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Chesapeake Conservation Corps Graduate Spotlight- Kristina Soetje

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On August 17th 33 members, from 28 host sites, graduated from the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) Program and the Chesapeake Bay Trust welcomed the 12th class of the Corps, with 33 new members assigned to 26 host sites. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the Corps provides career and leadership training for young people interested in environmental careers. The insights gained from graduating corps members can shape the potential for environmental science and industry in the future. We are pleased to share Kristina’s (Pictured above repairing beaver baffles  to restore stream flow) experience here:

Kristina was a toddler when her family moved to Maryland from Long Island, New York. School field trips to the National Aquarium and the Chesapeake Bay, outdoor education programs, adventures with friends around the watershed, and her grandmother’s environmentalism strengthened her love for the natural world. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a dual-degree student where she studied environmental science and geography, visual arts with the animation concentration, and dance. She interned at Ladew Topiary Gardens and the National Aquarium. Maura Duffy, her National Aquarium colleague (who was in the 5th class of the Corps), was the first Chesapeake Conservation Corps alumna to recommend the program to her.

Kristina standing between her former National Aquarium supervisor Charmaine Dahlenburg (left) and CCC supervisor/mentor Deborah Landau (right) at Nassawango Creek Preserve. (Photo: Deborah Landau/TNC)

After she graduated from UMBC in May 2019, Kristina cycled across the United States from Baltimore to San Francisco to raise awareness of young adult cancer for the Ulman Foundation. Upon returning to Maryland that August, she interned at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation under Carmera Thomas-Wilhite (who was in the 1st class of the corps in 2010), the second Corps alumna to recommend the program. Inspired by Duffy and Thomas-Wilhite, Kristina researched the Corps further and applied for a spot in the 2020-2021 Cohort.

She was thrilled to be matched with The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/DC Chapter for her service year. “I was impressed by the variety and scale of the work that they undertake to make impactful science-informed decisions across Maryland” Kristina explained. “I was excited for all the professional development opportunities proposed to me. I recognized that by being placed with TNC MD/DC, I would be surrounded by incredible and inspiring colleagues, experts dedicated to their respective disciplines in the conservation field.”

The Nature Conservancy, a global non-profit organization, impacts over 70 countries and territories and all 50 U.S. states with science-based conservation efforts. Their mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends”. Kristina’s well-rounded Corps Work Plan contributed to this mission for TNC MD/DC. Highlights included researching forest health and resilience in Maryland through rare plant surveys and forest restoration project site monitoring. She wrote a white paper discussing how herbicide treatments with prescribed burns could remove invasive Phragmites australis barriers to facilitate marsh migration. She led trail maintenance events in western Maryland. Additionally, Kristina reunited with the National Aquarium team for an Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress planting event on the Eastern Shore. She appreciates that she explored many unique and beautiful ecosystems state-wide for work; TNC MD/DC owns and protects around 30 preserves.

Nailing a trail sign to a tree during her trail maintenance site visit at Sideling Hill Creek
Preserve. (Photo: Michael Sioson/CCC)

Kristina’s favorite component of her term was becoming a Certified Wildland Firefighter Type II. “I was fortunate to serve as a crew member on eight prescribed burns encompassing nearly 2,000 acres of TNC and partner lands.” One burn was filmed by CBS and broadcast as a news story in April 2021, reaching over five million people nation-wide.

She even incorporated prescribed burns into her Corps Capstone Project. Kristina researched how different variables behind TNC MD/DC’s prescribed burns impact the production of pyrogenic carbon, a stable carbon sequestering and soil fertilizing material, within the soils of Nassawango Creek Preserve. The project became an international collaboration with Swansea University researchers, who assisted Kristina with sample design feedback and laboratory soil tests. Results showed that pyrogenic carbon production occurs primarily in areas with a multi-burn history. Soil moisture does not impact production of the material at the preserve, so wetland and dune habitats hold similar quantities of pyrogenic carbon if they are experiencing the same burn regime. Kristina’s Capstone prioritized soil science for TNC MD/DC and further justified their prescribed burns. Interest is growing towards publishing her study into a scientific journal.

