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Growth Of Underwater Grass Shows Bay's Health Is Improving

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Chesapeake Bay's health is improving, as a record amount of underwater grasses are being reported.

It's a positive sign for the bay's ecosystem.

The growth of underwater grass beds are above their restoration target, an important indicator measuring the bay's health.

A recent survey measured more than 97,000 acres of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay.

This measurement is one year ahead of schedule for the bay restoration program.

"I think we are finally seeing the payoff. The habitat respond, the environment respond," said biologist Brooke Landry.

In 1984, researchers reported a decline in underwater grasses caused by nutrient and sediment pollution.

In an effort to increase the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), the bay program created a strategy dedicated to the waters' protection and restoration.

Recent reports show strong signs of a comeback.

"They were flourishing throughout the bay system, and this is evidence that the Chesapeake clean water blueprint is working," said Alison Prost, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The rise in underwater grass is critical to the bay's ecosystem.

"Good indicator that pollution loads are going down," Prost said. "These grasses need clean water to flourish and they help clean the water once they are in place."

The SAV also reduces shoreline erosion and sustains a vital food source.

"They provide food and habitat for fish and shellfish, and shelter so predators can hide, and provide food for migrating waterfowl," Landry said.

Bay researchers are aiming to achieve 100,000 acres of underwater grass by next year.

These latest bay findings show a 10 percent increase in underwater grasses from 2015.

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