Around The Region

September 10, 2009

Release of proposals for bay cleanup is delayed a day

The promised public release Wednesday of new federal proposals for jump-starting the lagging Chesapeake Bay restoration was delayed by a day and is now planned Thursday, officials said. The state and federal bay "partnership" had announced that it would release a series of draft reports outlining proposals for accelerating the pace of cleaning up the Chesapeake and safeguarding its fish and wildlife Wednesday. But late in the morning, Jim Edwards, deputy director of EPA's bay program office, said the documents were still being finalized, particularly one report that focuses on restoring and maintaining the bay's "living resources," including bay grasses, oysters, crabs, fish and other wildlife. Edwards said the bay program staff still expected to present the reports to the EPA administrator Wednesday, meeting the deadline set by President Barack Obama in an executive order he issued in May. The delayed release drew mild criticism from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has sued the EPA over its failure to step in in the face of repeated failure by the bay restoration "partners" to meet deadlines and commitments they've set for cleaning up the estuary. "They're not off to the kind of start that you want to be off to," said John Surrick, spokesman for the Annapolis-based environmental group.

- Timothy B. Wheeler

Blackwater Refuge gets grant to buy additional acreage

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a sprawling Eastern Shore haven for migratory birds, bald eagles and endangered squirrels, is set to get a little larger, Maryland lawmakers announced Wednesday. The 27,000-acre refuge near Cambridge will be able to acquire 823 acres of nearby marsh, shoreline and woodlands with federal matching grants approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, according to a statement issued by Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Frank Kratovil, who represents the Shore. Established in 1933, the wildlife refuge harbors more than 300 species of birds, fish and other wildlife, including the largest nesting population of American bald eagles north of Florida and the largest known population anywhere of endangered Delmarva fox squirrels. Tens of thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, tundra swans and ducks spend winters there. The refuge draws more than 250,000 visitors a year, who contribute income and tax revenue to the local economy, the lawmakers noted.

- Timothy B. Wheeler

Essex teacher wins grant for environmental education

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Courtney Rohde, an earth science, animal behavior and physical science teacher at Chesapeake High School in Essex, is one of 19 high school educators in the country to be awarded an environmental education grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Weather Channel. The award, announced Wednesday, is designed to bring environmental issues to the classroom. The grant allows Rohde to take two online graduate-level courses offered by the Environmental Education and Training Partnership through the University of Wisconsin, Steven's Point; the tuition credits are worth about $1,500. Rohde hopes to learn new ways to educate her students about the environmental issues they face locally and globally, according to the foundation.

Proposal calls for coins to commemorate War of 1812

Commemorative $1 and $5 silver coins recognizing the War of 1812 would be minted in 2012 under a resolution sponsored by Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger that passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Under Ruppersberger's proposal, proceeds from coin sales would fund the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, which is planning a series of celebrations, including one at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The resolution awaits Senate approval before it can become law.

- Baltimore Sun staff

PSC rejects request to build high-voltage power line

The Maryland Public Service Commission has rejected an application to run a high-voltage, multistate power line across southern Frederick County. The regulators said in a split decision Wednesday that the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline application was improperly filed and must be revised before it can be considered. The project is planned by American Electric Power Co. of Columbus, Ohio, and Allegheny Energy Inc. of Greensburg, Pa.

- Associated Press

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