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Federation Blog

The 2017 General Assembly Session wound up last week with a mixed bag of good news and bad news. First and foremost, a threat to oyster sanctuaries throughout the Bay was rebuffed by the passage of HB924, which prevents opening of sanctuaries to harvest until after release of a stock assessment for the fishery, due December 1, 2018. The South RIVERKEEPER testified in favor of this important legislation in both chambers of the General Assembly and provided written testimony expressing the vital importance of preserving the sanctuaries, which available science shows out-perform harvest areas at building up the oyster population. The ongoing stock assessment is the most comprehensive study of the Bay’s oyster fishery yet performed and will, for the first time, determine a sustainable harvest rate based on scientific indicators rather than historical harvest rates.

The South River 2016 Report Card is out! 

Generally, the River is holding the line and remaining resilient. The River's overall grade improved, while the scores of key indicators like dissolved oxygen and water clarity decreased, the scores of many others including bacteria and nutrients improved. One key improvement was the improvement in underwater grasses, while still only at 3% of their historic levels, the South River saw a record increase in acreage from 2015.

RCGrades

Currently there are 3 pieces of legislation that would directly impact the South River:

FORESTS

House Bill 599: Requires that any forest cleared above one acre be replanted at a 1:1 ratio. Currently, developers are only required to replant ¼ acre for each acre cleared.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Forests provide innumerable benefits to water quality, air quality, and habitat in our State. This legislation will help ensure that those benefits do not continue to shrink along with Maryland’s dwindling forest cover. At least 14 to 22 acres of forest are cut down or lost each day in Maryland—equal to at least 10 football fields of trees. That’s 5,000 to 8,000 acres each year. Tell your elected officials  to vote FOR House Bill 599 and "conserve the forests that are a vital protection and filter for the South River."

After discussion at the public meeting on February 1, 2017 and careful review of the TMDL for sediment in the South River, the South River Federation (SRF) submits the following comments:

1. Edge of Stream Calculations - SRF questions the ability of the CBP P5.3.2 watershed model (CBP Model) to accurately capture watershed characteristics in the South River watershed. For example, the TMDL calculates sediment loading as edge-of-stream (EOS) loads, which re defines as the "loads that enter the modeled river reached... [and] represent not only the erosion from the land but all of the intervening processes of deposition on hillsides and sediment transport through smaller rivers and streams." (TMDL 13). While this definition appears to account for sediment loading from in-stream channel erosion, the equation used to calculate EOS loads does not. 

It will be hard for South River Federation to let go of Kirk Mantay. He has been the main pillar of our large-scale restoration projects over the last 5 years. However, even we have to admit that he couldn't miss this opportunity to become the Director of Operations at a growing regional land trust, the GreenTrust Alliance, headquartered in Annapolis, where he can venture into the expanding world of market-based strategic land protection.