Gov., AG, Speaker Tour Ches. Bay Monitoring Sites, Study Restoration Programs

ANNAPOLIS (April 25, 2007) - Governor Martin O'Malley, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Mike Busch joined Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientists on a 2.5-hour monitoring trip of the Chesapeake Bay aboard the R.V. Kerhin this morning to get a first-hand look at how Maryland's internationally recognized water quality monitoring and assessment programs work.

Governor O'Malley - who last Friday signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and an Executive Order establishing the Maryland Commission on Climate Change - has worked closely with the General Assembly this year to promote and protect the environment for future generations. Yesterday, Governor O'Malley signed into law the Clean Cars Act, an oyster restoration bill, a ban on the commercial harvest of diamondback terrapins, a bill establishing the Maryland Green Building Council, and the Stormwater Management Act of 2007. Earlier this year, Governor O'Malley signed an Executive Order to establish BayStat, a results-based management program to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Getting out on the Bay to experience the important work of our water quality and fisheries experts - and their dedication to restoring the Chesapeake Bay -gives us great cause for optimism," said Governor O'Malley. "As we work to protect and preserve Maryland's environment, this data will be used to drive policy, target implementation, inform the public and ensure the efficient use of resources as we intensify our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and our native oyster population."

"The knowledge we have gained here today is essential in helping us understand the challenges facing the Bay, and reinforces my commitment to aggressively enforce Maryland's environmental laws," said Attorney General Gansler. "When we protect the health of the Bay, we protect the heath of the habitat that supports all aquatic life."

"Maryland is the steward of the Chesapeake Bay and a healthy Bay is critical to the region's economy and environment. I congratulate the Governor and members of both chambers in enacting important legislation to restore the native oyster, the Bay's natural filter, to ensure a healthy future for our waters," said Speaker Michael E. Busch.

The day's presentations included:

* A dockside briefing on groundwater and the Maryland Biological Stream Survey, a national model that uses fish and invertebrates to assess stream health.

* An update on clean marinas; all State run boating facilities - including the marina at Sandy Point State Park - are now certified clean marinas, as are 20 percent of all Maryland marinas.

* A visit to a continuous shallow water monitoring site near Sandy Point and an Eyes on the Bay website demonstration with sample results.

* A demonstration of water quality sampling, collection of a bottom sediment sample and discussion of findings at a long-term monitoring site in the deep trough just north of the Bay Bridge.

* A demonstration of new bottom mapping technologies on an oyster bar near Sandy Point, a dredge sample to view the health of oysters on the bar, and a discussion of Maryland's oyster restoration efforts.

* A demonstration of buoy replacement by an NRP buoy tender and crew and discussion enforcement activities.

Cabinet Secretaries John Griffin, Shari Wilson and Roger Richardson, from the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture respectively, also participated in the briefings. The Governor, guests and crew all wore personal floatation devices.

"With spring fishing well underway and boating season just around the corner, we encourage everyone to enjoy our magnificent waterways, but to do so safely, by always wearing an appropriate safety vest," said Governor O'Malley.

Source: Governor O'Malley's Office

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