The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum 2008


Consensus Papers


Honors Marine Ecology Class, Mount de Sales Academy

Jefferson High School 1st Period Class Consensus

Hampshire High School - Environmental Science First Period

Jefferson High School 7th Period Class Consensus

Rappahannock High School – Team Oyster Consensus

Rappahannock High School – Class Eel Consensus

Rappahannock High School – Team Crab Consensus

Rappahannock High School – Team Blue_Crab Consensus

Buffalo Gap High School Consensus


            Consensus Paper from Honors Marine Ecology Class, Mount de Sales Academy


The Chesapeake Bay is being destroyed by many threatening factors. The Bay provides many resources for watershed residents and plays a significant role in our lives. These factors that continue to threaten the Bay include excess nutrient runoff, pollution, nitrogen-based fertilizer, over fishing and crabbing, and land erosion. Some ways to decrease the effects of these harmful factors are gaining financial support from residents, involving communities throughout the watershed to help improve their area, and increasing Bay awareness to the youth through school curriculum and activities. If these proposals are put into action, the state of the Bay would be greatly improved.

   To encourage people to get involved, we could hold fun runs or walks and ask for donations for the Chesapeake Bay Program. To get businesses involved, we could have seafood restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores ask customers if they would add a dollar to their bill which would then go toward the Chesapeake Bay Program.  The popularity of these stores would spread awareness of the Bay’s issues to a large portion of the general public.

Even though adults play a very important role in helping the Bay, we forget that children can help too.  Some ways to inform children are by having assemblies that teach them about the Bay and also by having contests in their school.  Some schools do not offer a Bay unit in their science curriculum and we need to work to change that.  Another way of involving children through their school is by having a required service project that directly benefits the Bay.  Imagine how much more support we would have if we were supported by people of all ages. 

Fertilizer is one of the main non-point pollutant substances that contributes to the Chesapeake Bay’s downfall.  Although many people think farmers are the largest users of fertilizer, homeowners and park management employers are major contributors as well.  To make the overuse of harmful fertilizer less of a problem, permits could be established which must be purchased by the fertilizer user. There would be various regulations based on the occupations of the fertilizer consumers.  These regulations would pertain to the amount being bought and how much consumers are allowed to use at a time. These permits would cost money, so hopefully this would help cut the amount of users of harmful fertilizers.  If they do not have a permit then they would not be allowed to buy the fertilizer. Fines would be given to those using the fertilizer without a permit.  Hopefully this plan would help lessen the amount of fertilizer that drains into the Bay.   Another way to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay is to start strictly enforcing pollution fines. Although fines on fishermen, farmers, and recreational organizations are crucial, we should heavily target homeowners and communities that negatively impact the Bay as well. The fines should pertain to the abuse of fertilizer permits, littering, and the destruction of buffer zones. These fines should be significantly larger than existing fines. Second-time offenders should be forced to perform a minimum of two approved service hours in addition to paying the fine. The local government should work together with homeowner associations and other organizations to make sure the mentioned consequences are put into action. Citizens need to be punished for their careless actions that damage the Bay, and this plan would be effective in doing so.

In this plan, the local government will impose the Bay Fee on every household earning $50,000 or more a year.  The Bay Fee will be paid quarterly and would be $1, totaling $4 a year per household.  The fee will be included in the water bill. The money collected will go toward improving the condition of the Chesapeake Bay.  The money will be given to the non-profit organization, the Chesapeake Bay Program.  This new fee will not take much away from each household and will help provide money each year to improve the Bay’s current condition. 

Homeowners can get involved in the Bay restoration by working with their community to have monthly cleanups of the neighborhood and the surrounding water. The Homeowners Association can regulate the cleanup by requiring different households to sign up for a cleanup day.  They can also limit the amount of fertilizers and sprinklers used in the summer. Each town can create a garden club to help maintain public or common property of the different communities. Specifically on the waterfront properties, existing and new homeowners would be required to plant a natural vegetated buffer or install a retaining wall. If the homeowner is unable to meet these requirements, the garden club can be there to assist them. The Homeowners Association could also be responsible for setting up a community patrol that would enforce the community regulations. Together, the Homeowners Association and community patrol could greatly decrease the amount of pollution going into the Bay and increase awareness.

