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Through education, monitoring, and hands-on stewardship assistance, NAPS brings together farmers, watermen, businesses, educators, and other concerned citizens to help protect and enhance our unique quality of life in Northumberland County. NAPS is a non-profit organization dedicated to:

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NAPS First Eco-Tour a Great Success

Posted April 28, 2014

By Lee Allain
Wow! A beautiful spring day on the water.  Eighteen seventh grade students and Captain David Rowe of the Bayquest.  Today we are going to tong some oysters, pull some crab traps, run a trawl and talk about both the ecology and the “good old days.” 

BayQuestAnd we did!  Captain David Rowe, out of the Coan River Marina, and Middle School Teacher, Dr. Mathieu Sisk, kept up a line of patter describing both ecology of the Bay and history of Northumberland waters.  As if they had rehearsed, their comments were neatly interspersed weaving a verbal fabric that students were captured by. 

First stop was on a public oyster reef to tong a few oysters.  Even the students had a chance at tonging.  “Hey, this is hard work.”  Then an oyster knife appeared from Captain Rowe’s storehouse and students were challenged.  “Eat one.”  A few were swallowed but most were mouthed and spat overboard.  They tried! 

Then it was time to pull a crab trap.  First, what are these fish?  Bait.  Oh, Menhaden.  And look, we got three crabs – two females and one male.  How do you tell the difference?  Something about the Capitol dome and the Washington monument.  And this is how you hold them so as to not get bitten.  What fun.  “Ouch.”

After a fun morning, it was time to head back to the Marina for lunch and a rest-room that wasn’t rocking.  Pizza showed up shortly and quickly disappeared – every slice.  Then, back to work. 

The afternoon session was occupied setting up, towing, and then, pulling in a trawl.  Students did the “heavy lifting” with the yo-heave-ho bit to help Captain Rowe.  There wasn’t much out there in the cold spring water, but we did catch a few small Bay anchovies. 

After cruising past Cowart’s oyster operation, we headed back to the Marina and home.  Great day on the water.  A day to be remembered. 


‘Oyster Farming’: More Q’s Than A’s

Posted 3/31/14

Rich HardingBy Jay Walker
The special program at the February 22 NAPS Annual Meeting, “Oysters – Still a Heritage Industry,” focused on oyster farming in the last decade. The speakers told the audience of 50 to 60 people, many of them oyster gardeners, that there are still more questions than answers.
Representing local commercial oyster aquaculture, Rich Harding described techniques that he has been refining since 2004. From his experience, “The book on Do’s is short, but the book of Don’ts is many pages,” he said. Harding has had success with cage culture methods, but he had to figure out how to deal with crabs that get into the cages and “enjoy an oyster buffet.”
Oyster farming is labor intensive, so much of Harding’s efforts, as a commercial venture, are to increase oyster yields. That requires close attention to deploying on good bottom, using clean beds, and avoiding disease.
Dudley BiddlecombThe result is a growing market. “We think of the Chesapeake Bay as the Napa Valley of oysters,” he remarked, adding that oyster-tasting raw bars are now popular, similar to the spread of microbrew bars.
Harding said that there are still questions about the future of aquaculture procedures and oyster markets. One of these issues is consumers getting sick on bad oysters. “We need to increase public awareness of how to handle oysters safely. One report of sickness and we all suffer,” he said.
Dr. Lynton Land raised more questions based on records collected by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and his own experience for the Tidewater Oyster Gardening Association (TOGA – VIMS has been monitoring oyster setting, or strike, at multiple stations on three rivers. The results show a few good years and a lot of bad years. If we can’t rely on wild oyster growth, how will we improve propagation and growth, he asked.
Oysterman Dudley Biddlecomb provided an answer, or at least a partial answer, as a result of procedures that he and Dr. Land have tried. Starting with clean shells and larvae from a hatchery, they used a hose to release the larvae on the bottom.
Lynton LandAfter two months, they found the amount of strikes on shells was not a clear path to success. “The more oysters the cleaner the water and the cleaner the water, the more oysters. So it’s a win-win situation,” said Biddlecomb. But, he added, “There are still more questions than answers.”
“By next year, I may be able to come back with some more information to share. Hopefully, we’ll have a method that works.” (In a later interview, he stated that TOGA and commercial gardeners need to share information on a regular basis.)
Dr. Land reviewed an experiment with four kinds of oysters placed in cages by volunteers at 40 different locations. They were spread over the western shores of Virginia, each variety in a different cage. He reported on two sites that yielded the biggest oysters in far different circumstances. It turned out that “where you grow oysters makes more difference than what you grow,” he stated.
“We were a little surprised. It makes a whale of a difference where you grow them. You wonder why.”
At one site the success seems to have been better circulation – lots of water flow. But the second biggest oysters were located on what is essentially a water cul-de-sac, with not much tidal circulation.
“I don’t know why they grew so big there. Damn oysters!” he exclaimed.
During the discussion period, both Land and Biddlecomb repeated Harding’s warning about oyster poisoning. They urged people who eat raw oysters to refrigerate them immediately and eat them the same day. They stated that one poisoning case can shut down the entire industry.
After the presentations Harding provided several varieties of shucked oysters, some for sampling.

