Bald eagles in Maryland: 25-year trend of healthy growth

Same trend data as yesterday, but in graphical format:

Occupied bald eagle nests in Maryland, 1979-2004
'79 ]]]]] -- 51
'84 ]]]]]]  -- 60
'89 ]]]]]]]]]] -- 97
'94 ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] -- 157
'99 ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] -- 260
'04 ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] -- 383

Bald eagles in Maryland -- where they are

My brother-in-law hasn't lived in Maryland for many years, so he was very surprised to see a bald eagle here a day or two ago.

By DNR's count, there are 383 occupied nests in Maryland now, up from 41 in 1977. You're most likely to see them near the water in Dorchester, Charles, or Harford Counties.

Occupied bald eagle nests in Md. by county (2004)
]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] - Dorchester - 84
]]]]]]]]]]]]] - Charles - 53
]]]]]]]]] - Harford - 36
]]]]]]] - Kent - 28
]]]]]] - Queen Anne's - 25
]]]]]] - Talbot - 25
]]]]]] - Somerset - 23
]]]]] - St. Mary's - 22
]]]] - Cecil - 17
]]]] - Wicomico - 16
]]]] - Worcester - 15
]] - Calvert - 8
]] - Anne Arundel - 7
]] - Balto Co. - 6
]] - Prince George's - 6
] - Caroline -2
Balto. City - 1
Carroll - 1
Frederick - 1
Howard - 1
Montgomery - 1
Allegeny - 0
Garrett - 0
Washington - 0

Unintended consequences? How zoning & green regs may restrict education options

Bahaa Seireg and Lisa Snell see an interesting connection, summarized by Peter Gordon:

[There are] "four goliaths" that stand in the way [of opening new private schools]: the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), zoning laws, parking requirements and building codes are identified as major obstacles.

Seireg & Snell's study is called Addition and Subtraction: State and Local Obstacles to Opening a New Private School.

New & improved BaySense

The posts here on BaySense can jump abruptly from topic to topic. It is a blog after all.

But for those of you who like continuity, take a look at the new categories on the left sidebar.

Click any of the category links to see all BaySense posts on that topic. You'll be able to trace some of the major themes of the site. For example:

Although the old URL will still work, the new one is shorter:

Stay tuned for more changes.

Land trusts: the story behind the story

Here's Pat Burns' new blog on land trusts: Nature Noted. I like the premise:

There's an overwhelming amount of what could be called "face to the world" information about [land] trusts. But being an old TV guy, I also like to know the rest of the story. So I'm going to explore what's going on below the surface as best as I can, while sitting on the outside.

Back in Balto

Just got back from a great trip to Boston. Will resume posting soon.

New categories for BaySense posts

I've grouped most of my posts for the past year (about 80% so far) into a new set of category links on the left sidebar.


Still a bit of a work in progress. Interesting to see the patterns in what I've been writing about.

Dan Esty gets it: "Environmental protection in the information age"

In this terrific article*, Daniel Esty seems optimistic that new information technologies are poised to drive big changes in our system of environmental regulation: changes in laws, changes in enforcement practices, and changes in institutional structures.

Esty, a professor of law & forestry at Yale and former deputy administrator at EPA, is verrrrry thorough. His analysis brings to mind McKinsey's MECE technique, which I wrote about earlier.

*NYU Law Review, April 2004, p. 115.

(via The Commons)

"The rise of the green building" -- "Gherkin" might save 25-50% on energy

The Gherkin is the popular name for London's new landmark, the Swiss Re Tower. I love the address: 30 St. Mary Axe.

The Economist has some interesting numbers on the Gherkin and other green buildings in this three-page article:

In America, buildings account for 65% of electricity consumption, 36% of total energy use and 30% of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Among the benefits of green office buildings: natural lighting seems to increase productivity:

Lockheed Martin ... found that absenteeism fell by 15% after it moved 2,500 employees into a new green building in Sunnyvale, California.

