Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lynnhaven River Art and Photography Exhibit in Virginia Beach

“The Art of Saving a River,” an art and photography exhibit celebrating the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, will open with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 6, at Towne Pavilion Center II, 600 22nd Street in Virginia Beach.

The reception is open to the public.  The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday through December 31.

Hosted by The Runnymede Corporation, the show features many of the photographs and art in the new book, “The Lynnhaven, Restoring a Legend” as well as other works of art and pottery.

Lynnhaven River Now, the conservation group that has been working to clean up the river, published the full color book of paintings, photographs and essays on the river and is sponsoring the art show.

 The book will be for sale for $50 at the opening reception and through Lynnhaven River Now.

For more information on the exhibit or the book, call 757-962-5398.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2011 Waterfowl Festival in Easton Md

The 41st annual Waterfowl Festival takes place in the colonial town of Easton, Maryland. The historic buildings of Easton serve as venues for galleries and exhibits, while events and demonstrations are held at the surrounding ponds and scenic areas.

The Waterfowl Festival is America’s premiere wildlife art exposition featuring art work from more than 300 artists recognized world-wide. Hundreds of paintings, sculpture, carvings, photos, and fine crafts reflect the beauty of the natural world. Dealers offer antique and contemporary decoys.

The Festival offers fly fishing and retriever dog demonstrations – sure to entertain the experienced outdoor enthusiast, children and everyone in between, as well as DockDogs, an entertaining competition between dogs to see who can make the longest jump into a pool.

There are numerous hands-on activities for the entire family, especially for the little ones, such as nature arts and crafts activities and up close wildlife education.

Four world-class calling contests take place at the Festival attracting top callers from across the country and Canada. Contests: World Championship Goose Calling Contest® with $10,000 first prize, Mason-Dixon Regional Duck Calling Contest, World Champion Live Duck Calling Contest® and World Champion Live Goose Calling Contest™ – all with cash and gear prizes.

Attendees can checkout the latest gear, accessories and gadgets for hunting, fishing and marine sports at the Sportsman’s Pavilion.Great Eastern shore food and music add to the festivities.

The Waterfowl Festival is produced annually by Waterfowl Festival Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

In its 41 years, the Festival has become a leader in the conservation of waterfowl and wildlife habitat. More than $5 million has been donated to projects throughout the Atlantic Flyway and in particular the Chesapeake Bay.

The Waterfowl Festival takes place November 11-13 in downtown Easton, Maryland, off Route 50. Festival hours are: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission is $10 for all three days - children under 12 free.

For additional information or tickets online, visit or call 410/822-4567.

Lynhaven River Now Fall Festival

The LRNow Fall Festival will be held on November 5th from 11 AM - 5 PM at Virginia Beach Middle School, 600 25th Street. This family friendly event is free and open to the public.

Family activities will include good local food, native plant sale, autographing copies of LRNow's new book, activities for children, information on LRNow's programs, painted rain barrel auctions, and much more.

Also featured will be exhibits will cover building rain barrels, rain gardens, oyster gardening, learning to shuck an oyster, and other topics.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mid Atlantic Wild Mushrooms

Among the more unexpected sights that residents of the Mid Atlantic region began seeing after Hurricane Irene and flooding from Tropical Storm Lee was the growth of wild mushrooms.

In woodlands and forests throughout North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and elsewhere an incredible array of fungi sprang up following heavy rainfall and flooding.

With recent weather systems bringing more rainfall, the fall of 2011 should be an exceptional time to see these beautiful mushrooms in Mid Atlantic forests. Many forms of fungi grow rapidly and die after only a few days. 

On September 15, 2011 The Wicomico County Young Farmers and Ranchers, the Maryland Farm Bureau, and Perdue announced the launch of, a group of agriculture interests who have come together to raise much-needed funds for the legal defense of a Berlin, Maryland farm family involved in a protracted and crippling lawsuit with the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance since March 2010.

The Waterkeeper Alliance filed a federal lawsuit against Alan and Kristin Hudson accusing them of violating the Maryland Clean Water Act. At the heart of this suit is a pile of fertilizer, believed by the Waterkeepers to be poultry litter, which the activists identified from a small plane they flew over the
Hudson’s property.

Since the suit was filed, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) confirmed the pile was actually biosolids, which the Hudsons obtained from nearby Ocean City, as part of a successful environmental program to recycle municipal waste for agricultural purposes. MDE determined that no action was required other than to spread the biosolids on the farm’s crops.

However, the Waterkeepers have persisted with the suit, which has put a massive financial strain on the Hudson family and could force a settlement or bankruptcy while they wait to make their arguments in court sometime in 2012.

In their suit, the Waterkeeper Alliance contends the Hudsons are a “factory farm,” despite the fact that they have only two chicken houses and has been farmed by members of the Hudson family for four generations. is concerned because, if successful, the Waterkeepers’ bankruptcy-by-litigation
tactic could be a damaging precedent for America’s family farmers, who could be dragged into court just for following every-day farming practices.

“The Waterkeepers litigation is a job killer for Maryland,” said Lee Richardson, a member of the Wicomico County Young Farmers and Ranchers and “If this extremist group succeeds in forcing the Hudson family to settle or declare bankruptcy before arguments are even heard in court, they’ll do it to other family farmers here and across the country, just because we don’t conform to the Waterkeepers misguided image of how animals should be raised.”

The lawsuit marks a watershed moment for the agriculture community, particularly in Maryland, where the farming industry plays a large role in the state’s economy and is responsible for 14 percent of its workforce, the largest percentage of any sector in the state. Many local farmers believe that if this lawsuit proceeds it would open up the flood gate for more frivolous litigation.

“By pursuing this malicious lawsuit, this extremist group is sending a message to American farmers: if you raise chickens, hogs or cattle – and don’t do it their way – then the Waterkeeper Alliance is willing to use the courts to force you out of business,” said Val Connelly, with the Maryland Farm Bureau and encourages members of the agriculture community and those who care about sustaining family farming to visit, to learn about the threats and consequences of misguided environmental litigation and to make a donation to the Hudsons’ legal defense fund.“The Hudsons can’t do it alone, they need help,” said Richardson. “This lawsuit is just the start and we need to send a loud and clear signal to these radical groups, otherwise there will be dire consequences for family farms across the state of Maryland and around the country. We need to act now, or we could lose a great American asset – our farming community.”

For more information visit:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sustainability Art Exhibit - Auction in Durham NC

Sustainability Art Exhibit - Auction at Watts Grocery

1116 Broad Street, Durham, NC, 27705

October 3, 2011, 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Hosted by: Walking Fish

Sponsors: Craven Allen Gallery, Eastern Carolina Organics, Elodie Farms, and Farmhand Foods

Walking Fish is hosting a Sustainability Art Exhibit and Auction at Watts Grocery Durham, NC on Monday, October 3rd. This one-night “pop-up” show features artwork by Douglas Gayeton paired with locally sourced hors d’oeuvres prepared by Amy Tornquist.

