Delaware Public Media

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative

The Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary, with a watershed that spans 64,000 square miles, touching on six states. It’s an economic engine to two of those states, a source of food for many and close to the hearts of millions. Five public radio organizations—WYPR in Baltimore, Virginia Public Radio, Delmarva Public Radio at Salisbury University, Delaware Public Media and WESM at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore are collaborating to produce reports examining a broad spectrum of issues affecting the Bay and its watershed. 

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, The Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Ann Hankin, The Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, The Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

Pamela D'Angelo

For as long as there’s been a Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the mouth of the bay, there’s been a gift shop and restaurant perched on an island in the middle of it all. But now that Virginia has broken ground to add a parallel tunnel, the restaurant is about to become history.


Reese Lukei

Osprey, like bald eagles, are a comeback story.

Their eggs were destroyed by the pesticide DDT, until it was banned in 1972, when there were only about 1,400 breeding pairs of osprey around the bay. By the late 1970s scientists began seeing osprey in southeastern Virginia, according to Reese Lukei, who monitors osprey nests in that region, along with Chrystal Matthews for the William and Mary Center for Conservation and Biology and the Virginia Aquarium.

Katie Peikes / Delaware Public Media

Tourists visiting the Chesapeake Bay region have plenty of options: boating, fishing, dining and more.

But one particular type of tourism that has grown over the last five years gets those visitors thinking about the natural environment around them: Ecotourism.


Joel McCord

A group of anthropology majors from Washington College in Chestertown has spent the summer not at the beach, but as research assistants roaming the Eastern Shore, talking to residents about the risks of flooding and projected sea level rise. They’ve traveled through Talbot, Dorchester and Somerset counties talking to local residents about their communities, changes and their experiences with flooding.


Chris Moe / UMCES

Earlier this summer, we started hearing reports of dolphins in Chesapeake Bay. Some thought it was unusual; others said it was no big deal.

So Joel McCord went searching for them for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative.


Pamela D'Angelo

In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. That began a federal-state partnership to restore and protect it, including a plan to revive the wild oyster population through sanctuaries on restored reefs in Maryland and Virginia.

But President Trump's proposed budget eliminates funding for that plan, further complicating an already complicated effort to restore the reefs gutted by a century of overfishing, disease and pollution. 

Pamela D'Angelo reports for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative.


Rachel Baye

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates all of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s $73 million and reduces or eliminates several other funds used to clean up the Bay and its watershed.

On Thursday, leaders from the six states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed — who together form the Chesapeake Executive Council — signed a resolution calling on Trump and Congress to replace that money in the budget and urging federal agencies to remain active participants in Bay restoration efforts.


Pamela D'Angelo

The Chesapeake Bay's crab, oyster and bait industry has been losing its American workforce since the late 1980s, as the old hands retire and younger workers seek better paying jobs.

The packing houses turned to foreign, seasonal workers to fill the gaps, but the visa program Congress established for that, dubbed H2B, quickly reaches the 66,000 worker cap. And that’s forcing some seafood processing plants to shut down.


Brendan Reynolds

Much to the horror of environmentalists, President Donald Trump has proposed zeroing the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program out of the federal budget. Congress recently passed a spending measure that keeps money flowing to it, but that’s only good until September.

With that in mind, reporters for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative decided to see what that would mean in practical terms for the Bay clean-up.

Joel McCord, from WYPR in Baltimore, starts with a look at stream restoration efforts.


File photo courtesy of USDA.

The Delmarva Peninsula lies under the Atlantic Migratory flyway, a path waterfowl migrate through. As Europe deals with recent outbreaks of a severe strain of Avian Influenza, some local poultry growers worry that just one infected bird passing through the region could contaminate and kill whole flocks of chickens.

 

That’s why poultry growers across Delmarva take precautions to avoid the possibility of the virus traveling from outside of the farm to the respiratory systems of their chickens. And research is being done that could help farmers better understand waterfowl patterns so they can prepare for when the virus surfaces.

 


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