Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

Goatscaping: Clearing Invasive Species Never Looked So Cute

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Invasive kudzu engulfs the left side of this picture while the goat cleared area on the right shows the improvement made.

By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

Maintaining and enhancing its community areas is one of the primary responsibilities of the Edgewater Beach Citizens Association for the Edgewater Beach Shaded section community. The community is a small neighborhood of 53 homes. In the communal area of several acres a park, picnic area, and an active pier with boat slips are the backdrop for 36 goats from Browsing Green Goats. Why you may ask? In the little nook located on South River from Park Avenue to Edgewater Beach Drive lies tangles of invasive Kudzu vines engulfing and suffocating the existing native trees and plants. Kudzu has destroyed natural riparian vegetation along the banks of Beards Creek and South Park River, causing instability and erosion of sediment which fills the South River. Known as an overpowering vine, Kudzu can suffocate trees at the crown when engulfed which, result in rotting roots.

Mary Bowen, invasive species control specialist and founder of Browsing Green Goats, has mastered the innovative technique of tackling weeds in a sustainable matter. “Goats can graze in hard to reach places that machines usually miss; such as slopes, wetlands, and rough terrain areas.” Goats also eat poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, and knotweed to name a few. Additional benefits of goat browsing include the natural fertilizer source of their excrement and their ability to till the soil with their hooves which break down clumps and large mounds of soil for a better surface to plant new trees. They have made significant progress. According to John Greene, project leader for the Edgewater Beach Citizens Association (EBCA), “the goats cleared almost an acre in the first 24 hours!”

This project was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s (Trust) through the Community Engagement Mini-Grant Program. This grant program is designed to connect residents throughout Maryland in activities that enhance communities, engage residents, and improve natural resources. A few of these activities include tree plantings, rain gardens, stream cleanups, storm drain stenciling, and yep, removal of invasive species. The Trust seeks to reach groups that have traditionally been under-served in tackling environmental issues and new applicants and organizations from a diverse array of communities.

Before the Trust’s approval of the Edgewater Beach Shady Side Community project, Mr. Greene said that the plants were “too powerful for the toxic and environmentally unfriendly herbicides or from removing the vines by hand.” Completion of the invasive removal was slated for Summer 2020, however, the goats have made a significant impact in their short period spent in the area. After this phase of the project, maintenance will include identifying crowns (root systems) and treating those crowns with approved chemicals for removal. Further maintenance of the entire park area is conducted by residents throughout the year. The EBCA was able to accumulate $2,500 towards this project alongside an additional $2,500 in donations to complete the eradication of kudzu.

The Arundel Rivers Federation (ARF) aided in raising awareness and publicity for the rest of the Edgewater Beach Shaded community to be educated and involved in this portion of the project. In the second phase, ARF intends on hosting a kayak trip with area neighbors and the South Riverkeeper – to inform them about native riparian plants and their importance to the river. Additional opportunities for outreach include anticipated services from Annapolis area high schools – including the Annapolis High Key Club. The project intends to educate students about the issue of invasive plants and river health.

Recently, the community and their project was featured in the Edgewater Patch. Read the full story here.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Amanda Bland & The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

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Participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps is a unique experience. We’re 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 is: Amanda Bland

Amanda Bland grew up at the Southern tip of Calvert County, Maryland, at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay on Solomons Island. Solomons Island is now a popular tourist destination where visitors can learn about maritime history and taste delicious seafood. Growing up, Amanda recalls fishing, crabbing and boating with her family, which inspired her connection to the Bay. During her sophomore year at Washington College, Amanda spent 5 months in an intense interdisciplinary program called the Chesapeake Semester Program; studying the Chesapeake Bay and learning about the intricate connection shared by humans, community, society, and the environment. In May of 2019, Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies minoring in both Sociology and Chesapeake Regional Studies. Amanda said that as she neared the end of her undergraduate career “I felt that the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) would allow me to apply not only my passion, but my degree, and experience in the environmental world to issues that matter, and connect with other young professionals and professionals in the field.” Amanda stated that she was driven to join the CCC after hearing inspiring stories told by alumni and because of the opportunity to work with leaders in the Chesapeake Bay Region.

