Report: Chesapeake Bay Health Trending Upward for First Time - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Report: Chesapeake Bay Health Trending Upward for First Time

Posted: Jun 15, 2018 1:17 PM Updated:
(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP/WBOC)- The health of the entire Chesapeake Bay is showing unprecedented signs of improvement as undersea grasses spread and the blue crab population increases.           

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science said Friday that the bay's overall condition is trending upward for the first time since the school began issuing report cards on bay health 12 years ago.      

"We have seen individual regions improving before, but not the entire Chesapeake Bay. It seems that the restoration efforts are beginning to take hold,” said Bill Dennison, UMCES' Vice President for science application.   

The UMCES gave the nation's largest estuary an overall C grade for 2017, the same grade it has received each year since 2015. But researchers see significantly improving trends in several regions -- proof, they say, that efforts to reduce pollution by states in the watershed are working.           

In particular, the report card shows aquatic grasses returning, to the largest extent ever recorded.

“Underwater grasses are sentinels of change in the shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay,” said Robert Orth, professor of Marine Biology at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “Not only are we seeing more grasses in areas where they’ve been thriving like the Susquehanna Flats, but we’re actually seeing them appear in areas around Solomons Island and in the York River where they vanished decades ago.”

There were also improvements in seven bay regions, including the James River which attained an impressive B- for the first time. Other regions that scored better this year are the Elizabeth River, Choptank River, and Upper Western Shore. The region closest to Washington, D.C., the Potomac River, did not show improvement this year.

Following the release of the report card, Beth McGee, director of science and agricultural policy for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued the following statement:

“The UMCES Report Card’s findings are yet another sign the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working," she said. “And there is more good news. New research indicates that as pollution is reduced and the dead zone gets smaller, one of the negative feed-back loops that feed late summer algae blooms is uncoupled.   This change in the bay’s natural processes, while still in its early stages, bodes well for the bay’s recovery.”

For more information about the 2017 Chesapeake Bay Report Card including region-specific data, visit chesapeakebay.ecoreportcard.org.

 

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