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Dock of the Bay: October 25031, 2018

Election Day Comes Early
You don’t have to wait until November 6; vote from October 25 to November 1
     Election Day is November 6, with polls open statewide for all registered voters from 7am to 8pm.
      Can’t wait that long?
      Eager voters can vote early Thursday, October 25 through November 1, with polls open 10am to 8pm. Instead of your normal polling place, Anne Arundel early birds vote at Anne Arundel County Board of Elections in Glen Burnie, Pip Moyer Rec Center in Annapolis and the Crofton, Glen Burnie, Edgewater, Odenton and Severna Park libraries.
      Calvert early birds vote at the Community Resources Building, lower level conference rooms, 30 Duke St., Prince Frederick.
      Whenever you vote, the stakes are high. You’ll help choose almost all state offices, including governor, comptroller and attorney general, one senator and your U.S. representative, state senators and delegates. Your county’s future is up to you too, with both Anne Arundel and Calvert electing governing officials all the way through recorder of wills. You also have a handful of ballot questions to consider.
      First check out the candidates and issues in your district and statewide at the League of Women Voters info site:
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Chesapeake Bay License Plate Gets Crabby
Are you hooked?
       Move over Mr. Heron. Mrs. Crab is taking your place.
       So will other drivers call you ­crabby once you affix your new Chesapeake Bay license plate? Or will they jealously follow suit?
       Chesapeake Bay Trust officials hope it’s the latter. “Sparking additional growth with a plate that’s fresh, new and more attractive” was, executive director Jana Davis told Bay Weekly, the goal of the year-long re-evaluation of the plate Bay-loving drivers have treasured for the last 14 years. Like the original Bay design, in use for 13 years, it featured a blue heron.
        A red-pincered blue crab sneaking out of the corner in the second plate now holds pride of place, against a much brighter, almost turquoise background. Above the crab over rolling waves is a bit of the Bay Bridge. The old slogan, Treasure the Chesapeake, has yielded to Protect the Chesapeake. 
       The new plate is the brainchild of TM Designs, a Frederick-based design firm and member of the Maryland State Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Thousands of Maryland survey respondents — many of them Bay plate buyers — chose it over 250 alternative designs.
       Close to 338,000 Bay plates adorn seven percent of all Maryland autos and light trucks. Twelve percent of households across the state report at least one set of Bay plates in the family. Each year, they support some 400 grants to schools and to civic, environmental, faith-based, homeowner and watershed organizations, engaging 80,000 students and 20,000 volunteers in planting thousands of trees, native plants, marsh grasses and oysters; removing tons of trash; and creating more than 100 acres of wetlands, rain gardens, stream buffers and living shorelines.
      With 4.8 million eligible drivers, the Trust now hopes to lure 15 percent of car owners to the Bay plates.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Twice Better
Riverkeeper organizations converge
       It’s a common refrain in environmental education: We all live downstream. What happens in one part of an ecosystem affects all the rest. That philosophy applies to human ecosystems as well. After 10-plus years of working side by side, two local watershed protection groups are officially joining forces.
      On January 1, the South River Federation and West/Rhode Riverkeeper merge, becoming the Arundel Rivers Federation. All restoration and monitoring programs continue. So do South Riverkeeper Jesse Iliff and West/Rhode Riverkeeper Jeff Holland. Board of directors and staff will come from both the legacy organizations.
     “By consolidating the two organizations, we will be able to reduce administrative costs and devote even more resources to the programs that are restoring the South, West and Rhode rivers,” says South River Federations board chair Tom Reinert.
      The new Arundel Rivers Federation will be the largest regional watershed organization in Anne Arundel County, spanning the watersheds of three rivers and including nearly 53,000 acres.
      “For everyone in this area who wants clean water, this is the best thing to happen in a decade,” says Bob Gallagher, founder of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper program.
–Kathy Knotts 
Way Downstream …
      In the Anacostia River, an event this month connected our burgeoning Hispanic population with waters of their chosen region of America.
      Festival del Rio Anacostia, at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, offered boat trips, nature walks and ethnic delicacies along with counsel on how to best use a river that has been abused and neglected. Ten public and private groups sponsored this smart event, among them the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program and the Audubon Naturalist Society.
      The Bay Program’s Caitlyn Johnstone posted sound advice about eating fish from polluted rivers. (Fish from elsewhere were served at the event.) If you must, filet the fish and remove fat because contaminants like PCBs concentrate in skin and fatty flesh.
      Let’s hope the EPA does its part to secure the goal that Johnstone mentioned: a swimmable and fishable ­Anacostia by 2025.