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  #41  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
...Back in the 1960s, MD-DNR decided to attempt to kill off the hydrilla that had overwhelmed the Northeast River, situated near the head of Chesapeake Bay....Well, it worked. In fact, it worked so well that for the next 40 years there wasn't a blade of grass to be found in the entire Northeast River and the adjacent Susquehanna Flats. The bottom was nothing but a mud pit....
It's nice to see that you agree with me that rash actions taken without carefully studying the unintended consequences can lead to disastrous effects. Seeding the upper bay with Zebra mussels would likely lead to similarly unpleasant surprises. Do we know for sure? No. That's why things need to be studied.

So it seems to me that there are a few options here:
  1. Do nothing, and let the pollution grow along with our population. Save money by firing the scientists, since they are unnecessary.
  2. Do our best to limit pollution where possible with existing technology, and fund long term studies to better understand what options might improve the ecology without disastrous unintended consequences. Enact user fees, environmental impact fees, licenses, and other usage-based taxes to distribute the costs to the people who currently damage the environment or benefit from the studies.
  3. Do something abrupt without carefully thinking it out (like seeding the bay with zebra mussels), and live with whatever the consequences happen to be. Save money by firing the scientists, but prepare to hire their children and grandchildren 40 years from now when the sh!t hits the fan from our stupid acts.
I vote for #2. You seem to favor #1 or #3, but I'm not sure which.

By the way, everybody needs to make a living, and everyone will look for a place to apply their skills in a way that supports their families and benefits society. I'm not sure why you feel the need to single out scientists as being uniquely sinister in their motives.
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  #42  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

"I'm not sure why you feel the need to single out scientists as being uniquely sinister in their motives.

Probably because I'm old, cantankerous, and spent lots of time with them when I was a reporter. I got to see the results first hand, I watched Chesapeake Bay die one day at a time, I heard all the BS they perpetuated, and now my grandson will never have the chance to see what I saw more than a half-century ago.

About 20 years ago I took a good friend and his wife out for a day on the bay, a time when I had a 21-foot center console fishing boat rigged for offshore fishing. I launched the boat at Gunpowder State Park's Dundee Creek Marina. As we motored out of the creek, my friend of many years said he would like to see a home he used to rent near the mouth of Seneca Creek. No problem - it was just a short hop to the creek's mouth and as we entered the creek there were a couple youngsters jumping off the pier and swimming. The water, which was various shades of greenish brown and gray, was covered with globs of floating algae, and also interspersed with the corpses of dead and decaying catfish, carp, white perch, striped bass, yellow perch, menhaden and other species. My friend, Erick, looked at me and said, "don't those kids know how fouled the water is?" I responded, "No. As far as they're concerned the water is clean. They're only about 12 years old and have never seen this creek when the water was clean. In reality, they don't know it's filthy and polluted, and could pose a health hazard."

I've talked with lots of young people over the years who sincerely believe the bay is will soon be clean and clear because we're spending billions of dollars on it. They believe the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Program is working, and they also believe that you can educate youngsters and they will not become polluters when they become adults. I sure wish that were the case.

Now, I don't know about the communities surrounding Lake Wallenpaupack, but in this part of the world, the mid-Atlantic region, every form of pollution is rampid and out of control. Think not? Take a good look along the roadsides, any roadside, and you'll discover the underbrush is covered with plastic bottles, beer cans, soda cans, fast food wrappers, plastic cups, plastic bags, you name it and it's there. It covers both sides of the roads, and it's hard to find a square foot of roadside that is not trash covered. Do you think old farts such as myself tossed that stuff out their car windows? Think about it.

Gary

Last edited by travlineasy; 04-11-2013 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I am 38(I so wish I were as young as I suspect you originally thought! ) and have lived on the shore of Owasco Lake my entire life save for college. In fact I live two doors from where I grew up. I am not an expert on marine biology or even an enthusiast regarding the subject so I will not attempt to dispute your comments, you very well may be right for all I know. I will however comment on my own observations regarding 38 years of enjoying my lake. Thus far I see little benefit to zebra mussels and massive draw backs. They are here to stay though and there is nothing that can be done about that now. Our next big issue is asian clams, we are presently attempting to kill them off from our lake during the previous two winters. Unsure if its been successful though.