Oyster Gardening Study

Posted 3/31/14

By Dr. Lynton Land
The Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association ( began a Growth/Longevity study on August 11, 2011, when four kinds of seed oysters were obtained from the VIMS hatchery. We wanted to determine which of the four kinds of oysters would be the best choice for gardeners. Two different strains were available, LoLa (low salinity Louisiana) and DeBy (Delaware Bay), and both fertile (diploid – two chromosomes) and sterile (triploid – three chromosomes) animals were provided for each strain. Colored cable ties were used to identify the four kinds of oysters to keep the study “blind” for the volunteers.
Oyster Studies GraphsAnimals about 5/8 inch in size were placed in ADPI mesh bags, which were placed in plastic “Australian” cages TOGA had purchased. Four loaded cages were given to each of 40 volunteers to hang from their piers. Volunteers were asked to report the number of live oysters and the average length of the oysters in each cage in March, July and November. Most volunteers found it necessary to reduce the numbers in the cages as the oysters grew.
Our major conclusion is that it makes more difference where oysters are grown than which kind of animal is grown. We were amazed that at some sites, in November, 2013, when the study ended, the average length of the oysters was 125 mm (4.9 inches). Many oysters reached market size (76 mm or 3 inches) by the fall of 2012, but oysters at some sites did not reach market size until the fall of 2013 (Figure 1). Some, but not all, sites with the largest oysters are characterized by excellent circulation. But the reasons oysters grew large at some sites near the head of tidal creeks still eludes us.
We found little difference in either the growth rate or mortality of the four kinds of animals. We were surprised that the fertile oysters grew nearly as fast as the sterile animals because “dogma” predicts that because sterile animals don’t produce gametes, they put all their energy into growth. Most mortality occurred during the first year, especially in the summer of 2012, when most growth occurred.
Meat weight was measured at 15 sites. Triploids were about 1/3 meatier than diploids, although a tremendous amount of overlap exists (Figure 2). The whole body weight of the triploids was about 10% larger than for the diploids, so the shells of triploids are slightly heavier than the shells of diploids. These conclusions apply to the animals we received from VIMS in 2011. We do not know if these conclusions will apply in the future as selective breeding continues to improve the lines.
The most important variable, uncontrollable for oyster gardeners, is where oysters are grown. Areas with high tidal flow grow larger oysters, although there exists other unidentified variables, including the kind of gear used to grow them. Most mortality occurs the first year when the oysters are small. To reduce mortality, keep the crabs out, move the oysters to the coarsest mesh possible as soon as possible, keep the mesh clean, spread the oysters out and keep them in the water, but not in the air or on the bottom, in winter.
Gardeners need to weigh the advantage of slightly higher meat weight for triploids, and better meat quality in the summer, against larval production by diploids. If one of your goals is for oysters to provide “ecological services” to the Bay, then grow diploids. The more larvae in the water, the more oysters there will be. After all, the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry did just fine for centuries using diploids.
Everybody knows that oysters filter the water, making it clearer. But fewer people understand that the algae and sediment filtered out of the water end up as sediment, where microbes decompose the organic material and return the nitrogen and phosphorus back into the water to foster the growth of more algae. Oysters speed up the recycling of organic material. They do not remove significant amounts of nutrients from the ecosystem. If we want to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay then we must stop pollution, not just try to sop it up. That means meaningfully addressing the largest source of Bay pollution – crop fertilization. Changing the way crops are fertilized so that more nitrogen and phosphorus end up in the crops and less ends up in the Bay is the only way to improve Bay water quality.
But grow more oysters! If you want to start, begin at the TOGA web site (, and I’m glad to give you a tour and answer any questions.