Kristina believes the most important aspect of her Corps year was her ability to form valuable connections with others despite the ongoing pandemic. She enjoyed moments she shared with other Corps members through over 10 Site Visits and 3 All Hands on Deck events, where she learned about their work and Host Organizations. She networked with TNC MD/DC partners including scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife burn crews, and university professors. Kristina bonded with her TNC MD/DC colleagues and absorbed the valuable lessons they taught her, a favorite being to appreciate the little things in life despite the circumstances of the bigger picture. She is thankful for her close mentorship with Deborah Landau, the Conservation Ecologist for TNC MD/DC, whom Kristina says was “inspiring, honest, and supportive of me professionally and personally.”

Kristina graduated as part of the 33 from the 11th class and looks forward to her immediate post-Corps plans. She was hired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as their Volunteer Coordinator for Patapsco Valley State Park. She will match volunteers with opportunities to serve the park, coordinate their trainings, oversee their stewardship projects, design volunteer newsletters, and more. “I find significant value in connecting communities to the lands and waters they care for through volunteerism and environmental stewardship, so I am excited to express this through my work with the Maryland Park Service.” As a volunteer herself, Kristina will stay active with TNC MD/DC by continuing to serve as a prescribed burn crew member.

Having fun with ignition duties as a certified Wildland Firefighter Type II at Sideling Hill Creek Preserve. (Photo: Matt Kane/TNC)

Flagging red spruce seedlings at Cranesville Swamp Preserve to inventory their populations
and monitor their growth rates with Forest Science Project Manager Pabodha Galgamuwa. (Photo:
William Weems/TNC)

Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate: 2020 Year in Review

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A property owner proudly displays a Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate yard sign to showcase their new permeable pavement driveway and participation in the program.

To improve our communities and the environment, it will take each of us to do our part! Today, we look at residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who are doing their part to keep their communities clean, healthy, and beautiful.

Since 2012, County residents have the opportunity to receive a rebate, or reimbursement, for installing practices that reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve local river health through the County’s Rain Check Rebate Program. The practices include rain barrelscisternsurban tree canopyrain gardenspavement removalpermeable pavement, and green roofs. These practices beautify the property and have additional benefits. For example:

  • installing rain barrels and cisterns reduces water use from the tap and reduces watering costs
  • planting native trees and plants provide food and habitat for important bird and pollinator species
  • removing pavement and replacing it with permeable pavement can reduce standing water on the walkway or driveway

Fiscal Year 2020 By The Numbers

161878
Rebates Awarded
154
Applications Approved
135
Rain Barrel & Cistern Projects
211
Urban Tree Canopy Projects
24
Rain Garden Projects
27
Pavement Removal Projects
19
Permeable Pavement Projects
92,928
Sq. Ft. of Impervious Area Treated

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer this program. We are excited to announce that Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 to June 2020) for the Rain Check Rebate Program was another successful year with 154 approved applications, representing 416 projects, for a total rebate amount of $161,878. These projects help treat 92,928 square feet of impervious surface, which is almost the size of one and a half football fields!

This is a very worthwhile program to help protect our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. We planted over 15 trees on our property to help reduce stormwater runoff and are looking forward to the increase of beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage to come in our yard. We are very happy we found out about this program!

Jessica and Franklin
Prince George's County Residents

The projects installed through the Rain Check Rebate Program play an important role in keeping our rivers clean and healthy by tackling the issue of stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff occurs when rainwater flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, and roads, that do not allow the water to soak into the ground. As it flows across these surfaces, it can pick up harmful pollutants such as bacteria from pet waste and motor oil from cars. This polluted runoff makes its way into nearby rivers and is harmful to aquatic life and can be a health hazard for people. Fast-moving and high volumes of stormwater runoff can also cause erosion of riverbanks.

Since the program’s inception, we’ve had over 730 approved applications, representing over 1,550 projects, for a total rebate amount of over $680,000.

Thank you to everyone that has participated in the Rain Check Rebate Program throughout the years! Your efforts help keep Prince George’s County beautiful and healthy!

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Learn More and Apply

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Jana Davis

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!

 

When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Trust.

Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Jana: I am the director at the Trust, and I love it because it’s the perfect combination of two elements of my background: science and policy/management.  My role at the Trust is really to support all the work that our amazing team members do; figure out a way to do it more easily, more efficiently, and better when possible; and determine whether there is some other direction we can/should go.  The Trust has an incredible mission and such a unique and wonderful role in the community.  We are a non-advocacy, independent, trusted entity that provides resources to groups to get amazing work done, which I love – the idea of helping other people get their goals accomplished – and that steps in to solve some key conundrums that others can’t. 