Anyhow, I hope your trip is going well. You must be close to being back in the Chesapeake by now, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
Brad, I don't know how old you are, but I suspect you are relatively young. I would also venture a guess that the lake you now swim in would be nothing more than a cesspool if it were not for zebra mussels. In fact, there probably would not be any forms of aquatic vegetation growing, and the water would likely be too toxic to swim in.

We have places in Chesapeake Bay where the hydrilla cannot grow because the sun no longer reaches the bottom of the bay, even in the shallows. At one time, the Potomac River was choked with hydrilla. Largemouth bass fishing there was incredible, so good in fact, that Bass Masters held at least one qualifying tournament there every year, and the highest weights ever recorded came from the Potomac River. It was also fairly dense in the upper bay tributaries, Gunpowder, Bush, Chester, etc..., which prompted BASS to hold their Bass Masters Classic in the upper Chesapeake.

Hydrilla, which arrived with the aquarium trade from southeast Asia, if I recall correctly, and got its start somewhere in south Florida. The grass is very resistant to most everything, but like all SAVs it provides a great nursery area for juvenile fish of various species. It does a pretty good job of keeping the water clean as well, filtering out much of the suspended particular matter.

Back in the 1960s, MD-DNR decided to attempt to kill off the hydrilla that had overwhelmed the Northeast River, situated near the head of Chesapeake Bay. They tried various products, copper sulfate, and at least one new product, 24D. The scientists did test strips about 100 yards long and 100-feet wide, seeding grass beds near some of the marinas that were bitterly complaining about the overabundance of the vegetation during the height of boating season.

Well, it worked. In fact, it worked so well that for the next 40 years there wasn't a blade of grass to be found in the entire Northeast River and the adjacent Susquehanna Flats. The bottom was nothing but a mud pit. DNR transformed one of the world's best largemouth bass fisheries into a muddy-bottomed desert where nothing could survive. There was no place for juvenile fish to hide from predators, stripers no longer had shad of any form to feed upon, the freshwater clams suffocated because the grass was no longer there to filter storm run-off, and the overall water quality went down the tubes within just a few years. Yep, those scientists did a real, bang-up job.

About 2000 is when the 24D toxins were either buried in silt and mud, or they just went away. Soon after that the first sprouts of hydrilla were seen along the shallow channel edges of the Northeast River. A few years later, freshwater clams began showing up on the Susquehanna Flats, the grass began to grow, the bass fishery began to rebound and fair numbers of striped bass once again roamed the channel edges in search of juvenile shad. The water quality in areas where the clams and grass abound is relatively clear, often with summer visibilities to 5 feet, which in this part of the world is really good. Just outside those areas, underwater visibilities may be 5 inches at best.

Count your lucky stars, Brad. At least you have water clean enough for swimming. It has been more than 4 decades since the upper Chesapeake's beaches were closed because of pollution. The only beaches still open for swimming are at Maryland state parks south of Baltimore - locations where water quality is still lousy, but the state would never admit to that because it may drive tourists away. Ironically, MD-DNR tried to blame the high fecal-coliform bacteria count in the bay's upper reaches on waterfowl. Yep, the water is polluted because of those damned ducks, geese and swans. Oh, it was one of their scientists that made that statement, too. Just makes you feel good all over, doesn't it?

Gary
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  #44  
Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I'm back in the Chesapeake's upper reaches, arrived right on schedule, which was April 1st. While the last few days were a bit hectic with high winds, dense fog, towering waves, and at times, near zero visibility, both the boat, myself and my crew made it unscathed.

As I drove home, the car seemed to rock from side to side a bit, which I can only attribute to four rough days at sea, I had to cross Conowingo Dam at U.S. Route 1. Above the dam there was at least 10 acres of floating debris, everything from driftwood logs to 55-gallon plastic drums, 5-gallon plastic buckets, some building parts, a couple old, wooden doors, and an assortment of what appeared to be blocks of Styrofoam, chunks of pier floats, and a large picnic table with attached benches. My wife also spotted a kayak among the partly submerged logs. Three days later, when I returned to the boat, the majority of the debris had mysteriously vanished. The only debris was the usual pile which always seems to be situated in the lake at the southern end of the dam in a small cove.