Projects and Issues Reviewed

Posted 3/31/14

By Jay Walker
Before the start of the formal business meeting, Captain David Rowe previewed the Eco-Tour sponsored by NAPS and funded by Omega Protein for NHS students and teachers in April. His goal is to make the tour both educational and entertaining.
The tour begins with a brief history of the Coan River. First on the agenda is a discussion of oysters and a look at oyster habitat. Next comes crabs and the lifestyle of the river. Capt. Rowe also takes water samples to show the quality of the river water.
About 20 science and ecology students from the high school will attend the tour. Later in the spring NAPS will sponsor an Eco-Tour for Boy Scout Troop 250, also funded by Omega Protein.
Vice President Lee Allain, filling in for President Bill Estell, conducted the business meeting. In the vote for the 2017-term Directors, Lee Allain, Ida Hall, and Lynton Land were re-elected.
The meeting concluded with a review of NAPS projects by members of the Board. It was an impressive list:
Lee: School projects including STEM, solar grant, and eco-tours.
Monty: Creek clean-up, Omega Protein support.
Ida: Bluff Point conservation up-date.
Greg: CCL, NAPS ASMFC response.
Lynton: NHS greenhouse renovation, tree ID, creek clean-up, phragmites.
Myrtle: School liaison, scholarships.
Jay: Newsletter, NAPS Journal, Distinguished Citizen Award, Adopt-a-Highway date.

Omega Protein’s $1000 Donation Supports NAPS Eco-Tours

Posted 3/31/14

By Jay Walker
Monty Deihl, Senior Director of Fishing Plant Operations for Omega Protein, Inc. and NAPS Board member, has presented a donation of $1,000 to support NAPS Eco-Tours this spring.
“Omega’s donation will go directly to support Spring Eco-Tours for Northumberland High School ecology and biology students and local Boy Scout Troop 250,” said Lee Allain, NAPS Vice-president, who heads the project. “This is a great opportunity for students to become familiar, up-close and personal, with the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.”
Omega DonationUpon receiving the donation, Allain pointed out that Omega has worked steadily to improve environmental conditions and has maintained consistent support of NAPS over the years for creek clean-ups and other local efforts benefitting the Bay. During project discussions at a recent NAPS Board meeting, the opportunity to provide Eco-Tourism to local students was enthusiastically supported with a vote to proceed.
“After listening to a description of the project, Board member Deihl said, ‘This is education Omega can support.’ His follow-up with this generous donation will fund at least two tours,” Allain explained.
“This is a worthy cause for Omega,” said Deihl. “It’s a partnership that NAPS and Omega need in order to raise awareness among students of the Bay’s ecosystem and its impact on our lives.”
NAPS has already arranged an Eco-Tour of the Bay area aboard a Bay Quest Charters boat on Saturday, April 26, 2014, for 20 Northumberland High School students and two teachers. Capt. David Rowe, a waterman and VCU graduate, will lead the tour on his 43-foot Chesapeake Bay deadrise.
Capt. Rowe outlined a typical Eco-Tour at the NAPS Annual meeting. It starts in the morning with tonging some oysters. He will then open a few oysters and talk about oyster life cycle, history of the industry, and today’s situation. After the oyster discussion, he will pull a few crab traps and talk about some general topics regarding crabs. On some occasions he may use a sample net to trawl the bottom and discuss whatever comes up in the net. “The day will be both educational and entertaining and participants will learn a lot about key species that inhabit the Bay and rivers,” he commented.
Eco-Tours were born after the collapse of the crab population in 2008; through Federal and State monies directed to ease the plight of about 5,000 licensed watermen. Some 80 watermen have been trained and certified to lead educational tours throughout the Bay. Locally, Capt. David Rowe, out of the Coan River (, and Capt. Danny Crabbe, out of the Little Wicomico (, are both certified to provide this educational tour to the public. See their web sites for more information on both fishing charters and Eco-Tours.

Bluff Point PUD Property Placed Under Easement

Posted 3/31/14

By Ida Hall
On December 27, 2013, Tom Dingledine placed 887 acres of his Bluff Point properties under a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust. The easement will forever protect the property from any large-scale development, such as the massive Planned Unit Development (PUD) that the Board of Supervisors approved in 2011. Mr. Dingledine also gave James Madison University (JMU) a 35+ acre parcel along Jarvis Pt. Rd. and Northumberland County a 6+ acre parcel for a possible sewage treatment plant. The 887-acre “Conservation Area” will be used primarily by JMU for educational purposes.
This is great news and NAPS commends and thanks Mr. Dingledine for his generosity and wise decision to terminate the PUD plan on Bluff Point’s environmentally sensitive and flood-prone property.
While the easement overall is a very positive outcome for Bluff Point, some questions and concerns still remain. The locations of any future buildings, other structures, utilities, and roads that can be allowed under the easement is unclear, since the “After Easement” document designed by Hart Howerton, that shows these possible building locations, is held solely by the Land Trust. Also, in the easement document under “Wetlands and Riparian Buffer Protection 3.11.1” there is a contradiction to the state and local Chesapeake Bay laws that would reduce the required 100-foot buffer to 50 feet. This is an environmental concern because the easement allows for building and clearing in some areas up to the buffer and the possibility of stables and grazing of horses up to the buffer, too. There is also concern pertaining to the language in the easement permitting a “transfer” of property. The wording seems to indicate that the owner can convey the property and the conveyed property would still be subject to the easement restrictions. This needs to be verified, because if property can be transferred outside of the easement restrictions, this would be a huge loophole.
Interested NAPS members look forward to meeting with Mr. Dingledine in the near future and learning more about this “new” plan for the “Conservation Area” and JMU properties; what is allowed and where, and what NAPS involvement might be.
The entire 51-page easement document is available at Northumberland County Clerk’s Office.

