Two Chesapeake Biological Laboratory faculty members were invited to share their expertise at the Chesapeake Bay Program’s 2017 Executive Council meeting on Thursday, June 8. The meeting celebrated partnership and progress in Chesapeake Bay.
Walter Boynton, an ecologist at CBL who has been studying the Bay since the late 1960s, gave the opening remarks about the Bay restoration effort, while fellow CBL faculty member Lisa Wainger spoke as chairwoman of the Bay Program's Science & Technical Advisory Committee (STAC).
Also at the meeting, Maryland Gov. Larry J. Hogan Jr. presented retiring University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Don Boesch with a governor’s citation for his role advancing science and communication for the Chesapeake Bay.
During his presentation, Boynton took the audience back in time to talk about the Bay as it started its decline.
Scientists started working in the 1970s to understand the decline of seagrasses in Chesapeake Bay. On Thursday, Boynton called seagrass “the canary in coal mine,” because of its mysterious disappearance from the Bay. After a lot of research, they determined an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in the Bay were hurting water quality.
“For rockfish and blue crab recoveries, Bay science said nutrients needed to be cut in half," Boynton said.
Boynton remarked on evident improvements in the Bay’s health in recent years as nutrients are in decline ahead of schedule and water clarity improves. Seagrasses have improved three times, he said.
"Progress has been very substantial, and credit goes to this collaborative program," Boynton said of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
He concluded saying there’s more work needed, and that knowledge and communication can help save money.
"Saving the Bay is incredibly worth it," Boynton said.
Following Boynton’s presentation, Hogan said it would be critical to continue to get federal funding for the Bay. He pointed to UMCES’ annual Bay Report Card, noting Chesapeake Bay is now earning its best grades. The Bay earned a C grade (54%) in the 2016 report card, one of the highest scores calculated by UMCES scientists.
Saving the Bay is incredibly worth it.
Wainger spoke on behalf of the Science & Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), which provides scientific and technical guidance to the Chesapeake Bay Program on measures to restore and protect the Bay.
She spoke about a need for scientists and manager to work together toward better management practices.
“We must continue in partnership so we can continue our effort in understanding how best to restore the Chesapeake," she said.
Between the speakers, Boesch received a Maryland governors' citation for his role advancing science and communication for the Chesapeake Bay. Hogan presented the honor alongside Virginia Gov. Terence R. McAuliffe.
Boesch said he was surprised by the recognition.
“I have been most fortunate to work in Maryland at UMCES to restore Chesapeake Bay,” he said.