The question that always comes to mind is: Where is all that debris now? It will ALL show up when the next heavy rainstorm hits southeastern Pennsylvania. It will flow down the river, enter the bay's upper reaches, and for the next few months, be part of a boater's worst nightmare.

All of this debris came from somewhere upriver, somewhere between Bingington, NY and Harrisburg, PA. No one knows for certain where it originates, but it surely didn't originate in Chesapeake Bay. How it managed to get over Conowingo Dam is anyone's guess, but it sure as Hell didn't wash over U.S. 1 and it surely didn't suddenly sink to the bottom of Conowingo Lake. Whoops!

The same holds true with the nutrients that wash into the Chesapeake. All came from various, tributary sources. The last time I researched the number of wastwater treatment plants along the Susquehanna, both large and small, there was about 130 of them. Nearly every one of them was running over capacity, and in some instances the only treatment of raw sewage was to rock it back and forth with paddle boards, then allow it to flow over a spillway so it would exposed to the sun's ultra-violet rays prior to discharging into a creek.

And, while agriculture was one considered the largest contributor of nutrients (poop) to the bay, sometime ago this theory was revised and municipal wastes were now considered the largest contributor. In response to this, Governor O'Mally decided to put a new tax in place, one that would penalize those who likely had the least impact - homes with septic tanks, people that do NOT send their wastes into a municipal wastewater treatment plant. The tax, which most residents refer to as the "Poop Tax" or "Flush Tax" is nothing more than another revenue grabber. Apparently O'Mally didn't get the funds he projected, so he doubled it from $30 to $60 per year.

That wasn't enough, though. He managed to railroad another tax through the Maryland legislature, $125 for every home that has impervious surfaces - a roof, driveway, sidewalk, and if you are a business, with the required parking spaces mandated by the state, you really get slammed. The tax could amount to thousands of dollars a year. Like the Poop Tax, the Impervious Surface Tax is supposed to be used to clean up Chesapeake Bay. Yeah! Right!

Here I go getting cynical again. Sorry for the rants, guys and gals, but every time I go out sailing on the world's largest estuary I become more and more depressed just looking at the water.

Good Luck,

Gary
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Old 04-11-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
...I got to see the results first hand, I watched Chesapeake Bay die one day at a time, I heard all the BS they perpetuated, and now my grandson will never have the chance to see what I saw more than a half-century ago...
So why do you blame the scientists for this?

One of the unfortunate things about ecology, economics, and other social sciences is that you can't run control experiments, and design experimental methodologies to the separate multiple variables on a grand scale. You can't tell what would have happened if the environmentalists had done nothing. You also can't tell what would have happened if they had spent 2x or 5x as much.

Maybe the scientists were right, and we just didn't do enough of what they were recommending. Did anyone anticipate the huge growth in the poultry industry on the eastern shore? Did anyone anticipate the explosive growth of ex-urban communities in Lancaster, Berks, York, and other counties in central PA? Those places have pretty much become bedroom communities for Baltimore, Frederick, Wilmington, and even Philadelphia, and the growth there has been huge.

Given this growth, it's possible that the Bay would be EVEN WORSE than it is now if nothing had been done. Maybe the scientists were right, but their more aggressive proposals were beaten down by politicians and skeptical reporters.

I say there's plenty of blame to go around. Do you ever buy Perdue chicken? You're to blame. Did you ever fertilize your lawn? You're to blame. Did you buy Lancaster produce? You're to blame. Did you buy a McMansion on previously forested land that was clear-cut? You're to blame. Do you hire the lowest bidder to pick up and haul your trash? You know, the one who doesn't bother to put tarps over his truck when he drives to the landfill, so he spills plastic bottles and food wrappers all over the road? You're to blame.

You can direct all your ire at the scientific community if you want. I would estimate that scientists get it wrong 3 out of 4 times. But that's still a lot better record than the big corporations who grow the chicken, manufacture and dump the fertilizer, build the McMansions, and haul the trash. No thank you, I'll put my trust with the scientists.
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Last edited by TakeFive; 04-11-2013 at 08:58 PM.
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  #46  
Old 04-12-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

First and foremost, the scientific community DID run controlled experiments of pollution effects on Chesapeake Bay, and after a couple decades, abandoned the program. The projects took place at a massive facility at Mattapeake, MD where a 5-acre model of Chesapeake Bay was constructed inside immense steel buildings. The cost to taxpayers was staggering. The model was highly detailed, scaled exactly, experienced the exact tidal changes, water flows, etc...,etc...etc.... This facility employed a large staff of scientist, and at the time was touted as the savior of Chesapeake Bay. Scientists from at least four other states were invited to utilize the facility as well, and if I recall correctly, there was no charge to them for their usage.

