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Chesapeake Bay Reaches Turning Point

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Between 2012 and 2016, Chesapeake Bay Program partners opened 1,126 historical fish migration routes for fish passage, exceeding the outcome to restore 1,000 additional stream miles. (Pixabay)
Between 2012 and 2016, Chesapeake Bay Program partners opened 1,126 historical fish migration routes for fish passage, exceeding the outcome to restore 1,000 additional stream miles. (Pixabay)
 By Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD - Producer, Contact
January 9, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Ongoing efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay have reached a turning point and environmental groups are calling on residents to keep the momentum going.

The annual Bay Barometer, a science-based snapshot of the health of the Chesapeake shows significant improvements in underwater grasses, blue crab, and fish migration over the last year.

Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, says she thinks the report is signaling a turning point in the health of the watershed.

"Things are getting a tiny bit better each year; sometimes you backslide on certain parameters and it can be discouraging," she notes. "But I think a lot of people feel like maybe this isn't a linear process and now, all of our hard work is starting to pay off and we're starting to turn the corner in terms of getting better"

In 2010 bay states were put on a federal pollution diet which ramped up anti-pollution efforts to cut nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment runoff. To help keep the momentum going, citizens are encouraged to plant more trees to further slow runoff into the bay.

The report shows underwater grasses have reached 53 percent of the restoration goal and also that 40 percent of the bay and its tributaries met water quality standards between 2014 and 2016. Davis says 95 percent of the land surrounding the bay is privately owned, so it's really up to the public to keep the bay healthy.

"I think what's different now than maybe five years ago or ten years ago is that we know what needs to be done and the average resident of the Bay Watershed is much more engaged than he or she ever was," she explains.

Davis says reducing runoff pollution is still a work in progress and is hoping more awareness will keep citizens engaged. She is also encouraging policymakers to support the Chesapeake Bay Program which is a mix of federal, state, and local agencies and citizen groups that rely on funding to keep restoration efforts going.

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