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The Chesapeake in Focus

Transforming the Natural World

Tom Pelton

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The people, policies, and forces transforming a national treasure—the Chesapeake Bay.

When Captain John Smith arrived in Virginia in 1607, he discovered a paradise in the Chesapeake Bay. In the centuries that followed, the Bay changed vastly—and not for the better. European landowners and enslaved Africans slashed, burned, and cleared the surrounding forests to grow tobacco. Watermen overfished oysters, shad, and sturgeon, decimating these crucial species. Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond used its rivers as urban sewers. By the 1960s, the Chesapeake was dying.

A crossroads of life and culture…

The people, policies, and forces transforming a national treasure—the Chesapeake Bay.

When Captain John Smith arrived in Virginia in 1607, he discovered a paradise in the Chesapeake Bay. In the centuries that followed, the Bay changed vastly—and not for the better. European landowners and enslaved Africans slashed, burned, and cleared the surrounding forests to grow tobacco. Watermen overfished oysters, shad, and sturgeon, decimating these crucial species. Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond used its rivers as urban sewers. By the 1960s, the Chesapeake was dying.

A crossroads of life and culture, the Chesapeake straddles the North and the South, mixes salt water with fresh, and is home to about 18 million people and 3,600 species of animals and plants. Although recent cleanup efforts have improved its overall health, they have not been enough to save this national treasure. In The Chesapeake in Focus, award-winning writer Tom Pelton examines which environmental policies have worked and which have failed.

Based on Pelton’s extensive experience as a journalist and as the host of the public radio program The Environment in Focus, this sweeping book takes readers on a tour of the histories of the Chesapeake, as well as the ecological challenges faced by its major tributaries. It details the management of blue crabs, striped bass, and other delicious wildlife, profiles leaders and little-known characters involved in the restoration campaign, and warns of the dangers of anti-regulatory politics that threaten to reverse what has been accomplished. Looking to the future, Pelton offers a provocative vision of the hard steps that must be taken if we truly want to save the Bay.

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The Chesapeake in Focus

Tom Pelton

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Reviews

Reviews

Tom Pelton, one of the country's leading environmental journalists, offers us a wealth of knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay, collected from his more than two decades of reporting on this ecological, cultural, and historical treasure... The highlight, perhaps, comes toward the end, when Pelton proposes 10 realistic steps for bay restoration. We should listen to him.

A terrific book... Really puts in perspective the different issues swirling about the Bay.

Really good book about a really great ecosystem.

Tom Pelton's The Chesapeake in Focus masterfully captures the people, places, critters, and policies of the Chesapeake Bay region. It is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the difficult fight to protect the bay.

Pelton brings a clear-eyed analysis to what has worked, and not worked, in our decades-long effort to save the bay. This book is destined to enter the canon of Chesapeake Bay literature. It is a worthy successor to Tom Horton’s classic Turning the Tide.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
280
ISBN
9781421424750
Illustration Description
16 color photos, 1 map
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Waters
Susquehanna River
Gunpowder River
Corsica River
Patuxent River
Potomac River
James River
Southern Bay
2. The People
Harry Hughes
Parris Glendening
John Griffin
Bonnie Bick

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Waters
Susquehanna River
Gunpowder River
Corsica River
Patuxent River
Potomac River
James River
Southern Bay
2. The People
Harry Hughes
Parris Glendening
John Griffin
Bonnie Bick
Michael Beer
Carole Morison
Ooker Eskridge
3. The Wildlife
Oysters
Dermo and MSX
Blue Crabs
Striped Bass
American Eels
Sturgeon
4. The Policies
Enforcement
Pennsylvania
Air Pollution versus Water Pollution
Agriculture
Climate Change
Advocacy and Pollution Trading
Accountability
Conclusion
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Tom Pelton

Tom Pelton is the host of the public radio program The Environment in Focus. A former staff reporter for the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune, he has also written for the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Harvard Magazine, and other publications.