The effort to restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay could receive a $3 million boost in federal funding.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House earmarked that amount for the project in an appropriations measure, which still must pass through the Senate, a spokeswoman for Hoyer said.
The congressman, who represents all of Southern Maryland, noted that the funding level approved by the House for the Oyster Recovery Project is $2 million above what President Bush requested for fiscal 2005.
"Oyster recovery is critical to the economic and environmental survival of the Chesapeake Bay," Hoyer said.
The restoration project is a joint effort of federal, state and nonprofit agencies, including the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
Hoyer participated last month when that group oversaw the start of the planting of 10 million oysters in a marsh near the Patuxent River as part of a $2.7 million effort to restore natural habitat damaged by the April 2000 oil spill at the former Pepco power plant at Chalk Point in Aquasco.
Calvert Requests Impasse
In Talks With Teachers
The Calvert County Board of Education petitioned state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick last week for a formal declaration of "impasse" in the stalled contract negotiations with teachers.
The contract with Calvert teachers expired June 30 with no agreement reached on salary terms for the upcoming school year. The impasse status means that a panel of outside arbitrators would come into the process to help push the negotiations forward. The last time an impasse was reached in Calvert County was in the late 1970s, school officials said.
"The school officials remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached in the near future," said a news release issued by the school system.
The Board of Education said that until a new contract is reached, teachers will be paid according to the 2003-04 salary schedules and step increases.
New Fees at Charles Landfill
New disposal fees took effect this month at the Charles County Landfill, off Billingsley Road in Waldorf.
The Department of Public Facilities issued the following list of new fees:
* Per-ton tipping fee: $65.
* Flat-rate tipping fee for pickup trucks: $12.
* Tag-a-Bag: 60 cents per bag (bags up to 32 gallons).
* Contaminated soil from commercial sources: $65 per ton.
* Tires only: $103 per ton for passenger cars; $51 per tractor tire or off-road vehicle tire.
Recycling remains free of charge.
For more information, call the Department of Public Facilities Solid Waste Division at 301-932-3599.
Bay Shore Repair Requested
Maryland officials are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for help in restoring shoreline lost to Hurricane Isabel, estimating it will cost $85 million to stabilize soil still melting away with Chesapeake Bay tides.
The counties on the western shore of the bay took the worst of Isabel's pummeling in September, Planning Secretary Audrey E. Scott told leaders of local governments at a convention in Ocean City last week. Maryland lost about 70 miles of shoreline in all and continues to lose substantial chunks in areas not repaired, the Associated Press reported from the meeting.
Because 96 percent of Maryland's shoreline is privately owned, the damage left property owners -- not governments -- looking for a way to clean up, Scott said.
A state program run by the Department of Natural Resources has only about $1.5 million a year for loans to homeowners trying to restore damaged shorelines. About $70 million of the restoration cost is falling to private property owners.
But by showing that erosion is degrading water quality in the bay, the nation's largest estuary, Maryland may qualify for federal help, Scott said.
Environmentalists have voiced concerns about Isabel's effects on the bay. Too much erosion harms the ecosystem by dumping in soil and debris that cloud the water, smothering grasses and suffocating fish. Surveys show the bay lost a record number of underwater grasses last year, partly because wet weather pushed so much runoff pollution into the bay.
Federal money could help fill what Scott termed a "major gap" in the recovery from Isabel.
"There's an attitude sometimes that nature is taking its course, that this is all part of nature," Scott said. "But if you're talking to a homeowner with water a foot from their homes, where they used to have a 50-foot yard, that's hard for them to digest."
Isabel sent a surge of water up to eight feet high, crushing and collapsing bulkheads, seawalls and stonework, said Leonard Larese-Casanova, director of the DNR's soil erosion program. With the barriers down, exposed soil quickly began to dissolve.
Most of those areas are bayside, in places where property owners were already forced to forge some protection against the energy of the huge estuary, Casanova said.
Along tributaries, there were more areas that lay unprotected, he said. Some shorelines that once were sloping beaches now need more sand, more grading, and stone or marsh to become stable.
Only a small percentage of Maryland's 4,000 miles of shoreline was eroded, Casanova said, but the damage continues as waterways pick up energy from tides and storms and eat away pieces of shoreline.
Vacancies on Charles Boards
Charles County government is seeking county residents to fill vacancies on the Economic Development Commission, the Mental Health Advisory Committee, and the Fire and Rescue Commission.
The vacancy on the Economic Development Commission is for an alternate member. Members are appointed to three-year terms that begin July 1. The commission oversees and directs the implementation of a continuous strategic planning process that attracts and retains businesses in the county. Meetings are on the first Tuesday of each month.
The vacancies on the Mental Health Advisory Committee are for members representing the needs of mental health service consumers and their relatives. The committee reviews programs and makes recommendations about mental health services and facilities. Members serve three-year terms and meet on the third Wednesday of each month.
There is one vacancy on the seven-member Fire and Rescue Commission, which reviews the financing of the volunteer fire departments and rescue squads and approves the distribution of fire tax revenues, equipment purchases and other facility needs. Meetings are on the third Thursday of each month.
Those interested in serving on any of these boards should contact Linda Rollins, clerk to the County Commissioners, at 301-645-0554 or 301-870-3000, Ext. 2554, or by e-mail at RollinsL@charlescounty.org to obtain an application form. The form also is available from the county government Web site at: www.charlescounty.org/boards/application.pdf. Applications are due by 4:40 p.m. July 30.
For more information, call Rollins at one of the numbers listed above.
Ferry Study Details Costs
A slow to moderate-speed Chesapeake Bay ferry between Crisfield on Maryland's Eastern Shore and Reedville, Va., could make a profit, but it would not be enough to support capital costs, according to a report last week in the Somerset Herald.
The first phase of a study completed June 28 concluded that the capital costs for two terminals, two ferries, land and a vessel maintenance facility could range from $20 million to $51 million.
The study by PB Consult Inc. of Baltimore -- which assumed fares of $40 for cars and $65 for trucks -- concluded that a two-boat operation could generate up to $1.3 million in excess revenues annually, which could pay part of the costs of the vessels, terminals and other ferry facilities.
Some members of a committee reviewing the commercial potential of such a ferry said the study bolsters the idea that some federal money would be required to initiate the ferry service.
The Crisfield-Reedville ferry is one leg of an original proposal that would have placed another terminal in southern St. Mary's County. That part of the plan was eliminated because officials in St. Mary's objected to it on the grounds that it would generate excessive truck traffic on the county's roads.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.