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Jana: What inspired me was my love of natural resources like the ocean and bays and marshes and my love of being outdoors, and seeing what happens to certain parts of our outdoors.  I don’t admit this too often, because I’m a proud Marylander now, but I did grow up on the Jersey shore during the era the Jersey shore because somewhat infamous for medical waste washing up on beaches.  I think I just saw a late-night TV joke on this topic, so while the situation has much improved, it’s still on people’s minds.  It crushed my heart to go out to beautiful spots like the back trails in the Sandy Hook Gateways National Recreation area – these secret spots that when I was a kid I thought were “mine” – and see trash there.  Later, I became a scientist (oceanography), and it seemed only natural to combine my love of the outdoors with my love of science – which to me is more about question asking and problem-solving than memorizing, say, part of a cell – to become part of the environmental management community.

 3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Jana: Work hard, be smart, and never be afraid of anything! 

 4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Jana: I know that many women have faced significant barriers to accomplish their goals, and obviously barriers still exist when we look at things like CEO demographics and the fact that we still haven’t had a female President of the United States.  However, I have been very lucky in that I have been very supported along the way by people of all genders, or else worked so hard or was so blind to the barrier that I got my way anyway.  I am the first female Executive Director of the Trust, and at the time, people made a few comments, but by the time I realized that fact, I had already gotten the job!   Interestingly, at the time, the Trust had its first-ever female Chair of the Board of Trustees also.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Jana: Hard work, great vision, ability to get back up when knocked down, empathy.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Jana: I’m going to name two women:  One who for me represents all the women over the centuries who have played a historically downplayed role in so many great human discoveries, and one who directly helped me in my career.   The first is Katherine Johnson (and her colleagues), made famous in the book and movie Hidden Figures, though of course she and her colleagues were famous in certain circles long before that.  Katherine Johnson of course was one of the “computers” who worked at NASA in the 1950s and 60s and who were responsible for so many missions and calculations behind them, most notably the one that put a human on the moon and the backbone of our current GPS system.  To me, she represents all the women on whose shoulders so many great discovers stand, but who in the past have not gotten their due in the history books, such as Marie Curie, Catharine Littlefield Greene, Barbara McClintock, Grace Murray Hopper, Marie Maynard Daly, Maria Mitchell, Flossie Wong-Staal, etc.  My graduate school advisor, Dr. Lisa Levin, was personally a huge inspiration.  She works so hard, excels in her field, and never complains.  She was a huge inspiration to me when I was a graduate student.


Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Kacey Wetzel

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!

 

When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education.

Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Kacey: I was born and raised in Maryland and have a longstanding love for the Chesapeake Bay and water generally. While I have lived in a few places, I came back to the Chesapeake region in 2006 and joined the Trust staff in 2007. I am the Director of Outreach and Education here at the Trust and I work with an amazing team of folks who care deeply about environmental and community well-being.

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Kacey: I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Ginger in middle school who organized an essay contest to select students to participate in an immersive multi-day environmental education experience. While I didn’t know it at the time, I was participating in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (or what we affectionately refer to as a MWEE). At some point over the course of several days, while listening to geese overhead, smelling the brackish water, and walking through sandy beaches and black needle rush, I fell in love. That experience and the incredible passion of my teacher Mrs. Ginger set the course for my academic pursuits and my career.

3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Kacey: There are so many on-ramps to environmental careers now, so I don’t think you need to have an academic background in environmental science to find your niche in the environmental movement. If you feel passionate about something, however small it may be, that is likely your calling and is likely your best entry point into an environmentally oriented career. I know so many amazing women that have found their way into environmental careers by starting with simple questions: How can I reduce my waste? How can I improve my health? How can I help my community? Why is that incinerator being built here? How come the water is brown? So I think the best advice I can give a woman who wants to pursue an environmental career is to stay curious and listen to your inner voice. It may sound like a whisper but it will likely guide you in the right direction.