Twenty-four of Gayeton’s prints will be auctioned off to support other fishing communities design creative business plans that make local, healthy, high quality, low-impact seafood more accessible.

The Lexicon of Sustainability show is 1 of 100 shows taking place around the country. For the past two years Douglas Gayeton has been photographing some of the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming. These insights have been translated into beautiful large format photo collages (24 x 38 inch).

To bring these important ideas to a national audience, the Lexicon Project is asking local groups from around the country to host temporary exhibits in their respective communities as a way to spur dialog about how people can have a positive impact on their local food systems.

Walking Fish invites friends to see Gayeton’s work, sample local hors d’peuvres, and participate in the silent auction.

Space is limited. RSVP required.  There will be a cash bar and locally sourced hors d'oeuvres prepared by Amy Tornquist, chef and owner of Watts Grocery.

RSVP to attend - Please send a note to info at walking-fish dot org with your name(s) and email address(es). A confirmation email will be sent.

Walking Fish is a community supported fishery (CSF) that links fishermen on the coast of North Carolina to consumers in the Triangle.

Mid Atlantic Crop Damage From Storms

Crop damage from several recent weather systems has been significant in the Mid Atlantic region. Reports of crop damage includes corn, soybeans, vegetables, fruit trees, and even farm-raised fish.

According to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB), high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Irene caused sporadic damage to farms and orchards in several areas of Pennsylvania. The most common problem cited by farmers is that field corn was leaning or flattened by strong winds, while apples and other fruits fell to the ground during the storm.

“The largest and most mature fruit fell off the trees.We estimate that about 20% of our fruit is on the ground, which is a significant loss,” said Brad Hollabaugh of Hollabaugh Brothers Fruit Farm and Market in Biglerville, Adams County.

“There is nothing more disheartening than looking at apples on the ground, after you’ve put your heart and soul into growing and nurturing the fruit throughout the season,” added Hollabaugh.

Jim Schupp, the director of Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center, confirmed that winds from Hurricane Irene uprooted fruit trees. “Damages vary widely from farm-to-farm and even from one section of a farm to the other.  Some farms were hardly touched, while others have fruit losses of 50%,” said Jim Schupp.

Corn crops throughout the Mid Atlantic were tangled or flattened by Hurricane Irene and later by heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Lee. In some areas, corn which was already stressed from lack of rain was severely flattened by rain and wind.

Flood damage to crops was most extensive in Pennsylvania as the Susquehanna River flooded portions of Harrisburg, Hershey, and surrounding communities.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mid Atlantic Flooding

Throughout the Mid Atlantic region, rivers and creeks are on the rise, with flooding being reported in several states. Rainfall from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and other weather systems have pushed several rivers beyond flood stage.

In Maryland, several areas were experiencing flooding during early September:
On the Susquehanna, the Conowingo Dam floodgates are being opened due higher than normal flows caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. Flows have been on the rise since early Monday and are predicted to continue for the next several days.

The Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park in Elkridge is experiencing significant flooding along both the Baltimore County and Howard County sides of the river near U.S. Route 1.

Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) issued a warning on September 7 that boating and other recreational use of the Upper Potomac River, including its creeks and streams, should be avoided until September 9, 2011. The advisory will be updated if necessary.

The advisory was based on information received from the National Weather Service and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

According to DNR, river levels are hazardous for recreational use on the main stem of the Upper Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls. According to DNR, hazardous conditions may also exist on tributaries of the Potomac River.

In Pennsylvania, flooding is extensive, with Harrisburg, Hershey and other areas being especially hard hit. The Susquehanna River was expected to crest in the coming days as rainfall continues.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mid Atlantic Icons

The Mid Atlantic is represented by a number of cultural icons. Many of the region's icons are influenced by marine culture, including fishing, boating, seafood, and other subjects. Included below are just a small sample of the many icons that are popular in the Mid Atlantic region.

The Atlantic blue crab is an icon of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding states. This delicious crab is harvested by local watermen and shipped around the world.

Outer Banks Jolly Roger shirt
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is said to have been a stronghold for pirates. Numerous local legends, ghost stories, and pirate books have made the "jolly roger" logo an icon of the region.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fall 2011 Things to Do in the Mid Atlantic

An incredible range of festivals, shows and other events are held throughout the Mid Atlantic during the fall months. This list highlights some of the most popular fall things to do for the 2011 fall season:

The Maryland Renaissance Festival is set on a beautiful 25-acre wooded site with 85 acres of free parking. The festival includes craft and food booths, five pubs, ten major stages, a Jousting Arena and lots of games.

The festival is located on Crownsville Road, in Anne Arundel County in Crownsville, just outside of Annapolis, MD. The festival is held on weekends during August, September and October.

Sunfest in Ocean City Md is held on Sep 22nd, 2011at the inlet and along the beach.This Maryland fall festival includes music, food, arts and crafts, hayrides, children's activities and more.

The 2011 Potomac River Ramble, happens on Sunday, September 11, 2011 (rescheduled for October). The Potomac River Ramble is a canoeing and kayaking event that features environmental programming, restoration projects, festive meals, meetings with elected officials, and much more.

Join the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited (MDTU) on September 21 when Lefty Kreh is scheduled to to speak at the Trout Unlimited Annual Meeting. His presentation is entitled: “Tips and Tricks for Fly Fishing.”

The Virginia Beach Neptune Festival runs from September 30, 2011 thru October 2, 2011. The festival includes Boardwalk Weekend, the Neptune Art and Craft Show, a sandcastle competition, athletic competitions, the Neptune Grand Parade, and other activities.

Harvest Faire, the Peninsula’s oldest Renaissance Festival, runs October 7-9, 2011 to Newport News to Newport News Virginia.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mid Atlantic Hurricane Irene Damage

a downed tree from Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene struck the Mid Atlantic on August 27, 2011, packing high winds, heavy rain, storm surges, unusually high tides and flash floods.

Throughout the region, power outages were reported throughout the first afternoon, Saturday night and into Sunday.

On Sunday, August 28, 2011, residents in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware were discovering a variety of damage as Hurricane Irene decreased to tropical storm status.

By late morning, the skies cleared, winds subsided and many businesses opened in southern areas. Meanwhile, the storm continued battering New Jersey, New York and much of New England.

Major media outlets reported at least 15 storm-related deaths throughout the Atlantic states. Throughout the region, residents experienced evacuations, power outages and storm damage.

In Virginia and North Carolina, beaches were battered and fishing piers were demolished.

