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Kathy Somoza-Garcia

Chesapeake Bay Trust Awards – Fiscal Year 2021

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The Chesapeake Bay Trust (Trust) has awarded over $130 million through more than 14,000 awards to ensure cleaner, greener, healthier Chesapeake, Coastal Bays, and Youghiogheny watersheds since 1985. The Trust has a rigorous grant review process: every proposal submitted over $5,000 is sent to members of a Technical Review Committee (TRC) and is reviewed and scored quantitatively by at least three external individuals who are experts in their fields. The Board of Trustees meets 4 times per year to review and approve all TRC recommended proposals. Proposals for $5,000 or less are reviewed by two or more technical experts on the Chesapeake Bay Trust program team. The award list will be updated after each board meeting. Reach out to the designated program officer for more details.

September 2020

Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection

The goal of this program is to implement cost-effective reforestation and greening projects and increase the number of acres of protected forested land in the County. For information about this grant program click here.

Scenic Rivers Land Trust: for the protection of 27 acres of existing forest with a permanent conservation easement and the reforestation and protection of 1.5 acres on Bodkin Creek property in Pasadena, Maryland. $175,296.

Community Engagement and Restoration Mini Grants

This program is designed to engage Maryland residents in activities that enhance communities, engage residents, and improve natural resources by funding small-scale activities such as tree plantings, rain gardens, and community cleanups, among others. For information about this grant program click here.

Blue Water Baltimore: for the creation of a short video regarding green infrastructure and how residents can participate in reducing stormwater runoff in their communities. $5,000.

Christian Liberty Church: for a community clean-up event and installation of a mural connecting faith, clean water, and environmental stewardship. $5,000.

Gwynn Oak United Methodist Church: for the installation of a native plant garden, a native tree, and three rain barrels and a workshop regarding the importance of native plants and water harvesting for capturing and treating stormwater. $5,000.

Project Bright Future: for a series of workshops about community health and ways to reduce stormwater runoff and four community clean-up events. $4,985.

Saint Elizabeth School, Inc.: for the installation of two cisterns and pumps to control runoff from horticultural building and hands-on learning experiences. $3,807.

Saint Matthias Catholic Church: for a series of lectures on the importance of trees and their connection to watershed health and for a park clean-up and field trip to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary with congregation members. $5,000.

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church: for a native plant and shrub planting, community garden installation, and educational activities on the topics of natural resource and water quality challenges. $4,977.

Stillmeadow Community Fellowship: for the installation of four 150-gallon cisterns to capture stormwater runoff from the church roof and for educational workshops regarding stormwater impacts to local waterways and how communities can install and maintain individual, residential rain barrels. $4,999.

Tilghman on Chesapeake Community Association: for the installation of 21 native trees on a 2-acre non-tidal wetland site and educational activities regarding watershed health and water quality topics. $3,969.

Environmental Education Mini Grants

This program is designed to increase student awareness and involvement in the restoration and protection of our region’s natural resources by increasing access to programs that provide Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). For information about this grant program click here.

Alice Ferguson Foundation: for 25 third through eighth grade teachers in Prince George’s, Charles, and Allegany Counties to participate in a professional development training focused on Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences. $5,000.

Bethesda Green: for 12 eleventh and twelfth grade students from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Walt Whitman High School and Walter Johnson High School to participate in an Environmental Leadership Program. $5,000.

Dance Exchange: for 15 kindergarten through fifth grade teachers to participate in a professional development training focused on MWEEs and arts integration. $5,000.

Eastport Elementary PTA: for the installation of an outdoor classroom at Eastport Elementary School. $4,938.

Fenix Youth Project: for 25 students in Salisbury, Maryland to participate in an outdoor investigation and install a mural. $4,998.

Graceland Park O’Donnell Heights Elementary/ Middle School: for 240 fourth through eighth grade students to participate in a field experience and complete an action project in their community. $4,570.

Grasonville Elementary School: for 88 fourth grade students to research, design, and plant a rain garden on the school grounds. $4,462.

Howard County Conservancy, Inc.: for 9th graders from Howard County Public Schools to participate in the Watershed Report Card MWEE. $4,989.

Immaculate Conception School: for 108 fourth and fifth grade students to investigate local issues that impact the Jones Falls watershed and its tributaries through classroom research and field trips to local tributaries and to participate in an action project which reduces pollution entering the local watershed.  $5,000.

Lesley and Evelyn Holmes Foundation: for 5 students in nineth through twelfth grade to participate in a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. $1,162.

Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE): for 60 teachers to participate in a professional development training focused on outdoor classroom use. $5,000.

One Montgomery Green: for 40 high school students to participate in the Clean Headwaters Program. $5,000.