A consultant claims that natural lighting in green buildings can boost store sales and classroom performance of students:

The Heschong Mahone Group, a California-based consultancy that specialises in energy-efficient building technologies, found that sales were as much as 40% higher in stores lit with skylights. It also found that students in naturally lit classrooms performed up to 20% better.

The Freedom Tower, to be built on the site of the World Trade Center in NYC, will be a green building:

The main tower ... will include solar panels and a wind farm, the turbines of which are expected to deliver ... up to 20% of the building's expected [power] demand. Like other green buildings, it will rely on natural light and ventilation, and energy-efficient lighting.

A suggestion for Patricia Pomerleau at CEOExpress: RealEstateExpress

PART 2. I hope that Patricia will build another reference website -- modeled after the marvelous ones she's already built* -- aimed at everyone in and around the real estate development business, including land conservationists.

It might be called something like "RealEstateExpress" or "DeveloperExpress".

The audience: developers, builders, architects, regulators, the public, and anyone else who participates in the development process, including environmentalists and land conservationists.

Along with other innovations like charrettes, a site like RealEstateExpress could help developers & conservationists understand each other better and work out better ways of developing -- and preserving -- land.


David Brudnoy 1940-2004 -- Boston radio icon


I always admired David Brudnoy's unflinching ability to raise controversial topics and keep the discussion original, interesting, civil, smart and productive. From the Globe:

Few others in radio or TV, [former B.U. president John] Silber said, could match Mr. Brudnoy's capacity for self-effacement and intellect.

Brudnoy's former producer, political analyst Jon Keller:

"[David Brudnoy had] intelligence of a special sort, a very American sort: open and robust, not pinched and elitist. It was accessible to both the graduate student and the firefighter in Grove Hall.

How to do radio:

The one concession Mr. Brudnoy made to health concerns was to start broadcasting from his Back Bay home. "I like to make my guests feel as comfortable as possible," he said in a 2000 Globe interview, "so I let them smoke and I make them mixed drinks.

The Economist touts Charles Clover's book on "fish mining"

In its "best books of 2004" issue, the Economist reviews Clover's new one, The End of the Line: How Over-Fishing is Changing the World and What We Eat.

The book depicts ineffective monitoring agencies:

Umpteen international agencies busy themselves with monitoring, suggesting and complaining, but to little avail. Politicians in rich countries yield spinelessly to the short-term interests of fishermen, who can still tweak the sympathies of other voters in a way that even farmers cannot. And consumers are resolutely uninterested.

Clover's recommendations:

Yet some fishery policies have been shown to work, especially in Iceland. Mr Clover suggests independent management, long-term transferable quotas, marine reserves and, above all, far greater openness, ideally with the help of satellites and the internet, to reveal what every boat is doing.

To see the Economist's other book picks, go here.

Tony Blair promised to cut greenhouse gases, comes up short

The News.Telegraph:

Labour has failed to make any impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions since coming to power in 1997, despite it becoming a cornerstone of Tony Blair's policy.

Andrew Sullivan's reaction:

Reducing greenhouse gases was a cast-iron pledge from Tony Blair's government in the two elections he has won. But there's been no change in seven years. And Blair is preaching to the rest of the world on this?

Two Cultures, the sequel: Developers & land conservationists

PART 1. In Hunt Valley last week, I went to a legislative breakfast on land preservation that brought to mind The Two Cultures, C.P. Snow's famous book. The gist of the book:

[the] breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities (the "two cultures" of the title) [has been] a major hindrance to solving the world's problems.

Conservation and development are like yin and yang -- you can't really do or even talk about one without considering the other. What struck me about the breakfast: of two or three hundred people talking about land preservation, there wasn't a single developer in the room, at least that I was aware of.

It seems to me that conservationists and developers don't seem to understand each other well enough. They seem to view each other as adversaries to be tolerated and kept at a distance.

Developers and conservationists need to understand and work with each other.

How can we get to that end? One way is charrettes.

