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Welcome to NAPS

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:

Please join NAPS now. Northumberland is going to grow . . . help us help it grow with order and beauty. Learn more...

NAPS Earth Day 5K & Kids Run - Events for the Whole Family!

Attention runners and walkers of all ages: NAPS is sponsoring a 5k race as part of the April 18, 2015 Earth Day celebration during the Tavern Farmers Market in Heathsville. In addition, special events are planned for kids and adults – all with an environmental theme.

There will be music, environmental exhibits, and vendors in addition to the Farmers Market vendors. The annual Northern Neck Wine Festival will also take place at the Tavern grounds.

Click here for more information. See you there!

 


What's New...

Susan A. Lindsey Honored

Posted September 14, 2014

By Jay Walker

The Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) has selected Susan A. Lindsey to receive the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award in recognition of her contributions in conservation and education.

A 17-year resident of Wicomico Church, Lindsey has been an active member of the Master Gardeners and is currently the Chair of the Integrated Shoreline Evaluation Assistance Program (ISEA). Since 2012 she has offered “Shoreline Evaluation Assistance” to area residents, emphasizing living shorelines that incorporate native plants.
As a member of the Northern Neck Native Plant Society, she helped implement the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at the Heathsville Courthouse and the Reedville Teaching Garden on Cockrell’s Creek next to the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, as well as behind the Methodist Church.

Among education activities, Lindsey began the Students Using Math and Science (SUMS) program at the Lancaster Elementary School. She worked with Audrey Brainard, another NAPS award winner, on the ”Ground Water Festival” for sixth graders held at the Girl Scout camp. She also participated in the summer STEM Boost introduction program at the Northumberland Elementary School. (See separate story.)

Referring to her teaching activities, British-born Lindsey says, “I’m the lady who talks funny. But I tell the kids not to try imitating my accent, because it’s not funny and they only look dumb.”
She has served as Conservation Chair for the Garden Club of the Northern Neck and sought coordination with the Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula. She received the “Horticultural Award of Merit” from the Garden Club of the Northern Neck.

As an active volunteer for the Northern Neck Land Conservancy, Lindsey has worked on setting up the annual Boots & BBQ fundraiser. Working with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, she has led tours of Dameron Marsh. In April she conducted a tour of the marsh following a presentation on the subject at the Shiloh School.

She served on the NAPS Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008 and was vice president during that time. “I think the two most satisfying projects are the shoreline planting program and the teaching gardens,” Lindsey remarked.

Formal presentation of the Distinguished Citizen Award will take place at the NAPS Fall Social, Saturday, October 18, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House.

Boy Scout Eco-Tour

Posted September 14, 2014

By Lee Allain

On Monday, June 30, a group of Boy Scouts from Troop 250 got aboard the Bay Quest with Capt. David Rowe and the second NAPS Eco-Tour, underwritten by Omega Protein, was under way. The weather was good and the oysters, crabs, and fish all cooperated.

The schedule was much the same as the first Eco-Tour in April. First on the agenda were the oysters, followed by the crabs, and finally, the fish. Capt. Rowe kept a log of each species sighted, along with some water and weather data. In all, some 23 species were sighted. A unique catch was a choker flounder, a small fish that attaches by suction to whatever it encounters, including in this case, boy scouts.

The boys learned about the Bay and its denizens – and had a good time as well. A pizza lunch provided at the marina also went over well with the troop.

In his letter thanking NAPS, Omega Protein, and Capt. Rowe, Troop 250 Scoutmaster Bob Parker wrote: “We accomplished some work on Fish and Wildlife Merit Badge, but more importantly the trip introduced the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries to these young men and I hope helped them understand the balance that we must strike between ecology and economy.”

Mission accomplished.

NAPS Sets up Education Endowment

Posted September 14, 2014

By Jay Walker

The NAPS Board has established an endowment of $20,000 to use the earnings primarily to support scholarships at the Northumberland High School and other educational projects consistent with the NAPS charter. The impetus was the receipt of $4,226.15 from the estate of the late Charles Fears, who wanted to continue support of the NAPS mission, according to NAPS President Bill Estell.

The initial deposit to an account with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC of Kilmarnock also included $5,773.85 from a Certificate of Deposit held by NAPS. An additional $10,000 has been set aside to be used as a source of matching funds for further deposits to the endowment account as funds are donated. With the receipt of matching funds the endowment will grow to $30,000.