Amanda was placed at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (The Alliance) for her year-long term of service in August (Read more about the 2019-2020 cohort here). The Alliance works to implement unique strategies to enable humans, waterways, and land to prosper. Amanda is “ecstatic and grateful to be working with an organization whose values align so closely with my own,” and has already gained an entirely new understanding and appreciation of restoration projects around the region. On her first day at the Alliance, Amanda was able to visit a potential spotted turtle restoration site. Amanda has been hard at work planning a habitat forum in Southern Maryland, leading outreach for the Chesapeake Watershed Forum, and producing new content for the Alliance Blog. Amanda says her experience so far has allowed her to explore many different things and has increased her motivation to work in the environmental field. Amanda is learning how to communicate effectively, work through obstacles, and prioritize tasks. The Alliance has received a Corps Member the past 2 years. Last year they hired their Corps Member Lucy Heller as their Communications and Maryland Outreach Coordinator.

Amanda Bland and Alliance Staff on tour of Poplar Island

Amanda’s capstone project will aim to decrease shoreline erosion at Ellen O’Moyer Nature Park in Annapolis, Maryland. The park is managed by the Annapolis Maritime Museum and is used for environmental education programs; however, eroding shoreline is negatively impacting water access and wetland habitat. Amanda said she values the intersection of human activity and the ecosystem, and hopes for both to flourish, which is why her capstone to lead an erosion control planting event is so important to her. Amanda hopes the planting will serve as an educational tool for future generations and will spark a connection with other young adults. Amanda will be presenting on “Community Resilience through living shorelines” at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum from November 15th -19th 2019 in Shepherdstown West Virginia.

The Request for Proposals to be a Corps Host Organization will open next week and close on December 19th, 2019. The Corps Member Application will be opening in late December. To stay up to date on our open grant programs click here.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust Announces Awardees

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The Chesapeake Bay Trust has a rigorous grant review process: every proposal submitted over $5,000 is sent to members of a Technical Review Committee (TRC) and is reviewed and scored quantitatively by at least three external peers who are experts in their fields. The Board of Trustees meets 4 times per year to review and approve all TRC recommended proposals. Proposals for $5,000 or less are reviewed by two or more technical experts on the Chesapeake Bay Trust program team.

Anne Arundel County Community Planting Mini Grant Program

September 2019

Annapolis Landing Homeowners Association: for native tree planting, invasive species removal, and increased tree canopy. $2,500.
Arundel Rivers Federation: for planting in West Shoreham community to aide runoff and water filtration. $1,465.
Magothy Meadows Homeowners Association: for removal of invasive species diseased trees and native tree planting. $2,500.
Olde Severna Park Improvement Association, Inc.: for spraying of invasive phragmites on community property. $800.

Capacity Building Initiatives

September 2019

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: for the enhancement of communications systems in place and increasing management capacity. $15,778.
Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park: for technical capacity building to support upgrades at the Eastport and Back Creek campuses. $11,307.
Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy: for consultant support to devise a strategic plan. $17,490.
EcoLatinos, Inc.: for the enhancement of adaptive and technical capacities to support diversity, equity and inclusion work. $12,000.
Gunpowder Valley Conservancy: to increase leadership capacity and develop a financial plan to diversity revenue sources. $15,293.
Harford Land Trust, Inc.: for developing communications and database upgrades to support the technical capacity. $17,180.
Havre de Grace Maritime Museum: for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Alliance to create an adaptive development plan. $13,000.
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, Inc.: for work with a development consultant to create a sustainable and robust plan. $16,500.
National Wildlife Federation: for technical and leadership support for the Young Professionals of Color program through the Choose Clean Water Coalition. $29,960.
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: for technical capacity support to upgrade multiple systems for donor relations and employee use. $14,541.
Potomac Conservancy: for diversity, equity, and inclusion capacity building through a local consultant. $25,000.
Rock Creek Conservancy: for technical capacity enhancements relating to volunteer outreach and engagement of a broader audience. $7,750.
West Virginia Rivers Coalition: for capacity building support to increase revenue and leadership capacities. $15,000.

Community Engagement Mini-Grant Program

September 2019

Chestertown Garden Club: for a native pollinator garden and tree planting with community volunteers. $2,793.
Cross Keys Condominium #1: for Baltimore City waterways workshops and the value of native pollinator plants and engagement of volunteers in a conservation landscaping project. $4,908.
Riva Trace Council: for the installation of a native plant pollinator garden and education regarding the value and function of native plants and treating stormwater runoff. $4,910.
Town of Emmitsburg: for the distribution of 117 rain barrels and two educational workshops regarding the challenges and solutions associated with stormwater runoff. $5,000.
Town of New Market: for a rain barrel education workshop and distribution of 40 rain barrels to workshop participants. $2,400.
Volunteering Untapped Incorporated: for a community clean-up in Druid Hill Park and the Druid Heights neighborhood. $4,700.

