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- According to the Virginian-Pilot, scientists attending the ninth annual Back Bay forum on March 17 reported that this shallow, 40-square mile, Virginia Beach estuary continued to show ecological improvements in 2009. Aquatic life and habitat conditions began deteriorating in Back Bay in the 1980s, but in 2005 scientists began seeing improvements. Results from 2009 showed increases in fish populations, waterfowl, and submerged aquatic vegetation. Scientists and water-resource officials attribute the improved conditions to several factors, including land conservation, agricultural best management practices, fewer hog farms in the area, and public education about pollution prevention. News source: Va. Beach's Back Bay continues surprising rebound, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 3/18/10. More information about Back Bay is available from the Back Bay Restoration Foundation at http://www.bbrf.org/.
- As of March 20, 15 states including Virginia have joined the legal challenge to the U.S. EPA’s December 2009 finding that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases endanger public health and are therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed the Commonwealth’s challenge on February 16. The 14 states besides Virginia are Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. Meanwhile, on March 19 the Southern Environmental Law Center, headquartered in Charlottesville, filed a motion to intervene in support of the EPA decision; the Law Center is representing the Norfolk-based non-profit organization Wetlands Watch. News sources: 2 groups fume as Va. disputes EPA proposal, Roanoke Times, 3/22/10; and States join Virginia in EPA challenge, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/22/10.
- As reported in the Daily Press, Virginia’s 2010 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab season opened on March 18 with 1,864 commercial crabbing licenses, a decrease of 359 licenses following Virginia’s license buy-back program last year. The license buy-back was one of several state actions intended to reduce harvest pressure on crab populations, following the federal government’s declaration of a Chesapeake Blue Crab Fishery Disaster in 2008. Congress provided Virginia $15 million in fishery disaster funds, and the major uses of that money have been $6.7 million for the license buy-back; $2.4 million to train crabbers for oyster aquaculture; and $5 million to pay crabbers to retrieve lost crab pots, providing income to crabbers during the state’s closure of the winter-dredging season. News sources: Virginia's blue crab season comes with high hopes, Daily Press, 3/20/10; Virginia Marine Resources Commission—cited in the newspaper article—on the uses of funds.
- And our last news item this week is our monthly Virginia water-status report. First, precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, precipitation across Virginia between February 23 and March 24 ranged between about 1 and 5 inches. Some areas of southwestern, northern, and south-central Virginia received above-normal rainfall (compared to the historical record for this period), while rainfall in most of the state was normal or 1-2 inches below normal. Next, streamflow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the 28 days prior to March 24 were generally above normal in northern Virginia, central Virginia, and the New River basin; below normal in far southwestern Virginia and parts of south-central Virginia; and normal in most of south-central Virginia and in the upper James River basin. And last, our drought-watch: The weekly National Drought Monitor on March 23 showed Virginia being drought-free, as the state has been since November 2009.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC
This week we feature another mystery sound: the Red-Winged Blackbird.
Found year-round throughout Virginia, this bird is often seen around ponds, marshes, and other wet areas. A black body with red-and-yellow shoulder patches makes the males easy to identify; females, though, are brownish and lack the shoulder colors. For more information about birds or bird-watching in Virginia, visit the Web site of the Virginia Society of Ornithology at http://www.virginiabirds.net. More information on bird species is available from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, online at http://www.allaboutbirds.org.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
- On April 6, the advisory committee on a master plan for Middle Peninsula State Park meets in Gloucester. For more information, phone Robert Munson at (804)786-6140.
- On April 7, the Sewage Handling and Disposal Appeal Review Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Donna Tiller at (804) 864-7470.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
- On April 1, 12, and 13, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is holding online seminars, or Webinars, about a proposed National Climate Service. For more information, phone Brady Phillips at (202) 482-2365.
- On Apr. 2 and Apr. 9, 7-9 p.m., Belle Island State Park in Lancaster County is presenting “Froggy Went a’Courtin’", on the spring mating behavior and calls of frogs and toads. For more information, phone (804) 462-5030.
- On Apr. 6 in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources Showcase offers posters and exhibits on college departments and programs for prospective students. For more information, phone Peggy Quarterman at (540) 231-5481.
- And on Apr. 9-10, at Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County, Longwood University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science present Living Shorelines Workshops. The April 9 session is for project designers and contractors; the April 10 session, for property owners, wetland boards, and local governments. For more information, phone (804) 472-2621.
Show notes were provided by Jessica Razumich. Production assistance was provided by Patrick Fay. Recording assistance was provided by Innovation Space at Virginia Tech.
Opinions expressed on this show are not necessarily those of the Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.
If you need more information about anything mentioned this week, call us at (540) 231-5463, or visit our Web site at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/.