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Kent Island Beach Cleanups Unveils Educational Environmental Sculpture

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Images courtesy of Kent Island Beach Cleanups.

“Many Hands of the Chesapeake” project illuminates the detrimental effects of single-use plastics; Mentorship program advances nonprofit’s mission

Last month, the Trust was honored to help Kent Island Beach Cleanups (KIBCU) celebrate the culmination of their “Many Hands of the Chesapeake” project, an environmental art sculpture commissioned by KIBCU and created by local artist Lucy Kruse from trash and debris collected during KIBCU’s beach cleanup events.

The project was funded by a grant from the Trust’s Community Engagement Mini Grant program, which funds activities that enhance communities and engage residents in activities that improve natural resources.

KIBCU also participated in this grant program’s unique Mentorship Program, established by the Trust in recent years to expand the circle of viable grant applicants. Through this program, KIBCU was paired with the National Aquarium, which served as a mentor to the small nonprofit throughout the project development and grant application process. In turn, the National Aquarium, an established grantee with a track record of successful applications, is eligible to apply for funding through the mini grant program.

“As a grassroots organization, we were very lucky and thankful to have had the opportunity to be mentored by the National Aquarium for the Community Engagement Mini Grant program. The growing issue of marine debris, specifically single-use plastics is a major concern for both KIBCU and the Aquarium,” said KIBCU President and Founder Kristin Weed. “Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly when, unbeknownst to us, the Aquarium joined the Aquarium Conservation Partnership where they started a campaign titled ‘In Our Hands’ where participating aquariums are beginning to shift away from single-use plastics at their facilities. In the meantime, we named our grant project ‘Many Hands of the Chesapeake’ focusing on educating our community on the detriment of single-use plastics. This joint partnership allows us to tackle this problem on both a small and large scale, all with a common goal to reduce pollution in our waterways. We believe this mentorship program allowed us to gain a better understanding of the grant application process, along with opening doors for additional partnerships with other like-minded organizations in our area.”

Kent Island Beach Cleanups was established in 2012 and now organizes a season’s worth of beach cleanups each year throughout Kent Island from March through November. The amount of trash required for the “Many Hands” sculpture was collected during a single cleanup in the spring of 2018. The sculpture is currently on display at the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education and will travel to 14 schools throughout the county along with educational materials on the detriments of single-use plastics and the importance of protecting the environment.

The Community Engagement Mini Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

To read more about Kent Island Beach Cleanups, visit their website. To read more about the “Many Hands” project, check out these articles.

Project Highlight: Narragansett Parkway’s Micro-bioretention Areas in the City of College Park

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City of College Park, Maryland, installs two micro-bioretention areas to treat stormwater runoff along Narragansett Parkway.

Impervious surfaces, such as driveways and parking lots, prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs off these surfaces and carries pollutants that it has picked up along the way. This untreated stormwater runoff flows into storm drains and into our waterways, resulting in polluted streams and rivers that negatively affect aquatic wildlife and human health and safety.

Currently, the stormwater runoff from the neighborhoods and surrounding streets along Narragansett Parkway and Muskogee Street in the City of College Park are collected in inlets along the curbs and at intersections. The stormwater runoff flows directly into the rock-lined channel in the middle of Narragansett Parkway until it reaches Indian Creek.

In order to treat the stormwater runoff and remove pollutants, the City installed two micro-bioretention areas totaling 316 square feet at Narragansett Parkway and Muskogee Street, next to a local park.

This project was funded in part by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution.

Micro-bioretention areas, also referred to as rain gardens, capture stormwater runoff and allow it to pond temporarily. The plants in the micro-bioretention are native species that are adapted to the site’s soil and light conditions and help filter the runoff. Treated water that is not absorbed or taken up by the plants is released to the storm drain system by an underdrain. This location was selected due to its high visibility and educational value to the community. In addition, this location was ranked as one of the top five priority restoration areas in the Indian Creek Subwatershed Restoration Plan.

The City installed educational signage at the site that provides information about the micro-bioretention area. One of the signs includes a QR code that links to the Prince George’s County Clean Water Partnership. The use of signage that provides smartphone links to the County’s website and stormwater restoration programs provides a highly effective method of communication and education to residents.