“The monies had been collected over NAPS’s 25-year existence and the Board wanted to put these funds to work in the community,” Estell said.

Guidelines for the future use of the money are spelled out in the NAPS Educational Endowment Statement of Investment Policies. The policies include Investment Objectives, Spending Policy, Investment Guidelines, Monitoring of Objectives and Results, and Communication and Decision Making.

The endowment policies were established with advice from Paul Sciacchitano, Wells Fargo Managing Director/Investment Officer. He has worked with the Board for several months to assist in the endowment project. “The objective is to provide a basis for our support of education into the future. It focuses on education so that donors know what they are supporting,” Estell explained.

NAPS STEM Boost Project

Posted September 14, 2014

By Lee Allain

Northumberland is one of a minority of schools in Virginia that is fully accredited – one of only 36 out of Virginia’s 132. We have splendid new school facilities and dedicated teachers. Still, that is not good enough! The pursuit of excellence must be continuous. Recent information places us at 36 out of 65 nations when comparing math, reading, and science skills. We must boost STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) performance.

STEM education improves the interaction capability of graduates as they begin life in a highly technical world. Some will become scientists and engineers, some will become technicians and industrial technology users, and all will become future technology product owners and users like you and me. Who thought 20 years ago that we would rely on GPS in our automobiles, and work and be entertained daily on personal computers, iPhones, Google Search, Facebook, and 60-inch wall mount TVs? We each are challenged to live with and use these miracle technologies effectively. The technology wave moves on at tsunami speed.

In April of this year, NAPS, with Northumberland County Schools, submitted a proposal to the River Counties Community Foundation (RCCF) for a unique project. NAPS educational outreach includes helping students understand how our world works. One must understand basic science, if “progressive stewardship” is to be effective.
Our “STEM Boost” proposal to the RCCF was centered on improving elementary grade students’ early interest in science and math as they gained hands-on experience ‘Imagineering’ and then building 3-D structures. Our intention was to ‘infect’ young students with a zest for knowledge regarding the physics, chemistry, and biology of spaceship earth. We proposed purchasing as many as 75 “STEM Starter Kits,” or SSK’s, and providing one to each child in grades 3 through 5 enrolled in the planned summer Extended School program. In late May, the RCCF notified us that they would provide the requested grant. Teachers and NAPS Mentors quickly focused on LEGO as having appeal to a broad range of age as well as both genders, and 75 LEGO kits in buckets were ordered.

These LEGO buckets/SSK’s were introduced to students during the recent Extended School program. Students, with a little guidance from teachers and mentors returning to their childhoods, quickly grasped the basics of LEGO construction. On the carpeted Elementary School gym floor, they assembled their versions of various village buildings. After most students were satisfied with their creations, they assembled their buildings into a village (as shown in the photograph). As the “land grab” along the village roads progressed, the students really got excited. At the end of the LEGO period they were heard to say, “Do we have to leave now?” Of course, they were also competing for planned awards for good work.

In preparation for Awards Day, students in each class were provided with an evaluation sheet to help guide them as they judged another class’ work. That is, the judges for awards were the students themselves. On the last Wednesday of classes, all people in the project plus parents and the local papers were invited to the Elementary School to watch the Awards and view the villages. Winners of Awards were:

3rd Grade
Best Structure – Nora Bowles for “Pet Store”
Most Creative – William Rose for “Funeral Home”
Most Creative – Javier Ramirez for “Apartments”
Most Creative – MiKayla Noel for “Pizza Place”

4th Grade
Best Structure – Travis Coleman for “Police Station”
Most Creative – Layton Saunders for “Zoo”
Most Creative – Brandon Coleman for “Hospital”
Most Creative – Christian Newton for “Restaurant”

5th Grade
Best Structure – Lawrence Green for his “Police Station”
Most Creative – Emani Davis for “Grocery Store”
Most Creative – Tanaya Seldon for “Church”
Most Creative – Nyzear Hawkins for “MacDonald’s”

We believe that students left this project with the feeling that school can be both fun and educational. We hope they also left with a stronger tendency to choose science and math courses in school as they progress.

People who worked as NAPS Mentors were Nannette Smith, Janice Mahoney, Joe Thompson, Sue Lindsey, Bill Estell, Garfield Parker, and Wonda Allain.
Participating Teachers were Nancy Jewell, Pam Woolard, Mary Kelly, Chris Barnes, Susan Bates, Martha Williams, and Amy Lamb.