Scientist explains glut of left-handed architects


Slashdot Science discusses breakthrough in sinister research:

lefties have probably been around much longer than believed at least 5 million years ... evolution has purposely kept them.

Righty William Hopkins admits:

"Being left-handed must confer some advantages," [...] "There must be a reason they have hung around so long."

His theory:

Lefties are likely to have better spatial memories [...] "Maybe they're better at navigating," he said. "With chimps, maybe they're better at remembering where that really ripe fruit is."

Me, I'm a lefty.

UPDATE: More lefty science.

Michael Crichton in Parade: "Let's stop scaring ourselves"

He writes about "the truth behind four predictions of doom": Y2K, power lines, killer bees, and saccharine.

After December 13, the articles will be available in the Parade archives, here.

If Jim Smith's Renaissance bill passes, "charrettes" will come to Baltimore County

The Sun has a good article by Lisa Goldberg today on charrettes and Baltimore County's Renaissance Redevelopment pilot program:

The idea of a charrette: Create a blank slate for a piece of property, then put developers, government officials and residents in a room together to pitch ideas, hash out their differences and come up with a plan they can agree on. By law, what the group says goes.

Since I ran this type of meeting professionally for years and taught others how to run them, I know a good deal about the ins and outs.

As with all tools & programs, there will be a few bumps in the road and the county will need to make some adjustments. But I suspect that charrettes -- and the whole Renaissance process -- are the right tools in the right place at the right time.

More from Goldberg's article (which I'll continue to write about in the next few days):

backers say they believe the plan will simplify and quicken the development process while ensuring that residents have a say in what gets built in their communities. County Executive James T. Smith Jr., who has made it his signature legislative proposal, said he believes it will help foster redevelopment of the county's more urban, aging districts.

Some people have concerns:

[some] worry that the process would favor developers over residents or that it fails to address real world obstacles to revitalization, including the extra costs of creating something new on old sites.

The Renaissance/charrette process may be the best path to getting well-designed mixed-use development:

Under the legislation, for example, land tagged for residential use could be used for offices or shops or a combination of all of the above so long as the community buys into the project. The bill requires a "consensus" - defined as at least 80 percent of community members who participate in the charrette.

Some history:

Baltimore County's legislation has been parsed, debated and rewritten since Smith introduced it in November 2003. Revitalization of the county's older areas had been a platform of his 2002 campaign for the executive's seat, and Smith translated the concept into his first major legislative proposal.

An initial concern:

[The first version of the legislation] quickly ran into opposition from community members who initially said they were concerned that the government would be giving too much away to developers.

Another concern swung in the opposite direction:

Later, some said they worried there would be too few incentives to encourage developers to take part.

Another concern that is important but resolvable:

Some community activists [wonder] whether developers will find ways to pack the charrette with sympathizers and skew the result.

One more issue:

The plan appears geared toward larger projects, leaving out the small-business man, said Donna Spicer, executive director of the Loch Raven Business Association and the Loch Raven Community Council.

This is a legitimate concern, but based on my experience, I know that it's possible make charrettes work for small projects.

Councilman Kevin Kaminetz (District 2) is supportive, but also a bit skeptical:

But the bill does not address issues that can prevent redevelopment, said Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat

It offers no new incentives to developers, beyond the ability to bypass the traditional process, and one of the larger problems in older areas is that the lots are small and shallow, he said. Larger projects often come with costly negotiating with several property owners to amass land, he said.

"The real issue is developers need incentives to locate in distressed areas, and the bill has nothing to do with that," Kamenetz said. Nonetheless, he plans to vote for the bill because it is another "option" developers can use, he said, "and if it works, I'll be pleasantly surprised."

Another plus for Renaissance: it' an alternative to the often controversial process of condemnation:

In Montgomery, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan used the county's condemnation powers to acquire land for a 22-acre mixed-use project. But in Baltimore County, where a proposal to use condemnation for redevelopment in some communities was shot down at the polls, the concept is a political no-no.

"Condemnation is not on the table," Smith said. "The voters have spoken loud and clear and recently."