This project provides an opportunity for local residents to learn about stormwater benefits and shows how stormwater controls can be integrated into the landscape at the neighborhood level.

The Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. 


Educational signage installed at the site provides information about the micro-bioretention areas. Click on the image to get a closer look.

Project Highlight: Borough of Chambersburg’s Rhodes Drive Reconstruction and Bioretention Basin

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These little projects matter.

Richard L. Alloway IIPennsylvania State Senator

“Green Streets” grant helps Borough upgrade central emergency route while improving water quality

This week the Trust joined the Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in celebrating the dedication of their Rhodes Drive Reconstruction and Bioretention Basin project, which was funded in part through a Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant.

Rhodes Drive is centrally located within the Borough, adjacent to the local library, a senior living facility, and a municipal parking lot. Although it is a one-way street, the Chambersburg Emergency Services Department uses the road to respond to calls on the south side of the Borough, with emergency vehicles traveling the street 15-20 times a day. Therefore, it is crucial that Rhodes Drive remains safe and accessible. It is also an important community asset; when it is not being used as an emergency route, it serves as a staging area for several charity run/walk events, Borough parades, and other events.

Prior to initiating this project, Rhodes Drive was in extremely poor condition—inspections revealed significant heaving (a serious issue for an emergency route) and multiple stormwater inlets that discharged directly into Falling Spring Creek (a noted trout stream), which flows into Conococheague Creek, then on to the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Under the direction of the Borough’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Department, the Borough undertook a comprehensive green and gray infrastructure project to address both the structural and environmental issues associated with Rhodes Drive’s poor condition. The reconstructed roadway was funded with grants through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Franklin County Conservation District.

Funding from the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program, a partnership between the Trust, U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Region, City of Baltimore Office of Sustainability, with support from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, enabled the Borough to enhance the project with a bioretention basin, a stormwater best management practice (BMP) designed to catch and treat the first flush of polluted stormwater, running the full length of the street. The basin is planted with native, pollinator-friendly plants that will help to absorb nutrients before the water runs into the adjacent stream. The Green Streets funding also enabled the Borough to replace the sidewalk with a winding park path of permeable pavers, which removes impervious surface, enhances the adjacent park, and improves access to the green space for the residents of the nearby senior living facility.

Rhodes Drive is now the first official “Green Street” in the Borough, which has plans to continue incorporating green infrastructure into future projects.

According to Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill, “the Borough is hoping to set a positive trend and important precedent with the Rhodes Drive infrastructure improvements, as the project was the first MS4 Department storm sewer project to incorporate “green” BMPs. We want to demonstrate how public works projects can be effective and good for the environment.”

Learn more about the Borough of Chambersburg and the Rhodes Drive project here and here.

Learn about the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program here.

Project Highlight: Greenbelt Homes, Inc.’s Rain Garden at 20 Court Ridge

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A stone diaphragm intercepts, captures, and directs stormwater runoff from the hillside and parking lot to a rain garden that slows, filters, and absorbs the runoff.

Community installs new stormwater best management practice that reduces stormwater runoff, erosion, and flooding.

Communities all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed face stormwater-related issues that range from poor drainage to flooding. The Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI) community in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is no exception. GHI is a housing cooperative comprising of 1,600 homes built in the 1930s and 1940s. In the last 70 years, the surrounding area’s topography has significantly changed, with a dramatic increase in the amount of impervious surfaces created due to urban development. Impervious surfaces, such as pavement and roofs, do not allow water to infiltrate into the ground, resulting in large volumes of stormwater runoff that carry increased amounts of pollutants into local streams and rivers.

To help reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to our waterways, communities can implement a variety of stormwater best management practices on their property. In 2016, GHI applied for and received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to install a stormwater best management practice comprised of a stone diaphragm, stone swale, and rain garden at 20 Court Ridge Road. The 20 Court Ridge housing units are located at the bottom of a hill adjacent to a large parking lot. Previously during rain events, stormwater runoff would flow freely down the hill, often causing flooding in the homes’ crawlspaces, walkways, and common areas. After the installation of the new system, completed earlier this year, the GHI community has noticed significant improvements. Now, the stone diaphragm prevents stormwater runoff from flowing directly to the housing units by intercepting and capturing the runoff. The stone diaphragm carries the runoff downhill, then through underground pipes across the parking lot, and finally into a stone swale and rain garden. The rain garden slows, captures, and filters stormwater runoff using plants and soil mixes that mimic natural filtering processes that remove pollutants. The rain garden features a variety of native plants, such as butterfly milkweed and beardtongue, that are adapted to local site conditions, and therefore require less maintenance, watering, and fertilizer. In addition, native plants attract pollinators and other wildlife, such as butterflies and birds, to the rain garden, resulting in a beautiful outdoor space for residents to enjoy.

