Late last week, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley praised agriculture and the state conservation programs for contributing to a major rebound in blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. "I'm happy to report that blue crab populations are at a 19-year high, and that there are more than 66% more juvenile crabs than last year – the highest on record - 587 million," said the governor.
He also noted that numbers of spawning age females are lower this year than last years. But that's not out of the ordinary.
"This achievement did not happen by itself," added O'Malley. "Progress is not inevitable; it's the product of responsible choices we make together - choices like protecting 36,281 acres of open space, investing over $63 million into the Bay Trust Fund and supporting our farmers in planting a record number of cover crops."
he Governor cited The Sustainable Growth and Preservation Act of 2012 as bringing still more improvements, including features important to agriculture. One assists in moving septic growth away from areas from where fields would contribute to watershed pollution.
Fees for the Bay Restoration Fund have been doubled, to fund upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. It would, according to Governor O'Malley, dramatically reduce levels of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Atlantic Coastal Bays, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The Watershed Protection and Restoration Program will require local counties and municipalities to establish a watershed protection and restoration program to pay for stormwater management, and stream and wetland restoration projects. The goal is to improve water quality and reduce phosphorus and nitrogen levels entering the bay and its tributaries.
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