The Potomac River is healthier than it’s been in decades, according to an annual state-of-the-river report that notes steady improvements across a range of environmental indicators, from water quality to wildlife growth to recreational uses.
The river report card, issued Tuesday by the Potomac Conservancy, awarded the waterway its first B, a grade based on declining pollution levels, the return of bald eagles and other native species, and the expansion of protected forests up and down a watershed stretching across more than 14,000 square miles.
It was the advocacy group’s highest rating in its 10 years of monitoring river conditions, up from a B-minus last year and a D in 2011. One biologist working with the group declared a new “golden age” of eagles, osprey and other waterfowl thriving within the tidal reach of the Chesapeake Bay, which includes the Potomac up to Washington.
“The comeback from where the river was just 10 years ago has been tremendous,” Potomac Conservancy President Hedrick Belin said in an interview. He cited decades of recovery initiatives — including waste-treatment upgrades and agricultural-pollution controls — that may be nearing an ecological tipping point.
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