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Volume 15, Issue 12 ~ March 22 - March 28, 2007

Way Downstream

In Baltimore, we hear that ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich has found work. Or more work, anyway. After spending considerable time in office preaching to the choir on conservative talk radio, an investment of dubious political value, Ehrlich has signed on to host a two-hour talk show on WBAL on Saturdays, beginning March 31. He will be co-hosting with his wife, Kendel. Ehrlich also is practicing law in Annapolis, presumably as a rain-maker…

Annapolis Follow-up: After intense news coverage of DNR’s failed terrapin protection policies, both the Senate and House last week passed legislation banning the commercial harvest of Maryland’s threatened mascot. Gov. Martin O’Malley says he will sign the legislation, which is destined to cut back on the bowls of turtle soup served in China.

“The new bill takes terrapins away from the watermen, but doesn’t do anything else,” says terrapin advocate Marguerite Whilden. “It’s taken us four years to take this first step,” she says, but there’s still a long way to go in terrapin — and Bay — conservation…

Around Maryland, now’s the time to grow grapes. Maryland’s 20 wineries — soon to be 27 this year — are ravenous for locally grown grapes. Wines must contain at least 75 percent in-state grapes for wineries to mark bottles with a Maryland label. Demand exceeds grapes, according to the Maryland Wineries Association, by some 900 tons. Even amateurs can break in, as Maryland Cooperative Extension offers training and production expertise. Sweeter still, Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission offers matching grants of up to 50 percent to growers in the five Southern Maryland counties buying grape vines. Applications due March 31:

In Calvert County, firefighters in the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad can look forward to much improved gear, including 25 new breathing units and an air supply system for replenishing their tanks. The equipment will be paid for by a $272,000 federal grant announced last week by Homeland Security…

Our Creature Feature is a warning from Australia about one of our favorite animals, the Tasmanian devil. And it’s not just another tale of pollution and disappearing habitat. It’s a spreading facial cancer that’s taking a toll on the ferocious marsupials, triggering predictions that they could be extinct in the wild in as little as a decade unless aided.

Warner Bros., the Hollywood studio that created the cartoon character Taz, has sent money to help save the devils. Part of the plan is sending healthy creatures to Maria Island, once a convict settlement, to preserve breeding stock. Said Tasmanian Green Party leader Nick McKim: “If the devil goes down, it will not only have a massive ecological impact but a major economic impact on the way we market [Tasmania] as clean, green and clever.”

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