4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Kacey: While I have personally encountered and still continue to encounter ageism and misogyny within the environmental movement, I know that I am privileged because I identify as a cis-gender white woman. As a cis-gender white woman, I recognize that I only have a white, heterosexual female frame of reference and that my experience is not the experience of my colleagues who may identify as transgender, black, indigenous, or people of color. I also recognize that as a cis-gender white woman it is important for me to listen to those who identify as transgender and/or people of color, hear their perspectives and seek to understand how I can help to break down barriers faced by my colleagues.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Kacey: I think the ability to hold space for others’ viewpoints and to avoid binary thinking is critical. This is going to sound very Brene Brown, but I think great leaders maintain clear values and are emotionally courageous (willing to be vulnerable). I respect leaders that genuinely care about others, stay curious, and operate from self-awareness, not self-protection.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Kacey: I am so lucky to have so many wonderful women that inspire me every day. If I have to pick just one though, I will always pick my mom. My mom experienced a lot of trauma in her life, but she was always clear about her values. She valued integrity, kindness, and compassion, and her values were her guiding light. Despite a lot of hardship and darkness, she made sure to instill those values in us (my brother and I). She always said you should ‘fight for the underdog’. I miss my mom a lot but she is still a guiding light for me every day.


Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Sadie Drescher

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!

 

When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Sadie Drescher, Director of Programs for Restoration.

Sadie Drescher, Director of Programs for Restoration

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Sadie: I have worked in the environmental field for over twenty years from my beginnings in the laboratory and field to “behind the desk” to manage the Trust’s restoration programs. I love my job. My favorite thing to do is to connect people, ideas, and resources and that is a big part of working at the Trust.

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Sadie: Growing up in rural eastern Tennessee on well water and using a septic system made me very aware of the importance of clean drinking water and water conservation. I also loved going on hikes with my family. These hikes are where I started to love and appreciate nature. These early experiences shaped my appreciation for the environmental field. I have always been interested in water. In fact, my middle name is “Rain.”

3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Sadie: Go for it! There is nothing holding you back. Always look for mentors to give you feedback. Ask questions and learn from the many mistakes/obstacles you will encounter.

4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Sadie: I would not label myself as a “leader” but that is a kind sentiment. I am always learning so sometimes I am leading but most often I am learning from others. As far as barriers I have encountered – there have been too many to count and with hard work, I believe that any barrier can be overcome.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Sadie: This is a great question. Leaders hold others up and help them grow. Leaders hold us accountable for the quality of our work, our actions, and our words. Leaders have empathy and curiosity.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Sadie: My aunt Sandy has always inspired me for her strength, compassion, honesty, and humor. Sandy is a Mennonite preacher in Pennsylvania with a background in social work who pushes the envelope as a woman in this position (people left her congregation when she became pastor just because she was a woman) and she supports progressive social positions that are not always popular in her circles. In summary, she is her own person and charges her own path which I greatly admire.


Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Maryland Outdoor Spaces – Legislator Favorites

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Maryland Outdoor Spaces – Legislator Favorites

On January 21, 2021, more than 60 legislators attended the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s virtual legislative reception. They were invited to share some of their favorite outdoor spots in their districts and throughout Maryland. Their contributions were so wonderful that we were asked to compile them and send them to attendees. As Senate President Bill Ferguson said, “Our parks are those spaces that bring Marylanders together to get that fundamental belief in love of family, of friends, of each other.” “Our 6,400 parks and green spaces are a great way to boost your mental and overall health” added House Speaker Adrienne Jones. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeanne Haddaway-Riccio reminded us all how diverse Maryland is, and we see this in the list of favorite spots below.

The sites on the list below are not exhaustive, but were those suggested by legislators and guests present that evening as places they visit to get outdoors and feel refreshed and recharged. The entries include a word or two about the site, the name of the legislator suggesting the site, and a website for more information.

Anne Arundel County

Thomas Point Park

B&A Trail, great for walking, biking, rollerblading, and more, stretches from Boulters Way in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The Earleigh Heights Ranger Station (ca. 1889) is located in Severna Park with parking available on the premises. A gazebo, horticultural gardens and park benches are found at the Hatton-Regester Green property in Severna Park – Senator Pam Beidle

BWI Trail picks up from the Dorsey Road end of the B&A Trail and circles BWI Airport for an additional 12 miles of paved trail. A parking lot and playground are located at the Thomas A. Dixon Observation Area. Several scenic views of the BWI Airport are found along this loop trail. – Senator Pam Beidle

Thomas Point Park – This park boasts a beautiful view of a lighthouse. “A silver lining of the struggles over the last year is that we have renewed interest in and passion for outdoors and green spaces, specifically those that are accessible that have an eye towards equity. It’s good not just for the bay but for health in general.” – Senator Sarah Elfreth

Tolly Point Shoal offers a great spot for fishing – Delegate Dana Jones

Lake Ogleton offers a great spot to fish, crab, and kayak. You can see lots of nesting ospreys in the right season. – Delegate Dana Jones