We have shown you our ideas for helping to improve the Bay’s current condition.  Now it is your turn to take action with these issues that are harmful to the Bay.  By involving communities, businesses, and the local government, negative behaviors can be eliminated.  Passing the Bay fee, advertising in restaurants, and instituting fertilizer permits will hopefully encourage ordinary people to take extraordinary measures for the Bay. 

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Jefferson High School 1st Period Class Consensus


        As a class after taking the time to hear others’ point of views, we have come up with some good points. Some of these points include conserving, working together, and planning together. All are ways to make the Bay a better place. Others are just ideas that would help the citizens of the Bay be more informed and notified on Bay problems. With the ideas that were expressed, we thought that it would help out the Bay in many ways. Together we can all make the Bay a better place.

          The main thing that citizens of the Bay area could do to help out the Bay and its surrounding watersheds would be to conserve resources. By conserving resources, we will cut down on the extra wasted product that gets washed into the water and pollutes the Bay. Recycling products and making sure that they get to the proper places and not just dumping them in fields will also eliminate some of the pollution. If everyone tries to conserve, a lot of the pollution will be eliminated.

          Working together with a group of people that have the same views is something that our class talked about. When people work together, a lot of tasks can be completed. Tasks that we thought should be done would be to have clean-up days and hold meetings that deal with the Bay’s pollution problems. Another thing that would be good to inform the citizens about is the updates on Bay pollution. If you show people that working to get better results is working, they might be interested and join in on the clean-ups.

          Planning is of the essence in anything that is done. When you plan things out, organization is being practiced and people know what they are supposed to do and when to do it. Our class spoke about having groups of people go out on certain days and clean-up the part of the Bay that they live around. From what we discussed, we came to the concensus that when people are informed and know the facts they are more willing to help out for a cause.

          After our class discussed the options of cleaning up the Bay, we stated that, like it or not, the Bay needs to be cleaned up and we need to start changing our ways to make the Bay a better place. We made the points of conserving, working together, and planning together. Those points were emphasized because when you are dealing with a group of people it is hard to get things accomplished when there is no factual information that is given. Planning and ograngization helps gets tasks done faster and more efficently. We hope that the points that were expressed help out the Bay. Together we can all make the Bay a better place.

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Hampshire High School - Environmental Science First Period


What could we do to help the Chesapeake Bay? There are many ways we can help save the bay.  People today don’t realize that what we do in our every day lives, endangers the animals, the species, and also pollutes the bay.  The Chesapeake is one of the largest estuaries in the world.  An “estuary” is where fresh and salt water mingles together, creating a special environment that is highly productive biologically. So if we keep destroying the bay, there won’t be a special environment for many people.

We could save the bay by planting native grasses and plants that don’t need fertilization. Even planting a tree can help.  Trees add oxygen to the atmosphere and hold soil in place, helping to prevent erosion.  The Chesapeake Bay has become a rich reservoir for many people depended upon the waters to provide protein in the form of fish, oysters, crabs, mussels, etc. The species in the bay may potentially become extinct.

If you are a farmer, one way you could help is to decrease the amount of extra nutrients. They are reducing the erosion and sedimentation by entering nearby creeks and streams.

The homeowners, you could reduce the use of harmful fertilizers and substances that travel into the water. Some alternatives could include buying fertilizers with less pesticides and insecticides, and also silt fences.

The developer, some things you could do are to use as little road work equipment as possible. If you are willing, you could also balance your profits with environment practices to provide the best protection available.

If everyone could do their part in helping to clean the bay, the people and animals that live around the bay could have a cleaner and healthier environment to live in. By forming a group, and getting people to support the clean-up, together we could save the bay.