Well, tens of thousands of tidal changes later, the introduction of tons of simulated pollutants, and thousands upon thousands of controlled experiments later, the project was dumped. It wasn't dumped because it didn't work - it was dumped because funding sources dried up. The reason they dried up? According to the rumor mill in Washington, DC the funding ceased because everyone was jumping on the study bandwagon, but no one was aboard the fix the problem wagon. Guess what - they're still not on that wagon today.

Now, lets look at my place, my palatial estate. I'm on a well, septic tank and field, my manicured front lawn consists mainly of crabgrass, johnson grass and other weeds. What the Hell, those weeds are just as green as Kentucky blue grass, but not nearly as fragile. There has NEVER been any fertilizer applied to my weed patch in the 45 years I've lived here and there will never be as long as I'm still kicking.

Until about 12 years ago, my driveway was crusher run, and at the end of the driveway was a cofferdam to prevent any run-off. When I became too old to remove the snow by hand, I had the driveway paved with blacktop and purchased an 8 HP snow blower. Then I planted tall red fescue at the end of the driveway to absorb any runoff from the blacktop.

Most of my 5.5 acres is still woodland, but the deer have eaten all the understory plants away, which results in higher than normal erosion into the stream that runs through the back end of my property. The deer are just one more example of MD-DNR not getting it right.

Now, your estimate of scientists not being right 75 percent of the time may be right, at least in the environmental areas of science. Could be higher. Keep in mind their environmental track record nationwide has been pretty abysmal, especially in this part of the world.

Lets get the record straight. We have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a massive bureaucracy that employs hundreds of thousands of people, many of them PHDs, and their only job is to safeguard our environment. Strike one!

In Maryland, we have the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), which employs a huge number of staff and scientists. Their sole purpose is to protect and preserve the state's environment. Guess they need more money. The rivers, streams, creeks, and in some locations, groundwater supplies are all polluted. The bay, well, we've already discussed that. Air pollution in Maryland is ranked among the highest in the nation, and lots of "Code Red" days, which mean you shouldn't allow the kids to go outdoors and play because the air pollution is at dangerous levels. Same holds true for seniors, people with heart and lung problems, etc... So much for going outside for a breath of fresh air. Yep, they're doing a real, bang-up job at MDE.

We have the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, a massive bureaucracy that employs thousands of people, many of them scientists. Their sole purpose is to protect, preserve and enhance the natural resources of Maryland for all the state's citizens. They refer to this now as resource management. To date they've managed to wipe out: Oysters, soft shell clams, hard shell clams, striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, white perch, yellow perch, speckled trout, Atlantic menhaden, Atlantic croaker, blue crab, puffer-fish, American eel, American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, and many, many more piscatorial species. They did this with the approval of scientists from the EPA, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service, and a dozen lesser known state and federal agencies. Do you think they just might have done a little better? These are individuals that have degrees from major universities throughout the nation, degrees in fisheries and wildlife management, highly educated, some with PHDs. Hell, we even subsidized their educations with our tax dollars. Turns out they're real good at studying things, but they just need to work on fixin' things.

If you want to rely on the scientific community to fix the planet's environment, that's up to you. Me, I don't have 200 years to see if the 25 percent or less that get it right and finally manage to fix things. I just did a controlled experiment, looked at their past record, came to the conclusion that the chances of a group of scientist solving the bay's woes were slim to none. I put my money on the zebra mussels. And, if they arrive next year, and I manage to live another decade, I just may get to see the bay as clean and clear as it was in 1962, a time when I SCUBA dived for oysters at the old span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Back then, we had 20-foot underwater visibility in late September, when the oyster season opened.

Better hope your doctors and surgeons are right more than 25 percent of the time - yeah, they're scientists as well.