More to come.

Oregon's prescriptive sprawl regs crumble; Md's incentive-based regs more durable

From the Baltimore Sun:

Last month [...] Oregon's [...] voters [...] approved a ballot initiative [by a 61-39% margin] entitling landowners to be compensated if any environmental or zoning regulations reduced the value of their property or to get an exemption from those rules.

Known as Measure 37, it takes effect today.
The ultimate cost is uncertain:
No one knows how many property owners might be eligible to file claims under the measure that takes effect today and applies retroactively.
Planners have been watching developments in Oregon closely:

Gerrit Knaap, director of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland [said,] "If this happens in Oregon, it strikes fear into planners everywhere."

The Sun article explains how Maryland's anti-sprawl approach is different:

[Maryland does] not impose statewide zoning restrictions, as Oregon does. Instead, the state attempts to discourage sprawl by directing funds for roads, sewers and other infrastructure to existing communities.

Water-monitoring trailblazers: Lewis & Clark

The data they collected on the Missouri River helps modern-day scientists assess long-term trends:

The oldest data available on the Missouri River from the logs of Lewis and Clark shows that water flow on the river today is far more variable than it was 200 years ago.

The data also shows that the river today, at 500 yards across, is 220 yards narrower at St. Charles, Mo., than it was in 1804.

Since contruction of wing dikes and levees (mostly done after WWI) and building of 6 main-flow reservoirs, we see the following conditions:

a deeper river that is flooding more often in recent years...

because of restrictions that have made the river width narrower [...there has been] a 4- to 9-foot increase in flood stages along the lower Missouri River.

Conclusion of the Washington University scientists:

"flow regulation by main stem reservoirs and numerous others on tributaries does not fully offset the large increases in flood stages and greater stage variability that are caused by channel restriction and development in the lower basin."

Water conservation: Arizona hotel picks low-hanging fruit

The Pointe South Mountain Resort hotel in Scottsdale put this card on Tom Peters' bed:

"You're Invited to Help Arizona Conserve Water. ... In an effort to further Arizona's water conservation program, we will be changing your bed linen every third day."

Peters notes:

Only 1 in 20 hotels I visit do this. Too bad ...

CBF "State of the Bay" report gets failing grade in graphic design

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released its State of the Bay report today. Every year, as part of this report, the CBF calculates an overall health index for the Bay based on 13 sub-indices.

The indices are great. But each year, instead of publishing historical trends for the indices, CBF puts out poorly designed graphics like this.

If they don't publish the trends, why does the CBF even bother to calculate the indices each year?

Context for sprawl: transit milestones, car registrations, zoning

1870 - 1st Manhattan elevated train line opens
1883 - Brooklyn Bridge opens w/cable rail svc.
1894 - 1st mainline rail electrification (Balto. MD)
1904 - 1st NYC subway opens (IRT)
1910 - 0.5M cars in US*
1916 - 1st fed. aid for hwy. construction
1916 - NYC "comprehensive" zoning regs (1st in US)
1918 - Horses/mules for transp. = 26M (US peak)
1920 - ]] - 8.1M cars in US*
1930 - ]]]]] - 23M cars in US*
1940 - Penn. Turnpike opens 1st major segment
1940 - ]]]]] - 27M cars in US*
1950 - ]]]]]]]] - 40M cars in US*
1956 - $25B fed. funds for Interstate hwy. syst.
1960 - ]]]]]]]]]]]] - 62M cars in US*
1970 - ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] - 89M cars in US*
1972 - BART rail system opens in S.F.
1976 - Subway opens in Washington, DC
1980 - ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] - 122M cars in US*
1990 - ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] - 144M cars in US*
1993 - Subway opens in L.A.

*total registered cars

Auto registration numbers are from the World Bookencyclopedia. Other items are from Owen Gutfreund's 20th Century Sprawl or the web.

Sprawl: is it a problem or a symptom?

