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Volume 15, Issue 28 ~ July 12 - July 18, 2007

Way Downstream

In Annapolis, the debate over plastic bags is about to begin. Alderman Samuel Shropsmire made sure of it this week by introducing legislation to outlaw those ubiquitous plastic bags in retail establishments within the city limits. Merchants would have to use recyclable paper or face fines …

In Anne Arundel County, citizens and visitors better keep it quiet, now that County Executive John Leopold has armed police with a decibel meter. It’s against county law to use “amplified musical instruments, radios, tape players and sound devices at an unreasonably loud volume,” especially between 11pm and 7am. Now, police can measure the noise at your neighbor’s obnoxiously wild party, recording hard evidence for a noise infraction case. That neighbor could be fined $500 and get up to 30 days in jail if found guilty. Leopold, long an advocate of quiet, said “I consider noise to be both a public health problem as well as a quality of life issue.” Report loud and raucous noise 410-222-8610 …

In Maryland, farming’s still a way of life. Over two million acres — 33 percent of our state — are devoted to farms and forests, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Some 72,000 dairy cows produce one billion pounds of milk each year. Some 87,000 equines — horses, mules and donkeys — dwell on 206,000 acres. Maryland places first in the country for preserved farmland to total land ratio: 250,000 acres of permanently preserved farmland — in each of Maryland’s 23 counties — are worth over $333 million …

On Maryland waters, boaters can take personal responsibility for reducing pollution. Maryland Department of Natural Resources has expanded its Clean Marina Initiative to each boater with the Clean Boater Pledge. Sign a Maryland Clean Boater Pledge, and we each commit to “Do my part to keep Maryland’s waterways free of harmful chemicals, excess nutrients, and debris.”

The pledge is part of 10,000 Clean Boater Kits, including a litterbag, Maryland Clean Boater vessel decal, a pocket ashtray (to give smokers a new alternative to tossing butts into the water), Clean Boating Tip and Pledge cards. Get yours at marinas, boating events, state parks and DNR regional service centers. Or take the pledge online:

Our Creature Feature this week is a good news tale from Vermont about one of our favorite feathered friends: the loon. Vermonters are being treated to more and more of the loon’s haunting cries as a result of an alliance of state workers, businesses and bird-lovers who have helped bring loons back from a precarious place.

As recently as 1994, only 14 loon pairs were nesting in Vermont. But as of July 1, 54 nests with 32 chicks were confirmed on Vermont lakes and ponds. Dozens of volunteers have erected nesting platforms and placed signs to keep boats away from nests. Meanwhile, power companies have tried to prevent raising water levels at dams in ways that flood loon nests.

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