News from the DNR Office of Communications

Governor O'Malley Calls Maryland Citizens to Action for the Bay

Discusses Tipping Point Strategy with Scientists on Tour of Bush River

Hartford County, MD - On the eve of the 26th Chesapeake Executive Council Meeting, Governor Martin O’Malley and senior advisors toured the Bush River aboard the R.V. Rachel Carson to discuss two new strategies to accelerate Bay restoration in Maryland. Citing what scientists call a “tipping point” — a stage at which progress within a tributary can begin to promote self-healing — the Governor announced plans for a major new outreach effort to enlist local governments, businesses and citizens to take a more active role in restoring the health of Maryland’s waterways.

“For Marylanders, the Bay is not something we drive over on our way to the ocean,” said the Governor. “The Bay is alive in the creeks, streams and rivers that run through our neighborhoods and our open spaces. The Bay puts crabs and oysters on our tables and brings tourism dollars into our State’s economy. All Maryland families — even those who do not live within the watershed — benefit from what the Chesapeake brings to our great State.”

At tomorrow’s Executive Council meeting, Governor O’Malley will announce Maryland’s new 2-year milestones, short term goals developed over the past several months by the Governor and his BayStat team to better target, focus and accelerate efforts on the ground, and measure results.

“We have spent too much time focusing on missed long term goals, bad report cards, and lack of resources,” the Governor continued. “Now is the time to hold ourselves accountable for what we can each do, while on this planet, to make a difference.”

“The programming changes called for under these new milestones will not only create a new level of accountability and new sense of urgency, they will greatly accelerate our ability to achieve a new Bay-wide nutrient reduction implementation end date,” added DNR Secretary John Griffin.

The tipping point theory the group discussed today reinforces the need for targeting resources and efforts in individual tributaries or sub-watersheds, where they can have the greatest impact and jump start recovery in these smaller systems.

According to the 2008 Chesapeake Bay Habitat Health Report Card recently issued by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES), in some cases tributaries adjacent to one another are demonstrating different, diverging trends.

“It seems that some river systems may have reached a tipping point, where self-reinforcing elements within the ecosystem are working to maintain either positive or negative trends,” explained Don Boesch, President of UMCES. “An increase in underwater bay grasses can promote the growth of more bay grasses, improving water clarity, increasing oxygen levels and providing better habitat for fish and crabs.”

For example, while the Bush River in the Upper Western Bay is seeing signs of improvement, the adjacent Upper Eastern Shore tributaries – such as the Sassafras -- are continuing to degrade. Scientists are still developing more precise information on the actual nutrient loadings that constitute a tipping point for a specific river system, however, they believe it can propel large-scale changes.

Through BayStat, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has already made significant changes in how Maryland tracks, targets and funds Bay restoration programs — placing new emphasis on best management practices that are most cost effective, and geographically targeting programs to generate the greatest benefit.

To enlist every Maryland citizen in the charge to create a smarter, greener more sustainable future for the State and the Bay, Governor O’Malley has tasked his BayStat team with developing a grass roots action plan to include: expanded roles for Maryland’s Tributary Team and Soil Conservation Districts; heightened engagement by county and municipal leaders in implementing the State’s tributary strategies; and a citizens’ call to undertake specific actions that will contribute to local restoration.

“Just as the Bay’s problems are man made, so too are their solutions,” said Governor O’Malley. “Working together as One Maryland, getting our hands dirty and our boots wet, we can realize a restored Chesapeake Bay that we will be proud to leave as a legacy to our children.”

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   May 11, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at