Ridge Elementary School: for 112 third through fifth grade students to participate in the installation of an outdoor classroom. $5,000.

Talbot County Public Schools: for 354 sixth grade students to participate in an investigation focused on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and to complete a planting at Pickering Creek. $5,000.

November 2020

Community Engagement and Restoration Mini Grants

This program is designed to engage Maryland residents in activities that enhance communities, engage residents, and improve natural resources by funding small-scale activities such as tree plantings, rain gardens, and community cleanups, among others. For information about this grant program click here.

Havre de Grace Green Team: for the expansion of the Todd Park Food Forest and for a workshop to build knowledge on environmentally sustainable food-growing practices. $4,967.

Quail Meadow community Association, Inc.: for the installation of native plantings along the edge of the Quail Meadow community pond in Carroll County, Maryland. $4,971.

Tanglewood Homeowners Association: for the replacement of four Bradford Pear trees with 12 native trees in the Tanglewood community of Columbia and the engagement of the community in the planting and knowledge building on the ecological importance of native plants. $4,682.

4STEPS Therapeutic Riding Program: for ten special needs, at-risk teenagers and young adults to participate in a horseback reptile surveying project that includes watershed and ecological health education. $5,000.

EPA Goal Implementation Team - Environmental Education

This funding opportunity arose out of the urgent need to provide financial assistance to nonprofit environmental education providers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as their operations pivoted from place-based environmental education to virtual platforms and physically distanced schoolyard programs. For information about this program click here.

Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park: to support the adaptations and implementation of the Box of Rain and School In Nature programs. $20,000.

Blue Sky Fund: to support the adaptations and implementation of the Explorers program for third, fourth, and fifth grade students at Richmond Public Schools. $20,000.

Boxerwood Education Association: to support the NEST program for students in Rockbridge County, VA. $19,990.

ECO City Farms: to support transitioning educational offerings to virtual and into at-home kits for 3,000 Prince George’s County students. $20,000.

Friends of Peirce Mill: for support of an online program for third graders in the District of Columbia including live lessons and a virtual field trip. $7,200.

Friends of the National Arboretum: to support distribution of Grow-at-Home kits for 2,000 students and 6 safely distanced Arboretum Family Days in the U.S. National Arboretum for high-needs school communities. $19,985.

Living Classrooms Foundation: to support the adaptations and implementation of a virtual SLURRP (School Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Project) program for fourth and fifth grade students in South Baltimore. $19,998.

Stroud Water Research Center: to support the adaptation and implementation of virtual Environmental Education programs, and the creation of a Pennsylvania Watershed Literacy and Resources website. $14,442.

Ward Foundation: to enable the Ward Museum to continue serving regional children and teachers via new socially distanced, virtual, and hybrid programs. $17,785.

Outreach and Restoration

This program encourages outreach and community engagement activities that increase stewardship ethic of natural resources and on-the-ground restoration activities that demonstrate restoration techniques and engage Maryland citizens in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. For information about this grant program click here.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: for an 11-acre reforestation project in Harford County, Maryland. $49,958.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: for the conversion of agricultural land into meadow at Serenity Farm and associated outreach efforts for the development and planning of future meadow projects in Charles County. $41,777.

Anacostia Riverkeeper: for outreach to Latinx faith-based organizations to raise awareness on the health risks of local fish consumption and other relationships between environmental and human health. $25,963.

Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park: for the creation and installation of educational signage for Chesapeake Bay watershed learning stations at Annapolis Maritime Museum’s two waterfront campuses and for an eight-part series of adult programs that connect adults with the history, health, and future of the watershed. $29,209.

Asbury Foundation: for the engagement of Asbury Methodist Village residents in tree plantings and workshops designed to increase understanding of watershed health. $30,000.

Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc.: for support of the Plant it Forward program to train community members and landscape professionals about conservation landscaping and benefits of native plants in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. $30,000.

Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc.: for 80 Montgomery county community members to participate in a bilingual Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. $20,836.

Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc.: for experiences in nature for veterans through community environmental education programs along a wheelchair-accessible, streamside nature trail at 40-acre Woodend Nature Sanctuary. $10,126.

Baltimore City Department of Planning: for planting 32 trees in the Boyd-Booth community in Baltimore City, Maryland. $21,472.

Baltimore Green Space: for invasive species removal at Springfield Woods. $49,420.

Blue Water Baltimore: for planting 150 trees and associated outreach efforts in the Cherry Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. $49,999.

Blue Water Baltimore: for a pilot campaign to educate Belair-Edison and Cherry Hill residents on the causes of sewage backups, the impacts to water quality, and the resources that exist to address the issue. $30,000.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation: for wetland restoration in Kent County, Maryland. $46,068.