Gary

Last edited by travlineasy; 04-12-2013 at 10:58 AM.
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I still don't understand why you blame scientists for ecological problems that they didn't cause. They've been unable to solve a problem that may be unsolvable (until disease and famine reduce the overpopulation back to historical levels). And you haven't provided any evidence that their efforts had no effect. It's possible that without their work, things might be even worse than they are now.

Scientists are not as dumb as you suggest, and they do their best to anticipate unintended consequences of any actions. It's a much better methodology than the simpleminded, "obvious" solutions proposed by the non-scientific community, like intentionally introducing zebra mussels, which could lead to an ecological disaster.

Your doctor example is irrelevant. The doctors that you visit in an office are not experimental scientists. They are clinicians and practitioners, implementing medical techniques that have been tested and refined by research physicians. As you suggest, the practitioners could never get away with a 25% success rate. However, the research physicians probably are around 25% like the rest of the true scientists during the early stages of their research (this phase is way prior to introducing their practices to the human population). It's only after much experimentation that they get their success rate high enough to put their treatments into routine practice. Such trial and error is part of good science, but unfortunately it is not possible for ecological research where the time scales are decades and length scales are hundreds of miles.
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Old 04-12-2013
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

it's all a very good point TakeFive. From what I gather (I don;t live on the bay) most of the chesapeake's issues stem from runoff.. and having been all through PA.. I know the watershed for the bay is HUGE!

No doubt those scientists working hard on the bay's problems are running hard just to keep up. One thing you forget about scientists.. they all want that "name"., They want to become that "dr. So&so who fixed the chesapeake bay" or whatever it is they study and work on.
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

TakeFive, If the problem is unsolvable, then why should we continue to fund their studies? Most of the solutions to the bay's ills are just common sense, but as my dear departed father used to say "Common sense just ain't very common these days." Hey, it's the scientific community that says there is a solution, and if you give us money, we'll fix the bay. They've been saying that for more than a half-century, and the politicians believed them. We gave them money, lots and lots of money. They didn't fix anything.

And, if you do your homework, which I'm fairly confident most people will not take the time to do, they'll quickly discover that there were lots and lots of studies performed by scientists employed by state and federal agencies that allowed the polluters to dump their particular pollutants into the bay in the first place. Then there were studies that validated the original studies, and more studies to verify the secondary studies that were used. All these studies were done by the scientific community.

Ever hear of Federal Allowable Limits? There's an entire book of them and they address just about every substance on the planet. The feds tell the states how much of a particular toxin you can absorb without it being harmful. The book tends to be revised every now and then. The book is published every year, and there are additions every year. Until recent years, there was a federal allowable limit for asbestos. Yep, asbestos. There was a doctor in South Africa by the name of Selikoff who did an extensive study related to asbestos exposure. He very quickly came to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure. He was right, but many of the U.S. scientists tried to say more studies were needed to prove his theory. I had a single, week-long exposure while in the U.S. Navy in 1959, a time when the Navy figured if you wore a surgical mask you would be safe. I currently suffer from asbestosis, which is a fatal disease where you slowly, but surely, suffocate to death. You may want to read Selikoff's paper on this at http://www.epidemiology.ch/history/P...0neoplasia.pdf

I'll take my chances with the zebra mussells,

Gary
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Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Good point. I was going to say that clear water is not always better water for every living organism. It depends on what's making it unclear.

I agree. Spectacular scenery. As they were carved by glaciers, they are not only very deep, but the hills rise straight up from the water's edge. The largest two being roughly 40 miles long each. Gorgeous, but can make for some squirrely sailing, as the hills can either block or redirect the winds.
Yes, it is beautiful here and we are squirrely sailors.

I've been in the area for 32 years. The zebra mussels have cleared up the water in Cayuga Lake. Not necesarily a good thing. It is commonly believed that they are responsible for the crash in the smelt population. That, in turn, effects the lake trout, etc. Now we are fighting invasive Hydrilla in the inlet. It has the potential of totally clogging the waterway. In our hills, we are soon to have our ash trees decimated by emerald ash borer. Another invasive, hemlock wooly adelgid, is established in the Ithaca area, and has the potential to wipe out all our hemlock trees. These trees are important native trees found in all our stream / riparian areas. Invasives are rarely, if ever good for a local ecosystem. I guess the good thing about the zebra mussels is that the water is clear enough to see my feet bleed out when I cut them on the mussels.
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