Volume XI, Issue 29 ~ July 17-23, 2003

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Dock of the Bay

David Takes on Goliath — Round 3
Citizens prepare to battle Army Corps of Engineers

David is ready for battle, and his weapon of choice is a one-inch, 75-foot model working wetland.

David is a loose, grassroots alliance of citizens who value the unspoiled nature of land and water along the northwest shore of Herring Bay in Southern Anne Arundel County. Goliath is the Army Corps of Engineers, plus civilian supporters and marine interests. The battle ground is the confluence of Rockhold Creek with Chesapeake Bay.

At the confluence, the Corps is about to bring in its big guns, building a 1,070-foot-long, seven-foot-tall and 35-foot-wide jetty — plus raising its existing partner.

To stop them, antique-clock restorer Doug Muir took to the basement of the home he sought for 37 years, since he first came to Ark Haven on a visit in 1940.

“I wanted to know what would happen to the flow of water, erosion and silting once a second jetty was built. So I constructed a model,” said Muir, a retired independent product manufacturer whose father was a professional model maker at the Navy’s David Taylor model basin in Carderock.

Muir’s three-quarter-inch plywood base and one-inch foam insulation model depicts the lay of the land and creek to predict the effects of a second jetty. Lacking an environmental impact study — one of the many missing components to the Corps’ draft feasibility study, according to Muir — the jetty model shows what can otherwise only be imagined.

To operate the contraption, a water-filled bucket is connected by hoses to the model. At different elevations, water either flows from the bucket to the model or vice versa, emulating high and low tide. Blue dye shows water flow and pepper shows silting, making the effects of the proposed jetty easy to see.

What Muir and his allies see is a mistake they want to stop from growing from scale model to permanent structure.

“The natural design of Rockhold Creek is not meant for development,” said George Stebbing, an engineer trained and certified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Drum Point will face extensive erosion. The second jetty will create a fillet [a buildup of mud and sand along the hypotenuse between the jetty and the shoreline along Town Point, away from Rockhold Creek] that will cause damage from flooding to the bulkhead along the shoreline and our pier.”

The alliance has many other concerns, from road damage caused by trucks hauling the stones to build the jetty to endangering children at a nearby child day care center to the destruction of culverts that run under narrow, winding Leitch Road, the only entrance to the work site. Armed with concerns and the working model, the grassroots alliance is out to thwart progress.

Proponents, on the other hand, want to move forward with construction. They want to protect marinas and reduce the cost of dredging the navigation channel of Rockhold Creek.

“The jetty will improve water quality, create shallow water habitat, decrease dredging and give us the deep water we need to survive,” said George Heine in a letter to the Bay Weekly.

Submitting comments and questions to the Corps directly has been the first step the alliance has taken toward victory. However, that phase of the war is now over.

July 11 was the deadline for public comments on the Corps’ inch-and-three-quarters-thick draft feasibility study. The Corps held two forums to hear citizens’ questions and concerns before the study is finalized and submitted for review.

But citizens complained that they weren’t allowed either to make their case or to get answers to their questions.

“This project has been forced down people’s throats. We want to give the facts and let people make up their own minds,” said George Stebbing, one of the allies standing firm against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and supporters of the jetty.

The alliance claims the community and wetlands at the mouth of Rockhold Creek and the surrounding area will be forever damaged if the second jetty is built and the existing one enlarged.

Both David and Goliath have drawn their lines in the sand.

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun to “consolidate and review the comments received from the public,” said Jim Dash, environmental protection specialist with the Corps. Once the comments and concerns are consolidated and incorporated, the feasibility study is reviewed and sent to the North Atlantic Division Office of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t have to appease anyone. We could go ahead without resident concerns,” explained Dash, who said that, instead, the Corps is trying to work with the resident task force.

While Goliath maneuvers toward victory, David is doing reconnaissance.

David’s next steps will be determined by how the Corps incorporates comments into the feasibility study. If the Corps proceeds with few modifications to Section 107 Small Navigation Project, the alliance will have to act.

“We will ask for more public hearings on the issue to reach an amiable conclusion. We would also like an environmental impact statement to accompany the study to understand what the consequences are for the construction of the jetty,” said Ken Lewis, an ally against the jetty, who lives at Town Point near the site where the second jetty is to be constructed.