Civic Works, Inc.: for a certification-based stormwater management training for 12 Baltimore City residents from historically excluded communities. $30,000.

The Community Ecology Institute: for the installation of best management practices and associated outreach efforts at Freetown Farm. $75,000.

Corner Team, Inc.: for the installation and maintenance of a pollinator garden with assistance from residents and members of Corner Team Boxing & Fitness Center. $5,757.

Defensores de la Cuenca: for outreach and engagement efforts to promote environmental stewardship within the Latinx community in Charles County. $21,391.

Ducks Unlimited, Inc.: for targeted outreach and education of agricultural landowners and producers on Maryland’s eastern shore. $29,691.

Friends of the Patapsco Valley Heritage Greenway, Inc.: for outreach and engagement efforts to promote environmental stewardship within the Latinx and Korean communities in Ellicott City, Maryland. $25,000.

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park Ltd: for support for Spanish speaking staff to lead Spanish educational programming for Latinx visitors focused on watershed and natural resource topics. $16,000.

Gunpowder Riverkeeper: for support for the Clear Choices Clean Water Harford program. $15,000.

Howard County Conservancy, Inc.: for the planting of a soft edge habitat with native trees and shrubs to support greater wildlife diversity and further protect the watershed along the border of the Howard County Conservancy and the historic Mt. Pleasant Farmstead in Woodstock, Maryland. $25,130.

Howard EcoWorks: for the engagement of individual property owners and communities in restoration projects to enhance ecosystem services and strengthen the resiliency of the communities. $22,000.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC): for the training of individuals to develop green teams and produce an Action Plan for faith-based organizations located in Baltimore City, Maryland. $13,124.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC): for the development of green teams at faith-based organizations in Gaithersburg, Maryland. $12,973.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC): for the continued support of the Interfaith Green Leaders Training in Howard County. $12,000.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC): for continued Green Team Leader support of Harford County faith-based communities. $11,673.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC): for support of the Green Team Leadership Development Program to educate residents about watershed restoration and train congregation members with the goal of developing green teams in the City of Salisbury. $6,892.

Izaak Walton League of America (The): for support of the Winter Salt Watch program in Gaithersburg, Maryland. $30,923.

McDaniel College: for a forest and wetland restoration and the installation of a student-focused educational signage project at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. $35,000.

Mid-shore Community Foundation: for members of three disenfranchised communities in the Choptank watershed to participate in community meetings and site visits to identify natural resource concerns and develop community restoration plans to address issues. $16,126.

The Nature Conservancy: for field days and coaching sessions with Harford County farmers to identify and implement practices to improve their operations with advanced nutrient management and precision agriculture technologies. $29,953.

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County, Inc.: for impervious surface removal, native plantings, and rain garden installation at Flannery Lane Park in Towson, Maryland. $35,000.

Oyster Recovery Partnership, Inc.: for the Marylanders Grow Oysters program through the Oyster Recovery Partnership and its community-based partners to recruit waterfront communities and homeowners near Maryland tributaries to donate their time, effort, and dock to care for cages of juvenile oysters until they mature. $49,999.

Patterson Park Audubon Center: for the growth of the Baltimore Bird Ambassador project to reach 400 Latinx community members. $29,700.

Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center: for a bioretention and water stewardship outreach project at the Pearlstone Conference & Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland. $30,602.

Pickering Creek Audubon Center: for a residential native plant outreach and awareness project in Talbot and Dorchester Counties. $29,726.

Potomac Conservancy: for support of the Volunteer Leadership Team to recruit and train volunteer leaders to organize and lead native seed collection events in neighborhoods and public lands in Montgomery and Frederick Counties. $29,262.

ReBUILD Metro, Inc.: for the creation of the East Preston Pocket Park and to train 30 local green team leaders and volunteers in greenspace stewardship and maintenance techniques $36,775.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church: for the removal of impervious surface and replacement with permeable pavement, installation of native plantings, and associated outreach efforts at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. $64,358.

ShoreRivers: for establishing a partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anne Arundel Community College, and Washington College to restore 24 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation and to provide new hands-on volunteer opportunities to improve water quality and clarity, increase of aquatic habitat, and to help meet the Chesapeake Bay Agreement habitat restoration goal. $63,446.

ShoreRivers: for the engagement of two Eastern Shore communities in the implementation of conservation planting projects, two River-Friendly Yards workshops, and one bus tour. $31,859.

Susquehannock Wildlife Society, Inc.: for an outreach program and the development and installation of interpretive signage focused on demonstration projects and how residents can create similar elements such as pollinator meadows, rain gardens, vernal pool, and stream restoration. $5,000.