Environmental Education Mini Grant Program

September 2019

Anacostia Watershed Society: to remove invasive plants and plant native wildflowers to restore 1 acre of meadow habitat along the river. $5,000.
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute: “Canoe and scoop” water quality field experience. $2,500.
Baltimore Urban Debate League: for native plant and tree installment and pollution outreach for 8th graders in 2 schools. $5,000.
Bethesda Green: for student participation in the Bethesda Green Environmental Leaders Program. $5,000.
Broadway High School: for investigation of water quality and user issues by doing a bottom grab invertebrate investigation and a qualitative measurement study. $290.
Catonsville Elementary School: for field trips on the Patapsco River. $2,375.
Cecil County Public Schools: for a Cecil Manor Elementary School outdoor experience at North Bay. $5,000.
Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries: for field trips including the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Wildwood Park Nature Center, the Susquehanna River and the PA State Legislature. $3,260.
Dunloggin Middle School: to establish a better riparian buffer with tree plantings. $4,020.
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s Sassafras Environmental Education Center: for elementary grades to participate in stream cleanups and create artwork. $4,537
Easton High School: for AP Environmental Science students to research and implement capstone projects with industry mentors. $3,700.
Edward M. Felegy Elementary School: for a comprehensive program engaging students about meadow restoration along the Anacostia Watershed. $2,653.
Elk Neck Elementary School: for an outdoor experience at North Bay. $4,154.
Friends of Deckers Creek: to hold a four-part education event for the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club and kayaking field trip. $4,921.
Green Muslims: for the “Our Deen (Faith) is Green” youth outdoor education program, taking place at Hard Bargain Farm in Accokink, MD, and Whitehall Farm in Clifton, VA. $5,000.
The GreenMount School: for garden and wildlife habitat study with trash clean-up in area stream buffers and streets. $5,000.
Henrico Education Foundation: to provide field trips with the James River Association for 150 students. $5,000.
Immaculate Conception School: for watershed research and field experience with Prigel Family Creamery and Conowingo Dam. $5,000.
James River Association: for participants of the Tuckahoe YMCA and Quioccasin Middle School’s STAR program to explore and understand their local watershed through field trips. $5,000.
James River Association: Elizabeth Redd Elementary School’s 5th grade will participate in an in-class lesson, field trip to Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, and a Paint Out Pollution stewardship project. $5,000.
Kent Island High School: for implementation of an outdoor classroom. $5,000.
Key School: for the creation of an environmental sculpture on plastic pollution. $5,000.
Lacey Spring Elementary School: for professional development training for up to 25 teachers about the Chesapeake Bay and restoration. $3,750.
Live It Learn It: for Audubon Naturalist Society field trips by right 5th grade classes with a garbology-focused action project. $5,000.
Loch Raven Technical Academy: 6th grade biosystems field investigation at Camp Puh Tok. $5,000.
MacArthur Middle School: for 330 8th graders to visit Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary and install a rain garden. $2,250.
Mary Moss @ J. Albert Adams: for construction of a green house, grow native plants, and expand a rain garden on campus. $4,750.
Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education: to develop teacher training program for Project Learning Tree. $5,000.
Montpelier Elementary School: for student participation in a field experience at Patuxent Research Refuge and install a rain garden on their school grounds. $3,975.
Mountainside Education and Enrichment, Inc.:  for stormwater mitigation education activities for Friends Meeting School. $3,530.
One Montgomery Green: for student participation in the Clean Headwaters Program. $5,000.
Park School of Baltimore: for students to study poultry farming and soil ecology. $4,996.
Park School of Baltimore: for student study of plankton, false-dark mussel filtration rate and efficiency and comparison to oysters in varying Inner Harbor conditions. $4,968.
Rivanna Conservation Alliance: for 200 students to investigate local water pollution issues, monitor water quality, and implement an action project. $4,985.
Skyline High School: for water quality field trips and monitoring by 150 9th-12th graders. $5,000.
Spring Grove Area School District: for a wetland and watershed field trip by 8th grade science students. $2,864.
The Summit School: for sixth through eighth grade students to participate in a Roedown Farm field experience. $4,240.
University of Mary Washington: for professional development training of 20 4th-6th grade teachers on watershed curriculum development and integrating science and literacy. $5,000.
Viers Mills Elementary School: 4th grade field experience and action project on school grounds. $5,000.
Village School: to take student pollinator gardens from concept to fruition, by designing, and installing pollinator gardens for the dual purpose of improving water quality and providing a diverse habitat. $1,178.
Wicomico County Board of Education / Public Schools: for 130 middle schools to engage in outdoor experiences leading to on-campus projects. $2,085.

Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Program

September 2019

Lancaster Farmland Trust: to catalyze the adoption of farm conservation practices, document the current state of conservation plans on farms, and assess any barriers to the implementation of those plans. $100,000.

EPA Conowingo

September 2019

University of Maryland College Park: for the establishment of a Watershed Implementation Plan innovative financing system. $309,814.

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church Reforests Woodlands

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By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

On an overcast Thursday morning, volunteers from the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church (WMPC) in Severna Park, Maryland, prepared for the planting of 176 native trees, shrubs, and plants across the church’s woodlands by digging all of the holes and placing all plants into their properly assigned locations. Located between Sunset Assisted Living and WMPC, this Anne Arundel Watershed Stewardship Capstone Project is led by Steward candidate Frank Goetschius (pictured left with Bob Royer, WMPC Property Management). The volunteers included members of the REHABS (REtired HAndyperson Breakfast Society) as well as the gardener’s group from the church.

On the designated planting day, more than 75 volunteers showed up representing more than 12 community organizations including the Magothy River Association, the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA), Baywise volunteers, Maryland Master Gardeners, Severna Park High School, Broadneck High School, Boy Scouts Troop 339, Girl Scouts Troop 184, local community gardening clubs, and multiple WMPC church groups. With the help of Watershed Steward Alison Milligan as their advisor, the volunteers were able to reforest the woodlands with native trees, such as Red Oak, Chestnut Oak, Red Maple, American Holly, Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, and Sweet Bay Magnolia alongside the existing Elm, Oak, Sweet Gum, and Black Gum trees. These new plantings will aid in the reforestation process by returning the woodland to when the church was founded 100 years ago. “The goal is to promote vegetation, maximize diversity of forestry, and create a lush area that will be a resource for wildlife,” said Mr. Goetschius. The tree planting project is intended to prevent stormwater runoff from entering onto roadways and into storm drains the directly flow into Cypress Creek on the Magothy.

“Earlier this year, Woods Church launched its “Woods has Gone Native “ initiative, planting hundreds of native, pollinator-friendly plants in the church grounds bringing about a remarkable transformation with the return of numerous butterflies and bees,” said Mr. Bob Royer. “You have to care for the creation around you by planting the native trees and plants that support the populations of birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.”  The members of the church gardening group made labels to help the public who visit become familiar with the diversity of native plants available so they can plant these in their own gardens.

This project was funded by the Trust’s Anne Arundel County Community Planting Mini-Grant Program. In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Forest Conservancy District Board, the program funds tree planting and tree canopies in communities, neighborhoods, and parks throughout Anne Arundel County. The goal of this grant fits perfectly with the WMPC’s project; to raise awareness of the health of our region, tree canopy, watersheds, air quality, streams, rivers, and the Bay. Additional organizations such as Unity Gardens and WSA have also provided grants to make this project possible. WMPC was certified by the University of Maryland Extension Baywise Program in 2018, a program that teaches simple, bay-friendly lawn and gardening practices so homeowners can help preserve the land and waterways within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The project will be completed by mid-October.

Watch this fantastic video coverage by Chesapeake Bay Magazine in a recent Bay Bulletin story here.

Blogging About Plogging

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We’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of Corps members of the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they have been doing.

Karlis Grauze (right in picture) is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Philosophy. He has previous experience working with Howard EcoWorks, Anacostia Watershed Society, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Karlis joins the 10th-anniversary Chesapeake Conservation Corps cohort position with Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG). PHG aims to preserve, protect, and restore the environment history, and culture of the Patapsco River Valley. Karlis will lead GIS work about the Patapsco River Valley to help engage the Spanish-speaking community who use Patapsco Valley State Park, help with environmental stewardship events, and educational outreach to local schools.