Much of the worst damage from Hurricane Irene occurred in New Jersey, where flooding caused extensive property damage.

As expected, flash floods occurred throughout much of the Mid Atlantic region, resulting in loss of life in some cases.

By Monday, August 29, remnants of the storm were affecting eastern Canada. Flooding in parts of the Mid Atlantic and New England.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene to Strike Mid Atlantic

After days of speculation concerning the path of Hurricane Irene, much of the Mid Atlantic snapped into action on August 25th as predictions made it clear that there was a significant risk of danger.

Several Mid Atlantic states declared a state of emergency, including parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New York.

The City of Virginia Beach began urging visitors and residents to voluntarily evacuate Sandbridge from noon Friday, Aug. 26, to noon Saturday, Aug. 27, and stay away until the storm has passed.

Other evacuations were underway in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Ocean City Md, Cape May and other northern beaches.

On the same day, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port set Hurricane condition X-ray for the Port of Hampton Roads in preparation for Hurricane Irene.

For information on Hurricane Irene's progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center's web page at the following link -

For hurricane tips and information, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Will Hurricane Irene Affect Mid Atlantic States?

On August 22, 2011, The 5th District Coast Guard urged mariners and residents to begin planning and prepare for Hurricane Irene.

According to the Coast Guard people should remember the following guidelines as hurricanes approach:

- Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the Internet, and local television and radio stations. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF-FM channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also available on VHF-FM channel 16.

- Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.

- Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and fenders.

- Be cautious of hazardous materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure these materials prior to any foul weather.

- Stay clear of beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Rip currents and undertows can drag swimmers away from their boat or the beach and lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted.

Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek early passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

Tropical systems are designated by name when they reach tropical storm strength with sustained winds reaching 39 mph. They become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center's Web page at

Reef Balls Placed in Choptank River Oyster Reef

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Artificial Reef Program joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) on August 11 to place 306 oyster spat-laden reef balls on a two-acre site near Cooks Point in the Choptank River.

Volunteers from CBF and the Dorchester County chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA) built the reef balls at the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Md. and at a private site on the Eastern Shore. West Marine and NOAA provided grant support for building the reef balls and setting the spat.

Reef balls add three-dimensional structure and habitat for aquatic organisms such as mussels, oysters, tunicates, marine worms and myriad other species, which are vital components of the Chesapeake Bay’s food chain.

Once established, striped bass, flounder, croaker, spot, sea bass and other saltwater fish species utilize oyster habitats for food and shelter.

For more information on Maryland’s artificial reef initiative, visit or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s restoration efforts go to

source: MD DNR

2011 American Music Festival

The American Music Festival, the largest outdoor musical event on the East coast, features local, regional and national acts.

Music at the American Music Festival includes rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B and more.

A variety of national acts are scheduled to play, including the Stone Temple Pilots (September 2), ZZ Top (September 3) and Bret Michaels (September 4).

During the festival, musicians perform on a 60-foot wide and 60-foot tall stage on the beach at 5th Street as well as on other stages along the beautiful oceanfront.

The three day American Music Festival will occur on September 2-3-4, 2011.

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Smart Buoys

A new NOAA "smart buoy" deployed near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel will help boaters and fishermen monitor conditions in the Chesapeake Bay.

The highly sophisticated buoy is the newest addition to NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS), a network of buoys that transmit multi-use oceanographic and meteorological data from the bay to weather forecasters, maritime safety personnel, coastal decision makers, and recreational boaters and fishermen.

Managed by NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, CBIBS buoys collect weather, oceanographic and water-quality observations and transmit this data wirelessly in near-real time.

Data and related educational resources can be accessed at ( for mobile devices) and by toll-free phone at 877-BUOY-BAY (877-286-9229).

The information is also available via free Android and iPhone applications. CBIBS uses new technology to make information available for a broad range of research, commercial, and recreational purposes, including assessing the progress of bay restoration.

The other nine buoys in the network are located at the mouths of the Susquehanna, Patapsco, Severn, Potomac, and Rappahannock Rivers; in the main stem of the bay near Calvert County, Md.; in the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va.; in the James River near Jamestown; and in the Elizabeth River off Norfolk.

source: NOAA

Friday, August 12, 2011

Navy Destroyer Sunk off Mid Atlantic Coast as Reef

The U.S. Navy destroyer ex-USS Arthur W. Radford was recently scuttled off Delaware coast, approximately 26 miles southeast of Indian River Inlet (38* 30.750’N - 074* 30.700’W). The decommissioned warship will now serve as an artificial reef.

The Radford, her hull spanning 563 feet and the longest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic, was sunk at the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site. The Del-Jersey-Land reef is a collaborative effort of the three states cited in its name - Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland – and lies equidistant from fishing ports in Indian River (Del.), Cape May (N.J.), and Ocean City (Md.).

After the Navy’s announcement of the Radford’s availability for reefing in January 2008 and a 2½ -year application process, the ship underwent 14 months of preparation by American Marine Group, a Virginia-based marine towing, salvage and reefing contractor.

The company, which has extensive experience reefing ships in the Atlantic, cleaned and prepared the Radford to EPA specifications. Much of her armored hull and other nautical equipment were recycled for reuse.

Funding for the ship’s transportation, cleanup, preparation, sinking and monitoring was shared among the three states and the Navy. Delaware’s portion came from the Sportfish Restoration Program that includes federal excise taxes on fishing and boating equipment in the state.

The destroyer, named for Navy admiral Arthur W. Radford who served as the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2003.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Assessment

A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientific assessment of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab stock has been released, setting higher abundance thresholds and crab population targets.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment, the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab population indicates significantly more work needs to be done to fully rebuild the stock to sustainable levels.

The study concludes that although the stock has increased substantially in response to three years of rebuilding efforts by Virginia, Maryland and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the stock was more depleted than originally believed and will take longer to rebuild than had been expected.

The assessment sets a new overfishing threshold as well as a new safe abundance level for female crabs. According to NOAA, the project took three years to complete and represents the best available science on the stock’s reproductive capabilities, lifespan, gender and size distributions.

Until now, fishery managers used an interim target of 200 million total adult crabs in the bay as the threshold of a healthy stock and considered overfishing to occur if 53 percent of adult (age 1+) crabs were harvested in a year. Regulations were established to meet these benchmarks, which were based on 2005 bay-wide crab assessment data.

The new stock assessment sets a new healthy-species abundance level of 215 million female crabs, with overfishing occurring if 34 percent of the female crabs are harvested in a year.

Put into context, this means that fishery managers have only come close to achieving this level of female abundance three times over the past 22 years, in 2010, 1993 and 1991.

