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Editor’s note
    Three report cards come to us in the early months of the year, each asking us to consider the health of the Chesapeake Bay and where — if anywhere — all our work is getting us.
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Remembering the great blizzards of yore

I love winter. My growing up was Colorado, and cold-side Oregon, and cold and snow are in my blood.
    But not in Maryland. Real winter has been missing so long that I fear global warming has turned it into a memory.
    My hopes for a last chance at winter 2013 rose with this week’s forecast of snow, lovely deep snow. Rain fell instead, and with it my hopes.
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School-zone cameras add to General Assembly’s debate

Attention lead-foot drivers: Annapolis is watching you.
    The capital city is setting up speed cameras in 10 school zones. Drivers clocked going 12 mph over the speed limit from 8am to 6pm will be mailed a $40 fine. Tickets from the cameras don’t come with points and won’t be sent to insurance companies.
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Waterway Access Bill would get Charlie Stek — and you — safely to the water

Charlie Stek wanted his son to experience nature, fishing and paddling rivers. With Maryland’s 10,000 miles of rivers and streams — crossed by 5,176 bridges — that ought to be easy.
    Yet there was no safe way to get to the water.
    To fish the Patuxent, Stek and his son Alex had to park on blind curves, jump guardrails and scamper down banks.
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Marshmallow creatures inspire creativity

Sam Born began selling Peeps in the early 1920s, in a small Pennsylvania grocery store he owned, under a sign that read Just Born.
    Nowadays March brings Peeps madness.
    The craze took off in 1953 as cellophane selections of packaged Peeps flew off neighborhood grocery shelves.
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Calvert high schoolers learn to lobby to save animals

I can’t resist a kitten. For six years I’ve mothered orphan kittens for Patuxent Animal Welfare Society.
    But it was the numbers I couldn’t help that made me an activist. Every year in Maryland, 45,000 dogs and cats are destroyed. Maryland ranks 39th on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s state report card on animal-protection issues.
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Gardening expert Rick Darke strives to create “liveable landscapes” using both natives and exotics

You won’t find the word invasive — at least in connection with plants — in gardener, award-winning author, photographer and consultant Rick Darke’s vocabulary. Meet him on March 2, when he makes the trek from his garden oasis in Pennsylvania to Annapolis, and you’ll hear about balancing natives and exotics in the garden....

Red Wigglers demonstrate the inside story of composting

Red Wiggler worms are busy digging and dining in a compost Can-O-Worms at Annmarie Garden.
    Second graders visiting Annmarie Garden on daily CHESPAX field trips explore the world of composting with a little help from the Garden’s squirmy residents, about a thousand in all.
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In vernal pools, renewal is under way

This time of year, marbled salamander tadpoles are already swimming through the shallow waters of vernal pools. Vernal pools are temporary wetland habitats in our forests. They hold water long enough during spring to attract special animals that you aren’t likely to see anywhere else. Then the pools dry up, so fish and other large predators can’t live there.
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Crossword creator Ben Tausig wins Orca award for Best Crossword

When your favorite movie wins an Oscar, you can say I was there — virtually.
    You’ve gotten closer than that in the world of puzzles if you’ve matched wits with Ben Tausig, winner of the Orca for Best Crossword of 2012.
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