Mentors and Teachers are now collecting “Lessons Learned” and working to make sure that STEM Boost is extended into the future. In fact, it is now time to move into Phase 2 of STEM activity. In the future you can expect to see more LEGO activity, as well as the introduction of more technology driven work in the High School. For instance, NAPS has already purchased an advanced Drone Quadcopter for introduction to students this fall. Stay tuned.

Tree ID Project Completed

Posted September 14, 2014

By Jay Walker

Having identified and marked trees along a trail in the woods behind the Northumberland Elementary School last October, the final step of attaching name plates was completed in June. Forester Rich Steensma, who helped with the initial stage, returned to assist in placing the name plates for the NAPS team to do the job. (See photo.)

“By the time the plates and hardware were assembled, the leaves were gone and it was very difficult to be certain if we had the right trees. So we had to wait until the leaves bloomed and Rich was available to make sure we got it right,” said Lynton Land, who headed the project.

In all 34 signs were installed on 23 tree species. The objective was to mark the trees for the elementary school students when they are on the “Blue Trail” during outdoor classes.

Steensma, a forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry, noted that there is a lot of diversity along the trail. He also pointed out that the area was clear-cut more than once in the past.

Where We Stand - CCL Update

Posted September 14, 2014

By Dr. Greg Haugan

The Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is a grass-roots, volunteer organization that is a partner of NAPS. While NAPS is focusing on Northumberland County and helping it grow “with order and beauty,” the CCL mission is to achieve a stable climate so that the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the county population can continue to live and enjoy the waters, air and land in the same way as us. It is an international organization working on an international problem with several active Canadian groups and some new ones in Europe. Stability is not easy to achieve with a rapidly increasing population; demand for energy to raise standards of living increasing even faster; over-use of our finite planetary resources at an increasingly unsustainable rate and our dumping of carbon emissions into the air resulting in an enhanced greenhouse effect. It is easy to be pessimistic, but we believe there are solutions and the solutions are what we are advocating.

At present, the majority of our elected representatives and our business leaders are not concerned with impact on future generations. We want to change that. We must change that. We need your help. Since the last newsletter, CCL members have met with the Congressional staff of Senators Kaine and Warner and met with Congressman Wittman and his staff in DC. They were asked to support carbon fee and dividend legislation. In addition, CCL members wrote letters to editors, attended a major sea-level rise conference in Norfolk, displayed at the Farmers Market and similar events, and gave presentations to educate the population of the Northern Neck on the issues and solutions to climate changes and disruptions.

There is a solution: Put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and return the revenues to our households. We are not alone with this approach; in addition to several conservative economists, ExxonMobil has joined the parade. (See Climate Change Reports article.)

Members of CCL are available as speakers on all aspects of climate change, impacts and mitigation solutions. Remember our quatrain: “The climate is changing, it is caused by humans, it is bad, but we can do something about it if we act soon.”

We meet the first Tuesday of the month at the Northumberland Public Library at 7:00 pm. Call Greg Haugan at 804 580 2166 for information. All are welcome, we provide refreshments. It is free.

Oysters Can’t Improve Chesapeake Bay Water Quality

Posted September 14, 2014

By Dr. Lynton Land

Most people know that when Europeans first arrived, oysters could filter a Bay-sized volume of water in a few days. Today, given the few oysters that remain, it takes a year. Some people interpret this often-repeated mantra to mean that more oysters could improve Bay water quality. They can’t.

Filtering makes the water more transparent, allowing light to penetrate. But clearer water is not the most important measure of water quality. The particles, including algae, that the oysters filter from the water end up as sediment, just as would happen in the absence of oysters. Microbes decompose the organic material and release ammonia (NH3) and phosphate (PO4) back to the water to fertilize the growth of more algae. Oysters do not remove the nutrients nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the marine ecosystem unless they are harvested. It is the excess N and P in the water that cause the Bay’s abysmal water quality and its formal impairment by EPA.

The word “restoration” is purposefully being avoided. Given today’s acreage in heavily fertilized fields and lawns, extensive urbanization and an increasing population, we can never return to pre-Colonial nutrient discharge. It is impossible to restore the North American grassland prairies, just as it is impossible to restore the Bay ecosystem, or the Bay’s oyster population. Ecosystems that have been degraded for centuries can be improved, but he word “restore” should never be used.

