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Episcopal Church of Christ the King is Greening their Property to Protect the Bay

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Community Engagement Mini Grant helps Baltimore-based church harvest rain water and prevent pollution

The Episcopal Church of Christ the King (CTK) in Windsor Mill believes “this world is our Father’s creation and we want to take care of it.” With community-lead environmental stewardship as one of their goals, the church community embarked on a series of greening projects on church property to help reduce polluted runoff flowing into the Bay.

CTK began the process of greening their property by partnering with Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake on a series of projects, including planting 47 trees on church property and planting two community vegetable gardens adjacent to the church building.

A Water Audit recommended rainwater harvesting to prevent further stormwater runoff and help prevent pollution from reaching the tributaries of the Patapsco River. CTK used funding from a Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Engagement Mini  Grant, which is a grant program designed for first-time applicants, to install two cisterns and five rain barrels to collect rain water from the buildings on church property. Water from the cisterns and rain barrels will water the new gardens and trees, helping to filter out pollutants before they reach the nearby creeks and streams.

For CTK, these projects are just the beginning—they have big plans do more in the near future, including adding more rain gardens,  conservation landscaping, and removing as much impervious surface as feasible from church property. In addition to the work on church property, CTK is reaching out their surrounding community to host workshops on rain barrel installation and to spread the word about how their neighbors can green their properties and protect the bay too!

The Trust’s Community Engagement Mini Grant program is currently open and accepts applications on a rolling basis until the funds are fully expended for the fiscal year.  Funds for the grant program are replenished each year on July 1. To learn more about how your organization can benefit from this program and to submit an application, visit here.

To learn more about Episcopal Church of Christ the King, visit their website.

Reservoir Hill Tree Canopy Project Creates Green Culture

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(Photo courtesy of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.)

West Baltimore neighborhood uses Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant to transform streetscape and build community

by Don Akchin

For many years the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of West Baltimore was better known for its grit than its greenery. But in 2009, the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council launched a visionary Tree Canopy Project with the help of a Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant and many community partners. Over the past seven years, the look and feel of the neighborhood has been completely transformed. Volunteers on the council’s Green Team planted 550 new trees, tagged each tree for easy identification, and completed a comprehensive tree map of the community.  In the same period, more than 4,700 square feet of impervious surface was removed through tree pit cutting and expansion, and more than 2,100 square feet of vacant lots were restored to provide enjoyable greenspace in the community.

In addition to the changes in the physical landscape within the community, perhaps one of the most important outcomes of the neighborhood greening was the project’s impact on attitudes throughout the community. The project triggered the development of a “green culture.” Students at the neighborhood elementary school have become active gardeners and experts on a healthy environment. Other institutions in Reservoir Hill have started their own greening programs. Tree loss through vandalism has been virtually nonexistent. Today, residents of Reservoir Hill take pride in being a greener community.

The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program is funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA), Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the City of Baltimore Office of Sustainability with support from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The program helps communities develop and implement plans that reduce stormwater runoff, increase the number and amount of green spaces in urban areas, improve the health of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and enhance quality of life and community livability.

The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program is open and accepting applications until March 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm. To learn more about how your community can benefit from this opportunity and to apply for a grant, visit here.

To learn more about the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council and to see photos of their community greening projects visit their website.

Don Akchin is co-chair of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.

Students, Chesapeake Conservation Corp Member Learn about Bay Culture and Ecosystem on Trip to Fox Island

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(Photos courtesy of Morgan Jones.)

An island with no time, marsh bouquets, and stories by fire light

By Morgan Jones

Barely visible on the horizon, a resilient piece of marshy land sits with a single structure that catches the light of the midday sun. With Tangier Island to its west and Pocomoke Sound to the east, Fox Island rests there quietly in the Chesapeake Bay. The blue-green waters around it are teeming with life. Built in the 1920’s as a hunting lodge, the quaint building on the island is now an environmental educational center owned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). Thanks to CBF, school groups from all around the watershed can visit Fox, as it’s known, for an authentic island experience. In September, I spent three days on Fox Island with a group of students from the Key School of Annapolis as part of my experience as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member with CBF.

Aboard the Walter Ridder, a 40-foot jet boat, our group motored away from the town of Crisfield on Maryland’s eastern shore and out into the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. As we traveled further from shore, the legendary islands of Smith, Tangier, and Fox began to take form around us. The students were bursting with curiosity and excitement.

Before I knew it, we pulled up to the dock at Fox. Soon after getting settled, we met in the living room to listen to the rules of the island. One rule in particular stuck with me:

“There is a time and a place for everything, and here is a place where time is nothing.”

Adam Dunn, the Fox Island Manager, explained that from now on we would be living on “island time.” He went around the room collecting cell phones and watches from all of the students. Then, he said, “your normal lives are filled with schedules and routines, but out here all of that goes away.” After this, whenever a student asked for the time, the reply was always “it’s island time.”

The next few days were filled with nonstop adventures. Students learned how to bait and set their own crab pots, dredge for oysters, and identify exciting species that frequent the bay such as red beard sponges, lined seahorses, and black-fingered mud crabs. We spent a few hours on the neighboring island of Tangier where the kids were able to meet island locals and observe the similarities and differences between island culture and their own. To let out some extra energy, we went mud muckin’ and collected bouquets of marsh flowers and grasses.

The nights were just as thrilling. Students stared up at a clear night sky bursting with stars, and they tasted the famous Smith Island cake one evening after dinner. Perhaps my favorite experience of all was sitting around a warm, crackling fire listening to Captain Larry Laird tell the story of the “Green Man” and feeling more spooked than most of the kids.

The time I spent on Fox Island felt magical, and I believe that the students felt it too. The environmental education experiences that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation provides to kids, many of which are funded by grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, last a lifetime in their memories. Not only does it draw them closer to the ecosystem, culture, and history of the Chesapeake Bay, but ultimately the rest of the natural world around them.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust offers two educational grant programs that can supply funding for similar environmental field experiences for your students or school. The Trust’s Environmental Education Mini-Grant Program, which awards up to $5,000, is open and accepting applications until January 12, 2018, at 5 pm. The Environmental Education Grant Program, which awards between $5,001 and $40,000 per year (with a multi-year option), is open and accepting applications until December 8, 2017, at 5 pm.

To learn more about CBF’s invaluable educational field programs, visit their website.

Morgan Jones is a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member working for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She splits her time between the Environmental Protection and Restoration Department and the Education Department. This position provides her with professional, educational, and social skills to advance in the environmental field.