Truxton Park offers a mile and a half hiking trail and a boat launch ramp. – Delegate Shaneka Henson

 

Baltimore City

Loch Raven Reservoir is one of the most pristine outdoor locations in the Baltimore metropolitan area, with resplendent plants and wildlife and beautiful water vistas, where visitors can enjoy miles of hiking trails that wind their way along the banks of the reservoir. Hikers and bikers can expect to see a wide variety of birds, including ravens, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, and even bald eagles, as well as a lush and varied array of plants and trees, including oaks, beeches, maples, poplars, raspberries, and wild roses. – Speaker Adrienne Jones

Patterson Park Pagoda. The pagoda (1891) is one of Senate President Bill Ferguson’s favorite spots in Patterson Park, a historic site important in the War of 1812 which is now frequented by neighborhood schools and churches for its athletic fields and is home to one of the two ice rinks available in the city. –Senate President Bill Ferguson

Patterson Park Pagoda

Patterson Park Pagoda

Jones Falls Trail is a 10-mile hiking biking trail along the Jones Falls that wraps around Druid Hill Reservoir. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Stoney Run. Beautiful stream that runs through Baltimore, go over a bridge, and into Wyman Park area. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Druid Hill Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same planner that designed Central Park in New York City. It is the third oldest public park in the United States. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh. 

Clifton Park https://parkrxamerica.org/

Clifton Park is one of the historic parks in Baltimore City. It offers a lot of amenities, including gardens and paths. – Delegate Dana Stein 

Lake Montebello is a great 1.4-mile loop trail good for running and biking. – Delegate Dana Stein. 

Patterson Park neighborhoods have become greener through various community efforts and are a great place to take a lovely walk. There is “strengthened social fabric through greening.” – Delegate Robbyn Lewis

Wyman Park is described as a 16-acre urban sanctuary. “We all want to be outside. We all want fresh air. We all want green space.” – Delegate Regina T. Boyce

Herring Run Park consists of 375 acres of woodlands that extends 2.3 miles from Morgan State University to I-895, also designed by the Olmsted brothers. – Delegate Regina T. Boyce

Walking the Olmsted – You can take a self-guided tour that visits various historical, cultural and scenic points of interest – Delegate Regina T. Boyce 

 

Baltimore County

Irvine Nature Center boasts 200 acres of meadows, woodlands, and wetlands and a great environmental education center. – Delegate Dana Stein 

Radebaugh Park, Towson opened at the beginning of the pandemic. Green Towson Alliance (GTA), state, and local government partnership. GTA working on the “Six Bridges Trail” to connect neighborhoods along the Herring Run to the new park – Delegate Cathi Forbes

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails – Delegate Sheila Ruth 

Patapsco Valley State Park – Cascade Trail in the Avalon area. A bonus is the nearby swinging bridge – Delegate Courtney Watson

Catonsville Rails to Trails converts abandoned rail and trolley lines to hiking trails. – Delegate Shelia Ruth

Soldiers Delight is a 1900-acre space boasting over 39 rare, threatened and endangered plant species and 7 miles of trails. – Delegate Benjamin Brooks

Gunpowder Falls State Park covers over 18,000 acres in Harford and Baltimore Counties and hosts a varied topography, ranging from tidal wetlands to steep and rugged slopes. The park features more than 120 miles of multi-use trails, wildlands, historic sites, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and a swimming beach and marina – Delegate Ric Metzger

Gunpowder Falls State Park, photo provided by DNR

Cox’s Point State Park is a 25.9-acre waterfront park offering fishing, a boat ramp, picnicking and more. Eastern Baltimore County boasts 250 miles of shoreline: “During this pandemic I’ve been getting my coffee…I’ve been going to the park and just sitting in the park and breathing the fresh air.” – Delegate Ric Metzger

Fort Howard State Park’s historical significance is its connection with the largest invasion of the United States in history in 1814. The British had landed about seven thousand men near the site that later became Fort Howard – Delegate Ric Metzger

 

Calvert County

Calvert Cliffs State Park and nearby Flag Ponds Nature Park offer stunning views and fossil hunting that attracts visitors from all over the country. “I am honored to have Calvert Cliffs in my district, with its beautiful views, and serene, peaceful setting. I am happy to know people were able to take advantage of this wonderful resource during this difficult time.” – Senator Jack Bailey  

Charles County

Nanjemoy Creek WMA is mostly forested, providing opportunity to see white-tailed deer, turkey, and forest interior dwelling birds. Along the marsh, herons, bald eagles, osprey, migratory songbirds, raccoons, otters and muskrat are some of the wildlife that you might see – Senator Arthur Ellis. 