Congrats to GHI for the successful implementation of their first major stormwater best management practice and for their commitment to improving our waterways!

This project was funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution.

The Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. 

Project Highlight: Prince George’s County and Maryland’s First Bandalong Litter Trap

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The Trust had the opportunity to join Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Anacostia Riverkeeper, the City of Mount Rainier, and other community members in celebrating the installation of the first major litter trap in Maryland in Arundel Canal, a tributary of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River in Mount Rainier.

The innovative litter trap, a type widely used throughout Australia and Asia, is designed to capture litter and debris that has been discarded onto roadways and transported by rain and wind into storm drains.

Litter left on roadways, in parks, and in other parts of Prince George’s County communities is unsightly and can cause human health issues. During big rain events, the litter makes its way to Prince George’s County waterways over land and through the sewer system. When the litter enters our waterways, the water can become polluted, harming the creatures who live in an around the waterways, contaminating the fish we consume, and creating potential hazards for swimmers and other recreational users.

In an effort to safeguard community members and help remove some of the in-stream litter, the Anacostia Riverkeeper and the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment teamed up to install the County and Maryland’s first in-stream litter trap in the City of Mount Rainier, located at the corner of Arundel Road and 30th Street in the Arundel Canal.

The litter trap system chosen for the site is known as the Bandalong Litter Trap. The trap’s unique design requires no mechanical assistance, relying only on the water’s natural current, offering an economical way to capture floating litter before it reaches the Anacostia River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes marine debris.

The Anacostia Riverkeeper will subcontract the litter trap collection to Joe’s Movement Emporium who will remove the litter from the trap, which can then be sorted and weighed by litter type so that the litter reduction statistics can be recorded and shared with the community members and County partners. The trap is safe for fish, waterfowl, and other aquatic life. In addition to the litter removal, the litter trap site in Mount Rainier will serve as an important education site, informing community members and visitors about the importance of properly disposing litter.

The installation of the litter trap was funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution. The Anacostia Riverkeeper has received another grant award to install a second litter trap of this type in another tributary of the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County later this year.

The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. To learn more and to apply, click here.

Contact the Anacostia Riverkeeper to learn more about this project or to learn about volunteer opportunities.

Project Highlight: Twin Harbors Living Shoreline

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Community replaces failing bulkhead with natural living shoreline to improve water quality and create wildlife habitat

The Trust recently had the opportunity to celebrate the completion of South River Federation’s Twin Harbors Living Shoreline & BMP project at a ribbon cutting ceremony and barbeque with the residents of Twin Harbors, a waterfront community located in Arnold, MD.

This project, initiated by the Twin Harbors community and South River Federation, was funded in part by a grant from the Anne Arundel County Watershed Restoration Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and Anne Arundel County Government.

Faced with a failing bulkhead, the community worked with South River Federation to replace approximately 390 linear feet of existing bulkhead with a living shoreline along Mill Creek of the Magothy River.  The project complements the community’s nearby 187 linear foot shoreline installed two years ago with funding from a Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Engagement Mini Grant.  Additionally, this project includes a 4,200 square foot bioretention facility located between a parking lot and the shoreline to capture runoff, as well as 0.25 acres of voluntary reforestation. (Note: The cost of reforestation was not included in the grant award.)

This restoration will create a stable shoreline that will work to improve water quality, reduce erosion, and create habitat where there has not been any for decades.  Through a dense native planting and use of woody debris, South River Federation will work to achieve new habitat zones to support a variety of Bay flora and fauna.

The above photos, provided by shoreline contractor Maguire Marine, show the stunning before and after.