These more stringent assessments of the stock’s health will allow fishery managers to set more precise female harvest limits in order to fully rebuild the stock. Virginia, Maryland and the PRFC remain committed to working together to rebuild the bay’s crab population to meet the new female population threshold and abundance target.

In September the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee will meet to consider the new assessment, examine data from the past two years and provide management recommendations to Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

The bay-wide crab harvest in 2010 was in the 90 million-pound range, confirming that a healthy harvesting industry can coexist with regulations designed to rebuild a self-sustaining, healthy blue crab population.

Through a historic collaboration in 2008, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission took strong, coordinated action to reduce harvest pressure on female crabs by 34 percent. At that time, scientists deemed conservation measures necessary as blue crab suffered near historic lows in spawning stock.

Dr. Tom Miller, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, lead author of the stock assessment commented on the assessment, stating: "Overall, crabs in the bay are doing well. Implementing recommendations developed  in the stock assessment, like focusing fishing regulations on female  crabs, will help even more,"

The stock assessment can be viewed in its entirety at:

source: Virginia Marine Resources Commission/Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Fires in Great Dismal Swamp

Two wildfires were burning at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in early August, 2011. The fires were started by recent lightning strikes.

Due to the fire, access to Railroad Ditch Road and trail was disrupted, and bus tours to Lake Drummond were cancelled.

The Refuge was notified of the wildfires around 7:00 p.m. on Thursday August 4, 2011. There are two wildfires, located southwest of Lake Drummond off Interior Ditch Road. As of August 5th, the larger fire (Lateral West) was estimated at 15 acres and the smaller fire (Lateral West 2) was a single tree fire.

Initially, the Refuge had two bulldozers and a helicopter working the fires in an effort to stop the fire's movement and spread rate. Additional resources, including both people and equipment, were expected to arrive to contain the fires.

For up-to-date information on the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge wildfires, visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boaters Prepare for Mid Atlantic Hurricanes

With hurricane season bearing down on the Mid Atlantic region, state and federal agencies are warning boaters to be prepared for storms.

When deciding on storm preparation plans, mariners need to consider size, type of boat and location.

Many boat locations may not offer protection from high winds or tides.

Boaters should consider the following when making arrangement for their vessels:

Remove valuable equipment from a boat to protect it from damage.

Consider removing a boat from the water to reduce damage from storm surge.

Boats on land should be properly stored or tied down to prevent being damaged by winds.

Small open boats can be filled with water to lessen the effect of the wind.

Boats remaining in the water should be moored in safe areas or berths. Lines should be doubled and high on pilings.

Boaters should remember that storm surges can cause tides over the pilings.

Install fenders to protect boats from pilings, piers or other vessels.

Ensure bilge pumps work properly and batteries that run the pumps are fully charged.

Seal all openings to make the vessel watertight.

Collect all documents, including insurance policies. Take photographs of boats and equipment for insurance

Do not stay aboard boats during storms. Safeguard human life.

Boaters should take these actions at least 48-72 hours prior to the event to accommodate unforeseen problems. During the storm, occupants should be off the water and in safe shelters.

Storm conditions can delay or prevent response from emergency personnel.

Hurricane Preparedness Links:

source: MD DNR

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New North Carolina Law Requires Written Permission to Hunt or Fish on Posted Lands

The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed a new law which requires hunters and anglers to obtain written permission from a landowner or leaseholder before hunting or fishing on privately-owned posted property; including land, waters, ponds or legally established waterfowl blinds.

The Landowner Protection Act also provides two ways for landowners to post their lands to allow only hunters, trappers and anglers with written permission to legally enter their property. Landowners can now post their land by using vertical purple paint marks on posts or trees, or, as in the past, by placing signs or posters. View the Landowner Protection Act document with more detailed instructions on posting property with signs or purple paint.

The Landowner Protection Act specifically relates only to hunting, fishing, or trapping on posted lands. It clarifies the existing G.S. 14-159.6 requirement for written consent to hunt, fish, or trap on posted lands by specifying that written permission, dated within the past 12 months and signed by the landowner, leaseholder, or agent of that land, be carried and displayed upon request of any law enforcement officer. If a hunting club has leased the land, a person shall have a copy of their hunting club membership and a copy of the landowner permission granted to that hunting club.

source: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Chincoteague Pony Roundup

One of the most popular summertime events in the Mid Atlantic region is the Chincoteague Pony Roundup, Penning, Swim and Auction.

On the weekend prior the Pony Swim, "Saltwater Cowboys" begin rounding up about 150 wild ponies that live on Assateague Island.

About 50 ponies from the southern end of Assateague Island are herded into a southern corral. About 100 ponies reside a little further north on the Assateague Island. The northern herd is corralled temporarily before being led down the beach to the main corral.

On Monday, July 25th, 2011, the Saltwater Cowboys moved the ponies down the beach in a light rain. The roundup went well with the ponies making it safely to the southern corral.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Jersey Governor's Surf Fishing Tournament

The 2011 New Jersey Governor's Surf Fishing Tournament will be held on October 2 at Island Beach State Park.

A variety of fish species are eligible for entry in the tournament each year. Overall length determines the winner. All fish must meet minimum length tournament requirements.

The individual who catches the overall largest fish wins the "Governor's Award," and has his/her name engraved on the Governor's Cup, which is permanently displayed at the park.

Fishing equipment is awarded to winners who catch the largest fish in each species category. Winners from the early entry drawing and the tournament must be present during the afternoon awards ceremony to claim their prizes or they will be forfeited.

Anglers planning to participate in the tournament should register early: doing so entitles you to save on the adult registration fee, be eligible for special prizes and avoid delays when entering the park. The early entry incentive ends September 10, 2011. After this date, anglers will be required to register at the tournament. Questions can be directed to 609-748-4347.

The tournament is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Parks and Forestry, the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, and the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association.

source: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge

wild Virginia hermit crab
The Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge is a one-of-a-kind event that's fun for the whole family. Also part of the celebration is the Miss Curvaceous Crustacean Beauty Pageant.

At the pageant, hermit crabs are presented in uniquely-decorated displays and judged on beauty and creativity.  Hermit crab owners are encouraged to build a unique display for their crab.

Approximately 300 hermit crabs participate in the Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge each year. ALL participants receive a medal for being a part of this unique event.There are no fees for entering.

This family friendly event will be held on the beach at 30th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

For more information, call: (757) 491 - 7866

Friday, July 1, 2011

Susquehanna State Park Campground Opens

The Maryland Park Service (MPS) recently reopened the Susquehanna State Park campground, which had been closed for eight months while undergoing upgrades.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with the Maryland Department of General Services (DGS) to complete a variety of eco-friendly renovations.

To enhance the camper experience, MPS focused the renovation on the restroom and shower buildings. Energy-reducing green technologies in the renovated shower buildings include solar panels, on-demand hot water heaters, occupancy sensors, an insulated metal roof and clearstory windows.