This Towson Times article about Christopher Leinberger got me thinking about Smart Growthers. They tend to talk about sprawl as if it's the fundamental problem, but I suspect it's just a symptom.

It seems to me that the real problem is our 20th-century habit of overdoing the segregation of residential & commercial development through overuse of single-purpose zoning.

More from the article:
"We developed our cities based on the car and the truck, with malls on the outskirts," [Leinberger] said.

[...] community leaders play an unwitting role in promoting sprawl by fighting for zoning changes that push residential and businesses uses farther and farther apart.

[Post-automobile] zoning "favors [separation of] residential [areas from] commercial area[s]," said Jeff Long, deputy director of the [Baltimore County] Office of Planning. "That's [...] why we have to get in a car to get a loaf of bread."

Wild turkey high-tech free-for-all: farmers, talk radio guys & biology geeks

[Made-me-laugh Department, Thanksgiving division.]

Tom Pelton of the Baltimore Sun must have had fun writing this:

In their guerrilla war with insurgent wild turkey populations in Maryland and elsewhere, grape growers have deployed falcons, shotguns, dogs, tape-recorded turkey distress calls, flashing lights and balloons shaped to look like hawks.

But one farmer thinks he has a better weapon:

blaring AM talk radio programs from speakers set up among his vines - especially on moonless nights, when the turkeys hit the grapes like drunken sailors.

"I cannot guarantee it will work with easy-listening music ... but [...] talk radio seems to drive every wild animal insane,"

A talk radio host responds:

"They've got to be left-wing turkeys," said Don Kroah, [of] WAVA 105.1-FM in Baltimore and Washington.

Geek biologists enter the fray:

After hearing complaints about turkeys, [Brian McGowan, a biologist at Purdue University] spent hundreds of hours prowling fields at night wielding video cameras with night-vision technology. He also strapped tiny backpacks to turkeys and used radio transmitters with global positioning systems to monitor their movements.

His time-lapse videotapes show that most of the crop damage blamed on wild turkeys is caused by raccoons and deer


There's also mention of rocket-powered turkey nets.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark Twang reveals TIME magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2004

[Made-me-laugh Department]

TIME usually succeeds in keeping the Person of the Year under wraps until the official announcement, but somehow Mark got the early scoop.

Looks like Andrew Sullivan was wrong.

RFF's free-market twist on fuel economy regs: make MPG standards tradable

The basic idea from Resources for the Future:

if one car company's vehicles did better than the standards, it could sell the credits to car companies whose vehicles fell short.

Why trading?

The emission-trading regime worked incredibly well for acid rain.

[trading] allow[s] individuals, not government officials, to be the ones who make the decisions about environmental priorities.

Emissions trading also has promise for solving the greenhouse gas problem. Here's how RFF would do it:

[Create] a pilot program [to] place a five dollar-per-ton charge on carbon emissions. All companies, such as electric utilities, that emit carbon dioxide would pay five dollars per ton, while companies that sell fossil fuels to individuals, such as gasoline retailers, would factor the charge into consumer prices. Every carbon-emitting corporation would get a maximum level--a "cap."

Incentives are the key:

Right now, no one is working on technology to limit greenhouse gas emissions because there is no economic incentive to do so. Experience teaches that once there is an economic incentive, human beings prove to be spectacularly ingenious.

RFF has another good idea, a safety valve to limit the downside of trading:

if economic harm is detected, the program stops.

[Quotes are from Gregg Easterbrook's excellent article -- read the whole thing --that summarizes RFF's latest recommendations on energy & environmental policy.]

Panel: current Chesapeake Bay funding "insufficiently prioritized & directed"

The report of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel came out last month. Their first conclusion (p. 4):

current funding does not begin to meet the financing needs for restoring Bay water quality by 2010. What funding is available remains insufficiently prioritized and directed.

The panel came to an "early and strong consensus" on one matter (p. 5):

simply improving existing programs alone will provide too little and take too long to restore Bay water quality by 2010. Something more substantive and dramatic will be required.