University of Maryland, College Park: for the collection and testing of harvested rainwater and an educational program for urban growers and residents focused on water quality and water conservation topics. $29,985.

University of Maryland: Environmental Finance Center: for support of the Stormwater Management Residential Action Framework and Outreach 2.0 Campaign. $29,999.

Sponsorship

This program aims to support events that will increase awareness or knowledge on issues pertaining to restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay region natural resources and/or promote the Trust’s major sources of revenue. For information about this program click here.

Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc.: for support of the third Naturally Latinos and fourth Taking Nature Black virtual conferences. $2,500.

Harford Land Trust, Inc.: for an awareness campaign to increase support for farmland preservation and to strengthen the local food supply chain in Harford County. This effort will also create a video featuring farmers and the importance of protecting the environment. $1,000.

Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers: for support of the 2020 Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers virtual conference. $1,000.

Watershed Assistance

This program supports watershed restoration project design assistance, watershed planning, and programmatic development associated with protection and restoration programs and projects that lead to improved water quality in the Maryland region. For information about this grant program click here.

Arundel Rivers Federation: for design of a stream restoration project at the Preserve at Broad Creek. $32,824.

Arundel Rivers Federation: for design of stormwater management practices at St. Mark United Methodist Church. $16,521.

Center for Watershed Protection, Inc.: for design of the FC Frederick stream restoration project. $173,926.

Central Baltimore Partnership: for design of the Union Craft wetland project. $48,127.

Chesapeake Rivers Association, Inc.: for design of the Lindamoor outfall and living shoreline restoration project. $74,837.

Churchville Presbyterian Congregation: for the design of two stormwater management practices. $13,400.

County Commissioners of Caroline County: for design of rain gardens and conservation plantings at the Jonestown Community Park. $2,850.

John Carroll School: for development of a campus greening plan and design of stormwater management practices. $92,840.

The Low Impact Development Center, Inc.: for development of a stormwater master plan for the Town of Cheverly, Maryland. $50,000.

Maryland Coastal Bays Program: for development of a watershed action plan for the Newport, Sinepuxent, and Chincoteague Bays sub-watersheds. $73,070.

ShoreRivers: for the design and permitting of the Turners Creek stream restoration project. $110,000.

ShoreRivers: for design and permitting of the Sears Farm stream restoration project. $81,896.

ShoreRivers: for development of the Poor House Run assessment and plan. $52,956.

ShoreRivers: for the development of dairy conservation action plans for five Maryland Eastern Shore dairy operations. $52,238.

ShoreRivers: for development of the Bayside Creeks watershed management plan. $49,903.

ShoreRivers: for design of bioswale facilities at the Community Park in Galena. $17,996.

Town of Emmitsburg: for design and permitting of the Silo Hill detention basin restoration project. $34,000.

Towson Presbyterian Church: for design of two rain gardens and a cistern system at the Church. $35,509.

Trout Unlimited Inc.: for design of the Sand Spring Run stream restoration project. $114,411.

University of Maryland College Park: for design of the Campus Creek restoration and Pond Retrofit projects. $180,000.

February 2021

Coming Soon

The Board of Trustees meets four times per year to review and approve all TRC recommended proposals. Awards list will be posted after all awards are finalized.

May 2021

Coming Soon

The Board of Trustees meets four times per year to review and approve all TRC recommended proposals. Awards list will be posted after all awards are finalized.

Project Highlight: ‘Scoop that Poop’ Pet Waste Education Campaign

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In 2017, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) received an award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct phase II of the Pet Waste Education Campaign. This campaign is an effort to support the broader Pet Waste Management (PWM) Initiative, known as “Scoop That Poop,” launched in 2016 by Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE). To date, over 200 pet waste stations have been installed across more than 40 municipalities and homeowners associations (HOAs) through the PWM Initiative. The Pet Waste Education Campaign carried out by EFC’s Sustainable Maryland team was designed to offer outreach, education, and infrastructure support to increase awareness about the issue of pet waste pollution and to encourage residents to pick up their pet’s waste. The campaign was defined by four major strategies: 1) convening outreach activities focusing on pet waste and stormwater pollution, 2) developing and promoting bilingual outreach education material, 3) deployment of an asset management tool, and 4) identifying locations for and installing pet waste stations.

