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Chesapeake Bay Agreement signed

posted Jun 18, 2014, 3:44 AM by   [ updated Jun 28, 2014, 11:22 AM ]
In a historic first, land use and climate change were recognized as threats to the Chesapeake Bay when the governors of six states and the mayor of the District of Columbia signed a new Chesapeake Watershed Agreement on June 16, 2014. Since 1983, these pacts have committed the signing parties to pursue goals for restoring the Bay.

Unlike past agreements, which have focused mainly on reducing nutrient pollution, this one promises to address land use, in part because urbanization of the landscape is the only pollution sector still increasing.

The plight of Mattawoman Creek serves as a poster child for the baywide issue of an urbanizing landscape. Until recently, Mattawoman was considered the "the best, most productive tributary to the Bay" by fisheries scientists. Now they warn that Mattawoman is at the "tipping point" for irreversible degradation due to polluted runoff from too much development. They counsel that land-use plans must be reconsidered in light of the resulting declines in the fish community.

Climate change threatens the Bay and its tributaries with the stress of extreme weather events like severe storms and deeper drought, and sea-level rise. Again, Mattawoman brings the issue home, with the effect of rising water evident in the picture above. A forest bordering the freshwater-tidal estuary is presently drowning. Testifying to the intrusion of a high marsh into the woods are brilliant yellow bur marigolds, a wetland wildflower of late summer. 

An interactive and informative map projecting where coastlines will flood with rising sea levels is here. It predicts the location of the drowning woods pictured above.

An excellent Washington Post article on the new Chesapeake Bay agreement is here.