Name Instructor Course
Chesapeake Bay Land Restoration
Land restoration is an ecological restoration process of a site, habitat, water body or natural landscape to make it safe for plant communities, wildlife, marine life and human beings. The site may have been destructed by natural causes such as desertification or by the activities of human beings such as deforestation, mining, and pollution among others. Many sites across the world have undergone restoration so that they become useful to human beings, wildlife, and plant’s life again. Chesapeake Bay Program is one such successful land restoration program in the United States. It involves regional partnership to carry out restoration of the bay. It brings about members of different states, academic, federal and local watershed institutions to create and adopt programs and policies that support the restoration of the bay. The Chesapeake Bay is located between Maryland, Virginia and the Atlantic Ocean.
Population growth, development, hydrological modification, overfishing and nonpoint pollution has seriously affected the Chesapeake Bay in the last two centuries. In the period 1970-1980 a strong political support from state and federal government, stakeholders, scientific knowledge from research and academic institution and the general public prompted the Chesapeake Bay to be the first estuary to be targeted for environmental restoration and protection.
Cause of Impairment & responsible parties
The pollution at the Chesapeake Bay is dominantly caused by human activities. Some industries are still channeling untreated waste products to the water body while the over 16 million residents around the bay are responsible for pollution due to toxic domestic waste products. Agricultural activities such use of chemicals in farming are also contributing to pollution at the Chesapeake Bay. The responsible parties are production industries located near the bay, local population and the residents of Maryland and the farmers around the water body (Horton, Pg. 3).
The pollution of Chesapeake Bay is affecting the human population as the water is no longer safe for use. The excess nitrates in the once clean drinking water is now a threat to human health leading to complexities such as the blue baby syndrome. However, the contamination is not only affecting human health but also fish and other wildlife in the water bodies. Disposal of chemicals into water bodies has resulted to mutations of organisms such as the discovery of frogs with six legs, female frogs with male genitalia and male amphibians with ovaries. In addition to that, contamination of water sources is now rendering endangered species of animals such as Orca Whale at the Chesapeake Bay. The nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from industries and agricultural chemicals have led to eutrophication in the Bay. The result of eutrophication is the excess growth of algae that limits the water oxygen for aquatic animals in the bay such as fish and whales. The excess nutrients have also resulted in changes in food webs thus not only affecting water animals but also land and other terrestrial wildlife (Boesch & et al. Pg. 2).
Obstacles to Chesapeake Bay Restoration
Chesapeake Bay Restoration program is faced with many challenges due to the large surrounding population. Reducing nutrients entering the bay is a major challenge in restoration. Some of the nutrients are not channeled directly into the bay. Most nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients entering the bay are coming from uplands due to agricultural activities. The chemicals are washed down the bay by surface run-offs when it rains and hence their deposition is difficult to control. The chemicals are from herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers from the farms in the uplands and upstream of the surrounding rivers (Goldman & et al. Pg. 5).
Seeking the funds for the Bay’s protection and restoration programs is also a major challenge facing the project. Running the program is too expensive as pollution of the bay is something that is continually occurring with the increase in the population of the residents. For instance, Russell Fairchild, who was once the chairman of Chesapeake Bay Commission stated that they needed at least three times of what they currently spend on the restoration of the bay (Dernoga & Mathew, Pg. 67). Restoration of the Bay is also faced with the challenge of dealing with landfilling, incineration, military testing, munitions and pesticides disposal from the United States Navy, Army, and the air force. In addition to that, involving the local citizens in dealing with the population has been a major challenge.
Restoration Efforts, Goals, and Future Progress
The partnership of the restoration program implements and monitors progress toward goals to restore habitat, reduce pollution, foster stewardship and protect the watershed. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution diet established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 limits the amount of sediments, phosphorus, and nitrogen released into the bay. The program partners have implemented the cleanup process that is reducing the pollutants over time. The computer simulation model has suggested a gradual drop in the nutrient amount in the Chesapeake Bay in the period 1985 to 2014. The efforts to achieve total pollution reduction will be in place by 2025 when nitrogen loads of 207.57 million pounds are reached by the computer simulated model. In addition to that, there is an ongoing watershed implementation plan to be fully achieved in 2018 (Antos, Par. 1).
The restoration projects also aim at restoring habitats. This is achieved by restoring agricultural wetlands and oyster reefs and reopening fish passages. In the period 2010 and 2014 over 6191 acres of wetlands have been rehabilitated and reestablished on agricultural lands. The goal is to create 85000 acres of wetland by 2025.
The programs also remove barriers such as dams and culverts that prevent fish from reaching spawning grounds. In 2013 alone, about 33 miles of fish passages were restored that brings the total to 2576 miles of the 92% targeted goal (Greiner, Par. 2).
The program also aims at restoring large-scale oyster reefs in Virginia and Maryland waterways. The goal is restoring and protecting oyster reefs in 10 river tributaries by 2025 (Vogt, Par. 1)
The restoration project also involves protection of watersheds by planting forest buffers and protecting the land. 114 miles of forest was planted along the river during the period between 2013 1nd 2014. The current progress is to plant 900 miles of forest buffers annually. The forest buffers prevent pollutants from reaching the waterways, stabilizing the banks and keeping the streams cool during hot weather. A total of 8152 forest buffers has been planted since 1996 (Mawhorter, Par. 4)
Chesapeake Bay program is one of the most successful land restoration programs. However, the increasing population of Maryland and Virginia residents poses a great challenge to dealing with pollution in the bay. The restoration efforts implemented by the partners of the program are likely to reduce the net pollution significantly in the bay by the year 2025.
Bruce V., Julie Mawhorter, Katherine Antos and Jennifer Greiner. “Restoration and Protection
Efforts” (2015) Cited from http://www.chesapeakebay.net/track/restoration/ on December 2, 2015.
Boesch, Donald F., Russell B. Brinsfield, and Robert E. Magnien. “Chesapeake Bay
Eutrophication.” Journal of Environmental Quality 30.2 (2001): 303-320.
Dernoga, Matthew Adam, et al. “Environmental justice disparities in Maryland’s watershed
restoration programs.” Environmental Science & Policy 45 (2015): 67-78.
Goldman, Margaret A., and Brian A. Needelman. “Wetland Restoration and Creation for
Nitrogen Removal: Challenges to Developing a Watershed-Scale Approach in the Chesapeake Bay Coastal Plain.” Advances in Agronomy (2015).
Horton, Tom. Turning the tide: saving the Chesapeake Bay. Island Press, 2013.