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Homegrown Underwater Grass To Replenish Potomac

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Volunteers have been busy this spring growing grass — not on their front yards, but in their homes.

It's not grass for lawns, it's underwater grass. People grow it in tubs, in bowls, in trays on window sills and under lights.

On Wednesday afternoon, these volunteers will join scientists with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to plant the grass sprouts in the Potomac River at Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County. The point of all this is to try to restore the bay's grass beds — they oxygenate the water, reduce erosion, and provide food and shelter for fish, shellfish, crabs, and waterfowl.

Once upon a time there were 400,000 acres of underwater grasses in the bay, but now only 20 percent of that remains. Cloudy, polluted water and major storms have wiped many grass beds out.

In 2011 surveyors found the lowest grass coverage in 5 years.

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