In support of his host site’s outreach mission, Karlis helped introduce plogging to the popular Patapsco Trail Fest which took place mid-September.  The concept of plogging is still relatively new to the United States. It evolved from the European #plogga or #plogging and derives from the Swedish “Plocka upp” and jogging. Plogging combines the recreational act of jogging/running (or even hiking) with environmental stewardship (i.e. picking up trash) along the way. The weekend combines many different events including mountain biking, climbing, paddling, hiking, and trail runs, as well as many other recreational and stewardship activities for adults and families alike, making it the perfect test “plog” for the concept.

PHG is the ideal organizing partner focusing on the overall participation and enjoyment of all partakers representing all the user groups of Patapsco Valley State Park. Advanced planning for the event included mapping a wooded trail route with signage to enable participants to go at their own pace while still completing a full loop around the park. The Fest awarded prizes for the (1) fastest time, (2) greatest amount of trash, and the (3) weirdest item found.

Expectations were guarded as this was the first time plogging was introduced at the Fest. However, plogging drew a dedicated crowd who set the standard for future growth and has inspired planning and marketing for more plogging events in the spring. “We hope that combining recreation and environmental stewardship in different ways will help us reach a larger audience and give participants new and fun experiences,” stated Karlis. Participants collected several full bags of trash around the river along with 3 tires. The weirdest item found ended up being what is thought to be a large piece of an old motorcycle of some sort. One of the participants hauled this heavy piece back to the finish line, dog in hand!

For future events, organizers will increase marketing efforts to engage a wider audience and increase the number of participants. Trail Fest was a pilot for the planned X-Treme Cleanup series which will feature kayak and bar crawl clean-ups. Thank you to Karlis Grauze for an innovative addition to a popular event keeping it fresh and fun for all who attended!

Interested in finding out more about plogging? Check out this great video from the PBS News Hour here.

ECO City Farms Helps Improve Water Quality for the Anacostia River

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Urban agriculture enhances food security, improves community relationships, and demonstrates small scale farming that can be replicated by those living in cities and urban centers. It also provides an opportunity for community members to learn about agriculture, farming, and the environment.

ECO City Farms (ECO) is a nonprofit organization in Prince George’s County, Maryland. ECO grows food, farms, and farmers in ways that protect, restore, and sustain the natural environment and the health of local communities. ECO currently has two farms, a 1.5-acre farm in Edmonston and a 3.5-acre farm in Bladensburg, where they cultivate a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, honey, and microgreens.  They also work with the local community and educate and train the next generation of urban farmers through their apprenticeship opportunities and SEED2FEED summer youth program.

In 2015, ECO received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to install a stormwater management system at their Edmonston Farm, located next to the Anacostia River. During a rainstorm, runoff around the farm and surrounding areas would flow directly into the river, carrying with it any pollutants such as trash and sediment. The volume of runoff entering the river also contributed to the erosion of the river banks. After the installation of the stormwater management system, however, runoff is now captured and treated onsite, reducing the negative impacts of runoff on the farm and the river.

The stormwater management system is comprised of hoophouse gutters, tile drainage, catch basins, water storage tanks, and a retention pond. All of these components slow down and capture runoff during rainstorms. For example, the hoophouse gutters collect rain water that flows off of the hoophouses, which are a type of greenhouse, and diverts it to the catch basins. Since the installation, ECO experienced major improvements in the site’s drainage with less occurrence of pooling and standing water around growing beds. ECO also installed educational signage and developed brochures in English and Spanish to educate visitors about their stormwater management system.
 
Amazing work ECO City Farms!
Click on this image to view a larger version and see how the stormwater system works.

ShoreRivers + REALTORS = Water Wise and River Friendly Homeowners

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The Chesapeake Bay watershed offers a lifestyle unmatched elsewhere, however, waterfront property ownership comes with special responsibilities. ShoreRivers recently held a half-day workshop to educate area REALTORS on resources to help them take the lead with residential buyers and sellers and their waterfront homes. “One of the intents of this workshop as to educate Chesapeake Bay REALTORS on how they can be part of the solution to prevent nutrient pollution and it’s resulting algae blooms and fish kills….something that is becoming way to common in other waterways,” said Matt Pluta, director of riverkeeper programs for ShoreRivers.

