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Green Living

Celebrated Chesapeake writer and advocate Tom Horton on the state of our beloved estuary

Excerpted from a talk at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s 50th anniversary lecture series (Editor’s note: Horton’s words have been rearranged in the shape of this story)

Solar, wind and energy-efficient upgrades on the way

Sandy Point State Park is a fine place to soak up the sun. Soon those rays will be turning into energy.     The Board of Public Works approved a $535,870 contract with Baltimore-based Bithenergy to evaluate, design and install park upgrades, reducing total energy consumption by an estimated 45 percent.     “Once installation is complete, Sandy Point will be the first state park to host alternative energy projects of this size and scale,” says parks superintendent Nita Settina.

Latest push to save honeybees

Plants pretreated for insect resistance with neonicotinoids will no longer be on the shelves at Ace Hardware. That’s good news for any bees in the area. A relatively new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids have come under scrutiny as a possible cause of the collapse of honeybee colonies. The chemical pesticide targets an insect’s nervous system, causing paralysis. Bees are apparently as susceptible as pesky bugs.

Big strides toward a healthier planet

48 Days of Blue made waves. By the time the National Aquarium campaign to protect the environment (started on Earth Day) concluded on June 8, World Oceans Day, it had proved that small changes can help to protect the oceans that cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface.

Citizen scientists can reverse the decline

Too many species to count are losing their habitat as native plant communities disappear because of human land management changes and occupation by invasive species. Hundreds of native insects, including many solitary native bees and other critical pollinators, have already vanished.

On water and land, our wakes stretch ­farther than we can see

In Edgewater, at Camp Letts, on a tiny peninsula that juts into the Rhode River, erosion could down a might oak. The tree has done yeoman’s work by keeping the soil in place. But even now, as a living shoreline restoration project undertaken by the West/Rhode Riverkeeper seeks to halt the degradation, the soil is sinking between the roots and falling into the river.     Erosion of this kind repeats throughout Chesapeake Country, where there are 11,684 miles of shoreline and over 100,000 waterways.

When enough people choose to help, large problems can be solved

The ecology of the planet is experiencing a time of rapid change and ­uncertainty. But we all have one very positive decision we can make: to try to make a difference anyway. In other words, to give a damn; it is a choice.     It is a lot like the story of the old man walking on the beach covered with hundreds of starfish washed up on the shore. A young girl sees him tossing starfish back into the sea. At first glance it seems a useless endeavor, even if it does make a difference to the ones that get thrown back.

Can’t get your boat to a pump-out station? One will come to you

If you spend much time on your boat, it’s probably got a head. What you put into the head can’t go into the Bay. It’s against the law to pump effluent into the Bay or its tributaries or within three miles of the U.S. coastline.

Hidden Harbour Marina honored as Clean Marina of the Year

Chesapeake Country has hundreds of marinas, each unique in its own way. They come in different sizes, different locations, different facilities — and different levels of cleanliness and Bay friendliness.

To buy the right bulb, you need to be an engineer

In the electrical department of a local big box home improvement store, I couldn’t help but overhear a woman mumbling, “When did things become so complicated?” I drifted in the other direction to avoid the drama.     Then I realized she wasn’t talking about her love life. She was trying to buy a light bulb. There were no sales people in sight. I’m not sure if I was motivated by human kindness, ­chivalry or the need to show off my knowledge from 40 years of electrical engineering. Whatever my reason, I volunteered to help.