12/30/2010 - Normally, we would not be encouraged by a grade of D-plus for anything. But when it comes to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, we are indeed encouraged. After years of slipped deadlines and broken promises, cleanup of the 64,000-square-mile watershed is showing faint signs of progress.
According to the 2010 State of the Bay report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the health of the bay gained three points since the last report in 2008 - to 31 out of 100. As the improving but still anemic score makes plain, the estuary is nowhere near the pristine state it enjoyed in Colonial days. But local efforts combined with vigorous federal action under the watchful eye of the White House could help get it closer.
The big news in this year's assessment is that the crab population score jumped 15 points over 2008 for a B-plus. Foundation president William C. Baker credits regulations instituted by Maryland and Virginia in 2008 to reduce the harvest of female crabs. There were also improvements in the growth of underwater grasses, water clarity and the oyster population. But the grades of D-minus, F and F, respectively, are disturbing.
Read the editorial Progress in the Chesapeake Bay in its entirety on The Washington Post's Web site.