From yard fertilization to living shorelines, members of Bay Area Association of REALTORS and Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS packed the Chesapeake College classroom to learn about safe, effective, and sustainable methods for improving landscapes and water quality. ShoreRivers’ Riverkeepers updated the group on the conditions and threats posed to the Choptank, Sassafras, Chester, and Miles rivers. Environmental planners from Talbot, Queen Anne’s, and Dorchester counties discussed the laws surrounding protection of all land within 1,000 feet of Mean High-Water Lines of tidal waters, landward edge of tidal wetlands, and all waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Attendees learned about the causes and impacts of algal blooms, water quality threats, bacteria monitoring, the economic value of river friendly yards, laws relating to buffers and critical area protection, and homeowner resources.

What can residents do to keep our local streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay clean and healthy? Slow down surface water runoff. Homeowners can do their part by planting a conservation landscape, rain garden, or trees on their property. They can install rain barrels or cisterns to capture runoff from their roof. They can also replace traditional pavement with permeable pavers that allow the runoff to soak into the ground. These practices not only help improve water quality, they also beautify the property and can save homeowners money on water and heating/cooling bills.

And of course, lawns. The University of Maryland Extension suggests “fertilizer-free and pesticide free lawns are the best choice for the environment. Both time and money can be saved by reducing the frequency of fertilizing and applying pesticides. Slow release and low or no phosphorous fertilizers are optimal to promote a healthy environment.” Over-application of fertilizer and pesticides on lawns contributes to large amounts of excess nutrients in our rivers.

Everyone’s ability and responsibility to minimize adverse impacts on water quality, reduce pollutants and runoff, protect fish and wildlife habitat, and bring our treasured resource and lifestyle amenity back to its best health was the resounding message throughout the day. And while the information-packed focus of this professional development workshop was the Eastern Shore, much of the training is replicable in other areas of Maryland. The University of Maryland Extension reminds us that “most Maryland residents live within a half-mile of a storm drain, stream or river. Most of those waterways eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do to maintain our own landscapes can affect the health of our local waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and our environment.”

This workshop was funded by a grant through the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Outreach and Restoration Grant Program. The Trust’s mission to promote public awareness and participation of all local residents in the restoration and protection of our region’s natural resources includes engaging new audiences and partnering with organizations, like ShoreRivers, who recognize the importance of sharing best practices that increase the inclusion of all local residents in the ongoing effort to educate, engage, and restore our natural resources and communities. Thank you ShoreRivers for your innovative idea, logistical planning, and hard work in not only making this event a success but also providing a grass roots outline for others to use!

 

Alice Ferguson Foundation Implements Practices to Improve Water Quality and Engage Visitors

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Environmental nonprofit organizations play a vital role in connecting people to the natural world. Located in Accokeek, Maryland, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) engages thousands of teachers, students, and visitors in environmental education and action each year.

In 2014, AFF received a grant award to implement a variety of stormwater management practices on their property and to provide stormwater education to teachers, students, and visitors. Stormwater management practices improve water quality by reducing the amount of pollutants that enter local waterways.

One of the practices they installed were two 1,500 gallon cisterns. Cisterns help prevent polluted runoff from entering nearby rivers by collecting rainwater that flows off of the building’s roof. The collected rainwater is reused for irrigation in AFF’s Children’s Garden and other areas on the AFF property. AFF also installed five rain gardens and bioswales, planting over 500 native trees and shrubs and 8,000 native plants. Rain gardens and bioswales slow down runoff and allow it to soak into the ground, helping to filter the runoff before it reaches local waterways. AFF uses these practices as demonstration sites and installed six interpretive signs to educate visitors about the practices.

AFF also developed a curriculum titled “Stormwater Solutions” for teachers to use in their classrooms. The curriculum supports student learning of environmental issues and empowers students to understand and develop solutions. In addition to this curriculum, AFF offers teachers and students a variety of resources to learn more about their environment and how they can make a difference.

This project was funded by the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program.

Great work, Alice Ferguson Foundation!

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Perspective: Olivia Wisner

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On August 20th, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) will graduate 31 members from 28 host sites and welcome the programs 10th class, with 37 new members assigned to 32 host sites. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the CCC 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 Olivia’s (pictured left teaching a 5th grade class) experience here:

As a native Marylander, the Chesapeake Bay has always been an iconic natural resource. Growing up I was taught by outstanding environmental educators, and was fortunate enough to spend every summer with my family crabbing, canoeing, and camping at Janes Island State Park. My early experiences in nature shaped my subsequent education and career interests. I graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a B.S. in Environmental Science, where I learned about the natural processes that take place within the watershed. But it’s been my time with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland (CBNERR-MD) that’s taught me the most about the Chesapeake Bay.