Also incorporated into the design were low-flow faucets and dual flush toilets with an infrared beam powered by small solar panels. The park salvaged old fixtures to be re-used and all concrete and metal from the old building was recycled.

On the exterior, workers installed “pervious paving” which allows storm water to be filtered back into the surrounding area.  The renovations also provide ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility and include two new campsites with 30 amp electric hookups for campers with RVs.

A top Mid Atlantic camping destination, the Susquehanna State Park campground offers campers access to the Susquehanna River. It is downstream of the Conowingo Dam, an area renowned for fishing, boating, hunting and general outdoor recreation for the public.

Campers are invited to make reservations for the 61 campsites, 8 campsites with electric hook-ups, and 6 mini-cabins by visiting or calling 1-888-432-2267. 

July 4th 2011- Boating Safety

Every year, prior to the 4th of July and other major boating holidays, the U.S. Coast Guard urges boaters and beachgoers to be safe and prepared for the holiday weekend.

Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Most boating fatalities occur when the boat operator has not completed a boating safety education course. Courses cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to reading the weather.

The Coast Guard also urges boaters to obtain a free vessel safety check, which is conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary before heading out on the water. Vessel safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.

For boating, beach and water safety information, visit the following resources:

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary:

Vessel Safety Checks:

Coast Guard Boating Safety page:

National Safe Boating Council:

United States Lifesaving Association’s Top Ten Beach and Water Safety Tips:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Long Island Head Light Transferred to National Park Service

The U.S. Coast Guard transferred management of Long Island Head Light to the National Park Service in a ceremony on Saturday, June 25, 2011.

Transferring lighthouses from the Coast Guard to others is part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. This act allows for lighthouse ownership transfer to other federal agencies or local government agencies as well as non-profit corporations or educational institutions, all of which must be committed to cultural or historic preservation.

Long Island Head Light became one of the first cast iron lighthouses in the US in 1844 and has been in and out of service since the early 19th century. It is currently operational after a renovation in 1985.

Long Island is city-owned and a restricted area. Now, with the park’s new addition, Long Island Head Light will be open to the public for special trips and programs organized by the park. The park service is currently making moves to assess the lighthouse’s overall safety before organizing excursions for the public.

The ceremony itself took place on city soil thanks to the help of Antonia Pollak, Commissioner of Boston Parks and Recreation, who also attended. The land transfer was a mere 0.06 acres of land between the two government agencies and is the only piece of land currently owned by the National Park Service within the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

The Coast Guard has been maintaining Long Island Head Light with the assistance of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary currently assists with maintenance on Boston Light located on Little Brewster Island, another island part of the Boston Harbor Islands.

The Long Island Head Light’s grounds are being maintained with great efforts by the Auxiliary Flotilla 53-Constitution and hopefully Flotilla volunteers will continue their work after this transfer. The beacon itself will still continue to be run by the Coast Guard.

source: USCG 1st District

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Northern Goshawk Killed in Maryland

The remains of a female Northern Goshawk were found on June 17 by a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Biologist in the Savage River State Forest, near Grantsville, Maryland.

Apparently the female was shot and killed, leaving three orphaned chicks in the nest to die. This was Maryland’s only known nesting goshawk, a State listed endangered species.

“Why someone would kill this amazing and beautiful animal is difficult to comprehend” said Jonathan McKnight, who manages DNR’s non-game wildlife programs.

The Northern Goshawk is a large, powerful and secretive forest raptor or bird of prey. Goshawks were driven out of Maryland in the early 1900s by extensive timber harvesting, but returned in 2001 because of improved forest habitat. This would have been Maryland’s first successful goshawk nest recorded since 2006.

The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible person(s).

The Natural Resources Police (NRP) are asking for the publics’ help in identifying the person or persons responsible for this crime. The investigation has determined that the hawk was shot between May 16 and June 17 in the Savage River State Forest near Westernport Road and McAndrews Hill Road.

If anyone has information about this crime or description of individuals or vehicles seen in the area, please call the Catch-a-poacher hotline at 800-635-6124. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for reward money.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid Atlantic Bird Icons

Birds are commonly recognized as icons of the Mid Atlantic region. Waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and songbirds are all represented in the list of icons for the area.


Along the coast, herons, egrets and other shorebirds have long been recognized as icons. Canada geese, snow geese, brant and a variety of ducks are also familiar symbols of the Mid Atlantic region's seasonal migrations.

In the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries, the osprey is a popular icon. These seasonal birds of prey are famous for their ability to catch fish as well as their familiar nests. Closer to the Atlantic, bald eagles are common and are often seen on regional logos and other artwork.

Songbirds are also important in Mid Atlantic culture. Several songbirds are state birds or have cultural significance in other ways. Several songbirds are school mascots or icons of professional sports in the area. Some of the most famous songbird icons of the Mid Atlantic include the Baltimore oriole, northern cardinal, eastern bluebird, wood thrush and eastern goldfinch.

Bird logos and artwork are popular in artwork of the Mid Atlantic states. An extensive collection of waterfowl, shorebird, songbird and birdwatching artwork is available at North America online store.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chesapeake Region Native Plant Center

A new online portal, the Native Plant Center for the Chesapeake Bay Region, allows for the identification and selection of native plant species for habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Users to the portal,, can search for native plants by name, plant type, sun exposure, soil texture and moisture, and even find native plants with the same shape, color, size or other characteristics as some of their favorite non-native plants.

The portal also includes a geo-locator feature to identify plants suited to a user’s specific location. An online network for interacting with other Chesapeake Bay stewards is planned.

The portal uses the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s native plant database, associated with the publication entitled Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, contracted with Image Matters LLC to create an online version of the guide, the Native Plants Center, Chesapeake Region.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Black Racer Snakes

Summer is prime time to spot black racers, also known as black snakes. These attractive snakes feed on birds, eggs, rodents, lizards and other small prey.

Black racers are found throughout the Mid Atlantic region, in forests, swamps, and other habitats.

They are sometimes found living among humans, in backyard sheds, old vehicles and occasionally even inside homes where they visit to hunt for rodents.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office Biennial Report for 2009 - 2010

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office submitted its Biennial Report for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to Congress in early May 2011.

The report highlights many of NCBO’s programs and projects, including recent actions in support of implementing the President's Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration.

