The Chesapeake Bay's health appears to be slowly rebounding, but still has a long way to go to be considered fully recovered, according to the region's largest environmental group.
The Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Foundation rated the estuary's overall condition last year slightly better than it was two years ago, when the group took its last comprehensive look. CBF gave the bay a score of 32 out of 70 for 2012, a one-point gain from two years ago and up four points since 2008.
"While the Bay is still dangerously out of balance, I am cautiously optimistic for the future," CBF President William C. Baker said in a statement released with the report.
The foundation's "State of the Bay" report found improvements in levels of phosphorus pollution, in dissolved oxygen concentrations in the water and in the abundance of oysters and crabs and certain aspects of protecting or restoring ecologically important "resource lands." Only one, underwater grasses, declined. More aspects of the bay's health remained unchanged - levels of nitrogen and toxic pollution, extent of wetlands and forested stream buffers, and numbers of rockfish and shad.