By the Numbers
1
Pet Waste Video
1
Pet Waste Management Summit
5
Homeowners Associations
7
Municipalities
86
Pet Waste Stations Installed

Pet waste station installed at Tunic Park in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

EFC worked with seven municipalities for this phase of the campaign: Colmar Manor, Hyattsville, Fairmount Heights, Berwyn Heights, Seat Pleasant, Forest Heights, and Capitol Heights. Each municipality received support in identifying pet waste and stormwater management goals, had customized outreach and education plans delivered to them, and received up to 10 pet waste stations each – for a total of 70 pet waste stations! EFC assisted in identifying ideal locations for each station, then the municipalities took the installation of each station into their own hands. Following the installation of the pet waste stations, EFC distributed 100 copies of “Scoop That Poop” brochures and four “Scoop That Poop” car magnets to each of the seven municipalities, which were placed on DPW and code enforcement vehicles. During this project, the municipalities also received support through train-the-trainer sessions, where EFC staff convened and trained key staff, elected officials, and local Green Team members on best practices for talking to residents about pet waste management and stormwater pollution. EFC also worked with five HOAs during phase II: Village Green Mutual Homes Cooperative, East Pines Neighborhood association, Fox Chase I Civic Association, Riverdale RRC Community Association, and Avondale North Woodridge Citizen’s Association. These HOAs received assistance in identifying suitable pet waste station locations. A total of 16 stations were installed amongst the five HOAs.

Locally targeted outreach efforts were complimented with a county-wide Pet Waste Management Summit focused on pet waste and stormwater runoff pollution. Close to 50 attendees participated in this summit, which also provided a platform for phase I municipalities to share experiences and the value of pet waste education, stations, and ongoing monitoring efforts. EFC supported monitoring efforts throughout this project by working with the DoE to build out and enter pet waste station data into a monitoring application. During phase II, EFC was able to collect monitoring data from 13 stations installed in phase I.

Phase II culminated in the creation of an educational pet waste video. This minute-long video explains the harmful impact that pet waste can have on human health when left on the ground. Pet waste that is improperly disposed of can be carried away into local streams and rivers, where it decays and releases excessive nutrients that contribute to decreased oxygen levels. Pet waste bacteria can spread human diseases, making local waters unsafe to swim and fish.

Fortunately, proper disposal of pet waste is easy – especially when the right tools, such as pet waste stations, have been made readily available. Prince George’s County wants you to “Scoop That Poop” for more beautiful, healthier communities and cleaner waterways!

Pollution Prevention and Water Quality go Hand in Hand

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This past week commemorated the 30th celebration of Pollution Prevention Week, a week focused on educating and mobilizing government agencies, industries, and individuals to play their part in reducing and preventing pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines pollution prevention as “reducing or eliminating waste at the source.” By targeting pollution at its source, less energy and resources are spent in the management and disposal of pollution. Though most of the burden of this source reduction falls on industries and government agencies, individuals can take meaningful steps to reduce pollution at home.

One step we can take is to reduce the amount of trash we are generating. On average, a single person generated 4.51 pounds of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), otherwise known as trash, per day in 2017 which amounts to about 1,700 pounds of trash generated in a single year. The total amount of trash generated in the United States in 2017 was 267.8 million tons, a number that rises each year. Plastic products represented 13.2% of the 267.8 million tons of trash generated, the second highest category of trash produced after paper and paperboard (25%).

Plastic waste poses a serious environmental threat for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed region, as some of this plastic makes its way into our local waterways and eventually into the Bay. Wildlife can be entangled by or ingest plastic, which can ultimately lead to starvation and death. Beyond presenting a direct physical danger to wildlife, plastic products contain or carry several different chemical components, some of which are toxic and slow to degrade. The physical and chemical impacts of plastic pollution lead to weakened ecosystems and waters that are not safe to swim or fish in. However, there are several small but significant steps we can take to protect the health of our communities and increase the quality of local streams and rivers.

One way we can help cut down on plastic pollution is to reduce our use of plastic. Below are a few of the ways we can cut down on our use of plastic products.

  • Bring your own cloth bags to the [store]
  • Go to the farmer’s market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic)
  • Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic
  • Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
  • Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags

The ideas above are just a few small steps you can take to generate less plastic waste. The full list of tips and ideas from Reef Relief can be found here.

Engaging Diverse Groups in Environmental Stewardship is Essential

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In 2015, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, working through their Chispa Maryland (Chispa) program, received an award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to engage members of Prince George’s County Latino community in educational experiences designed to improve local water quality and the health of the community. Through this project, Chispa Maryland also sought to establish strong, longstanding leadership within the community to carry the efforts of this project forward.

Chispa Maryland was launched by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in 2014. This group works with Latino families, community groups, faith-based organizations, and elected officials to identify and address environmental issues. Chispa seeks to empower the Latino community to take action to protect natural resources and build healthy neighborhoods.

