Underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay are starting to make a comeback. Last year the total acreage of bay grasses increased to 59,927 acres from 48,195 in 2012, a 24 percent increase, reported the Baltimore Sun. While this is a good sign, it’s still “only about a third of the goal federal and state officials have set for restoring grasses to levels approaching what they were 50 or 60 years ago.”
So why is this important? The amount of grasses in the bay is used as a measure of the health of the bay in general. According to the Capital Gazette, “When flourishing, bay grasses provide wildlife with food and habitat and are a nursery for young fish and crabs. They add oxygen to the water, absorb nutrient pollution, trap sediment and reduce erosion.” Overall, the more grasses there are, the healthier the bay is. Unfortunately, in recent years storms and subsequent runoff and sediment have clouded up the water, making it difficult for the grasses to grow. In the last decade or so the grasses had been at a high point of 90,000 acres in 2002.
Almost all areas in the bay saw an increase increases, the biggest being in the upper and middle portions. However, there were also some declines. These were mostly around Anne Arundel County in the Severn, South, Magothy, and Patuxent rivers.
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