I came to CBNERR-MD in August 2019 as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps Member. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) is a professional development program managed by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, providing budding environmental professionals with a year of hands-on full-time experience working with non-profits or organizations that aim to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. I’m glad to have been stationed with CBNERR-MD because of their three unique component sites: Jug Bay, Monie Bay, and Otter Point Creek. I’ve had unforgettable experiences at all three sites, growing my perspective of the Bay as a whole.

Within my first month with CBNERR-MD, I had the opportunity to expand my horizons at Jug Bay. Straddling Prince Georges and Anne Arundel Counties, Jug Bay is a freshwater tidal marsh located along the Patuxent River. I was invited to help Melinda Fegler of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary with Snakehead monitoring; the infamous invasive fish from Asia. In the early morning we boarded an electrofishing boat and spent hours scanning the edge of the water looking for Snakeheads. We removed five that day, and I scooped the largest one.

My involvement with the Shoring Up Resiliency through Education (SURE) program, allowed me to further explore the realm of environmental education. SURE serves teachers and students surrounding the Monie Bay component of CBNERR-MD. I’ve visited parks, marinas, and schools to help support Somerset County Public School system as they develop an environmental literacy curriculum. This has been an exciting project because I’ve been exposed to the behind the scenes efforts of environmental education.

As my Corps experience is winding down, I’ve had the opportunity to give back to CBNERR-MD through my CCC capstone project at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center at Otter Point Creek in Harford County. I worked closely with Park Manager Kriste Garman and Park Naturalist Lauren Greoski to design a space, called the Nature Discovery Area, where young visitors can learn about nature through play. It was installed in late June with the help of my fellow Corps Members.

My time as a Corps Member with CBNERR-MD has truly exceeded my expectations. I feel lucky to have worked with an amazing organization, in beautiful locations, doing important work for the Chesapeake Bay all over Maryland.

 

 

Many Hands – Working Together – Transform a Neighborhood

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Community leaders, partners and supporters came together recently to celebrate the completion of a vacant lot restoration in the neighborhood of Druid Heights, Baltimore.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) was awarded $66,451 in May 2018 to revitalize a vacant lot in a priority area of the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability’s (BCOS) Green Network Plan, which identifies significant locations for recreation, greening, and other community amenities. Revitalizing vacant properties with green space not only provides environmental and social benefits, but also signals that the community is reclaiming their neighborhood by creating spaces to exercise, convene, play, and learn.

For the past 6 years, the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation (DHCDC) has attempted to address the lack of open space and connection to nature in this area. The McCulloh Street lot was one of the priority locations identified because of its central location within a highly populated area as well as its large size, both of which will maximize the potential for positive communal gathering, and outdoor appreciation and activity. “You took a lot where people were throwing garbage and dumping and you turned it into a place where children and others can come and feel a little bit of life,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings who spoke at the event.

The NWF partnered with the DHCDC and their “Green Thumb Club” on this project and received an award through the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Green Streets, Green Towns, Green jobs (G3) program. The goal of the Chesapeake Bay G3 Grant Program is to help 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. With funding from the Trust and the BCOS, the work began in Spring 2019.

“85% of Americans live in cities and towns across the country. But so do two-thirds of our wildlife. So, it’s incredibly important that we create green spaces like this; that clean our air and water, that provide habitat for birds and butterflies, and also create spaces for our community to gather and our kids to play,” said Jen Mihill, regional executive director, National Wildlife Federation.

The families on McCulloh Street did not have easy access to green spaces or recreational areas, and the high density of occupied housing units on this street provides a captive audience for engagement around environmental stewardship, with the nature space as a venue and inspiration for environmental action. This project directly engaged over 50 community members, with over 200 residents benefiting from their work. “Creative play outside is the biggest single factor determining whether kids grow up to care about the environment and natural resources,” stated Ms. Mihill.

And as community leaders and supporters repeated during tours of the newly installed gardens and play space, “it’s a positive space. A positive place for positive people doing positive things. You can’t get any better than that.”