Congrats to the Twin Harbors community for their continued commitment to the health of Mill Creek and Dividing Creek! And Congrats to South River Federation and their partners Maguire Marine, Ciminelli’s Landscape Service, and Restoration Resource Group for a job well done!

Read more about this project and the South River Federation’s work here.

Learn more about the Anne Arundel County Watershed Restoration Grant Program here.

Project Highlight: Rock Creek Conservancy’s Crabbs Branch Conservation Landscaping

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Innovative Stormwater Solution Demonstration Site for HOAs in Montgomery County

The Trust spent a fantastic morning celebrating the completion of Rock Creek Conservancy’s Crabbs Branch Conservation Landscaping project in the Derwood Station 2 neighborhood of Derwood, Maryland. This project was funded through the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration & Outreach Grant Program, which is a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Trust.

Planning for this project, which will prevent thousands of gallons of stormwater from flowing directly into Crabbs Branch, was originally initiated by the Derwood Station 2 Homeowner’s Association in 2015, but remained in the planning stage because of lack of funding. The HOA’s partnership with Rock Creek Conservancy and the support from Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Trust enabled them to move forward.

As a nonprofit, grant-making organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the natural resources of the Chesapeake region, it is our mission to engage as many people as possible in natural resources issues through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration projects. Projects like this one, one of the largest ever funded through the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration & Outreach Grant Program, exemplify this mission.

Not only is the Crabbs Branch Conservation Landscaping project a great example of nature-based solutions to stormwater pollution, but it demonstrates the power of community-based, green infrastructure projects.

The conservation landscaping project will not only help clean and reduce stormwater runoff into Crabbs Branch, which is a tributary of Rock Creek, but it will educate the community, provide a beautiful, useable community space, and will help rally and engage others in clean water issues as it serves as a demonstration site and model for other HOAs throughout Montgomery County.

While on the surface this project may seem narrowly focused on solving a problem for one community, its implications and impact for the wider watershed are vast.

We are proud to partner with Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to support projects like this. We commend Rock Creek Conservancy, Darlene Robbins, the landscape designer, and the construction team from J & G Landscape Design for a job well done! It was a pleasure to help you celebrate!

Read more about the Crabbs Branch Conservation Landscaping project (be sure to check out images of the design plan and stunning “before” photos) here.

Read more about the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection here.

Learn  about the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration & Outreach Grant Program and how it could help your organization here.

Town of Forest Heights Keeps Street Trees Healthy and Thriving

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Tree Keepers project funded by Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program

Trees are essential—they clean the air, lower the temperature of cities during warm weather, and reduce heating bills in cold weather. They also act as filters to clean stormwater and slow the flow of water during heavy rains to reduce flooding, which is why even urban areas need plenty of trees. Trees along sidewalks and roads in urban areas are known as “street trees.” Street trees require regular care and maintenance to keep them healthy and thriving.

The Town of Forest Heights received a Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant to fund their unique Tree Keepers project, a summer program which combined a maintenance plan for existing street trees with job training and mentorship for high school students and a community outreach plan to engage citizens in the care and maintenance of street trees.

Using grant funds, the Town hired six high school students from Oxon Hill and Potomac High Schools, one college graduate student, and one community elder for the summer program. These new hires for the project were known as the “Tree Keepers.”

At the start of the project, the Tree Keepers learned about trees from two certified arborists. Then they examined, watered, mulched, and pruned 150 street trees. The group also conducted research to identify and catalogue trees. The Town will use this data to create an environmental asset inventory.

ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY

The Tree Keepers engaged Town residents using an educational campaign that focused on sharing the benefits of trees, including improved property value, stormwater collection, air quality, and energy conservation. In addition, the Tree Keepers talked with people who lived near the street trees to share the value of the tree, along with a few easy tips to help the tree continue to grow and thrive. They also shared a brochure with residents that they developed as part of the program.

PROJECT SUCCESS!

This project was a success for the Town of Forest Heights. The high school students gained job experience, some for the first time, and the guidance of the community elder and the graduate student was a successful model for mentoring and learning in the program. Building capacity within the community and building job skills was important goal of the project. The Town even hired one of the students at the end of the summer to provide maintenance and upkeep for plants at the Town Hall property.

