The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has canceled a longstanding statewide environmental initiative for this year.For the life of me, I can't understand why an outdoor activity like a beach cleanup, where it's easy to keep a distance of 6 or more feet apart should be cancelled due to the WuFlu, but if it makes them feel more virtuous to stay home than to go clean the Bay, well, that's OK too.
Virginia’s Clean the Bay Day tradition has taken place on the first Saturday in June every year since 1989, but for the first time ever, it will be canceled due to concerns over COVID-19. The annual litter cleanup organized by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and local partners is one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia.
In previous years, thousands of volunteers participated at hundreds of sites from Hampton Roads to the Richmond area to Northern Virginia, cleaning up more than 100,000 pounds of litter and debris from shorelines, rivers, parks and streams.
“We’re all reeling from the many changes this year has brought, but the spirit of Clean the Bay Day is alive,” said CBF Hampton Roads Grassroots Manager Tanner Council. “Many dedicated Virginians are still doing their part to clean up the environment.”
While you won't be able to participate in the annual Clean the Bay Day this year, you can still clean up litter to celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, which starts on June 7.
In a similar vein, Even as Lockdown Restrictions Loosen, Md. Riverkeepers Seek Essential Worker Status
When Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) issued a stay-at-home order at the end of March, recreational boaters and riverkeepers were obliged to follow the same set of restrictions.Again, I don't mind if Riverkeepers go about their business of riverkeeping, but the idea that the Riverkeepers are essential when I can't get a hair cut is simply ridiculous.
Now that restrictions on commerce and travel are slowly being lifted in Maryland, riverkeepers, who perform a variety of duties and research to protect area waterways, will once again be able to ply their trade. But the riverkeepers believe that their water monitoring activities should be designated as an essential service.
As the weather warms up and swimming pools remain closed, more people will want to cool off in rivers, said Jesse Iliff, a riverkeeper with the South River Federation in Anne Arundel County. Riverkeepers provide the critical service of regularly testing bacterial samples in swimming areas, accessing the health of drinking water and publicizing whether or not it’s safe to be in contact with the water.
Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition of 18 independent programs that serve as the voice, eyes and ears of the Chesapeake and coastal bays. They regularly collect vital data for state agencies and the public to understand the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Riverkeepers are often the first people to see and report pollution events or anyone in violation of the Clean Water Act.
As more government resources are used to address COVID-19, rapid response to pollution events and testing of recreational swimming areas have fallen entirely to non-profit organizations, Iliff said.
But if riverkeepers are not regarded as “essential,” then there will be no one to monitor the water during a lockdown. Not only will this disrupt data collection and water quality testing, but potential polluters will become emboldened if they know no one is watching the waterways, Illif said.
Riverkeepers don’t violate social distancing protocols. It is possible for riverkeepers to go out on the water alone to collect samples and monitor the water. Or they can wear proper protection equipment and remain at a safe distance on a boat if they are accompanied by a volunteer.