Do not go gently into that black abyss of Chesapeake Bay monitoring cuts

Bill Dennison ·
9 July 2013
Applying Science | 

At the June Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting and at the Science and Technical Analysis and Reporting (STAR) meeting, we were presented with the scenarios of a $1.1-1.2 million dollar cut to the Chesapeake Bay monitoring program. This would be a nearly 25% reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for the tidal and non-tidal monitoring. This monitoring program, which has been occurring continuously since ca. 1986, provides the scientific underpinning of the restoration of Chesapeake Bay.

Monitoring stations and activities
Map of monitoring stations in Chesapeake Bay (left) and researchers monitoring water quality of Chesapeake Bay (right).

Needless to say, these proposed cuts have raised a considerable amount of concern within the scientific community. The various budget constraints that the EPA-led Chesapeake Bay Program is facing will undoubtedly mean some trimming and adjustments of the monitoring program. However, the magnitude of cuts currently proposed is worthy of some degree of outrage, bringing to mind the Dylan Thomas poem "Do not go gently into that good night". This prompted me to adapt his poem to the following version:

Monitoring in Chesapeake Bay
Water quality monitoring at a station in the Chesapeake Bay.

Do not go gentle into that black abyss

Bill Dennison

Do not go gentle into that black abyss

Scientists should burn and rave at the budget cuts

Rage, rage against the data that they will miss


Though wise men everywhere know monitoring is right

Because it keeps them from thinking in ruts

Do not go gentle into that black night


Good men, the data trends right, noting how bright

Their insights gleaned for Chesapeake Bay

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Watermen who caught oysters and crabs in the light

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Chesapeake Bay, once near death, needs people with blinding sight

Blind eyes should blaze like meteors on their way

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my EPA, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce support, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Lab work for Chesapeake Bay
Testing water quality for Chesapeake Bay in a lab.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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