Their main recommendation:

create a Chesapeake Bay Financing Authority, capitalized by the federal and state governments, with the capacity to make loans and grants.

The focus of the Authority would be to

direct funds toward efforts deemed the most effective, efficient and innovative, regardless of geography ... unleash innovation and efficiency through competition.

How to find obscure journal articles on environmental science, policy or economics

Try the Google Scholar beta.  Lynne Kiesling seems to like it a lot:

Yee hah! This is a happy day, particularly if you work in an interdisciplinary research field like I do.

Here's a FAQ, which describes how simple it is to find a specific article:

Start with the last name of the article's first author, then add several title words as a phrase in quotes.

Dr. Wolman's book pick: "Water facts for the nation's future"

Gordon "Reds" Wolman gave an excellent talk today at the Maryland Water Monitoring Council's meeting in Linthicum, MD.

He seemed to like this book a lot:

Water facts for the nation's future: Uses and benefits of hydrologic data programs,
by Walter Langbein and William Hoyt, 1959.

Sounds like this might be one of those older books that's still worth reading.

Mixed-use development: Leinberger's "12 steps to revitalizing a downtown"

Christopher Leinberger is one of those rare people who can talk convincingly to both business people and environmentalists. He's worth listening to.

He gave a talk last night in Towson on financing mixed-use real estate development. Here are his 12 steps:

#1: Memory and Vision
#2: Strategic & Implementation Planning
#3: Determining the Appropriate Public Sector Roles
#4: Making the Right Thing Easy
#5: Business Improvement Districts and Other Non-Profits
#6: Creating a Catalytic Development Company

Implementation of the real estate strategy:

#7: Urban Entertainment
#8: Rental Housing
#9: Affordability [Housing]
#10: For-Sale Housing
#11: Local-Serving Retail
#12: Office Employment

Much of the talk was about the revitalization of Albuquerque, NM. Here's the report that came out of Albuquerque's charette process.

Other places he talked about: Seaside, Florida (Robert Davis) and Pasadena, California.

More of his articles here.

UPDATE: Timothy Wheeler writes about Leinberger in today's Sun.

Groundwater flow into broken sewer pipes causes dumping into Nanticoke tributary


Workers in Laurel have pumped more than 5.6 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into [Delaware's] Broad Creek since Saturday under an emergency permit [Delaware] state officials said was approved to head off the collapse of an aging sewage lagoon.

One of the causes:

Leaks can increase the flow in broken sewer pipes or collection tanks when they are in soils saturated with groundwater [...]

"We're trying to correct a flow problem into the plant, which we discovered about three weeks ago and we've been troubleshooting," Steckman said. "The plant's been taking on water, and we're not sure where it's coming in."

Part of the solution:

Many large sewage-treatment systems, including Kent County and the City of Wilmington, have systematic "inflow and infiltration" detection programs aimed at reducing sewage-treatment costs.

Balto area 'State of our Watersheds' conference this Saturday -- I'll be there

I'll be facilitating a discussion session on the Jones Falls watershed at 1:00 pm. As of today, the panel will include:

When & where:

Saturday, November 20, 2004
8:00 AM (or 8:30) AM to 2:30 PM
College of Notre Dame
4701 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD

The conference is free, but space is limited. I think you can still register at the Baltimore County website.

How will 'rural sourcing' affect thinking on sprawl & smart growth?

'Revenge of the Hicks' part II: Crumbtrail's back40 suspects that politicians, programmers, and corporate PR folks will be enthusiastic about 'rural sourcing' of high-tech jobs.

He points to an article about a new company called Rural Sourcing, Inc:

"I believe in the people of rural America. I'm one of them," [said president Kathy  White.] "I think we'll shock a lot of people because we're going to be really good and low-cost. And we're going to be bigger than anyone imagines today."

My thought: if rural sourcing becomes a hit, we'll have to adjust how we think about sprawl and how we structure smart growth programs.

UPDATE: The Economist just published a survey of outsourcing.