Beautiful Nuisance?

* Mute swans are causing big problems on Chesapeake Bay, say Maryland officials who plan to kill 1,500 of them.

The big, white swans with the bright orange beaks are pretty, but collectively they can eat about 10 million pounds of grass a year. The swan are taking away Chesapeake Bay grasses that should be serving as food and habitat for native birds and fish, according to officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Swans, originally from Asia, were introduced to the bay by accident in 1962 when five of them escaped from a Talbot County farm. Today, there are about 3,600. Officials want to reduce the swan population before they do more harm to bay plants and animals.

Some environmental groups agree with the state's plan. But animal-rights activists say swans are being blamed unfairly for the bay's troubles.

A Leckie Tribute

* Students who lost a classmate and a teacher in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon are making a memorial garden at their D.C. school.

Volunteer architects and students helped design the garden, on the side of Leckie Elementary School in Southwest Washington. Yesterday, students began leaving hand prints in a cement walkway.

The garden honors the memory of 11-year-old Bernard Brown and sixth-grade teacher Hilda Taylor, who were on the hijacked plane, going to California on a field trip. The memorial also honors two Leckie parents who worked at the Pentagon and were killed.

The garden will be divided into three sections. A basketball shape cemented in the walkway symbolizes Brown's love for the game. A heart shape symbolizes the students' love for Taylor and her love for them. And a bench in the parents' corner will face two nearby military facilities.

The memorial will be dedicated Sept. 11.

-- From staff and wire reports

Mute swans are damaging the bay.