 score.
Drew Koslow, the Choptank Riverkeeper, said drought conditions, like the ones faced in 2012, usually make for better water quality because of less runoff, more underwater grasses and strong oyster production due to high salinity levels.
But, Koslow said, the Choptank's underwater grasses declined in 2012 after having a resurgence in 2011 and it's hard to explain why the grass is there one year and not the next.
He said the Choptank also scored worse on phosphorus levels in 2012, and he hypothesized that it's because phosphorus is becoming mobile and moving with ground water.
Agriculture constitutes about 62 percent of the Choptank River Watershed's land use, he said.
"When you hear the majority of pollution and nutrients are coming from agriculture, it makes sense because it's dominant land use in our watershed," Koslow said. "We're right now working with farmers in environmental communities to put projects in the ground to reduce pollution. If we lose agriculture, we're going to have sprawl development and we're just going to lose our quality of life."
Harris Creek, an oyster sanctuary, saw an improved grade of a B in 2012, stemming from improved nitrogen levels, Koslow said.
Though Koslow said he couldn't pinpoint where the nitrogen is coming from, a big reason nitrogen levels improved in 2012 was probably because of the cover crop program.
"After three years of cover crops, you start seeing the big reduction. It's not a stretch to say that the reason we're seeing such improvements in nitrogen is because the cover crops the farmers are planting," Koslow said.
Davis said the number of people engaging in projects aimed to protect or restore the Bay watershed is increasing, and that almost fives times more people significantly care about the watershed than those who don't.
"The Chesapeake Bay story is one that people are looking to around the world. People are looking here to see how we solve this problem because of the various challenges and the various sectors that have to be engaged," Davis said.
But, she said, ensuring the Bay's protection and restoration isn't just about collecting scientific data, it's about being proactive and pushing neighbors to do the same.
Wye and Miles Riverkeeper Tom Leigh echoed that in his presentation on the parts of the watershed from which he collected data.
"We're all in this together and we can't fix this without your help, and we need you all to tell two friends. We need you to ask them to tell two friends," Leigh said. "Unless you get out and get into the river and streams - that changes things, that's a game-changing event. It's relatively insignificant when one or two or 10 people do it, but taken cumulatively ... makes an enormous difference and the system will respond to that."
The Eastern Bay was included in MRC's report card for the first time and got a B grade.
According to MRC, the better grades in the Eastern Bay aren't surprising as it's a well-flushed body of water, open to the tidal flows of the Bay and has less proportionate influence from land-based runoff and groundwater.
The Eastern Bay's better results, according to MRC, mean that the excess of nutrients and sediment in rivers in the watershed comes primarily from surrounding land, and possible practices people do on land that could result in pollution threats must be addressed.
"Somebody lives downstream from you, and guess what, somebody lives upstream from you, and keep that in your mind," Leigh said. "Shout it from the tree tops, should it loud and shout it often and it will ... get heard, it will get noticed, it will get the job done."
April 16, 2013
Letter to the Editor - Fertilizer
The Star Democrat’s April 16 article summarizing the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s State of the Rivers event held on April 12 gave an excellent recap of the meeting. One point made deserves special emphasis however: much of the degradation of the Eastern Shore Rivers is due to fertilizer.
One often-overlooked source of fertilizer that contaminates our creeks and rivers is lawn fertilizer. We should begin to realize that a lush green lawn is not a good thing. We must understand that the fertilizer used on lawns also creates lush green algae. Algae uses oxygen needed for animal life (oysters, crabs, fish) and it also prevents light from reaching submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). So what? SAV produces oxygen needed for animal life, including oysters that filter the water. Thus, without the nitrogen from fertilizer, the water quality improves.
The moral of this story is that lush lawns mean poor water quality. A healthy but non- fertilized lawn should be a matter of pride because such a lawn means healthier creeks and rivers, and ultimately a healthier Bay.
We firmly support the principles of “Smart Growth” endorsed by the last four Maryland governors. We work in partnership with other community organizations, inside and outside our county, to encourage adherence to those principles by monitoring the enforcement of ordinances that support managed growth. Because land-use decisions are controlled by elected and appointed officials atthe local level, we help to elect and support public officials who endorse smart growth principles.
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