Smallwood State Park, a 628-acre park, offers a marina, boat launching ramps, a picnic area, camping area, pavilions, a recycled tire playground and nature trails – Senator Arthur Ellis 

Mallows Bay

Mallows Bay is home to nearly 200 historic shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War through the present, known as the “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay. The best way to see the site is by kayak – Senator Arthur Ellis

Indian Head Rail Trail offers 16-17 miles walking and hiking and birding (eagles, wild turkeys). We do need to make sure that everyone has the ability to easily visit some of these beautiful and health-improving sites. “We have to make sure that these beautiful sites are accessible to all our citizens as an environmental justice issue.” – Senator Arthur Ellis 

 

Frederick County

C&O Canal – The C&O Canal National Historic Park extends along the Potomac River shoreline from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, MD. The Canal’s entire 185-mile long towpath is restored, open to hikers and bikers and is accessible from many points in Frederick County. – Delegate Ken Kerr 

Appalachian Trail – Almost 40 miles of the AT, as it is affectionately known, cross Maryland, most of which follow the ridgeline of South Mountain.– Delegate Ken Kerr 

Gambrill State Park is a beautiful mountain park, located on the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County. Its most popular feature is the 16 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. “I wasn’t fortunate to have been born in Frederick, but I was smart enough to make it my home.” – Delegate Ken Kerr

Carroll Creek Park is a linear park through beautiful downtown Frederick. Spanning more than a mile, this creek walk offers more than just a beautiful view; specialty shops, outdoor dining, breweries and a distillery are among the businesses located along the park – Delegate Ken Kerr

Image result for carroll creek park

Carroll Creek Park

Civil war battlefields. Frederick County was at the crossroads of America’s Civil War. Located on the Mason-Dixon Line, Frederick County was the site of the Battle of South Mountain (1862) and the Battle of Monocacy (1864). Its towns were alternately occupied by troops from both sides in the days before the nearby battles of Antietam (1862) and Gettysburg (1863). – Delegate Ken Kerr 

Catoctin Mountain Park, where Camp David is, lies within the mountainous area known as the Blue Ridge Province. This 5,810-acre hardwood forest park offers its refreshing streams and scenic vistas. – Delegate Ken Kerr 

 

Harford County

Swan Harbor Farm Park in Harford County for a great place to hike, bird watch and see where the Susquehanna meets the Bay – Susanne Zilberfarb, MAEF 

 

Howard County

Wincopin Trails – “My district is filled with trails along the Middle and Little Patuxent Rivers and even a really beautiful spot where the two come together.” – Delegate Jen Terrasa. (Delegate Harrison Fletcher confirms there is great fishing there! “Everyone knows how much I love fishing… I keep a couple fishing rods and tackle box in my trunk” – Delegate Andrea Harrison Fletcher

Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and
eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails – Delegate Jessica Feldmark

 

Montgomery County

Blackhill Regional Park – 2,000 acres with a lake for canoeing and paddle-boarding, dog park, trails, fishing  – Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo

Patuxent River State Park

Patuxent River State Park in Brookeville, Maryland offers 6,700 acres of natural areas and farmlands. Recreational use is primarily hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding. The park includes a catch and release trout stream, designated hunting areas and unmarked hiking and equestrian trails – Delegate Pamela Queen 

Rock Creek Park and trails –This 1,754-acre city park was officially authorized in 1890, making it the third national park to be designated by the federal government. It offers visitors the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and thousands of years of human history – Delegate Pamela Queen, Delegate Jared Solomon, Delegate Jim Gilchrist 

Lake Needwood – Trails follow the shoreline of Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Regional Park and meander through adjoining forest. The Lake Needwood area offers canoeing, paddle-boarding, and fishing Patuxent River State Park 8 – Delegate Bonnie Cullison, Delegate Jim Gilchrist 

Underground Railroad Experience Trail. The trail was created to provide more pedestrian trails in the

Oakley Cabin Trail

community, preserve the rural landscape and commemorate a part of the county’s history. Come during Heritage Days in June or Emancipation Day in November. – Delegate Pamela Queen  

