National Geographic : 2005 Jun
we pursue our goals aggressively. Paddling down the Patuxent last summer, reflecting on the slow progress of voluntary clean up, I began to think the best recourse now is to heed the advice Bernie Fowler got years ago from a mentor: "Sue the bastards." At least two envi ronmental groups have recently taken legal action against polluters and enforcement agen cies. But no amount of lawsuits can be expected to turn the water-quality clock back half a cen tury if more than a million people are added to the region every decade. Controlling growth may be a national issue, but what better place to be gin than in the bay's watershed, where the U.S. government resides? Do we have the will to restore the Chesapeake? Public support often seems like the estuary it self, impressively broad but deceptively shallow. Walter Boynton, the Patuxent scientist, recalls how when he arrived on the Chesapeake nearly 40 years ago, oysters were "an essential food, part of the culture-and now they're an hors d'oeuvre. I wonder if the bay has become like that for many people, from being essential to an hors d'oeuvre." I only hope he's wrong. As Fran Flanigan, who organized the original bay restoration summit meeting in 1983, said in a recent speech, "Ulti mately we're confronted with a question of values, which no amount of money can fix." 0 WHAT WILL IT TAKE? Will billions of dollars be enough to clean up Chesapeake Bay? Share your thoughts in a forum, then listen to a Tangier Island waterman describe a vanishing way of life, or zoom in on a high-resolution map of the bay at nationalgeographic.com/magazine/0506. impressively broad but deceptively shallow.