Call for Distinguished Northumberland Citizen Nominations

Posted 3/31/14

By Jay Walker
The Board of Directors of the Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) has opened nominations for this year’s Distinguished Northumberland Citizen Award (DNCA) by asking members, friends and interested citizens of the county to submit names of people, organizations or businesses to the Selection Committee.
The award honors an individual, team, organization, or business that advances NAPS’ goals. These goals include:
1. Improving the water quality of the Bay and its tributaries;
2. Fostering and preserving the county’s rural atmosphere;
3. Promoting and monitoring land use policies;
4. Encouraging economic growth to promote jobs; and
5. Cooperating with others through educational programs that target these goals.
“The Selection Committee needs to receive detailed descriptions of how the nominee’s activities support one or more of the NAPS goals,” said committee chair Ralph Millar. “If you look at the records of previous winners, you can see what we’re looking for.”
Previous recipients include Dr. Greg Haugan, Myrtle Phillips, County Fire Departments, County Rescue Squads, Dr. Lynton Land, Clint Staples, Lake Cowart, Jr., Rev. Gayl Fowler, Audrey Brainard, and Luther Welch. Last year’s recipient was Jane Towner for her many community accomplishments during the last 28 years in conservation, environment, and education.
If you know someone, a group, organization, or business you think merits this award, please call or email Ralph Millar at 804-529-9870 or Remember to include specific information about what the nominee has done to foster the goals described above. The deadline for nominations is May 15, 2014.

Educators Visit Board Meeting

Posted 3/31/14

Dr. Gates, Dr. Burns, Myrtle PhillipsBy Jay Walker
The NAPS Board welcomed School Superintendent Dr. Gates and Northumberland High School Principal Dr. Burns to the January meeting to discuss STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education. The objective was to outline how NAPS can support STEM at the schools.
Dr. Burns described the NHS Gateway to STEM room being set up at the time. He said that guidance counselor Lara Brown proposed the idea. She wanted to expose students to career planning and involve professionals in the community.
It is hoped that the Gateway to STEM room will create a long-lasting partnership with organizations, including NAPS and other volunteer organizations for STEM-based learning,” he said, adding that NAPS would be the “over-arching” body for STEM ideas. He also previewed samples of the banner that includes both NAPS and County School logos to go over the door.
Dr. Gates covered STEM related projects and provided a handout on the “Northern Neck Governor’s STEM Academy Career Clusters and Pathways.” She told the Board that Del. Margaret Ransone has requested funding for a Technical/Career Center.
One of the STEM related projects Dr. Gates emphasized was the need for a Children’s Engineering Curriculum at the elementary school level. She will attempt to locate school systems that have children’s engineering programs.
“To be in a STEM Program, students need to have the background by the sixth grade,” she stated.
Dr. Gates stressed the importance and effectiveness of “project-based” learning.

CCL Update

Posted 3/31/14

By Dr. Greg Haugan
The mission of CCL is to build a political will for a stable climate.
The Northern Neck Chapter of the CCL mantra follows that of the National Academy of Sciences and all the major scientific organizations of the world:
1. The earth is warming
2. The cause is us
3. It is bad
4. We can do something about it.
It is the fourth line that is the focus of CCL and the focus for our meetings is to mitigate climate change by supporting a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend, or rebate, program to reduce CO2 emissions. How and why this will work and the implementing mechanisms are discussed at the meetings.
The CCL is active in providing presentations discussing climate change and mitigation and other education activities such as letters to editors and opinion pieces. The important aspect is keeping our Congressional Representative and Senators appraised of the developments in the science behind the mantra and the necessity to take aggressive action now. I represented our group at the Regional CCL Meeting in Atlanta in January where six-term Republican Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina was the featured speaker. He presented the conservative position and strong support for the free market operations of the CCL carbon fee and dividend approach.
We welcome new members at our meetings to join our discussions and to hear our speakers and presentations and to help provide a difference. Meetings are the first Tuesday evening of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Northumberland Library. We need your help in understanding and transmitting the urgency of action on this major problem that faces every person on this planet. Call Dr. Greg Haugan at 804 580 2166 for more information.