Oakley Cabin African-American Museum and Park. An African American roadside community lived and worked on this historic site from emancipation well into the 20th century. Their culture and traditions heavily influenced those of surrounding communities, and their story is deeply woven into Montgomery County’s rich history. At the center of this site is Oakley Cabin, which was inhabited until 1976 and now serves as a living history museum. – Delegate Pamela Queen

Seneca Creek State Park is composed of 6,300 acres. The Clopper Day-Use Area contains many scenic areas, including the 90-acre Clopper Lake, surrounded by forests and fields. Picnicking, boat rentals, trails and a tire playground are just some of its recreational opportunities. Over 50 miles of trails are open for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling which wind through a variety of habitat. – Delegate James Gilchrist 

North Bethesda/Bethesda Trolley Trail- The Bethesda Trolley Trail is a great urban hike that mixes paved trails, major highway crossings via pedestrian bridges and a bit of street hiking to link them all together. The cool thing about this hike is that you go right through the heart of Bethesda. – Delegate James Gilchrist 

C&O Canal – Great Falls, Potomac MD

C&O Canal National Historic Park– The 184.5-mile-long recreational, educational and historic attraction welcomes over 5 million visitors each year. It is a major economic driver for the four Maryland counties – including Montgomery County – and the ten Canal Towns it passes through, responsible for approximately $98.4 million in visitor spending in 2019. – Delegate James Gilchrist

Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary is a peaceful 40-acre oasis offering wildflower meadows, meandering woodland trails, native plant gardens, and aquatic life. It’s a great place for kids and family, and they are working on a new ADA-accessible Oakley Cabin Trail, Potomac MD 9 trail and a veteran’s program to use it, partly funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. – Delegate Jared Solomon 

Matthew Henson Trail

Sligo Creek Trail – This roughly 10.2-hard surface trail is one of the oldest in the County. Several paved and a few unpaved trails are scattered throughout the park and connect other park facilities, schools, and neighborhoods to the main trail. It’s a great place to train for running. – Delegate Lorig Charkoudian 

Matthew Henson Trail – The 4.2 mile, 8-foot-wide hard surface trail features 0.6 miles of wooden boardwalk. The trail is surrounded by parkland, forested area, thousands of trees and shrubs, and the Turkey Branch Stream. – Delegate Bonnie Cullison 

 

Queen Anne’s County

Cross Island Trail

Kent Island Cross Island Trail. The 6+-mile trail, wandering through farmland, meadows, wetlands, and woods, spans from Terrapin Park to the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center at Kent Narrows and now beyond. The trail crosses several creeks with wooden bridges, offering a spectacular view of waterfowl and wetlands. – Senator Adelaide Eckhardt, Delegate Steven Arentz, Commissioner Chris Corchiarino

Terrapin Park. This 276-acre nature park features a 3.25-mile oyster chaff walking trail, which meanders through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands and sandy beaches. The trail provides a unique vantage point for viewing an incredible variety of waterfowl, wildlife and plant species. A gazebo and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk located along the beach afford a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. – Commissioner Chris Corchiarino 

Prince George’s County

Riverdale Park Trail – Prince George’s County has 165 miles of trail in its park system, including paved trails for walking, biking, running, skating; natural surface trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding; and water trails for canoeing and kayaking. Senator Pinsky likes to start at Riverdale Park and bike down to the waterfront or bike up to Lake Artemesia Natural Area in College Park. – Senator Paul Pinsky 

Laurel, Maryland – Laurel is a wonderful place to walk, offering a walking tour of historic Laurel through the City’s website. You can walk to three different counties from there! – Delegate Mary Lehman

 

Worcester County

Assateague Island is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west, with land owned by both the federal and state government. Its miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. The bayside offers visitors the chance to explore secluded coves by canoe or kayak. The marsh areas have a variety of wildlife, including deer, waterfowl and of course the wild horses. – Delegate Wayne Hartman

Assateague Island Marshes

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.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Sam Myers & The Nature Conservancy

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Sam coring a white pine as part of her Capstone project to study the impact of historical fires on forest structure at TNC’s Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland. (Photo: Deborah Landau/TNC)

Participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) is a unique experience. We are showcasing the individual Conservation Corps members in the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the incredible work they are doing. This month’s featured Corps member: Sam Myers.