They could even go so far as getting an injunction against the construction of the jetty. The scale model was built to substantiate their claim that the jetty project feasibility study is inconsistent and incomplete.

If the alliance is successful in blocking the construction of the jetty, it will mark the third time that citizen groups have thwarted development in what Anne Arundel County designates the Deale/Shady Side Small Area. Earlier victories were preserving Franklin Point as open space in Shady Side and repelling the construction of a Safeway grocery store in Deale.

The history of previous battles between the other Davids and Goliaths tell us that the contest over the jetty has just begun. So far, the Davids are up 2-0 against development.

“We won’t stop until all efforts are exhausted,” said George Stebbing.

Added Bob Tibbott, the leader of the community task force: “The jetty is a permanent modification to a beautiful area. We need to be sure we’re doing the right thing.”

— James Clemenko

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Update: Local Sailing Legend Falls Ill
Annapolis sailor, commentator Gary Jobson battles lymphoma

On April 24, 2003, word spread like wildfire through the Annapolis sailing community. Local sailing hero and ambassador Gary Jobson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In mid-July, at the end of his fourth of six cycles of chemotherapy, Jobson told Bay Weekly that some days are better than others. He’s back to work part-time, but his energy is limited. He rested on a couch as we spoke.

“My immune system is low. I avoid malls,” said Jobson, referring to his vulnerability to the community of germs.

He’s had to cancel presentations — promoting sailing is his passion as well as his livelihood as ESPN’s sailing corespondent — through July, and he sat out both the Southern Bay Leukemia Cup charter regatta and the Etchells’ one-design race in Newport, Rhode Island. Both races sailed last weekend.

“The prognosis is good,” he said of his type of lymphoma and his chances for full recovery. “And the long-term is encouraging.”

He was diagnosed with the low-grade lymphoma, which can often be held in remission for many years, though it is rarely cured.

Not lost on Jobson is the irony of being diagnosed with a disease he’s fought for 11 years as chairman of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s regatta series.

Under Jobson, the Leukemia Cup regattas have raised $8 million. “Eighty-five percent of the money raised goes directly to patient care and research,” he said, noting that new drugs have been created that greatly help fight the disease. The work that he has done over the years will be put to the test with his own recovery. Without waiting for his last cycle of chemotherapy, Gary Jobson is pushing through the fatigue and pain to continue living life his way.

“I want to get back into a normal routine and promote the sport of sailing,” said Jobson, who will be the sailing commentator for NBC’s coverage of the 2004 Olympics. Of 10 racing classes, he estimates that Americans could win five.

“The sport needs to reach to the average viewer,” said Jobson, who for most non-sailors, is the face of sailing.

Just how much he means to the sport has been clear as he fought his personal battle. He’s received some 1,800 e-mails from around the world — and responded to all of them.
— James Clemenko

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Bears Beware
Next year, firearms may replace stamps as Maryland’s preferred method of bear control

The lone black bear on Steve Oliver’s 2003 competition-winning painting may be the last ever inked onto the Maryland Black Bear Conservation Stamp.

Since its birth in 1996, the Bear Stamp has raised money to pay farmers whose crops were damaged by bears. But this year the Maryland Black Bear Task Force recommended that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources “discontinue the sale of Black Bear Conservation Stamps as a revenue-generating program.”

In its eight-year history, the stamp has at best covered 70 percent of the damages filed by farmers. As the bear population and ursine damages grow, payments outpace revenues. In 2001, the stamp program paid out $21,833, more than it ever had before, but covered only 60 percent of the $36,389 in claims.

“The present investment in the program,” the bear task force says, “is greater than the revenue generated.” To cut the losses, the task force wants bears to pay for the damage they do. Bear hunting, they suggest, would keep bear population and damages down while raising money from hunting licenses.

New Jersey will hold its first hunt in more than three decades this year, with a one-week season in December that’s expected to draw as many as 10,000 hunters loaded for bear.

Following a similar path in Maryland would, the task force notes, cut losses in another way, by freeing the state from paying “monetary compensation to landowners for bear damage.”

Comment on the proposal might be expected from both farmers and bears.

The Maryland black bear population exploded in the 1980s, when successful relocation programs in Pennsylvania and West Virginia pushed bears into our state. Regrown healthy, wild habitats in Western Maryland greeted them. The bears, protected by law, have thrived. There have been bear sightings as far east as Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties.