Mitigating Climate Change

Posted 3/31/14

By Dr. Greg Haugan
In order to stabilize our climate and avoid the most serious impacts of the ongoing climate changes, it is necessary to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
KidsThere are three basic alternatives available to reduce CO2 emissions and thereby mitigate climate change: (1) Individual conservation; (2) Government Regulation; and (3) putting a price on CO2 emissions. Individual conservation is important since approximately 40% of the current levels of emissions are related to individual decisions, but this alone will not solve the problem.
The second approach is currently being applied by President Obama in the form of emission regulations, fuel efficiency standards, subsidies and such and this can only be partly successful and is a brute force approach.
The third approach, putting a price on carbon emissions to at least partly compensate for the costs incurred by society has two variations: (a) A cap-and-trade scheme that is favored by environmentalists because it places a firm ceiling on emissions; and (b) A carbon fee and dividend or rebate scheme that puts a price on emissions and lets the free market make choices of responses. This is favored by conservative economists and CCL.
The CCL goes one step further and recommends a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend or rebate scheme. In a “revenue-neutral” system all of the revenues are returned directly to the American people, none stays with the government. The revenue-neutral carbon fee, (incorrectly sometimes called a tax), and dividend works like this:
A fee is placed on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, port of entry). This fee starts at $15 per ton of fossil CO2 emitted, and increases steadily each year by $10 so that clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. Fossil fuel companies are finally paying for polluting our atmosphere.
All of the money collected is returned to American households on an equitable basis. Under this plan 66% percent of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend check than they would pay for the increased cost of energy, thereby protecting the poor and middle class including the people of the Northern Neck. A predictably increasing carbon price sends a clear market signal which will unleash conservative entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.
Conservative economists Art Laffer, former Reagan economic advisor; Greg Mankiw, economic advisor to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney; Andrew Moylan of the conservative R Street Institute; and Gary Becker, Nobel Laureate economist, have each supported it. George Shultz, former Secretary of State stated: “We have to have a system where all forms of energy bear their full costs…and to me the most appealing way is a revenue-neutral carbon tax.”
Economic analysis of this approach shows it to be net beneficial to GDP compared to doing nothing and applying the revenues to such items as debt reduction show fewer benefits. A similar carbon tax is currently being applied effectively in British Columbia where part of the revenue is used to reduce corporate income taxes and the rest rebated.
With a carbon fee and dividend or rebate approach, the need for carbon emissions controls on power plants is eliminated and free-market incentives will influence individual conservation decisions as well. It has been calculated that such a scheme as we advocate, implemented in 2015, would reduce emissions over time to a point where the increase in global temperature can be kept under the 2 degree Centigrade (3.6 degrees F) danger point.

NAPS Highway Pick-up Set

Posted 3/31/14

By Janice Mahoney
The NAPS spring roadside pick-up is on the calendar for Tuesday, April 22 starting at 1 p.m. As a reminder:
We meet at 1 p.m. to get organized and get road assignments.
We gather at the Wicomico Church Episcopal Church on Route 200 in the parking lot behind the church.
No more than two hours is the usual time required.
To join up, contact me at

NAPS Journal Now Available Online

Posted 3/18/14

NAPS JournalThe NAPS Journal 2013 is now available for online download, featuring the following articles:

Impacts of Climate Change on the Weather of the Northern Neck, Part 1
By Dr. Gregory T. Haugan: The current and future weather in the Northern Neck are impacted by the ongoing global warming and resulting changes in the climate. Part 1 of a three-part series focuses on weather and the jet stream.
Stewardship of Waterfront Property
By Dr. Lynton Land: The cardinal rule for waterfront property owners is “keep it out of the water.” This article provides helpful advice and explains why keeping it out of the water is vital for the health of our water ways.
Chesapeake Bay Ecology, Menhaden Fishery Management and Recommendations for NAPS Members
By Ida Hall: The many factors that impact the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay watershed are complex and dealing with them in- volves complex solutions. Menhaden fishery is a good example of the need to understand how all the marine life interact for sustainability. What can you do to help.
Contemporary Climate Mythology
Prepared by Dr. Gregory Haugan, here are five facts that dispel the myths and point to the need to recognize the impact of climate change. It’s a matter of science and common sense.

Click here for PDF version. Look for the 2014 issue available soon to active paid NAPS members.

