Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Islands of the Bay

Many of the islands of the Chesapeake Bay are slowly disappearing. Due to the presence of people on Smith Island and Tangier, their predicament is a little more well known. But the disappearance of Bay islands has been going on for decades.

Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman both vacationed on Poplar Island. It once had a small town with a population of about one hundred people in the late 1800's. By 1990, the island was gone.

It is back on the map, however, because of a project which takes the dredging from the shipping channel leading into Baltimore Harbor and deposits it in the location of the former island with the goal of restoring it. Eventually, it is hoped the island will have over 1500 acres.

Unfortunately, as promising as the project sounds, human intervention in environmental problems often doesn't work nearly as well as natural processes. The island is suppose to be habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl, but the dredging contain bacteria which actually sickens birds. This past summer, more than 700 birds died of botulism on Poplar Island. The dead birds attracted maggots which then attracted more birds which then became the next wave of sick birds.

While you may not hear about these kinds of problems in the normal news media, there is a way to be informed of environmental issues affecting the Bay area. There is a monthly publication in the form of a newspaper of (usually) around forty pages that I highly recommend. It is called the Chesapeake Bay Journal. You can subscribe to it by accessing their website at It is a 501 (c) (3) organization, so donations are tax deductible.

Not only do they cover the news, but they also have an extensive bulletin board feature which lists a host of current outdoor activities in the region that would be of interest to many parents who would like to teach their children to appreciate and respect the environment. I would encourage everyone to subscribe. They will send the newspaper for free, but after reading a issue or two, it would be nice to make a donation.

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