Growing up in Maryland, Sam’s love for the environment was ignited by her experiences in the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay. Sam will always remember her middle school field trip where her class spent time out on the water setting out crab pots, netting fish close to the shore, and mucking in the nearby marsh. She states, “this hands-on learning is what drew me to environmental science and sparked my love for ecology and environmental conservation.” During her time at Washington University in St. Louis, she pursued a degree in environmental studies and worked in their research labs studying plant population ecology and plant pathology. In college, Sam was able to visit the Mojave Desert in California, and Hawaii to study the unique ecology and geology on federally managed lands. Sam also studied abroad in Panama learning about tropical ecology and indigenous resource conservation. Her time traveling helped her realize that there is so much more to learn about the natural world and how different communities work to manage and preserve it.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps members learned how to core trees and helped collect data for Sam’s capstone project at TNC’s Sideling Hill Creek preserve as part of a site visit that she hosted in February.

Upon beginning her time in the Corps, Sam initially wanted to learn about and contribute to environmental conservation projects and spend time working out in the field. She feels lucky to have been placed with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in their Maryland/District of Columbia office where she learned about restoration, land management, and conservation science.

Spanning 79 countries and territories alongside all 50 states, TNC is a science-based organization whose mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depend” by working with partners to advance conservation locally, regionally, and globally. Sam supports their mission as part of the Land Management team by assisting with controlled burns, monitoring rare plant species, and removing invasive species on their preserves. Sam has been able to work on multiple research projects of her own, including an ecosystem services analysis of TNC’s preserves in Maryland and a Capstone project, which is part of each Corps member’s work plan for the year, and is a graduation requirement.

One of her favorite things to experience (before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in Maryland) was exploring the different landscapes across the state encapsulated in TNC’s preserves—from the Delmarva bay wetlands on the Eastern Shore to the Central Appalachian forests and montane bogs in western Maryland. Even though she grew up in Maryland, Sam admits, she had no idea of the vastly diverse ecological communities feeding into the treasured Chesapeake Bay.

Assisting with a controlled burn at Plum Creek Cedar Swamp on the Eastern Shore in January 2020. The burn helped to prepare two grass fields for a longleaf pine planting in February. (Photo: Chase McLean/TNC)

For her Capstone project, Sam studied the impact of historical fires on forest structure at TNC’S Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland. Sideling Hill Creek preserve is an 800-acre oak-pine forest with areas of shale barrens that harbor the unique biodiversity of plants and animals. TNC has been conducting controlled burns since 1962 and uses fire as a management tool to sustain fire-dependent ecosystems and prevent catastrophic wildfires. In Maryland, TNC has been conducting controlled burns on the Eastern Shore since 2008 and has started to develop a burn program in western Maryland (central Appalachians). Though fire was once common and widespread throughout this region, fire exclusion during the past century has threatened the dynamics of this forest. Sam’s capstone project examines how the fire history at Sideling Hill Creek may have shaped today’s forest dynamics. It will serve as a baseline to inform TNC’s management of the preserve and can also inform management of forests regionally across the central Appalachians.

At TNC, Sam has been able to dip her toes into different conservation projects and learn about the interdisciplinary functioning of a global non-profit conservation organization. Sam states that through this opportunity she has gotten to know some wonderful people who have enriched her Corps experience, including her mentor, Deborah Landau. Among other professional development opportunities, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program also provided a variety of opportunities to learn about other environmental organizations and work alongside other Corps members. Sam will be attending the University of Massachusetts – Amherst to further her learning in their Master of Science program for Environmental Conservation, where she will take a sustained connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the people she has met through the Corps. Sam hopes to continue developing interdisciplinary skills to bridge the gap between conservation practitioners and scientists.

Gearing up for a controlled burn at Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland in November 2019. (Photo: Sev Smith/TNC).

The 2019-2020 class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps graduated on August 13th, 2020 at a virtual ceremony, where Tamara Toles O’Laughlin the North American Director of 350.org gave an inspiring speech. The graduating class has members who are attending graduate school at the George Washington University, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and Yale University; working in other “corps” positions like AmeriCorps or TerraCorps; and working at organizations like the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Horizons Outdoor Learning Center, and ShoreRivers; to name a few.

The 2020-2021 class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps had orientation on August 18th, 2020 at a virtual ceremony. To find out more about the new members and their host sites please see their member placements, here. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is also excited to announce the first Corps Alumni web page is now available here, showcasing 10 years of the program.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust thanks the 2020 – 2021 Corps program supporters, BGE an Exelon Company, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the National Parks Service Chesapeake Bay Office, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, American Chestnut Land Trust, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks – Carrie Murray Nature Center, and Maryland Department of the Environment.

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!

 

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