Creek Clean-up Yields Mysteries

cleanupPosted 10/10/13

What looked like “the Cockrell sea monster”, an unidentified sunken object (USO), and a battered boat were just three of the 3800 lbs. of trash hauled ashore at the NAPS annual creek clean-up, Saturday, September 28. A six-boat armada with crews of Northumberland High School students and Boy Scouts cleared the shores of Cockrell’s Creek in Reedville on the wind-swept morning.
Four of the 12 NHS students from the Beta Club were veterans of last year’s clean-up along the Great Wicomico. All of the five Scouts, led by Bob Monk, were return crewmen. They included Trent Newsome, Grayson Hughes, Matt Pitman, and Robert Stickler. Fourteen NAPS volunteers were on hand to set up the landing at The Stack, sort the recycles from the trash, and serve lunch.
Monty Deihl, Senior Director of Fishing Plant Operations for Omega Protein, was instrumental in organizing the boat captains and providing dumpsters, Port-a Potty, and lunch.
The Cockrell sea monster when towed ashore turned out to be an oil-spill float. It took six NHS girls to heft the “USO” into the boat and off-load it onto the quay at the Stack, but it remained unidentifiable. As for the boat, Monty Deihl got a fork lift from Omega to haul it out.
The boat captains included: Vincent Haynie, Warner Rice, Lynn Haynie, Tom and Zachery Moore, Andy Hall, and Monty and Parker Deihl.
“The weather was not as nice as predicted, but the ‘crews’ said it was fun,” said NAPS President Bill Estell. “The kids were involved in a cleaner environment and hopefully lessons were learned. A special thanks goes to Monty and Omega for hosting our project and providing everything needed to carry it out, even the fork lift.”
NAPS also thanks Omega for a very generous gift of $300 to support the clean-up.

NAPS Presents Its 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award to Jane Towner

Posted 10/10/13

NDC AwardBy Ida Hall
NAPS presented its 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award (DCA) to Jane Towner during the annual Social on Saturday, October 12, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House along the Potomac River in Northumberland County.
Speaking to nearly 60 NAPS members, neighbors, and guests who gathered to enjoy good food, fellowship, common interests, concerns, and celebrate the Distinguished Citizen Award recipient, NAPS President Bill Estell said it was “not surprising that so many people are here, knowing who we are honoring.” Bill added that “choosing the Distinguished Citizen Award recipient goes on all year” and thanked Ralph Millar for heading the search committee.
Representing the RCC Educational Foundation (EFI), Sharon Drotleff told the audience that RCC “applauds Jane Towner’s selection.” As a Board member for 10 years, Jane envisioned developing a Life-Long learning Center. In the fall of 2004, her dream became reality when the RCC/EFI offered the first courses through the Rappahannock Institute of Lifelong Learning (RILL), that Jane co-founded with Libby Singleton Wolf.
John Bott, who took over Jane’s position when she retired in 2009, said, “Jane never gives up on learning.” In recognition of her lifelong contributions to education, RILL awarded her a Citation and named a scholarship in her honor in 2011. With her foresight and focus on others, John added that “Jane has spoken to us in many ways that can’t be measured.”
On behalf of the NAPS Board and membership, Bill presented Jane with an engraved plaque recognizing her many accomplishments that “Define Distinguished Citizen.”
With Sibley, her husband of 57 years, and daughters Ann and Hope in the audience supporting her, along with friends and colleagues, Kitty and Jennifer Creeth, Judy and Dean McBride, Jack and Susan Moore, Mary Louisa Pollard (NNLC), and DCR’s Rebecca Wilson, Jane humbly and gratefully accepted the award. “I am deeply honored, because this award comes from NAPS,” she told listeners, including Shirley Smith, a founding member of NAPS and Supervisor Tommy Tomlin, who represents her district.
Jane pointed out that NAPS is a “small organization” focused on big issues such as conservation, preservation, and the economic benefits of being good stewards of the environment. Reflecting on her 28 years in the County, Jane remarked, “The best years of my life have been in this County.” With typical modesty and generosity, Jane concluded, “I have been educated and mentored by you. This award goes to all of you.”

NAPS Launches Tree ID Project

Posted 10/10/13

Tree IDBy Jay Walker
Headed by Lynton Land, a project to identify and mark trees along a trail in the woods behind the Northumberland Elementary School moved ahead in October with the help of Rich Steensma, Forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry. The project entails putting signs on selected trees to identify them for students and others when they are on the “Blue” Trail.
In a little over an hour, Steensma identified over 30 trees, both hardwoods and pines, commenting, “There’s a lot of diversity here.” He noted that the woods were clear-cut more than once in the past and pointed out passages used by loggers to haul away the trees.
Both Lynton and Bill Estell took careful notes to establish the exact location of each tree. The next step will be to acquire and attach the signs. Steensma recommends 3 to 4 inch stainless screws set loosely so the name plate can slide away as the tree grows. “You need to loosen the screws annually so the tree doesn’t have to grow around the plate,” he added.
According to Lynton, if the school sees the value in the tree markers, other trails will be added.