The document describes the Office’s work, including:

 - Monitoring the Bay's health, improving boater safety, and interpreting the John Smith water trail through operation and maintenance of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System;

 - Surveying bottom habitat to collaborate with state and other partners in identifying prime locations for oyster restoration, sturgeon spawning habitat restoration, and derelict crab pot removal efforts;

-  Developing decision-support models for fisheries managers to evaluate different management options;

 - Providing states with funding, technical assistance, and data to restore native oysters in the Bay, including support for aquaculture efforts;

 - Improving blue crab management by providing key blue crab data and survey information to marine resource managers;

 -  Providing hands-on learning as part of the Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Chesapeake Program;

- Creating a new Environmental Science Training Center for environmental education professionals; and much more.

For more information, see:

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Mid Atlantic Free Fishing Days

Several Mid Atlantic States are offering free fishing days for 2011, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

To celebrate National Fishing Week, June 4-12, Delaware's Division of Fish & Wildlife is inviting anglers to visit their favorite fishing spot during Delaware free fishing days.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, 2011, anyone may fish the state’s waters without a fishing license. Anglers are reminded that even though they don’t need a license on those two days, if they intend to fish June 11 or 12, they are still required to obtain a free Fisherman Identification Network (F.I.N.) number.

With the exception of this one weekend, resident and non-resident anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 fishing in any Delaware ponds, impoundments, streams, rivers, bays and ocean are required to purchase a fishing license.

The 2011 Delaware Fishing Guide includes complete details on licensing, the F.I.N. program and exemptions, is also available from the DNREC Dover office, licensing agents and on the Division of Fish & Wildlife website.

Maryland offers 3 free-fishing days for 2011; June 4, June 11 and July 4. No fishing license is required to fish Maryland waters on these days.

Maryland free fishing anglers must still adhere to minimum size and creel limits for the 62 species that are managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

For fishing regulations and to download a copy of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Guide, visit or any of the seven DNR Service Centers,

Anglers fishing on Maryland’s free-fishing days do not need to register with the National Saltwater Angler registry.

Virginia’s free fishing days occurred on June 3-5, 2011. During the 3 day period, anglers and their families enjoyed saltwater fishing without having to buy a saltwater license.

North Carolina anglers can fish for free in all public waters (including coastal waters) on July 4, 2011 from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.

North Carolina residents and non-residents must still abide by other fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

National Recreation Trails

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently designated 41 trails as National Recreation Trails, adding almost 650 miles of trails to the National Trails System.

Spanning across 17 states, the land and water trails provide opportunities for communities to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors as part of a healthier lifestyle.

Several trails were designated in the Mid Atlantic region, including:

Catoctin Trail (Blue Trail) - Maryland
Barclay Farm Trails - New Jersey
Croft Farm Trails - New Jersey
Blue Marsh Lake Multi-Use Trail - Pennsylvania
Susquehanna River Water Trail (West Branch) - Pennsylvania

The announcement comes in advance of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4, when hundreds of organized activities including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications will take place around the country.

The National Recreation Trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation.

The new trails join a network of more than 1,100 previously designated trails that total more than 13,000 miles.

For more information, visit the national recreation trails website at:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Controversy

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes more than 400,000 acres of land and thousands of miles of open bay, rivers and streams, making the Chesapeake Bay the largest estuary in North America.

The bay originates in Pennsylvania, as part of the Susquehanna River. It passes thru Maryland and Virginia, emptying into the Atlantic near Hampton Roads Virginia.

The estuary is an icon of North America and a vital component of the Mid Atlantic region. For centuries, men have fought over the Chesapeake Bay. During the last decade, several controversies have involved environmental issues.

Few people dispute the state of the bay. Silt, runoff, excessive nutrients and other pollution has led to massive degradation of the estuary. At issue is not what is wrong, but where the faults lie and how to correct them. Years of lawsuits, studies and media coverage have so far been ineffective at achieving Chesapeake Bay restoration.  

On May 25, 2011, A coalition of environmental groups announced that they have filed a motion in federal court to oppose the efforts of major national agricultural organizations to force an end to federal and state programs to reduce pollution and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The coalition includes the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Defenders of Wildlife, the Jefferson County Public Service District, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Within days after the federal government announced scientific pollution limits and the states laid out specific plans to reduce pollution in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau went to federal court in Pennsylvania to stop those efforts.

They have since been joined by other national agricultural lobbying groups, including the Fertilizer Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Chicken Council, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and the National Turkey Federation.

"Just as the Bay is making progress in its long fight to survive, these big money industry lobbyists are trying to derail the process.  Why? A simple profit motive," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. "They want the rest of us to suffer dirty and dangerous water so they can maximize their corn, hog, and poultry profit."

For decades, science has known that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are responsible for the dead zones, fish kills, and harmful algal blooms that annually plague the Chesapeake Bay. Under the Clean Water Act, and as the result of numerous court cases, a scientific limit, or TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load), has been set.

State governments then developed plans designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with at least 60 percent of the actions completed by 2017. Science set the limits, and the states designed individual plans to achieve the goals.

"This lawsuit is a frivolous attack by polluters against the Chesapeake Bay’s rivers and streams, the source of drinking water for millions and an economic engine for the region." said the National Wildlife Federation’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Executive Director Tony Caliguiri. "In these economic times it’s appalling that taxpayer money is being spent to defend clean water in local communities against polluters.  Responsible local leaders are working hard to set pollution limits for their communities and polluters would rather sue rather than be accountable."

Opponents of the pollution limits claim that EPA is overstepping its authority, and wants the process to start all over again.

"The Farm Bureau’s lawsuit is just another attempt to delay federal action," said Brian Glass, senior attorney for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture).  "This delay will harm the very people the Bureau purports to represent, endangering farms that need a fresh and clean water supply, and preventing farmers from getting the help they need to protect their own land and waters."

Note: Portions of this article originate from a joint press release published by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,  Defenders of Wildlife, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation & Penn Future

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 Mid Atlantic Hurricane Outlook

According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is predicting the following ranges this year:

- 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:

- 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:

- 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook does not predict where and when any of these storms may hit. Landfall is dictated by weather patterns in place at the time the storm approaches. For each storm, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center forecasts how these weather patterns affect the storm track, intensity and landfall potential.

Visit to learn more. And if you’re a small business owner, visit to ensure that your business is prepared for a disaster,” added Fugate.

May 22-28, is national Hurricane Preparedness Week. A new set of video and audio public service announcements featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator are available at:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mid Atlantic Fracking Controversy

A hot issue in the Mid Atlantic USA is the practice of "fracking". Wikipedia defines Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking") as:

"a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations to increase the rate and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas.

"Hydraulic fractures may be natural or man-made and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock."

One staunch opponent of fracking in the USA, including Mid Atlantic states is Food and Water Watch, a national environmental rights organization.

According to FWW:

"Last week, on the anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, a fracking well in Bradford County, Pennsylvania had its own blowout, leaking toxic fracking fluid onto nearby farmland and into a local stream. Seven families had to evacuate their homes and the spill caused Chesapeake Energy, the second largest natural gas producer in the country — and the operator of this well — to suspend fracking in the state of Pennsylvania until they can figure out what caused the blowout."

