The Maryland Coastal Bays Program has unveiled the 2014 Report Card, a detailed assessment on the health of the bays behind Ocean City and Assateague as a way to provide a ‘transparent and geographically detailed assessment of the 2014 Coastal Bay’s health.
According to the MCBP, Coastal Bays health is defined as the progress of four water quality indicators and two biotic (living) indicators toward scientifically derived ecological thresholds or goals. The six indicators are combined into one Coastal Bays health index, presented as a report card score.
In 2008, the first collaborative effort of a report card gave Maryland’s coastal bays a C+ grade, after finding sea grasses rebounding but still at levels little more than half of those seen earlier in the decade.
MCBP says last year’s report card grade was a C+ and overall, for 2014 the Coastal Bays received a grade of C+. In 2013 and 2014 alike, improvements in Newport and Sinepuxent Bays were offset by declines in Assawoman Bay, while the other regions remained stable, MCBP said.
This report card is a scientific collaborative effort between the MCBP, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science – Integration and Application Network, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service.
Each year, MCBP says hundreds of volunteers work with the organization, including local residents and visitors, to support environmental initiatives to protect, promote, and preserve the coastal bays, by volunteering to count horseshoe crabs, terrapins, and birds, collect water samples, clear neighborhoods, wetlands, and dunes of trash, monitor seals and assist in many other activities.
MCBP Acting Executive Director/Science Coordinator, Roman Jesien, gave comment to the report card stating:
“I can’t say that we are happy with the grade, but we are not unhappy. We see encouragement in the increased amount of seagrasses in Chincoteague Bay, but the increased amount of phosphorus in Assawoman Bay. Most other areas were relatively unchanged, which means, that conditions did not get worse, which is a good thing. We see our measures heading in the right direction, although slowly. We anticipate conditions improving even more in upcoming years with the work of the TMDL Implementation Committee getting started next week to identify specific areas that really need to be addressed in more detail.”
To view this report card, click here.