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Volume 15, Issue 47 ~ November 22 - November 28, 2007

Way Downstream

In Chesapeake Country, Tom Horton’s much-anticipated new book is out. In Chesapeake, Bay of Light: An Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay’s Wild and Forgotten Places, Horton and photographer Ian J. Plan follow Capt. John Smith’s journey exploring the Bay’s shorelines …

In western Anne Arundel County, parks in progress get the money to finish what’s been started. The Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Trail — which follows the abandoned roadbed between Odenton and the Patuxent River — gets three-quarters reimbursement ($1,471,500) from Project Open Space for two trail

Kinder Farm Park in Millersville gets 75 percent funding — $525,000 in Open Space money — for energy-efficient, night-sky friendly lighting on seven athletic fields, plus electrical upgrades and expansion of a baseball field. The two are among 12 state parks thankful to the Board of Public Works: Gov. Martin O’Malley, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot …

In Calvert County, swimmers get an early Christmas present: $1,944,366 from Project Open Space for the county’s first indoor pool to be built on 28.69 acres west of Route 2/4 in Prince Frederick. We wonder if the three members of the Board of Public Works — who granted the funding — will don their swimsuits for an inaugural swim …

In Maryland, buyers of wood for winter fires need to be smart to get full value for their dollar and to keep their trees and forests safe. Department of Natural Resources ( and Department of Agriculture offer this advice:

• Purchase only from licensed dealers. Check licensing at 410-260-8531.

• Buy firewood cut in your own county to prevent the spread of the invasive emerald ash borer, which so far has been corralled in Prince George’s County.

• Know your cords. By law, that’s the measure in which firewood is sold. A cord equals 128 cubic feet: typically a neat stack four feet high, four feet deep and eight feet wide.

• Different woods have different burning qualities. Best are ash, red oak, white oak, beech, birch, hickory and hard maple.

Our Knucklehead of the Week award goes to Charles Hill, 21, a Virginian arrested by the Maryland Natural Resources Police for attempting to sell corn snakes and tiny alligator snapping turtles. We’re glad he wasn’t trying to smuggle baby snappers in his pants like the guy caught recently at Los Angeles International Airport with two pygmy monkeys down his drawers …

Our Creature Feature comes from the bottom of Chesapeake Bay where, where researchers, to paraphrase the old Apollo 13 line, should be saying: Annapolis, we’ve got a problem. And a doozy of a problem it may be given that scientists fear that the Bay’s Atlantic blue crab population has plummeted to its second lowest level in 17 years.

Think back if you were around here in ’93. Based on dredging samples, researchers say that the Chesapeake contains just one-third the crabs that it had 14 years ago. The numbers aren’t in, but 2007 could be lower than last year’s 48.9 million pound harvest and the worst harvest since the mid-1940s, when it dropped to about 40 million pounds. (The early 1920s were a bad time, too.) Scientists blame overfishing, pollution and climate change, which is making the water so warm that grasses favored by juvenile crabs can’t thrive.

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