This project focused on working with Latino community members predominantly from the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) designated area of Langley Park. The TNI is a county effort that aims at uplifting neighborhoods with significant needs. Chispa began by consulting with several Latino community leaders, Prince George’s County agencies, and other Latino-serving organizations to develop a curriculum and delivery plan that best served the needs of the community. The resulting curriculum comprised of both in-class and hands-on learning experiences. The in-class learning consisted of an introduction to the water cycle, the impact of stormwater runoff on the environment, and the actions that can be taken to manage stormwater runoff. The classroom session stressed the interconnectedness of individual actions and the cumulative impact these actions have on natural resources. Chispa also illuminated the relation between local water quality and the health and quality of life of the community.

The outdoor active learning sessions were designed to allow participants to experience firsthand and put into practice some of the concepts covered during the in-class session. A partnership with Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) brought Latino families and individuals out onto the Anacostia River through boat trips. AWS lead conversations on the biodiversity and water quality of the Anacostia River, as well as the impact of stormwater runoff on the Anacostia and surrounding streams and rivers. The boat trip sessions concluded with participants identifying the various ways their actions impacted natural resources, to change behaviors with negative impacts. Participants also had the chance to implement low impact development projects at the Langley Park Community Center. Participants created a 1,000 sq. ft. native plants garden and installed six rain barrels throughout the community center.

After the completion of both the in-class and hands-on activities, Chispa conducted leadership training with a group of participants that demonstrated a commitment to improving their natural resources and build resilient communities. Six instructional sessions were held and a total of 13 participants completed the training and were graduated as promotores (trained individuals who take on an educational role). The training of promotores enhances the sustainability of this project, as these leaders are empowered to lead and coordinate projects in their communities that promote environmental education and increase community participation in environmental activities.

Congratulations to Chispa Maryland on a successful and engaging project!

Working with Faith-Based Organizations to Implement Stormwater Solutions

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In 2015, Anacostia Riverkeeper received an award through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to carry out their High-Volume Community Cistern project. This project had four primary objectives, which were to: 1) demonstrate the effectiveness of high-capacity cisterns, 2) reduce stormwater runoff, 3) engage and form relationships with faith-based organizations, and 4) encourage members of faith-based organizations to participate in Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program.

The objectives for this project aligned with the goals of the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship program, which strives to improve neighborhoods, improve water quality in the County’s waterways, and engage County residents in stormwater issues. Since 2014, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to fund impactful projects that strive to accomplish these goals. The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is a second program funded by the County that incentivizes environmental stewardship by offering reimbursement to homeowners, businesses, and others for installing practices that will improve stormwater runoff quality, reduce runoff quantity, and improve local streams and rivers. This program operates on a rolling deadline and is currently accepting applications.

Anacostia Riverkeeper worked with First Baptist Church of Glenarden, St. Ambrose Catholic Church, and St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. To connect with and engage members of each faith-based organization, Anacostia Riverkeeper conducted stormwater outreach events at each of the three locations where they planned to install a high-volume cistern. Five outreach events were conducted with the help of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. These outreach events were offered in English and Spanish, which increased accessibility and helped to draw in over 170 participants. The events covered stormwater runoff and offered potential solutions and actions that participants could take. Anacostia Riverkeeper also informed participants about the existing opportunity to apply to the Prince George’s Rain Check Rebate Program to install stormwater management practices at their own homes.

Educational signage placed at each cistern installation.

To directly address stormwater management needs, high-volume cisterns were installed on each of the faith-based organizations’ properties. Each cistern captures between 17,500 to 39,000 gallons of stormwater per year, which reduces the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution that flows into local streams and rivers, and allows the stormwater to be used for other purposes.

Congratulations to Anacostia Riverkeeper on a successful project that engaged community members and directly addressed stormwater management!

 

Welcoming the New Prince George’s Rain Check Rebate Program Team

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The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is a partnership between Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Trust (Trust). This program offers incentives to homeowners, businesses, and others to install practices that will reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve the water quality of local streams and rivers.

At the beginning of this year, the Trust welcomed Nguyen Le as the new Rain Check Rebate Coordinator! Below is Nguyen’s background and experience thus far.

Can you tell us about yourself?

Nguyen Le, Rain Check Rebate Coordinator

I was born and raised in Maryland and my family is from Vietnam. For my undergraduate studies, I  attended the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Sustainability Studies. After graduating, I served as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member and worked at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin conducting environmental and watershed education for students and teachers. I joined the Chesapeake Bay Trust in 2018 and now manage the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program and co-manage the Outreach and Restoration Grant Program. More recently, I graduated from Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources program where I earned a Master of Natural Resources and Graduate Certificate in Global Sustainability.

What are your professional/environmental goals and how does managing the Rain Check Rebate Program align with those goals?