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Jefferson High School 7th Period Class Consensus


       We all know pollution is bad, yet every day we still do it. Instead of recycling, we throw things away, where they’ll forever be in a landfill. When we’re outside, instead of holding onto the trash until we find a trash can, we just drop it. All sorts of animals not only get trapped in our garbage, but they also get killed because they’re trying to get to it when it’s in the middle of the road!

        We need to stop sitting around, talking about it, and get out there and fix it! Everyone needs to, and are fully capable of helping!! You don’t have to be a certain age to help stop pollution and to help fix it!! We are all stakeholders (participants) in the problems and the solutions, and we just need to agree (have a consensus) on the solutions!

        We need to recycle more. If we use plastics, glasses, metals, or papers, most can be recycled!!! We need to hold onto our trash while we’re outside and throw it away into a trash can! We need to stop throwing trash out the car window, slyly dropping it as we walk, and hold onto it until we can take care of it properly!

        There are other things that will take a little more effort, though. Cleaning up bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay will take groups of people doing fundraisers and putting that money to help clean the bay up! It will take work, but it can be fun, and not only that, it’s helping out our planet. It’s helping our lives get better, and you’re saving countless animals at the same time. People need to volunteer. You can volunteer to help clean the sides of the roads, to help get trash out of the bay, or to help raise funds.

        There’s no limit to what we can do to help. The only thing stopping us is ourselves. Our fear of work is one thing stopping us. “It’ll be too much work; I won’t be able to do it.” Our fear of commitment to it is another thing stopping us. “Well, if I do it once, they’ll call and call and call, expecting me to come back and help out again.” We can’t fit it into our busy schedules. “Well, I have to be at this meeting at 9, and then I have it planned to hang out with my friends at the mall until 3 . . . .”

        The amount of work you do is what you are capable of. No one is expecting you to do more than that. You work when you can – no commitment required. It’s not like a charity where you pay $16.95 a month for ten years! Instead of hanging with your friends at the mall, why don’t you hang out with them while volunteering to make our planet Earth a better place? You can have just as much fun doing that as at the mall! The only difference is one place you’re losing money and benefiting no one but yourselves and the shop owners, and the other you’re keeping your money for when you really need it and benefiting everyone in the area. One thing we did was to plant over 120 trees (from Cacapon Institute) around our “storm management pond” wetlands. That’s an action that will make a long-lasting change.

        We all know pollution is bad, we all know we’re the cause for it, and we’re all talking about how we need to stop doing this, this, and that, but no one is really doing anything about it! There are groups and some companies devoted to helping, but if you look, that’s only a small percent of the world! That many people can’t be a cure when there are nearly 20 times more people being the cause of the disease. Look around, and you’ll find a group or a company near you that would love to have your help. It’s not that hard to find ways to help when you really look.

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Rappahannock High School – Team Oyster Consensus


The health of the Chesapeake Bay is the responsibility of every person that lives in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The Bay watershed is 64,000 square miles. This watershed covers parts of six states and D.C. - Virginia, New York, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  The Bay itself is salt water; it is the largest estuary in the U.S.  The economic value of the Bay is 33 billion dollars annually.  About 16.6 million people share the bay with 2,700 species of plants and animals.

            The problems are many and difficult to fix.  Instead of building up, we build out and take up much of the Chesapeake Bay’s land space. This increases run-off because it destroys natural filters.  Pollution in the bay caused by run-off, including sediment and nutrients, makes it unhealthy for blue crabs and other marine and land organisms.  Water vehicle usage gives off excess gasoline and oil.  Not emptying solid sewage from home septic tanks every three to five years results in nitrogen and phosphorus eutrophication of the Bay. Non-point source fertilizer contamination causes eutrophication of the Bay and its tributaries and has created a seasonal dead zone.