NAPS Sponsors High School Eco-Tour

Posted 10/10/13

By Jay Walker
NAPS Vice President Lee Allain has arranged an Eco-Tour of the Chesapeake Bay area aboard a Bay Quest Charters boat on Saturday, April 26, 2014, for 20 Northumberland High School students and two teachers. The tour will be offered to Ecology and Biology students first and fill in empty spots with others, according to Rebekah Jones, NHS Ecology and Biology teacher.
Capt. David Rowe, a waterman and VCU graduate, will lead the tour on his 43 foot Chesapeake Bay deadrise. The tour is definitely “show and tell” concerning the oysters, crabs, and other marine life of the Bay, rivers, and creeks.
“This is a great opportunity for students to become familiar – up close and personal – with the Bay environment, with a lot of information about key species,” said Lee.
Said Mrs. Jones, “We’d like to emphasize human impact on the environment, importance the Bay has on our ecosystem as far as relationships among the species, and the significance the Bay’s ecosystem plays for people living and working on it.”
NAPS will cover the $500 fee and, if all goes well, will offer the tour to Northumberland Boy Scouts later, Lee added. For more information, check the Bay Quest website:

Twelve NAPSters Adopt-a-Highway

Posted 10/10/13

Adopt-A-Highway CrewBy Janice Mahoney
Special thanks to the 11 volunteers who answered my call for help to do the Fall Adopt-a-Highway clean-up along Route 200 starting at the church in Wicomico Church, Tuesday, October 29. They included Alice Imbur, Kathy and Walter Brodtman, Bob Holley, Bill Estell, Andy Kauders, Jack Yunker, Susan Carter Hughes, Bryna Brennan, Charles Smith and Sue Lindsey.
It was a bright and sunny day which helped to make the clean-up more palatable. Like the creek clean-up, the highway clean-up is a nasty job. We wonder just what prompts people to throw their trash out the window for others to pick up. Well, why not, when a group of retired folks avail themselves to do the pick up twice a year.
Enough preaching to the choir. We filled 17 bags of garbage with nothing of note to equal what came out of Cockrell’s Creek in September. It was just the usual fast food wrappers, beer and soda cans, and many cigarette butts – the refuse of a “use it and toss it” society.
We will have another go at the Spring Adopt-a-Highway. Please look for my call for help.

Solving Geological Puzzles

Book Review - Posted 10/10/13

Chesapeake InvaderBy Lynton S. Land, PhD
The title of the book Chesapeake Invader: Discovering America’s Giant Meteorite Crater by C. Wylie Poag (Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-00919-8, 183pp.) tells the reader what to expect. It is a documentation of how several geological puzzles were solved once the late Eocene impact of a bolide centered on Cape Charles was postulated and accepted.
The story starts when a peculiar breccia was identified from tiny rock chips or “cuttings” as wells were drilled in search of potable water. There were chips of rocks of many ages, from the igneous/metamorphic “basement” rocks to coastal plain sedimentary rocks of Cretaceous through Eocene age. Microfossils of many ages were also identified and the water in the well was anomalously saline. Rock cores provided better samples, but the origin of the breccia, overlain by unbrecciated late Eocene strata, remained puzzling.
The Deep Sea Drilling project provided the first clue to a meteorite impact by finding tektites, or glass from rocks melted by meteorite impact in late Eocene strata as they drilled off New Jersey. Once a meteorite impact was postulated, the theory could be tested by many different disciplines. Eventually, after much better subsurface imaging by seismic techniques, the discovery of abundant “shocked” quartz and more coring, the breccia was satisfactorily explained as the result of an impact event.
Well written for the non-scientist with many helpful illustrations, my only criticism is that Dr. Poag, a paleontologist specializing in microfossils, is too enamored of an extraterrestrial explanation for Earth’s mass extinctions. Of the five major mass extinctions, only one has been unequivocally shown to involve an extraterrestrial component, namely the Chicxulub event at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary that was partly responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs.
Most mass extinctions are probably caused by relatively rapid environmental changes that accompany redistribution of the continents by continental drift. Rapid environmental changes do not allow enough time for evolution and adaptation. We must take heed of that postulate, recognizing that since the industrial revolution the rapidly expanding human population has altered, and continues to alter Earth’s climate at a prodigious rate.
The Eocene impact certainly created local havoc, but no global mass extinction. The consequence of the large and growing human population rapidly burning Earth’s finite reserves of fossil fuels is another matter.

STEM Lab Visit

Posted 10/10/13

By Lee Allain
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are getting priority nationally for students with natural talents in these fields. Locally, the Vo-Tech school in Warsaw is now incorporating a STEM curriculum and moving toward recognition as a STEM Academy.
Northumberland High School, under the auspices of the Warsaw school, now has a Stem Lab. To learn more about it, a group of NAPS Board members toured the NHS Lab with instructor Scott Syster. Here, about 15 students are learning to use CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing) systems.
We were particularly impressed with the number of gears and hinged boxes recently generated on the lab’s 3-D printer. In a STEM Lab, students design, test, and actually construct circuits and devices such as smart phones and tablets and work together on a capstone project. It’s STEM education and it’s the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy.