While some see bears as an asset, a symbol of wilderness and natural beauty, others see them as a liability. The bear stamp program tried to bridge differences while enshrining the black bear as majestic. The new hunting program is less friendly to bears and artists, too.

The bear on Oliver’s stamp edges toward a stream, wary and hesitant, feet close together. The bear’s caution might be justified.

Order a bear stamp while you still can: 800/873-3763 • www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife.

— Eric Smith

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A Party With a Purpose
Parrotheads partner for oyster recovery

Buffett, beer, bratwursts and beaches. No, this isn’t a review of the Jimmy Buffett shows in Northern Virginia last week. It’s the story of a bunch of Parrotheads partying with a purpose.

On a sunny July afternoon, the Chesapeake Parrothead Club joined with the Oyster Recovery Partnership to build oyster communities for the Bay. After their hard work, both Partners and Parrotheads settled on the banks of the Choptank River for a bountiful barbecue, Buffet-style.

“Our program loves working with the Parrotheads,” says the Partnership’s Mathilde Egge. “They’re very enthusiastic about the help they’re giving and not afraid of getting a little dirty. They also throw a great barbecue for us when we’re done.”

The Chesapeake Parrothead Club is one of a 160-club network encouraged by Jimmy Buffett to help his fans organize and socialize while doing good.

“Helping with the Oyster Recovery Project was a natural for us,” says Deb Daly, Chesapeake Parrothead Club founder and president. “We all live around the Bay and enjoy its bounty, so we want to give something back to it and help clean it up.”

Oyster larvae are grown by the Partnership at University of Maryland’s Horn Point Laboratory near the Eastern Shore town of Cambridge, the site of the event. These disease-free larvae are raised on the bagged shells, then lowered into the Bay and its tributaries by the Partners. Each grown oyster can filter-clean up to 80 gallons of dirty Bay water each day. The Partnership is having a record year, with 79 million planted as of July 2, compared to 73 million in all of last year.

This day’s job was filling the net bags with old oyster shells impregnated with new larvae. It’s a tougher job than it sounds, for oyster shells are both sharp-edged and heavy.

Such volunteer events are common on the Parrothead schedule. Many support environmental and water-related causes, helping clean up and restore the beaches and rivers that are such a part of every Parrotheads’ life. The organization Save the Manatees was also started by Jimmy Buffett.

Other causes are not left by the wayside. The 300 members of the Chesapeake branch contribute to such worthy efforts as Toys for Tots and Anne Arundel County’s SPCA. They also help women’s shelters and underprivileged school children by donating supplies.

“Jimmy Buffett didn’t want people to think his fans were just a bunch of drunk louts,” explains Dave Bokeno, who not only bags oysters but also coordinates the Chesapeake club’s work at the Maryland Seafood Festival. “So he organized his official fan clubs with the ‘party with a purpose’ mission. We help out all kinds of local causes and have a great time doing it.”

To learn more: http://chesapeakeparrothead.tripod.comwww.oysterrecovery.org.

— Diane Gunter

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, an energy company from New York wants to build 150 windmills off the Eastern Shore across 25 square miles of Atlantic Ocean. Among other things, the Army Corps of Engineers will be considering whether the huge windmills threaten migratory waterfowl along the Atlantic flyway…

In Spain, this business of running with the bulls in Pamplona seems to be getting out of hand. Three more people were gored last week, and nine others, an American among them, were trampled or otherwise injured. Protesting the annual spectacle, about 150 people ran through streets recently clad in nothing but fake bull’s horns and red scarves…

In Chile, scientists have identified that 40-foot-long mysterious blob found on a remote beach that we told you about last week. It’s a sperm whale, not a giant squid or a species never before seen, researchers at the Museum of Natural History in Santiago concluded last week …

Our Creature Feature comes from the finest beaches of Mexico, where sunbathers aren’t alone in covering portions of their bodies. Because of pollution, horses rented by tourists for waterside jaunts now are being dressed in diapers in Baja California and elsewhere along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Officials calculated that the horses were leaving behind more than 50 pounds of manure a day, some of which was ending up in the water and on the bottom of people’s feet. A woman named Martha Nevarez invented the locally preferred version of the diaper, which consists of a cloth and leather sack that wraps around the horse’s chest and rear end. She sells them for about $50 each — considered a modest investment to keep beaches clean.

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Last updated July 17, 2003 @ 2:03am