Great Environmental News of 2010: Chesapeake Bay Recovering?

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In a year where most mainstream media outlets have proclaimed the BP oil spill to be the country’s largest story, it was a relief to receive yesterday’s news from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that the Bay’s Blue Crab population is up modestly.

The 2010 State of the Bay Report tracks environmental quality in America’s largest estuary against twelve categories dealing with pollution, habitat and fishing. Since 2008, the CBF found that the blue crab — the iconic symbol and former economic backbone of the Bay — has more than doubled in population from 120 million to 300 million. The report scored the overall environmental quality at a 31/100, a three point spike from 2008.

CBF President Will Baker warned, however that: “The gains are fragile.”

The CBF remains concerned about two major threats to the Bay’s future: urban sprawl along the Washington/Baltimore corridor and the rise in natural gas fraking. Today, the EPA issued its long anticipated restoration plan for the Bay, which calls on specific action from six states and the District of Columbia to make measurable progress by 2025.

Is there reason to be optimistic? Indeed there is. However, the CBF and the EPA will require the coordinated actions of many agents including private citizens and particularly the poultry farm industry in Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

There’s reason to believe the Chesapeake Bay could be America’s next great environmental remediation success story. Let’s hope that small victories like the restoration of the Bay dominate the green headlines in 2011.

Image credit by ronzzo1 via Flickr under a CC license.

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