            Fishing licenses and other recreational licenses generate $90 million in Virginia state revenues that should be used for the Chesapeake Bay restoration. Bayscaping, a form of landscaping, will decrease the amount of run-off by creating filters and maintaining native vegetation. Cost share programs should be increased for such activities as fencing cattle from bay tributaries and increasing the amount of riparian buffer. Decreasing run-off of sediments and fertilizers in the Bay watershed will help aquatic organisms survive.  Even when marine organisms such as crabs increase because of decreased pollution, the population will still need to be monitored to maintain it at an increasing level.

            We understand that funding is required to implement programs needed to clean up the Bay. Commercial and recreational harvesting and vehicle licensing fees should be increased by $1 earmarked as Bay money. A $1 Bay fee per bushel of commercial crabs should be assessed. A $5 National Heritage tax should be added to all income tax forms regardless of other taxes owed. A penny per gallon of gas sold should go towards a National Heritage fund.

            Do you want to save your national heritage, including the Chesapeake Bay? How much are you willing to pay?   

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Rappahannock High School – Class Eel Consensus


Chesapeake Bay is a valued resource!  It covers sixty four thousand square miles which make it the largest estuary in the United States.  It includes parts of six states.  Seventeen million people and thirty six hundred species of plants and animals call it home. With more than eighteen trillion gallons of water people use it for recreational and commercial boating, crabbing, fishing, and supporting industries.

The Bay produces 500 million pounds of seafood a year.  Watermen make an average of 50 million dollars a year just in dockside sales.  Watermen are a big part of the economy and a big part of the decreasing crab population. Regularly crabbers take in excess of forty percent of each year’s crab population. Menhaden are vital filter feeders. 70% of Atlantic menhaden caught is the bay - over 390 million fish from the Chesapeake Bay. Currently there is no population data for total menhaden population but VIMS is working on a method for counting them.

Recreational users are a double edge sword. They generate much income for the area. Recreational boating and jet skiing bring in 1.01 billion dollars annually. Jet skies cause more disturbances to shore animals than motor boats, vehicles, or people. Recreational fishing accounts for nearly a quarter of over fished population. Some fish populations have dropped to such low numbers that they have been considered threatened or endangered species.  When not maintaining and operating boats, engines, and marine sanitation devices such as boatheads (toilets) appropriately damages are caused. Marina owners can cause nonpoint source pollution of the same types. 

Farmers are a vital industry in the watershed area. Cattle farming produces over 80 pounds per day per cow of manure which is high in nitrogen and phosphorus.  When this washes into the Bay it causes eutrophication.

The Chesapeake Bay is too important not to fix. The Chesapeake 2000 agreement made a document that said they would restore water quality by 2010 to preserve the land and provide environmental education to the students located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The estimated total that the region would need to invest to achieve this goal is between 1-2 billion dollars every year until 2010.

We think these things should be done:

  • Boaters should practice the best possible environmental practices. The current charges should be doubled for cited violations.

  • Crabbers should be allowed only to take 10% of the estimated population.  This can be achieved by restricting the take 3% each year until the 10% goal is achieved.  The price of the caught crabs would go up to offset the smaller catch.

  • The recreational fishing and boating licenses in Virginia should be assessed a $2 “Clean Bay” fee.

  • There should also be a 3 cents “Clean Bay” tax on every gallon of gas sold in the Bay watershed.

  • By 2010 farmers need to have met BMPs.   Those farmers not meeting the criteria established will lose tax credit status and then beginning in 2012 they will be assessed fines.

  • There should a $1 “Clean Bay” tax placed on electric bills in all states monthly for the year of 2009 because all states use the Bay and its produce.

  • There should be a space for “Clean Bay” donations on the state and federal income tax forms.