A major goal regarding the work I currently do and want to continue to do revolves around water. Water is a precious resource and necessity for life. Globally, billions of people in the world lack safe water, sanitation, and handwashing facilities. Additionally, ever-growing demands for and inefficient use and management of freshwater resources have resulted in severe water stress and increased pollution of our waterways. Water quality is one of the major challenges we face today.

Initiatives and programs like the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program help address local and regional water quality issues. This program engages residents to take action for clean water. Participants in this program are helping to keep our rivers clean and reduce pollution for increased environmental and public health. Through this program, I can educate residents about water quality issues, what actions they can take, and how this program helps support clean water efforts in their community and the County as a whole.

What have you most enjoyed so far about your new role as the Rain Check Rebate Coordinator?

One of the most rewarding aspects of the Rain Check Rebate Program is being able to connect with the community and see residents take pride in their projects. It is wonderful to see residents excited about their project and express the impact that the project has had on their lives. Some appreciate the presence of new trees that will provide shade and privacy in their yards, some enjoy the butterflies that now frequent the native plants in their rain garden, and some are thankful that the standing and pooling water they experienced is a thing of the past.

What is your hope for the Rain Check Rebate Program moving forward?

My hope for this program is for all Prince George’s County residents to know that the Rain Check Rebate Program and other County resources are available for them to use and here to support them and their communities. I want every community member to know that they can make a difference in their communities and the environment.

What advice would you give to young people seeking careers in the environmental field?

Do not limit yourself and be open to learning and experiencing new things. The environmental field encompasses such a wide range of topics and there are so many different paths you can take. Be cognizant of your interests and the type of work you enjoy doing and find an organization or company whose mission and values align with yours.

Anything else you want to share?

Managing the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program has been a rewarding experience. I am proud to support and work with the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment on their program to help advance their goal of improving the quality of life for its communities by promoting green solutions to stormwater runoff.

Meet the Rain Check Rebate Intern:

The Trust recently also welcomed Emma Cwalinski (pictured left), the summer programmatic intern who will be working as part of the Rain Check Rebate team. Emma is currently majoring in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), where she is entering into her junior year. Beyond her position as an intern for the Trust, Emma utilizes her passion for the environment as her sorority’s Sustainability Chair and as a Sustainable Transportation Assistant for UMD’s Department of Transportation. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career working directly with environmental policy. Emma is excited to learn more about the different programs the Trust offers during her time as an intern. Welcome to the team, Emma!

Thank you to both Nguyen and Emma for their hard work in managing and supporting the Rain Check Rebate Program! Prince George’s County residents are encouraged to learn more and apply to the program by visiting the program page here.

Parkdale Schools the Community on Stormwater Management

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Schools play a huge role not only in educating their students but also in acting as a center for resources and a vehicle for change and improvement in their communities. The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Program is a partnership between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Prince George’s County Department of the Environment that recognizes the potential these institutions, amongst others, have to engage the community and implement projects that improve the water quality of local streams and rivers.

Parkdale High School, located in Riverdale, received a grant in 2015 to carry out impactful learning opportunities and hands-on engagement in environmental stewardship and stormwater management. Parkdale worked with several partners on this project, including the Clean Water Partnership, Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center. A professional development workshop was held for teachers and staff to equip them with knowledge on successfully implementing environmental literacy programs. The school was also able to host and mentor 13 student interns from the Prince George’s County Summer Youth Enrichment Program. The students were able to partake in a variety of educational activities, such as maintaining an edible food forest in front of the school’s campus and visiting several facilities working to protect our natural resources, including the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, where they learned of the County’s actions to better manage and protect the environment. The students also visited Bladensburg Waterfront Park to participate in a boat tour led by the AWS, where the students learned about initiatives to clean the river and restore native wildlife populations and habitats.

Educational signage placed at the site of the installed stormwater management practice. Click to view larger!

Parkdale was also able to address the stormwater management needs of their campus. The school installed a series of permeable surfaces that allow water to infiltrate into the ground while filtering out pollutants. Excess water overflows from the permeable surfaces to three different types of infiltration areas installed next to the permeable surfaces, that help to further filter out pollutants and let the water slowly absorb into the ground. Educational signage was also installed at the project site to educate the Parkdale community on how the project functions to treat stormwater runoff.

 

Parkdale successfully installed a functional and educational stormwater management practice, while also engaging their community in stewardship. Congratulations to Parkdale High School on an exemplary project!

Celebrating an Environmental Champion: Walkiria Pool

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Walkiria Pool, President of the non-profit organization Centro de Apoyo Familiar (CAF) located in Riverdale, was recently named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record! The Maryland’s Top 100 Women award recognizes high-achieving women who live or work in Maryland and are actively making a difference in their surrounding neighborhoods and networks. All winners are chosen by a panel of past Top 100 Women business leaders. Walkiria’s dedication to community service and her demonstration of strong leadership skills were no doubt a determining factor in her earning this high recognition!

