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Volume 15, Issue 29 ~ July 19 - July 25, 2007

Way Downstream

In Maryland and Delaware, Gov. Martin O’Malley says this month we’ll be eating watermelons of which there are “no better anywhere in the country.” Picking up on renewed interest in locally grown foods, melons grown in the two states will wear a Mar-Delicious brand to assure you of their pedigree. The pink-fleshed giants have been grown on the Eastern Shore for 100 years or more; back then, they were shipped by skipjack to Western Shore markets. Watermelon is not only delicious but also healthful, full of vitamins A, B6 and C, potassium and the fruit world’s highest levels of lycopene, a possible preventer of cancer, heart disease and stroke. This month and next, 160.2 million pounds of Mar-Delicious melons are going to market. Find them at Whole Foods, Giant and SuperFresh markets as well as at farmers’ markets …

In the Maryland General Assembly, it’s report card time. Maryland League of Conservation Voters has released its annual environmental scorecard, rating policymakers on their green or anti-green votes during the 2007 Assembly. Categories include the Clean Cars Act, coastal bays dredging, and solar energy. The Senate averaged 69 percent, while the House of Delegates averaged an impressive 80 percent. The House B and Senate D bettered last year’s scores. Sixty some legislators scored a perfect 100 percent, and — for the first time since 1982 — none scored zero. Eight legislators failed, with scores below 20 percent. See how your legislators scored at

In Greenbelt, space exploration goes green. Ground was just broken for the new 200,000-square-foot Exploration Sciences Building at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, part of a certified green-building campus. By July, 2009, the $56 million project will house some 500 employees in green labs and offices …

In Virginia, plans to build the world’s biggest ethanol plant, in the town of Chesapeake, are making the town planning commission nervous as it considers reports of environmental harm from the ethanol craze — at least until second-generation, cellulosic ethanol arrives. Commissioner Sylvia Watson sounded worried about what to do when the commission votes Aug. 8. “There are way too many questions,” the Virginian-Pilot reported her saying. A new report this week from scientists and farm exports raised more questions and confirmed what Bay Weekly has told you: ethanol could have serious environmental consequences for Chesapeake Bay because of a surge in planting corn, which requires heavy nitrogen fertilizer applications …

Our Creature Feature comes from Howard County, where Maryland Department of Agriculture plans to unleash 500 tiny weevils to combat the invasive mile-a-minute weed. The insects will go to work in a test plot in Meadowbrook Park near Columbia, as part of a study by researchers at the University of Delaware. The prickly annual vine traveled from Asia to choke out native trees and plants in forested floodplains, streamside herbaceous wetlands, upland forests — and likely in a spot near you.

“Our goal is that the weed and the weevil create a balance and that they are in eternal combat,” says Robert Trumbule, the entomologist leading the research project in Maryland. Find out more:

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