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I have been working with several organizations through along with our foundation on helping restoration efforts in the Colorado River Delta. It's a pretty amazing place. Check out the video below where I was the Producer. We have a longer documentary in the works that will be entered into film festivals.

 

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Hi Mark

My efforts have been focused on Chesapeake Bay restoration for about twenty years. Having the opportunity to work in other areas of the world has shed a lot of insight into different and new ideas on how restoration can happen, shown different approaches, and showed me how different communities who live in these ecosystems have embraced the efforts.

I've come to realize that at the heart of the Chesapeake Bay's challenge is increased population. With more people have come more pollution, with pollution has come polluted water, with polluted water has come decreased fishing populations. The decrease in fish populations has been compounded with fisheries mis-management of which I attribute to shifting baseline syndrome. It's third math that as fish populations decrease as a result in increased pollution you simply can not harvest at previous levels. If we do, which we have, then we are destined to lose many species. Take the sturgeon fishery, the Chesapeake was once the second largest caviar producer in the world. Now maybe we have a hand full of sturgeon. Chalk that up to fisheries mis-management. Oysters, yes disease wiped them out which was probably precipitated by something in the water at some point. Now we are at 1% of historic levels and we still allow the harvest of oysters in the bay. Nature has a way to reproduce and adapt, but we've never given her the chance with oysters, people keep coming up with excuse after excuse to keep harvesting. Chalk the future disappearance of the wild Chesapeake oyster up to fisheries mis management.

As for water pollution, we have made "some" progress, but my question is, "Is progress keeping up with population growth or getting ahead of it?" If we do not fix the sewer plants and do a better job at curtailing run off then it's not an if we'll kill the bay, it's a when.

I'll continue to do what I can for the Chesapeake because I live here and care, but it will take everyone coming together and doing his/her part to make it happen. As for working in other areas of the world, I'll continue to do that as well because we live in a global society where everything effects the other one way or the other.

Thanks
Brandon
 

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Brandon, thank you very much for all that you do for fisheries and the environment both in the Chesapeake region and elsewhere. I find it hard to believe that your hard work would not be apparent to anyone who even occasionally frequents this site.

However, I do want to take issue with your population growth analysis. Population growth is often cited as an inexorable cause behind environmental degradation, as if all of our efforts are for naught because of the growing population. It is the excuse given as a basis for continuing harmful sprawl development, in particular.

In reality, the Chesapeake watershed population, at least, has not grown all that much in the past two decades. Between 1990-2000, PA grew by 3%, MD by 10%, VA by 14% and DE by 17%. DE has a very small population to begin with, so its larger percentage is misleading. Since 2000, the rate of growth has decreased further.

What HAS grown significantly over the same period is the rate of impervious surface growth. We now have much more impervious surface per person in the watershed than 20 or even 10 years ago. That means for each of us, we now have much more road surface, parking lot surface, more strip mall square footage and housing square footage. I find it interesting to correlate the amount of extra impervious surface with the amount of extra debt in this country (both public and private). This unsustainable, unnecessary and economy draining impervious surface growth contributes to the Chesapeake watershed’s problems far more than population growth.

On the bright side, impervious surface growth is far easier to slow – if we muster the political will – than population growth.
 

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Hi Jeff

Thanks. I think we are on the same page in general, bottom line is if we all do not do our part we are in some trouble. The impervious surface discussion is spot on, in fact scientists can link a certain percentage to when trout can not survive in our tributaries.

As a point of discussion I would be interested to know what the growth in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has been from 2000-2010?

Thanks
Brandon
 

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Hi Jeff

Thanks. I think we are on the same page in general, bottom line is if we all do not do our part we are in some trouble. The impervious surface discussion is spot on, in fact scientists can link a certain percentage to when trout can not survive in our tributaries.

As a point of discussion I would be interested to know what the growth in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has been from 2000-2010?

Thanks
Brandon
http://www.chesapeakebay.net/status_population.aspx
 

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I'll try to get the exact figures. I know that I have them for Anne Arundel County somewhere, but I'll also look for watershed-wide figures.
 

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Just a frame of reference.

Changes since Smith's Time

If John Smith were to retrace his 1608 voyages, he would need more than his original map to follow the route. The Bay is dramatically different now-changed primarily at the hands of humans over the centuries.

Animals

Along with the sprawling development that has transformed the shoreline since the colonial period, the most apparent changes are in the quantity and types of animals that lived in and around the Bay. Back in Smith's days, oysters were so ubiquitous that they "lay as thick as stones." He wrote:

There were more sturgeon (now rarely seen in the Bay) "than could be devoured by dog or man."
"Of fish we were best acquainted with sturgeon, grampus, porpoise, seals, stingrays ... brits, mullets, white salmon [rockfish], trouts, soles, perch of three sorts" along with a variety of shellfish.
Although settlers died of starvation, their problem was not usually the lack of food in the Bay but rather their inability to effectively harvest these resources. Often the friendlier Indians had to take the inexperienced settlers in hand, teaching them how to trap the fish with weirs and chase the prey down with spears.

Land

The land surrounding the Bay also harbored a vast array of wildlife: bears, wolves, cougars, falcons, partridges, various waterfowl and a variety of animals named unfamiliarly in the old English language. Although the Indians had cleared small plots of land for agriculture and cleared the forest understory for firewood in some areas, much of the Bay watershed remained undisturbed. Smith remarked about cypress trees that were 18 feet around the base and up to 80 feet tall without a branch. Other trees, used by the Indians for dugout canoes, were so large that a canoe fashioned from a single tree could hold 40 men.

Water

Unlike the murky summertime waters of today's Chesapeake, the water during Smith's time was substantially clearer. Trees formed an almost continuous canopy around the Bay and its tributaries, holding eroding soil in place and dampening the power of torrential storms. Not only did less sediment and fewer nutrients wash into the water, but some scientists have speculated that the Bay was saltier because trees slowed freshwater runoff from the land. Phytoplankton grew, but did not overwhelm the Bay as they do now. The Bay changed with the days and seasons, constantly shifting with the rhythms of nature-a delicate yet dynamic balance.
 
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