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Volume 15, Issue 32 ~ August 9 - August 15, 2007

Way Downstream

In Annapolis, Maryland, the state is figuring out a plan for what to do with the ancient remains of some 139 Native Americans in state possession for many years. The Department of Planning and the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, a state agency, intend to invite public comment at a meeting in September. Governmental agencies typically repatriate such remains to Indian tribes. But Maryland officials contend that the lack of federally recognized tribes in the state has complicated the return of the old bones. Neither does Maryland recognize any tribes …

From sea to shining sea, beaches are getting more polluted every year, according to the just-released 17th annual beach water quality report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. No-swim days doubled from last year, for 25,000 closing and health advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches in 2006.

Maryland beaches violated public health standards 51 percent or more sample times. Kurtz Beach in Anne Arundel County reaches the state’s top tier of worst beaches. Read the report at ttw/titinx.asp

In nine Maryland counties, $14 million from Project Open Space will buy 26 easements protecting 3,496 acres of prime Maryland farmland. The action by the Board of Public Works brings Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation’s total land to 262,725 acres with easements that forever restrict development.

Another deal, the outright purchase of 74 waterfront acres on Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County made a bigger splash. Comptroller Peter Franchot bucked Governor Martin O’Malley on the price, $7.3 million, and value, as the land includes an active dredge spoils site. Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp voted with O’Malley, sealing the deal …

In Washington, the House version of a new five-year Farm Bill passed recently preserves the antiquated subsidy system that mainly benefits wealthy farmers. But it also provides $212 million over five years in cleanup funds and sets up a federal commission for restoring Chesapeake Bay …

In California, a federal court has prohibited the U.S. Navy from using mid-frequency active sonar for upcoming naval training exercises out of fear of what it will do to marine life. The judge observed that the Navy’s own analysis concluded that the exercises “will cause widespread harm to nearly 30 species of marine mammals, including five species of endangered whales, and may cause permanent injury and death” …

Our Creature Feature comes from Australia, where the country has done an about-face after public outrage over a plan to shoot several thousand kangaroos hopping about military bases. Now, after the Canberra Times newspaper exposed the plan, the military is considering transferring the kangaroos in air-conditioning at a cost of about $3,000 each.

Australians weren’t at all pleased with the prospect of their Defense Department hiring professional hunters to do in symbols of their country. So instead of rifles, they’ll be shot with paint-ball guns to mark them ready to be transported, sedated with valium, then hauled away in cooled trucks to rural parts of the country, Reuters reports. …

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