Education, Cooperation and Trade-Offs Are Key to Chesapeake Bay's Health, Says U.Va. Environmental Scientist

The information included in this post was printed in the current issue of The Virginia News Letter.

April 12, 2011 — Though most people consider the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure, this consensus and much hard effort haven’t been enough to improve the health of the ailing bay over the last quarter-century.

An entirely new approach to managing its ecosystem will be needed to bring about real improvement as the region’s population continues to grow, a leading bay scientist argues in the current issue of The Virginia News Letter, published by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

It will involve many parties working together, writes David E. Smith, associate chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences who has long studied coastal systems and the relationship of science and public policy.

One place to start is with an even stronger effort to educate all residents of the Chesapeake’s far-flung, multi-state watershed about how their personal choices affect the bay’s health, Smith said.

Six major river systems and numerous smaller ones drain into the bay from significant portions of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, the District of Columbia and parts of Delaware, but many people inside this watershed don’t even realize they live within it. Smith observes that the farther one moves from the main stem of the bay, the less likely that residents will know they are living in one of the bay’s tributary watersheds.

The multi-state composition of this large drainage area creates challenges for environmental administrators because of the many local and state political boundaries that each major river tributary passes through.

The complete story can be read here.