Conference at Hood College: Growth and the Future of the Chesapeake Bay (Jan. 13-14)

We’ve all seen it: The patch of woods lost for a new house, a meadow plowed under to help feed a growing population, the bottom of a once-clear stream filled with silt which turns the water muddy every time it rains.

hoodaerial300Certainly, zoning and runoff controls can slow the rate of decline, but the constant drip of new development nips away at watershed health even in areas with good zoning as remaining open spaces and habitat are lost — just at a slower pace.

Is our future one of managing the rate of ecosystem decline, or are there alternatives to seemingly unrelenting growth?

To learn of some options from some of the world’s experts, attend our upcoming conference, Growth and the Future of the Chesapeake Bay, Jan. 13-14 at Hood College in Frederick, MD.

The pressure of growing population, and the unrelenting land conversion and development associated with it, have been recognized as a threat to the Chesapeake since the earliest days of the state-federal Bay Program. The 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement noted that “there is a clear correlation between population growth and associated development and environmental degradation in the Chesapeake Bay system.”

More recently, the National Research Council noted in a 2011 report about the Bay: “If population, land development, and reliance on private septic systems continue to grow, the challenges of reducing nutrients and sediment entering the Bay will continue to grow. Simply managing development that comes with population growth may not be sufficient to meet water quality goals.”

“Unmanaged new growth has the potential to erase any progress made in Bay improvements.”
– From a 1988 report by the Chesapeake Bay Program 
Population Growth and Development in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to the Year 2020

Today, Management Strategies written to achieve goals of the new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement need to account for factors that may hinder goal achievement, including growth.

The conference is sponsored by the Bay Journal, the Chesapeake Research Consortium, the Hood College Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies, and the
Town Creek Foundation.

We accept the impacts of growth as unavoidable consequences from the perceived economic benefits of growth — and because we can’t figure out what to do about it other than mitigate impacts to the best of our ability. But we never fully eliminate those impacts. Perhaps that Band-Aid approach is the best we can do in the short term. But projected over decades, these cumulative impacts are anything but sustainable.

Are there better ways to account for the full impact of growth? Are there alternatives to never-ending growth? Is it possible to transition to a lower impact, steady-state economy and population over time?

The upcoming conference seeks to start this dialogue and will promote discussions about the full impact of growth and potential alternative paths forward. It is ideal for people who are interested in considering future options, for academics interested in incorporating these ideas into curriculums, and for citizens and policy makes who want to begin new and different discussions about the growth on the future environment.

Registration is just $100 ($25 for students).

For information, a draft agenda, and a link to the online registration page, visit the conference website.

You can register online.

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