Tuesday 17 July 2018

Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks said his organization, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, plans to appeal the decision at Possum Point, and SELC has opposed the permits at both sites.

“The water board got it wrong,” Naujoks said on his way back from the hearing in Richmond on Thursday. “They failed the public today.”

Read more: Bay Journal, Whitney Pipkin, January 14, 2016

Oyster Recovery a Priority for Waterkeepers

Local Riverkeeper programs at Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy and Chester River Association have been strong advocates for native oyster restoration and have led oyster restoration projects for many years. In 2015, Waterkeepers Chesapeake became aware of proposed regulations to remove protections to oysters reserves in several waterways. We alerted the local Waterkeepers of these proposed regulations, provided recommendations on preparing comments, and coordinated legal representation from Chesapeake Legal Alliance, resulting in a hold on the regulations.

Unfortunately, just before Christmas, Governor Hogan, through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), abruptly halted ongoing oyster recovery efforts in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River and Tred Avon River. This action came after watermen met with Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, the state’s natural resources secretary asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold up a federally funded reef building project about to begin in the Tred Avon River near St. Michaels.

The work, already funded through state and federal sources, was slated for completion in February 2016. The work was conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with Maryland DNR, NOAA and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake and several other groups called on Governor Hogan to restore the oyster recovery efforts on the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, the Army Corps moved its project to Virginia.

An action alert was sent out to demand a reversal because:

  • Halting oyster recovery is premature. The Oyster Recovery Program progress report will not be officially delivered until July 1, 2016. We know that water quality metrics are improving with the oyster program in place. It should stay.
  • It is a waste of funding. The program is already paid for in the Maryland state budget. The federal dollars for the program’s continuation have already been allocated. It is a misuse of taxpayer funds to pay for a program, then not see it through to completion.
  • Oyster populations are beginning to rebound. Oysters are at 1 percent of historic levels in the Chesapeake Bay. Programs like this are helping this keystone species to begin recovery. We know that oysters clean the water -- they are nature’s little pollution-removers. The recovery effort has slowly rebuilt their depleted population. Why would we stop?

 

(Photo credit: Chester River Association, Marylanders Grow Oysters program)

Fair Farms campaign showcases sustainable farmers who “farm against the grain.”

Annapolis, Md. (December 9, 2015) - A network of nonprofit organizations, farmers, consumers and businesses publicly launched a new campaign today, seeking to reform a Maryland food system that they say lacks adequate fairness, transparency and accountability.

Participants say the Fair Farms campaign seeks to invest in homegrown, healthy food while restoring local waterways. Supporters are working to showcase successful models of sustainable farming and call consumers to action regarding existing practices that jeopardize clean water, soil quality and public health.

"At Grand View Farm, we set out to prove that wholesome food can be produced in a way that regenerates the land, respects nature and the needs of the animals and reestablishes a lost visceral connection between consumers and their food," said Nick Bailey of Grand View Farm in Forest Hill, Maryland. "We should all strive to be part of a food system that enables the consumer to participate and make responsible decisions based on that connection."

Fair Farms has a Farmer Advisory Council, made up of 12 farmers, that provides feedback and guidance on campaign goals, objectives, strategies and opportunities to support the sustainable farming community. More than 40 green businesses, community nonprofits and sustainable farms have signed on as partners to the campaign.

"This campaign is not about environmentalists versus farmers," said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. "Fair Farms is about working together to reform a food system that is out of balance. We shouldn't be rewarding farm operations that produce cheap food with steep hidden costs to the environment and public health. Instead, we need to find new opportunities to support those agricultural practices that will grow food in healthy ways for generations to come."

The Chesapeake Bay Program lists agriculture as the number one pollution source into the Chesapeake Bay. The Maryland Department of Agriculture estimates that at least 228,000 tons of "excess manure" annually cannot be spread on farm fields because of the serious risk to local waters.

The campaign's first call to action asks state legislators in the 2016 Maryland General Assembly to prohibit routine use of human antibiotics in farm animals that are not sick. The inappropriate use of human antibiotics in agriculture is seen as one of the culprits in the 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths caused by drug-resistant bacteria each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Estimates suggest that 70 percent of the medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are used to raise chickens, hogs and cattle on large farms.

"As consumers, we can, and should, vote with our forks - and with our pocketbooks," said Elvia Thompson, Co-founder of Annapolis Green. "When I go to the grocery store I imagine the pesticides and antibiotics in most of the food offered for sale and it's very scary. I want all of our meats and produce to be grown responsibly and ethically - for our good health and for a healthy planet. Fair Farms will help educate consumers and support those farmers who are already using a sustainable model."

The Fair Farms campaign recently launched its website, which details the campaign's position on important issues related to public health, agriculture pollution and sustainable farming. The website also features blog posts from farmers and other supporters, explaining why and how they are working to change the food system to one that prioritizes families, public health and the environment.

Fair Farms can also be found on Twitter (@fairfarms), Instagram (fair_farms) and Facebook.

Contact: 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Waterkeepers Chesapeake 202-423-0504

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Fair Farms is a movement of Marylanders of all stripes, working together for a new food system — one that is fair to farmers, invests in homegrown healthy foods, and restores our waterways instead of polluting them. www.fairfarmsnow.org