Earth Day provides chance to reflect on Chesapeake Bay

The westbound span of the Bay Bridge is getting a $20 million makeover. For the first time in decades, that portion of the bridge is slated to be cleaned and repainted. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Sunday is Earth Day, a day to think a little bit more about the environment — and maybe even do something to help clean it up.

For the D.C. area, the day is a chance to take a closer look at the Chesapeake Bay.

Mark Bryer of the Nature Conservancy said the bay is in recovery mode and oysters are playing a critical role.

“It’s still getting poor grades in terms of its overall water quality, but some of the great news that we’ve seen in the last couple of years is a rebounding oyster population,” he said.

Oysters do many important things for the bay, Bryer said. They help clean the water, and provide homes and habitats for crabs and important fish like striped bass.

“We’ve seen some of the best survival in oysters and the best harvests in more than a decade in both Maryland and Virginia,” he said.

Area residents living near the bay can also help with its recovery.

“If you fertilize your lawn, try not to do it too much, because that ends up creating more pollution in the bay,” Bryer said. “Choosing local seafood and supporting local economies that depend upon the bay all can help bring the bay back.”

Because of the benefits oysters and other animals provide, he said the return on investment in the bay’s recovery process is great.

“The Chesapeake Bay is part of our cultural history [and] drives so much of our economy.”

WTOP’s Debra Feinstein contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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