The Bay’s nutrient pollution problem is immense and hard to grasp. Pollution must always be reduced at its source. A “sop up” strategy, while continuing to pollute, is never effective. EPA’s final TMDL requires that of the 250 million pounds of N delivered to the Bay each year, more than half of agricultural origin, 62 million pounds of N discharge must be stopped. That amount may or may not be sufficient to improve water quality satisfactorily because the remaining discharge is larger than it was in Colonial times.

A recent study proposed that oysters can significantly improve water quality in the Potomac River estuary (DOI 10.1007/s10498-014-9226-y). I disagreed (DOI 10.1007/s10498-014-9235-x). A paper published in 1946 states “...in the late 1800’s it [the oyster harvest from the Potomac River] averaged approximately 1,600,000 bushels.” Given 300 oysters per bushel, 480 million oysters were harvested annually for a few years. Then the harvest crashed and in recent years it has rarely exceeded 1.5 million oysters (5,000 bushels). Today, the Potomac River discharges about 30 million kilograms of N each year. One million market-sized (3 inch) oysters contain at most 150 kilograms of N, with sub-equal amounts in the shell and tissue. Today’s oyster harvest only removes 0.00075% (225 / 30,000,000) of the Potomac River’s N load. Even if we could harvest 480 million oysters annually again, an unrealistic hope, only 72,000 kg of N would be removed from the marine ecosystem (480 million oysters * 150 kg N per million oysters) amounting to only 0.2% of today’s N load (72,000 / 30,000,000). Oysters cannot improve Bay water quality in the face of the massive pollution load that exists.

How does N removal from the marine ecosystem by oysters compare to N pollution from crop fertilization practices? Given a chemical fertilization rate for grain of about 150 pounds of N per acre and a typical “N Use Efficiency” of about 65%, 100 pounds of applied N fertilizer are sequestered in the harvested grain. The remaining 50 pounds are released to the environment. Assuming that about half the 50 pounds of N not sequestered in the grain ends up in the Bay, and that the N removed from the ecosystem by harvesting oysters and by their normal feeding and deposition processes (sediment burial and denitrification) are about the same, growing twenty acres of grain causes about as much N pollution as the amount of N removed by a million oysters. Given the many millions of acres used to grow grain in the Bay watershed, the previous conclusion is confirmed. “Sopping up” N pollution by harvesting oysters cannot measurably improve Bay water quality.

All the money we have spent upgrading wastewater treatment to reduce point source nutrient pollution has not resulted in significant improvements in Bay water quality. The only way to improve Bay water quality is to seriously address the major source of pollution, inefficient crop fertilization. Two good places to start are: first, ban the disposal of animal waste (poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure) by land application, which causes about half of agricultural nutrient pollution because these materials are such inefficient “fertilizers.” And second, replace conventional chemical fertilizers with controlled- (timed-, slow-) release products in order to increase conventional fertilization efficiency from about 65% to at least 80% (it is 30% for sludge).

Oysters improve the Bay ecosystem because they create desirable habitat for other organisms. Fertile (diploid) oysters in close proximity in a float or cage can spawn simultaneously, increasing the likelihood of fertilization. Unfortunately, most people, including aquaculture, grow sterile (triploid) oysters because they are meatier. If you want to help the Bay, grow more fertile oysters – they have made great meals for centuries! TOGA (Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association – www.oystergardener.org) can help if you want learn more.

Celebrating Earth Day

Posted September 14, 2014

Attention runners and walkers of all ages: NAPS is sponsoring a 5k race as part of the April 18, 2015 Earth Day celebration during the Tavern Farmers Market in Heathsville. In addition, special events are planned for kids and adults – all with an environmental theme.

There will be music, environmental exhibits, and vendors in addition to the Farmers Market vendors. The annual Northern Neck Wine Festival will also take place at the Tavern grounds.

Preliminary discussions with Northumberland County officials have been positive. County Administrator Kenny Eades (use of county property for staging) and Sheriff Chuck Wilkins (suggested race route) have been supportive. Bill Kirby has agreed to head the race committee.

Look for more details as planning goes forward.

Climate Change Reports - Ranging from Somber to Optimistic

Posted September 14, 2014

By Dr. Greg Haugan

Two recent reports on climate change are optimistic and one is somber. There are literally hundreds of documents to choose from each three months, but these three are the outstanding ones. First the somber news – a report titled “Risky Business” came out in June. It is a business-oriented climate risk assessment for the United States. It is somber news only if the U.S. and the world continue to do nothing about mitigation of global warming. I would say it is a “wake-up call” but that really occurred 26 years ago when Dr. Jim Hansen testified to the problems to Congress. They simply turned off the alarm. Didn’t even hit the “snooze” button.

