MARYLAND - The Chesapeake Bay program says that they have rounded up the latest environmental health and restoration data for this year and that the majority of it's indicators are showing positive trends that restoration efforts are working, on Tuesday.
The program says that its partners use ten goals and 31 outcomes to advance the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and its watershed. Data and information used to track progress reportedly comes from sources including government agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and direct demographic and behavior surveys.
Officials say that thanks to local government, private landowner and watershed residents' efforts, nutrient and sediment pollution going into local waterways and the Bay have gone down, but agricultural and urban and suburban runoff are still a challenge.
The program also learned that:
- Last year, 97,668 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) or underwater grasses were mapped in the Chesapeake Bay. This reportedly accounts for 53 percent of the outcome to achieve and sustain 185,000 acres of underwater grasses in the Bay, including 130,000 acres by 2025.
- Dredge surveys estimate that there are 254 million adult female blue crabs in the Bay, exceeding the target of 215 million.
- Between 2012 and 2016, Bay Program partners reportedly opened 1,126 historical fish migration routes for fish passage, exceeding the outcome to restore 1,000 additional stream miles.
- Computer simulations show that pollution controls put into place in the Chesapeake Bay watershed between 2009 and 2016 lowered nitrogen loads by nine percent, phosphorus loads by 20 percent and sediment loads by nine percent. Pollution-reducing practices are in place to achieve 33 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 81 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 57 percent of the sediment reductions necessary to attain clean water standards
- Forty percent of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries met water quality standards between 2014 and 2016. Officials say that this is the highest amount ever recorded since they began collecting data in 1985.
This year, the program's experts reportedly reviewed data for the first time for three new indicators: Environmental Literacy and Planning, Student Meaningful Watershed Experiences and Citizen Stewardship.
Officials say that it's first-ever Citizen Stewardship Index shows what actions residents are taking to protect clean water and restore environmental health, as well as how much of the region has volunteered or spoken out on behalf of the environment.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan says, "The Chesapeake Bay is our greatest natural asset, and our administration has been working tirelessly for three years to restore the Bay and protect our environment. Together with our partners on the Chesapeake Executive Council, we have made great strides, and we are committed to continuing to make historic investments and fight for the Bay. It will take all of the Bay jurisdictions and our federal partners working together to build on this incredible progress and secure the Chesapeake for future generations.
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