- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Any water-loving resident in Maryland or Virginia will tell you that you need submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) to attract fish, crabs and waterfowl in the Chesapeake Bay. Good underwater vegetation is the staff of life for the inhabitants of the Bay. It’s a no-brainer.

With that in mind, let us celebrate at least some successes.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said that last year such SAV increased 20 percent in its portion of the Bay and its tributaries. A 7,221-acre increase was noted, much of it on the Susquehanna Flats, which in recent years has housed the largest grass beds in the Bay. The new number, 42,237 acres - up from 35,016 acres in 2007 - marks a good increase, but the state said the bay grass acreage remains far short of 2010 restoration goals.

“While this increase is encouraging, we must continue to take aggressive action, collectively and individually, to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from the major Bay sources,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “By properly maintaining septic systems, practicing sensible lawn care or planting trees, every Marylander can make a difference.”

While some of the grasses are getting denser, it doesn’t always delight fishermen and certain motor boaters, but all of us know that the vegetation acts like a monstrous water filter that can turn murky water into a liquid as clear as the best bottled water.

Incidentally, bay grasses also have increased in the Elk, Northeast and upper Potomac rivers, as well as the Potomac’s Mattawoman. Encouraging news about SAV comes from the Patuxent and Middle rivers, Piscataway Creek and the upper Chesapeake Bay directly below the Susquehanna Flats. All of them are close to reaching their grass-restoration goals.

By the way, the grasses in the Potomac River from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge south to the Mattawoman Creek have exceeded the restoration goal by 47 percent. The DNR said this is due in part to major upgrades in wastewater treatment at the Blue Plains Facility in the District.

“Long-term water quality monitoring has confirmed reduced levels of nitrogen in the Potomac River since the partial wastewater treatment plant upgrade in 1996 and the full upgrade was completed in 2000,” the DNR said.

Sadly, steady declines are seen in some waters. Poor water quality continues to hamper bay grass recovery from Kent Island south to the mouth of the Potomac and Pocomoke rivers. And the Choptank and Little Choptank rivers also continue to lose SAV.

Fly & light tackle contest - The Kent Narrows Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association/MD will have a Fly & Light Tackle Striper Tournament on June 6 from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It costs $35 a angler to enter with the fishing boundaries set between the Sassafras River and Cedar Point. There can be no trolling or use of bait. Participants must be members of the CCA. (A membership costs $25.) For more information, call Ed Liccione, 410/829-5771.

Fishing derby for area children - The Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia will hold their annual youth fishing derby June 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County. The bass club has held the event for more than 30 years, and it’s intended for children age 16 and under from the greater D.C. area. Admission is free, and each child will receive a gift for participating. Angling experience is not necessary; club members will be on hand to help kids who need assistance, including furnishing a rod and reel if they don’t have an outfit. Bait will be provided. Trophies and prizes will be awarded for the heaviest weight of fish caught. Information: Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia, potomacbassmasters.com, or phone Arnold Aspelin, 301/567-3030, or Rick Kortlang, 703/971-1943.

Benefit trap shoot - The public is invited to participate in the St. Jude’s Crushin’ Clays annual trapshooting event on June 13 at the Arlington-Fairfax Izaac Walton League facility in Centreville. Proceeds will benefit the children at St. Jude’s hospital in Memphis, Tenn. For additional details, call Bob Brino, 703/307-4941.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Visit Mueller’s Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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