Walkiria founded CAF in 2006, with the vision of transforming underserved communities through direct involvement and strong partnerships with faith-based organizations. CAF connects communities to a broad range of services, from affordable housing to environmental health. As President of CAF, Walkiria has been passionate about involving Latino communities in the efforts to protect our natural resources and become better stewards of our environment. In 2016 and 2017, CAF was awarded projects through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support and implement their Aguas Sana-Familias Sanas/Healthy Waters: Healthy Families program. This program used a train-the-trainer model to train and equip Latina promotoras (community health educators) as stormwater educators, who then held educational workshops at local faith-based organizations. Over 300 Prince George’s County families were collectively reached through both of the awards to CAF. The families that participated were able to learn about the connections between human and environmental health and were provided resources to improve their natural resources and build healthier communities.

Congratulations on this recognition, Walkiria! We appreciate all you do and look forward to continuing to work with you!

A Brighter Future for the Anacostia River

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The Anacostia Watershed Society recently released the 2020 State of the Anacostia River Report, which tells the story of the health of the Anacostia River from previously-collected 2019 data. This report measures the overall health of the river by assigning a score and letter grade that takes into account several different water quality and remediation indicators. These indicators include dissolved oxygen, fecal bacteria, water clarity, chlorophyll a (measure of algae biomass), underwater grasses, stormwater runoff volume, amount of toxins, and trash.

Click on the 2020 report card to view the full image.

This year the Anacostia River earned a score of 63 (D), which is the highest passing score it has ever achieved! This high score comes after the record rainfall levels we saw in 2018, which increased the flow of stormwater runoff into our waterways. The fact that the measure of the Anacostia River’s health has come back stronger than ever speaks to the great resilience of our natural environment. For the Anacostia in particular, the resurgence of underwater grasses known as Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) combined with the environmental actions taken by local governments were major factors in the progress of its health. SAV provides essential habitat for a host of aquatic life, filters polluted runoff, and provides food for waterfowl. The Anacostia River had 92.6 acres of SAV in 2019, well surpassing the goal of 20 acres!

Monitoring the health of our streams and rivers over an extended period is important for several reasons. It allows us to determine what restoration efforts are working and pinpoint the areas where greater effort or different restoration tactics are needed. The data that is collected and analyzed reflects the environmental actions taken by local governments, organizations, communities, and individuals.

Everyone can play a part in reducing the amount of litter and pollutants that reach our streams and rivers! There are several programs that are designed to support individual initiatives to become better stewards of our environment. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is proud to partner with Prince George’s County Department of the Environment to offer Prince George’s County residents the Rain Check Rebate Program. This program allows eligible applicants to be reimbursed for installing one or more of seven approved stormwater management practices.

Below are several other Maryland programs that offer reimbursements for installing stormwater management practices:

*Please note: while site visits cannot be conducted in person at this time, many of the programs listed above are conducting virtual site visits. Follow the individual page links to learn more.

While we are practicing safe social distancing, we can do our part to better our environment!

Spotlight on an Environmental Champion

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Environmental leaders are all around us, even within our local communities. Tiaa Rutherford of the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) is one such leader. Tiaa has worked tirelessly to beautify and protect the natural resources of the Prince George’s County communities. Recently, Tiaa was publicly honored for her environmental efforts.

Tiaa was recognized as a Regional Environmental Champion at the 2020 bi-annual Taking Nature Black conference hosted by the Audubon Naturalist Society for her work to reduce the amount of litter in the Anacostia River and the streams throughout the County. Her work also helps the County meet the goals of their stormwater discharge permit under the Clean Water Act. As the DoE’s Litter Reduction Program Manager, Tiaa engages individuals, non-profits, and municipalities on a variety of litter-reduction initiatives. Tiaa, along with other DoE colleagues, were recognized in 2017 for their work in creating the litter-monitoring apps LitterTRAK and PGCLitterTRAK. PGCLitterTRAK allows communities and individuals to document litter data around Prince George’s County.

Tiaa posing with the Anacostia River trash trap signage.

As a partner of Prince George’s County, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has had the chance to work with Tiaa on projects funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. In 2016, Anacostia Riverkeeper was approved for an award that funded the construction and installation of a “trash-trap” in the Arundel Canal of the Anacostia River. Tiaa was involved throughout the trash-trap installation process and provided outreach support to educate and engage County residents on the new installation. Currently, the Trust is working with Tiaa on a behavior-change litter reduction initiative.

Congratulations Tiaa, we look forward to continuing to work with you!

 

 

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