The issue has gotten considerable attention following worldwide disasters such as the 2010 BP Atlantis oil spill and more recently the Nuclear reactor crisis in Japan.


In May, 2011, members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a thorough environmental assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin before allowing a potential 20,000 shale gas wells to be drilled in the area.

source: F&WW

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Mid Atlantic Wildlife

In the Mid Atlantic, the appearance of wildlife is a traditional sign of spring. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other creatures all appear in numbers during the spring season.

Birds are often associated with spring throughout the Mid Atlantic. In the final days of winter, snow geese grow restless along the Atlantic Flyway. As each day grows longer, they become more and more vocal and take to the air relentlessly. Finally, in early spring, flocks of snow geese fill the skies as they move to their seasonal nesting sites.

Another goose, the Canada goose is an icon of spring season in Mid Atlantic states. During early spring, geese separate into pairs and begin nesting. Outdoor enthusiasts often see the gander standing guard near a source of water as the goose is hidden nearby with her clutch of eggs. After the goslings hatch, the family will appear together, feeding and swimming.

Throughout the region, wild turkey sightings are a ritual of spring. In rural areas, male turkeys are seen giving elaborate displays to their prospective mates, with birds often gathering in large flocks. Eventually the flocks disband as the hens incubate their clutches of eggs.

Songbirds are often associated with spring. Robins are a traditional favorite, arriving in large numbers onto suburban lawns. Bluebirds also appear in spring, returning to the same birdhouse year after year. Along woodland streams, warblers suddenly appear, as if released from a box nearby. They feed and sing for a few days, then sometimes disappear just as suddenly. One of the most beloved spring icons is the hummingbird. This tiny bird migrates thousands of miles each spring, appearing just in time to sip from spring flowers.

Cottontail rabbits appear as grass gets deeper. Their numbers seem to increase each day as young rabbits become more curious and their appetites continue non-stop.

Reptiles and amphibians are another sign of spring. Small frogs are heard chirping, even before warm weather becomes consistent. As lily pads emerge and ponds come to life, bullfrogs are seen and heard.

To anglers, freshwater fish signal the spring season. First come yellow perch and white perch, then hickory shad and river herring. As the spring season progresses, the number of fish species increases dramatically.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Chesapeake Bay Crab Survey

The states of Maryland and Virginia have released results of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey.

The study found that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is above the target for the third year in a row. Overall crab abundance declined due to cold winter weather that killed as many as 31 percent of Maryland’s adult crabs, compared to about 11 percent in 2010.

The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is estimated to be 460 million crabs, nearly double the record low of 249 million in 2007. During 2010, Chesapeake Bay watermen harvested more than 89 million pounds of blue crabs.

According to the survey, 254 million adult crabs survived the bitter cold winter in the Chesapeake, above the current population target for the third year in a row. This marks the first time since the early 1990s that the Bay has seen three consecutive years with the adult population was above the target (200 million crabs) and the harvest was below the target of 46 percent.

According to VMRC, estimates of abundance are developed separately for young of the year crabs, mature female crabs, and adult male crabs. The primary assessment of the Bay’s blue crab population is conducted annually by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Yellow Perch Fishing Techniques

Throughout the Mid Atlantic, anglers are seeing a resurgence of yellow perch, with the 2011 Spring season being one of the best in decades. After years of low populations, these colorful fish appear to be making a strong comeback.

Yellow perch are caught using a variety of live and cut baits as well as artificial lures. In many areas, live minnows are preferred as bait for yellow perch. Other popular baits include nightcrawlers, bloodworms, or grass shrimp.

A relatively new bait for catching yellow perch are the many synthetic baits that have become popular. These baits do not need special care and packages typically last a season or more. These scented offerings come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some scented bait products are meant to be fished in the same manner as traditional baits.

Other scented products are molded into soft bodies which are used with conventional jig heads, worm rigs or other setups. These baits offer the best of both worlds; they exhibit lifelike movement while producing a strong scent trail.

Mid Atlantic anglers often use conventional artificial lures for catching yellow perch. Perch eagerly bite panfish jigs, small spinnerbaits, inline spinners, small spoons, crankbaits or other offerings. During cold periods, anglers may target drop offs, using vertical jigging techniques. As the water warms and fish move into spawning areas, more fish are caught in shallow water where small lures are more effective.

Some yellow perch specialists prefer to combine techniques, tipping their jigs with a live minnow or other natural bait. Small setups such as a 1/16 oz. shad dart tipped with a small minnow can be deadly when casted along creek structure and slowly worked along the bottom.

Once fish are located, anglers must choose to release their fish, or retain a few for the table. Yellow perch are known for being very hard to scale. As with all fish, perch should be kept chilled and wet prior to cleaning. For smaller fish, the angler must be persistent with a fish scaler, slowly loosening scales by making diagonal swipes with the scaler. Once scaled, perch can be headed and gutted before cooking.

Larger yellow perch can be filleted and then skinned. A larger fillet knife is needed to cut into the skin during the filleting process. Once the fillets are removed from the fish, a smaller, more delicate knife is useful for cutting fillets from the skin.

Yellow perch often contain roe during the spring season. These yellow pouches which are found in the body cavity contain the female's eggs. The angler should be careful not to nick the roe sac during removal. After rinsing, the fillets and roe are ready for cooking.

Yellow perch fillets, whole fish or the roe are often breaded or battered and fried. Fillets can also be baked. Their mild, sweet flavor makes them suitable for most baked fish recipes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cape Hatteras Beach Access Information

Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches are subject to area closures as a result of a U.S. District Court approved consent decree.

Visitors may encounter area closures in effect to varying degrees from mid-March to mid-to-late-August and sea turtle nesting closures may occur until early November.

2011 Shorebird pre-nesting closures have already been established at the inlets, Cape Point, and South Beach. As soon as subsequent breeding activity is observed, the consent decree requires that automatic, non-discretionary buffers be implemented. 

To learn more about closures and beach access, enthusiasts can visit the NPS website and read the latest Beach Access Report. The report is is issued every Thursday throughout the breeding season. For more information, check the National Seashore's website at:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Listening Session

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be soliciting input from the public during a question and answer session from 5 pm - 6 pm on Wednesday April 13, 2011 in Annapolis, MD.

The session will be in the evening and is designed to allow stakeholders an opportunity outside of the normal Council agenda to ask questions or express concerns regarding Council management issues.

Topics to be discussed may include:

Ecosystem Management

Bycatch Reduction

Catch Shares

Recent Assessment Results

Recreational Data Collection

Research Set-Aside Program

Allocation Issues

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Annual Catch Limits

Questions will be taken as time allows from both those attending in person and via webinar.

