- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

DISTRICT

Police investigate weekend homicides

Metropolitan Police officials yesterday said they were investigating two weekend homicides.

Police said officers investigating a report of shots fired at about 11:33 p.m. Saturday in the 6900 block of Georgia Avenue in Northwest found a woman suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head. The woman was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and pronounced dead.

The woman has not been identified.

Police said that at 2:30 p.m. Friday, officers responding to reports of a shooting near 49th Street in Southeast found Dolmi Bonilla, of the 4900 block of Howard Avenue in Beltsville, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to the Prince George”s Hospital Center in critical condition and subsequently pronounced dead.

The cases were under investigation by members of the department”s Homicide and Sexual Offenses Branch. Anyone with information was asked to call police at 202/727-9099.

VIRGINIA

HAMPTON

Draft plan details Fort Monroe transfer

Nearly three years after the government said it would leave Fort Monroe, a draft agreement has emerged specifying how the historic property will be managed after 2011.

But it’s only the beginning.

State historic preservation officer Kathleen Kilpatrick said the agreement is subject to public comments and more than 30 “consulting parties” involved in the process.

She called the 45-page document “very preservation-friendly.”

Fort Monroe remained in Union hands during the Civil War. Escaped slaves sought sanctuary there, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at the base for two years.

Most of the property would revert to state control when the Army moves its personnel to Fort Eustis and Fort Knox, Ky.

GLOUCESTER POINT

Eelgrass beds recede from Bay waters

A haven for crabs and other marine life, eelgrass beds in the Chesapeake Bay have been receding in recent years, and marine scientists say they may never come back.

Thousands of acres of eelgrass vanished when water temperatures climbed beyond normal in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Temperatures peaked temporarily between 2.5 and 3 degrees above normal during the summer of 2005.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) biologists are fearful more eelgrass beds will disappear.

Once the beds are gone, they don’t come back, said Ken Moore, who has written studies on the stresses confronting eelgrass beds in the Bay.

The plant sends leaves sprouting from the Bay bottom. They form dense green thickets of vegetation in the shallows that shelter marine life.

Eelgrass is especially important for the blue crab, which find a haven in their ribbonlike leaves shortly after they hatch in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia Capes.

The crabs have a chemical sensitivity that allows them to detect the beds and hide from predators there once they enter the Bay.

“We typically find 10 to 100 times more crabs in eelgrass than unvegetated sites,” VIMS scientist Jacques van Montfrans said.

Absent eelgrass, the baby crabs swim to the fringes of the Bay’s tributary creeks and rivers, where they provide food for striped bass and croaker and larger crabs, VIMS scientist Rom Lipcius said.

Eelgrass acreage in the Bay has dropped by more than half since its high of about 30,000 acres in the mid-1990s, according to a VIMS survey. About 13,500 acres were found in 2006.

In June 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes uprooted eelgrass colonies, smothered them with sediment and clouded the water with debris and pollution. Eelgrass died because sunlight couldn’t penetrate the water.

Mr. Moore’s research found the grass never returned in Maryland, where Agnes hit hardest.

Intense efforts to replant eelgrass seedings and scatter eelgrass seed in Maryland waters have failed.

A new threat in the lower Bay is a rise in water temperature and a decline in water clarity, VIMS biologist Robert J. Orth said.

Like his Maryland counterparts, Mr. Orth has ceased attempts to replant eelgrass beds, which also disappeared from the Virginia tributaries after Agnes.

But he has had tremendous success on the seaside bays along Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

A planting of eelgrass shoots about 10 years ago has regenerated 750 acres in South Bay. The difference between that coastal inlet and the Chesapeake is that it is open to cooler, pollution-free water from the Atlantic.

“What we’re seeing is nature taking over,” he said.

RICHMOND

History blooms at Garden Week

More than 200 gardens and homes will be open April 19-27 for Virginia’s 75th Historic Garden Week, which drew about 30,000 visitors last year.

The event’s executive director, Suzanne Munson, said Virginia was “a treasure trove of beautiful gardens, old and new.”

Some visitors make Garden Week the focus of their spring trips to Virginia, while others take detours to the homes and gardens while visiting nearby historic sites.

In several regions, hotels and inns are offering Garden Week packages.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Episcopalians pick diocese’s new bishop

Episcopalians in Maryland have picked a new bishop, the diocese’s first black elected leader.

In balloting Saturday in Baltimore, the Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton was elected the 14th bishop of Maryland.

The diocese covers 22,000 households in 10 counties and Baltimore city.

Mr. Sutton will be consecrated in a ceremony on June 28. He succeeds Rt. Rev. Robert Ihloff, who retired in April.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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