MCBPassessment of local bay health in ’11 shows positive steps

MCBPassessment of local bay health in ’11 shows positive steps

(Nov. 23, 2012) The Maryland Coastal Bays 2011 Report Card, a detailed assessment of the health of the bays behind

Ocean City and

Assateague, is now available.

The report card scores six indicators, each measured on a 100- point scale, with 100 representing healthy ecosystems. A Habitat Health Index, a Water Quality Index and a Biotic Index are factored for the final grade. While the northern bays and western tributaries continue to struggle, there are signs of improvement in some areas. However, the southern bays — historically the more pristine of the Coastal Bays — are still showing signs of degradation.

The first collaborative effort of a report card which gave Maryland’s coastal bays a C+ grade was launched in 2008, finding sea grasses rebounding but still at levels little more than half of those seen earlier in the decade and varying water quality. The goal of the latest report card is to provide a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of the Coastal Bays health using 2011 data.

The report card is a collaborative effort between the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, UMCES – Integration and Application Network and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Several partners including the town of Berlin and Ocean City received “Gold Stars” in recognition of their contributions to ensuring the health of our bays and the valuable work they do in coordination with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

Hundreds of volunteers, including local residents and visitors, supported environmental initiatives to protect, promote, and preserve our coastal bays, by volunteering more than 2,500 hours last year to count horseshoe crabs & birds, collect water samples, search for reptiles & amphibians, clean neighborhoods, wetlands, & dunes of trash, and assist many other activities.

Part of the National Estuary Program, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is a non-profit partnership between the towns of Ocean City and Berlin, the National Park Service, Worcester County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Environment & Planning. One of only 28 such programs nationwide, the goal of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is to protect and enhance the 175-square mile watershed, which includes Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Berlin, and Assateague Island National Seashore.

Report cards can be found at the Maryland Coastal Bays office and area visitor information locations. To obtain copies, contact Sandi Smith at or call 410-213-2297, Ext. 107.

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