Most importantly, the Tree Keepers forged connections with homeowners about the care and maintenance of the trees in their neighborhood. Now Town residents are interested and excited about their street trees!

PRINCE GEORGE’S STORMWATER STEWARDSHIP GRANT PROGRAM

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to offer the Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support clean water projects and engage citizens throughout Prince George’s County. Applications for this program are currently closed, but will reopen in June/July 2018. Learn more about previous grant awards here.

GET INVOLVED

Are you interested in planting a tree?

The following organizations have received funding through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to plant trees on private individual residential property in Prince George’s County in 2018:

Contact them to inquire about planting opportunities on your property or in your neighborhood!

Snapshot of Life in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps

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Corps Members Collaborate on Jug Bay Wetlands Nature Discovery Play Space

Check out this great video from Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Shelby Cross!

In late December, eight Chesapeake Conservation Corps members gathered at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for a site visit and to assist fellow Corps member Shelby Cross with one phase of her capstone project: building a giant “bird’s nest” for a new nature discovery play space at Jug Bay’s Wayson’s Corner location.

Each year participants in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps complete a capstone project to top off their Corps experience. The capstone project provides Corps members with experience in grant writing (they apply to the Trust for grants to fund their projects) and project planning, management, and implementation.

To build Cross’s giant bird’s nest, Corps members worked together to remove three truckloads of vine, including some invasive oriental bittersweet, for the construction of the nest. The nest will be a key feature in the nature play space, which aims to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and encourage children to grow socially, physically, and cognitively by engaging with nature through play.  The Corps members completed the nest within 4 hours, whereas Cross estimates that it would have taken her over 30 hours to complete by herself.

Describing her Chesapeake Conservation Corps experience, Cross says “This experience so far has been absolutely amazing, and in many instances rewarding. I have taught Anne Arundel County Public School’s second grade classes, and it brightens my day to know I made a child smile for something as simple as sharing my knowledge of turtles. However, there are some days that this position is equally challenging, and requires a lot of mental and physical attention. It has an easy balance between being rewarding and challenging, and it’s hard to find that kind of experience.”

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications for 2018-2019 Host Sites until March 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm.

Applications for 2018-2019 Corp members are also open and due by April 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm. To learn more about this life-changing program and to submit an application visit: cbtrust.org/prospective.

To learn more about Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, visit their website.

Shelby Cross is a 2017-2018 Chesapeake Conservation Corps member with Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Goucher College.

There Used to Be a Forest There

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Photo Credit: Jeffrey Popp

Trust Grant Program helps restore and protect forested land from invasive species

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, so we’re sharing this stunning photo, which shows how planting bamboo as a screen can go very wrong. In this case, an invasive variety of bamboo and other invasive species spread to over 6 acres and killed off all of the native trees on the forested land on this property. The photo shows the land after the bamboo was removed, a process that took two years.

Corcoran Woods is a 215 acre forested area owned and managed by the State of Maryland located near Sandy Point State Park. Over several decades, invasive plants replaced and degraded almost half of the property’s hardwood forests and were threatening to infiltrate the remaining healthy acreage.

To save this forested land, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay received grant funding through the Trust’s Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program, a partnership with the County, to launch a three-part, large-scale reforestation project. In the most recent phase of the project, grant funds were used to treat the bamboo and remove invasive species. The next phase of the project will plant more than 11,000 tree seedlings on 27 acres. More than 7,000 trees were already planted in 2017.

“The Anne Arundel County Forestry grant program is an innovative and unique opportunity,” says Craig Highfield, Director of Chesapeake Forests for Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “It provided us resources to be able to address significant forest health issues of our project site well in advance of planting the trees while also allowing us to implement essential post-planting care for our new trees. This better ensures the overall success of the restoration and improves the function of this forest. It is not just a tree planting program.”

The Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program implements cost-effective reforestation and greening projects and increases the number of acres of protected forested land in the County. By increasing tree cover and expanding green areas, erosion can be reduced; water and soil quality can be improved; airborne pollutants such as particulates, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide can be filtered; and summer temperatures and resulting ozone pollution and energy use can be reduced.

The grant program is open until March 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm. To learn more and to submit an application, click here.

To learn more about the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and their forest restoration work, visit their website.