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Volume 16, Issue 6 - February 7 - February 13, 2008


Way Downstream


From Annapolis comes some bottom-line guidance on voting Tuesday, Feb. 12. First, polling places are open from 7am to 8pm; if you’re in line by 8pm, you get to vote even if somebody tries to tell you different. Second, like it or not, primary voting is democracy for Democrats and Republicans, not independents, because Maryland’s is a closed primary, meaning that only voters registered with one of the two major parties get to vote for candidates running in partisan contests. (Calvert is one of the counties with a nonpartisan contest.) Third, if you turn 18 by Nov. 4, you get to vote in the primary, too — if you’re already registered. Find more information at www.elections.state.md.us

At Sandy Point State Park, rangers are getting around in a solar-charged, all-terrain vehicle. The ATV was assembled by BP America from a golf-cart-like buggy base manufactured by Bad Boy Enterprises, topped by a roof-mounted BP solar panel. With 31 horsepower and over 170 pounds of torque, this buggy provides a powerful — and pollution-free — ride. Rangers can drive 25 to 30 miles on a fully charged battery. In constant direct sunlight — like on Sandy Point’s beach in the summer — the ATV recharges itself throughout the day. At night, it’s into an electrical outlet to recharge. This solar-powered ride is the third of four such vehicles donated by BP; the fourth comes to the University of Maryland in March …

On the Eastern Shore, developers are contemplating piping wastewater from a prison to satisfy the thirst of a proposed ethanol plant. Chesapeake Renewable Energy, the company trying to build the plant near Pocomoke City, is responding to fears that it would need more than one million gallons of water per day to turn corn into ethanol. Ethanol is generally considered bad for Chesapeake Bay because it encourages more production of corn, a needy plant that requires heavy doses of nitrogen fertilizer …

Statewide, February is not too soon to be thinking about the harvests of summer. If you’d rather the harvest came to you fully grown, now’s the time to contract to share the harvest of a local farm. The joint venture called Community Supported Agriculture, explains Calvert County farmer Jim Bourne, gives farmers “upfront money to begin the year, purchase seed and supplies.” Community investors, in turn, get “local food and the chance to link with a farm family and experience some of the triumphs and tragedies that are part of farming.”

Farms throughout Maryland are listed at www.marylandsbest.net. Our closest are both in Calvert: Bourne’s The Lamb’s Quarter at thelambsquarter@peoplepc.com and Horsmon Farms at hfarmmums@comcast.net …

Our Creature Feature comes from Chesapeake Bay, where the latest news on the plummeting Atlantic blue crab harvest signals a pressing need for a regional solution to a critical problem. Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported this week that the 2007 crab harvest dropped by more than 20 percent from 2006, down to 21.8 million pounds. The year’s 21.8 million pounds is only a hairline above Maryland’s lowest recorded harvest ever: 20.2 million pounds in 2000.

What’s gone wrong?

DNR Secretary John Griffin observed that 70 percent of the Bay’s egg-carrying females are taken in Virginia before they get to Maryland.

Harvests are even worse in Virginia, which recently reported the lowest crab catch since 1945 and attributed the problem largely to overfishing. On Feb. 26, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission intends to hold a public meeting about the crisis. Let’s hope Maryland officials show up.

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