For online webinar access register at:  Once registered, users will receive an email confirming registration along with the instructions for joining the webinar.

source: MAFMC

Watermen to Restore Chesapeake Bay Oyster Bars

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) are continuing to work with commercial fishermen on oyster bar rehabilitation projects. The program is a part a Maryland plan to help mitigate the economic impact of regulations enacted in 2008 to help rebuild the blue crab fishery, while also helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The program utilizes the skills, experience and equipment of Chesapeake Bay watermen to increase the amount of viable oyster bar habitat in the estuary. The rehabilitated oyster bars will create habitat for a natural spat set and/or hatchery seed plantings in both sanctuaries and public shellfish fishery areas. The program also provides watermen with income for helping with oyster restoration.

This spring, more than 750 Maryland watermen will restore 23 oyster bars in the Chesapeake Bay and will reclaim more than 1,000 acres of buried oyster shell.

A number of the oyster bars slated for rehabilitation are located within new sanctuary areas that were created by the Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. These areas include Harris Creek, Eastern Bay, and the Little Choptank, Nanticoke and Manokin Rivers.

source: MD DNR

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Rake Quahog Clams

Quahog clams are found in saltwater bays and estuaries in every Mid-Atlantic state. These delicious clams can be caught with clam rakes or by other methods.

Raking quahog clams is a relaxing activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Aside from a rake, a container and a pair of sneakers, not much is required in the way of equipment. Raking clams is usually done from spring through fall as harvesters must get wet in order to effectively catch clams.

Raking clams can be done in a variety of water depths and bottom compositions, although some areas and water conditions are more productive than others.

The best areas for raking clams are usually shallow with a smooth, sandy or slightly muddy bottom. Several types of bottoms may contain clams, but are not suitable for clamming. For example, extremely hard bottoms are difficult to penetrate with a rake. Other areas may be covered with aquatic vegetation, shells or other debris, all of which make raking difficult or impossible.

Some clammers prefer to work during an outgoing tide. A flowing tide often helps clear the water so that the bottom can be seen while wading along. Clamming can be done even if there is poor visibility but seeing the bottom can be helpful. Low tides allow clammers to comfortably work farther from shore, where clams are sometimes more plentiful.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Mid Atlantic Spring Snow

In the last days of spring, the Mid Atlantic has seen dramatic variations in weather. Recent days have included cold mornings, warm afternoons, rain and even an unexpected snow fall. Although spring snows are an unwelcome reminder of the long winter, this one passed quickly and within a few hours, the sun was out and flowers re-appeared un-affected.

Best Mid Atlantic Bed and Breakfasts

The Mid Atlantic region is fortunate to have an incredible range of bed & breakfasts and other inns. Settings include remote mountain retreats, historic colonial homes, beach homes, and other destinations.

Bed and breakfast inns usually accommodate guests by day or week, with some units available for longer stays. Inns range from simple homes in residential neighborhoods to upscale historic homes.

Bed and breakfasts are popular for honeymoons, weekend getaways, summer vacations, or simply for an overnight visit. Another popular option is to book an entire inn for family re-unions, company retreats or other functions.

When choosing a bed and breakfast in the Mid Atlantic, its always a good idea to have a list of questions ready in advance. Usually a little research prior to traveling will help vacationers find the perfect inn.

This list offers a few ideas for choosing the perfect inn or b&b:

Is a deposit required in advance?
Can a room be canceled once a deposit is placed?
Does the facility have a website or social network page?
Are reviews of the inn available?
Is the inn part of an innkeepers association or chamber of commerce?
Is a spare bed available if needed?
Are pets allowed?
What about restrictions?
How can the innkeeper be contacted in case of emergency?
Are room rates cheaper during the off season?
Is room service available?
What attractions are nearby?

Need to find a bed and breakfast or plan your next getaway? Visit these regional websites to learn more about accommodations near some of the Mid Atlantic's top travel destinations:

Tidewater Virginia accommodations

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Mid Atlantic Garden Planting Ideas

With food prices skyrocketing and food safety becoming more of an issue, more and more homeowners are turning to backyard gardens as a source of fresh fruits and vegetables.

This list provides a few ideas for early season plantings in Mid-Atlantic backyard vegetable gardens:

  - Onion sets are simple to plant, just dig a furrow as soon as the ground is workable, add a little fertilizer and place onions 3-4 inches apart, oriented up. Cover with soil and water lightly.

  - Mixed lettuce can be planted as early as April 1. Work the ground until smooth and then sow seeds an inch or 2 apart. Thin plants often and keep watered. Lettuce bolts quickly when weather warms, so harvest and share lettuce as soon as possible

  - Zucchini and straightneck yellow squash are both extremely simple to grow. Plant either type as soon as the danger of frost subsides.

  - Stringbeans are another easy to grow crop that matures quickly. Plant stringbeans a few inches apart, sowing several crops during the season. Stringbeans are a good mid to late season choice that can follow early season vegetables.

  - Roma tomatoes are among the simplest and most prolific vegetables for Mid Atlantic small gardens. Just a few plants are needed. These are remarkably easy to grow in beds by covering the ground with poly mulch or any of the many synthetic mulching materials. For all natural and organic gardening fanatics, mulching with wheat straw will ensure bountiful harvests, even during dry spells.

  - Herbs are an important addition to Mid Atlantic gardens. When space allows, sow a few annual herbs such as dill, basil, cilantro, and parsley. Perennial herbs are usually available as plants, with sage, oregano and chives being essentials.

Spring is a good time to start a compost pile. These simple garden additions allow hobbyists to dispose of excess debris while enriching the soil at the same time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mid Atlantic Striped Bass Management

Management of striped bass is a hot issue along the Mid Atlantic Coast. On Wednesday March 23, 2011, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will hold their winter/spring 2011 meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.

According to Stripers Forever, a recreational fishing organization, a very important agenda item for this board meeting which is a proposal by the Maine Department of Natural Resources requesting that the board consider initiating an addendum to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to reduce coastwide mortality on striped bass.

Maine, Massachusetts, and possibly other New England states are said to be pushing this issue as is Stripers Forever.

Striped bass, also known as rockfish have become an icon of Mid Atlantic saltwater fishing since their incredible comeback in the 1990's.

Spring in the Mid Atlantic Region

As this blog gets underway, so is Spring in the Mid Atlantic. Leaving in great numbers are the snow geese, replaced by a less welcome visitor, the mosquito. Although freshwater and river fishing never ceases in the Mid Atlantic, the winter period is certainly slow. With recent warm days, this is changing quickly. Throughout the region, anglers are catching yellow perch, white perch, bass, crappie, rainbow trout and other species.