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Rappahannock High School – Team Crab Consensus


            The Chesapeake Bay has many problems. Over fishing of Menhaden causes depletion of other commercial fish like stripped bass, and blue fish, and the bay becomes more dirty because Menhaden are filter feeders that clean the bay.  Chemical Pollution happens when oil spills wash into the bay which causes the fish to be poisoned. Acidic rain, from air pollution caused by vehicle exhausts and factories, washes into the Bay from the air.  30% of the nitrogen in the Bay comes from these washouts. Crop land contributes 27% of the phosphorus and 60% of the nitrogen washed into the Bay. The population growth and land consumption has caused a loss of 1,200 square miles of rural land in the bay and its tributaries since the 1970s. The crabbing industry has cut down the population of female crabs by 90% in the last 12 years. Crabbers take 40-60% of the existing population every year. Today’s population of oysters is less than 1% of the post civil war numbers. 

            We believe that these solutions should be implemented:

  • Lower the percentage of menhaden caught by 5% every year until there is adequate documentation of the number of menhaden and the number needed to support a healthy bay ecosystem.

  •  Oil is a non-point source pollution so it is very difficult to point a finger at industry, vehicle operators, boat and jet ski users, or farmers.  There should be a 10% rebate given for used oil returned to a licensed dealer. A 2% additional fines should be issued to vehicle operators who are stopped for any other violation if the vehicle is leaking oil.

  • Ethanol should be outlawed because it is overproducing corn which contributes to nitrogen pollution of water systems and to food cost.

  • We should continue to fund with tax dollars more fuel efficient vehicles.

  • Invest tax dollars in land preservation purchase.

  • We should decrease the amount of annual crab harvest by 10% every year until no more than 10% of the annual population is harvested.

  • We recommend continue research into building oyster reefs and oyster farming through cost share incentives. We strongly do not recommend the use of any exotic species of oyster to replenish the native oyster population. Dredging should no longer be allowed for oyster harvest.

The United States spends more money in one day in Iraq than in the last ten years for the Chesapeake Bay.  We live in the bay; we understand the economics of the area will be affected greatly by decreasing harvest and increasing fees. However if we wish to save the bay as a viable ecosystem for our children, grandchildren, and the other 3,000 species of the Bay, we must make unpopular economic changes.  We recommend these things to generate money to accomplish these difficult objectives.  All boating and fishing licenses should have a special dollar bay tax added.  Fines for improper harvesting and water vehicle use should be doubled.  A one dollar Bay tax for every vehicle license plate issuance and renewal should be assessed for the next five years.

Sustainable Development: Water - Henderson Interview

 Planning | Chesapeake Bay Preservation Program


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Rappahannock High School – Team Blue_Crab Consensus


        The Chesapeake Bay watershed stretches 64,299 square miles, which touches 6 states and D.C.  It is the largest of 130 estuaries in the United States.  It is a major source of income for the watershed, 678 billion dollars.  There is more than 3,600 species of plants and animals in the watershed.  There are over 15.1 million people in the watershed.  Everyone is in the boat and everyone is rocking it.

            The waves they create have far-reaching effects.  Farmers use a vast amount of fertilizer - about five hundred pounds per acre. About twenty percent of this fertilizer is lost due to runoff. Forests are being lost in the Bay watershed at an estimated rate of 100 acres per day.  Runoff pollutants are accumulated in the bottom muds of rivers and the Bay. They remain sequestered in the mud until they are stirred up.  Once in the water column, they can poison aquatic organisms. With the harvesting of menhaden and oysters, filter feeding organisms are decreasing. Crabbers often focus mainly on female crabs. About 45% of the existing annual population is harvested.

            There are methods to calm the waves.  Farmers can apply for cost share for a variety of problems to reduce nutrient load to the bay. They can also use a cover crop to fertilize new lands instead of using man-made fertilizers. Increased efforts should be dedicated to greatly increasing the mileage of river edge protected by buffers. There needs to be continued implementation of oyster reef restoration in the estuaries. Emphasis needs to be placed on protection of the female crab by crabbing limits and by limiting where and when they can be caught.