Citizens Climate Lobby Update

Posted 10/10/13

Greg HauganBy Gregory Haugan, PhD
We had three very interesting meetings that were well attended. In September we saw the documentary Do the Math that featured Bill McKibben of The math consists of three numbers: first – 2º Celsius, the temperature increase that is universally accepted as the critical danger point of global warming; second – 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide which is the additional amount of CO2 that we can pour into the atmosphere and stay below the 2º C level; and third – 2,795 gigatons of CO2 which is the amount contained in the proven coal, oil and gas reserves. So it is necessary to keep 80% of our fossil fuels locked in the ground. A daunting task.
At the October meeting we saw the award winning documentary Chasing Ice. Using time lapse photography the team documented the astonishingly rapid retreats and melting of major glaciers from around the world. The film provides undeniable evidence of our changing planet being threatened by climate change.
Please contact Greg Haugan if any of your other organizations would like to borrow either documentary. (See contact information at end of article.)
In November we focused on the new fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report titled Climate Change 2013, The Physical Science Basis (IPCC5). Dr. Lynton Land and Dr. Greg Haugan led the discussion and addressed what has changed since the last report in 2007 and what are the most important takeaways. The meeting included an audio description of IPCC5 by Dr. John Abraham, one of the reviewers of the report.
At this meeting we resumed our discussions of getting out opinion pieces and letters to the editor of the newspapers in the First Congressional District.
Plans for December include a workshop led by Gail Kenna on writing opinion pieces and letters.
For people unfamiliar with CCL you are invited to call in on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. (1-866-642-1665 and access code 440699#) to hear a presentation on the organization by the Executive Director of CCL. Alternatively contact Dr. Greg Haugan, NNK CCL Group Leader at 804-580-2166 or

Property Owners: Enlist for the Phragmites War

Posted 10/10/13

By Lynton Land
Efforts to contain the invasive grass Phragmites australis continue. In 2013, 64 sites were sprayed with herbicide, 18 with the power sprayer on loan again from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. I have concluded that the herbicide, glyphosate, does not always kill the rhizomes (underground stems) when applied only once each year in September.
The first few treatments are usually very effective and after a few years only scattered plants or patches appear. Each year they are sprayed, and each year the process repeats. Once this stage is reached I can’t make any more progress so the property owner must choose among three strategies:
Ignore the Phragmites and watch it come roaring back,
Spray in September, to prevent it from spreading, or
Spray plants as soon as they can be identified. This strategy can eventually eradicate it and the property owner has the advantage of being able to spray whenever the marsh is dry enough to access the plants.
I’m asking more property owners to take over and will accept new sites only if I think elimination is likely.

Memo from Bill

Posted 10/10/13

Despite a last minute change from the Little Wicomico River to Cockrell’s Creek, the annual NAPS Creek Clean-Up on September 28 went off smoothly and was a huge success. Thanks to Omega Protein volunteers, the Northumberland High School Beta Club, Boy Scout Troop 200 and many NAPS volunteers, nearly 3,800 pounds of trash and debris was removed from the creek. Monty Deihl and Omega provided lunch, the staging area, clean-up equipment and the boat captains. The usual NAPS Clean-Up tee-shirt was provided to all participants.
The NAPS Fall Social followed on October 12 at the Bay Quarter Shores Clubhouse. Our own Jane M. Towner was recognized as the NAPS Distinguished Citizen for 2013. A large turnout and wonderful sampling of excellent food and visiting among old and new friends were the orders of the day. The Chesapeake Garden Club provided truly outstanding flower and fruit decorations celebrating the Fall Season. Jane was surrounded by family and friends and said she had a memorable evening of celebration good cheer. A special thanks to all who helped with the preparations and clean-up and especially for the outstanding gourmet dishes contributed.
NAPS educational efforts are currently reflected in three areas of interest in coordination with the High School; the STEM initiative, a follow-up to the solar panel project of the Senior Capstone Math Class effort, and the scheduled Spring Ecology Tour on the Bay with Ecology and Biology students. All are exciting programs that have captured the interest of school officials from the Superintendent Gates, Principal Burns and the subject teachers involved. See the details in the newsletter.
The NAPS road Pick-Up under Janice Mahoney’s guidance was successful but we had just enough volunteers to cover the rather extensive section of Route 200. We can always use more helpers. Keep this in mind when the Spring Pick-Up comes around.
As always, thanks for your continued support of NAPS in all of our programs.
Best to you and yours,
– Bill Estell, President

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