The Chesapeake Bay's long-suffering "smart" buoys, which have come back after being shot up and hit by boats and ships, now face perhaps their most serious threat yet - the budget knife. President Obama's spending plan for fiscal 2013 proposes cutting the $300,000 to keep the fleet of 10 buoys afloat in the bay, where they monitor water quality, weather conditions and serve as guides for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.I used the Bay buoys back when they were just weather buoys. One was anchored off shore across the channel from Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, and it was the closest and best source of relevant wind data for me. Once that one was moved elsewhere (and eventually taken off line) I lost interest in the system. I would like the see data on the usage of the current system. I'm having trouble imaginINGthem being cost effective as guides for the Chesapeake Trail. Maybe they are, too.
Overall, the Annapolis NOAA office is proposed to receive $3.4 million in the coming year, down from this year's funding allocation of $5.1 million and less than half the $7.1 million the office received the year before. Funds for oyster restoration work, fisheries research and to support environmental education also are targeted for reductions or elimination in the NOAA budget.As I've said in the past, I'm certainly not opposed to oyster restoration, but I find it stupid that oyster restoration is being attempted while watermen continue to try to find the last one. If it's important enough to restore, it's important enough to stop fishing on while you build it up.