            All stakeholders need to band together to make the effort to restore the bay to cleaner conditions. This will not be easy for several reasons. One is that the tax base of the bay area is the recreational and commercial value of the Bay itself. The other is that most of the everyday products that we use are essentially bad for the bay ecosystem.  We do not have to make drastic changes to our everyday routines in order to accomplish the problem at hand, but if we all make a small contribution, the bay ecosystem will be in much better condition for our children than it is for us.

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Buffalo Gap High School Consensus


            The Buffalo Gap High School Agricultural Mechanics and Basic Animal Science II class has come to the consensus that every stakeholder group that contributes to pollution of the Chesapeake bay should be held responsible for their actions and act as part of the plan to clean up the bay in order to restore its viability and ability to be used as a resource for generations to come.  Each stakeholder group is responsible for themselves and we have decided that incentives and consequences will be different for each group.  As a class we have devised a plan for the following stakeholder groups:  Farmers, Construction Companies, Homeowners, Waterman, and Recreators.  Our anticipation for our plan is to keep the Chesapeake Bay as a natural resource that can be used by man and nature in the future. 

            Our class believes that farmers should take Best Management Practices (BMP) into consideration when actively farming.  Such Best Management Practices include cover crops, stream riparian buffers; nutrient management plans (NMP), no till farming, strip farming, rotational grazing, and rotate crop fields.  Farmers will also be encouraged to participate in conservation plans through the department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Headwater Soil and Water Conservation office.  Subsidy programs will be set up through the government for farmers to apply for financial help in order to implement conservation programs on their land.  Also, farmers with concentrated farming operations will have to implement a nutrient management plan.  All plans will be inspected by someone from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Nutrient Management Plans should be a combination of nitrogen and phosphorus based not just phosphorus based.  Anyone who fails to follow their nutrient management plan will be charged based on a three strike policy, with the first offense being a fine, the second offense being a misdemeanor, and the third offense being a felony.  Any farmer that volunteers to put their land into a conservation plan should also receive tax rebates.

            In order for construction companies to assist with bay clean up, we believe that each construction site needs to have a pollution prevention plan.  This plan includes an inspection of the construction site by an inspector from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Just like the farmers, construction companies will be given a three strike policy that follows the same offenses as the farmers.  On the third strike, contractor licenses will be suspended until proven innocent in court.  The prevention plan will include approved methods of prevention erosion and sediment from runoff at the construction site. 

            Since homeowners are mainly a non point source we think incentives should be used to encourage homeowners to help keep the bay healthy.  We think that tax deductions should be given to homeowners that donate money to keep the bay clean.  We also think the government should set up a subsidy program for homeowners so they can start purchasing battery operated lawn mowers to cut down on the cost of gas and oil pollutants that can come from lawns.  Homeowners that live directly on the bay should also be given tax rebates if they choose to implement buffers on their land in order to catch some of the runoff before it enters the bay. 

            Since the waterman used the bay for their occupation, we believe that they would want to keep the waters in the best condition possible in order to continue fishing and making a living.  We believe that the fisherman should be charged with a commission fee when they sell their catch.  This commission fee will be used by government and state officials to continue bay clean up efforts and to ensure that they bay will be healthy enough to continue to be an ecosystem that provides humans with a food source. 

            Our class believes that in order for people to have a clean bay to use for recreational purposes that they should have to pay fees in order to use the bay.  Homeowners living on the bay will not have to pay any fees.  However, others wanting to use the bay will have to pay for a license in order to use the bay.  An overhead license will be permitted for all types of fishing, swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing or other miscellaneous events.  Individual permits can also be bought for each event as well.  The license fee will be used to pay game wardens to govern and enforce the fees and rules.  The license system would be set up similar to that of hunting license with the same associated fees. 

            Our hope as a class is the bay will be a resource that continues to strive and be healthy, and with everyone’s efforts to clean up the bay and prevent from polluting the bay, we feel that the bay can continue to not only be a wonderful natural resource, but also a place for recreation, homes, and a major part of ecosystem.