Award recognizes the lifetime achievement and is the highest honor the governor can bestow on a person for their environmental contributions. University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Donald Boesch and Professor Walt Boynton were recognized as an “Admiral of the Chesapeake” by outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley during his final days in office.
The Admiral of the Chesapeake is awarded by Maryland’s governor to those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, the surrounding landscape, and the life that inhabits them. The award recognizes the lifetime achievement and is the highest honor the governor can bestow on a person for their environmental contributions.
Dr. Donald Boesch has been a trusted advisor on the science of the Chesapeake Bay for four Maryland governors, most recently serving on BayStat and the Maryland Climate Change Commission. He has a more than 40-year career in research on coastal ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay region, focusing In particular on human impacts on these ecosystems, including dead zones and wetland loss, and what can be done to reverse the degradation.
From his position as head of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, he assembled experts to produce a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of climate change in Maryland, a critical element of Maryland’s Climate Action Plan that led to the enactment of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. More recently, he was called on to assemble a group of experts to update projections of sea-level rise Marylanders are likely to experience.
He was responsible for research projects in the first major Chesapeake Bay scientific study that preceded the first Bay agreement and the formation of the Chesapeake Bay Program. His research laid the groundwork for how we think of the salinity zones in the Bay, and he was the first to document the effects of the dead zones – hypoxia in the bay – on the bottom-dwelling animals.
“Since I’ve been in Maryland, I’ve tried to synthesize the science that underpins the greatest challenge we have in the Bay – the consequences of excess nutrient enrichment,” said Boesch.
Dr. Walter Boynton, an ecologist with a focus on estuaries, was instrumental in designing the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Program, and his laboratory has carried out a water-quality monitoring component of the program since its inception in 1984. He also helped develop a new monitoring component, Eyes on the Bay, which involves near-real-time continuous water quality monitoring, as well as spatial mapping of key indicators.
He has been a key team member on all aspects of Bay science for more than 30 years, including identifying factors that caused the striped bass decline and supporting the adoption of a fishing moratorium that eventually lead to a resurgence in the stripped bass population, being part of a leadership team that identified the causes and ecological consequences of the seagrass decline in the Bay, and advocating for identifying and managing both phosphorus and nitrogen as nutrient pollutants that impact water quality in estuaries. He has also been a leader in the notion of considering the whole ecosystem when synthesizing scientific data to better advise the bay restoration community as to what to expect and they, in turn, can better explain this to the public.