The report contains the summary results of a comprehensive risk analysis of the regions and economic sectors of the U.S. The summary is easy to read and is available at www.riskybusiness.org. It is notable for its sponsors and committee members that include Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin and George P. Shultz – all former secretaries of the treasury; Henry Cisneros, Olympia Snowe, Dr. Alfred Sommer, Donna Shalala and other well-known persons, both conservatives and liberals. It is non-partisan and business-oriented. The report findings show: “…that, if we continue on our current path, many regions of the U.S. face the prospect of serious economic effects from climate change. However, if we choose a different path – if we act aggressively to both adapt to the changing climate and to mitigate future impacts by reducing carbon emissions – we can significantly reduce our exposure to the worse economic risks from climate change and also demonstrate global leadership on climate.”

The report contains data on each U.S. geographic region since they are all different. The section addressing risks to the Southeast states of course includes the risks of storm surges and sea level rise with which we are all familiar. However we also are likely to be hit hardest by heat impacts: “Over the past 30 years, the average resident of this region has experienced about 8 days per year at 95º F or above. Looking forward, if we continue on our current emissions path ,the average Southeast resident will likely experience an additional 17 to 52 extreme hot days per year by mid-century and an additional 48 to 130 days per year by the end of the century.” The risks to other sectors like agriculture and health are also high and scary. The report does not make any recommendations, only throws the ball into the court of business to start doing something to reduce emissions.

The second report is more optimistic, it shows that some businesses are at least thinking about the problem and making assumptions in their business plans regarding mitigation activities being implemented. On page 18 of their climate risk business plan, ExxonMobil states the following:

“When governments are considering policy options, ExxonMobil advocates an approach that ensures a uniform and predictable cost of carbon; allows market prices to drive solutions; maximizes transparency to stakeholders; reduces administrative complexity; promotes global participation; and is easily adjusted to future developments in climate science and policy impacts. We continue to believe a revenue-neutral carbon tax is better able to accommodate these key criteria than alternatives such as cap-and-trade.”
http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/environment/climate-change/managing-climate-change-risks/carbon-asset-risk

Reading the entire chapter in the ExxonMobil report, they assume a price of carbon of $80 per ton. This is price point the CCL proposal would be after 7 years. While a much higher price needs to be reached eventually, it is important that corporate thinking is going in this direction. You can find the report by simply entering ExxonMobil Risk Analysis in Google or entering the URL from the box above. It is also easy reading.

Finally, and maybe the most important is the REMI Report. It is titled The Economic, Fiscal, Demographic, and Climate Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the proposed CCL carbon fee and dividend legislation. The analysis is unique from several perspectives. First it is national in scope and uses comprehensive and common methodologies to perform the analyses; second it breaks the results down by geographic sectors like the Risky Business Report but also identifies 38 individual sectors within each geographic region and shows the results for each year of an increasing carbon-neutral tax. Impacts on consumers, energy sectors, revenues etc... are all considered and presented. The table above presents the output. The message is clear: THE CARBON FEE AND DIVIDEND CONCEPT AS PROPOSED BY CCL WILL ADD JOBS AND INCREASE GDP AND REDUCE EMISSIONS.

So, Risky Business tells us what the risks are of remaining on our current emissions pathway; ExxonMobil shows that some businesses recognize that action is needed and will occur, and the CCL REMI analysis shows that there is a solution.

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 – www.oystergardener.org). 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 (www.oystergardener.org) 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 (www.oystergardener.org), 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 (www.bayquestfishing.com), and Capt. Danny Crabbe, out of the Little Wicomico (www.crabbescharterfishing.com), 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.

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 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: www.bayquestfishing.com.

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 350.org. 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 greghaugan@gmail.com.

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.

NAPS "Jobs" Listings!

The 23 years of NAPS history tells a story – a story of how a community works to preserve its unique features as it grows and changes. NAPS volunteers have worked hard by monitoring, educating, and getting their hands dirty. We work with many other organizations sharing the same spirit. Together we can continue to make a difference, not just for our county, but for our country and world. How would you like to spend a few fun hours this year helping NAPS help your community? Read more...

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