Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

The Trust Welcomes the New Year with a New Member

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By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

After completing an internship with the Trust, Katherine Somoza joins the Program team as Restoration Program Assistant. Katherine shares her story on why she decided to continue pursuing a career at the Trust after her internship working with the Rain Check Rebate Program (RCR) ended.

The Annapolitan graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a year early with a B.S. degree in Biology. “I intended to pursue Pre-Med after undergrad, but I realized throughout my college career that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to take. I decided to look for any experience that was somewhat related to biology.”

How did you hear about this internship?

“I found out about this position on UMBC’s career database. Since I was already drawn to non-profits, I found the position for a Rain Check Rebate Intern, saw it was close to home and applied right away.”

What did you like most about the Rain Check Rebate Internship?

“I liked that it was local. It’s a program for Prince George’s County and is funded by the Prince George’s County Clean Water Fee. The concept of money being redirected back to the residents is something I am proud to work towards. My supervisor Bre’Anna Brooks was a great leader and mentor for me. A month into training, she gave me the reigns on the application process, pre- and post-site visit protocols, and reaching out to residents.” Somoza interned with the Trust from September 2019-December 2019. “It’s a very unique experience. The site visits were my favorite since I was able to have hands-on experiences bonding with the residents of Prince George’s County, and educating them about environmental practices they can use in their own homes.”

What made you want to pursue a career as Restoration Program Assistant at the Trust?

“I really enjoy the office culture and environment. The tasks I have are very hands-on, whether it be as an intern or a Restoration Program Assistant.” Somoza shares that her current position is a lot different from her internship, but there is always bound to be an overlap when programs and projects come into play. As a former intern that focused on outreach and engagement, Somoza shares that the position carries a lot more responsibility in finance as well as assisting the restoration and education department team members. “Having the internship is a strength because you know the dynamics between departments and can utilize that to work together.” Somoza reports to Sadie Drescher who leads restoration programs that include implementation projects, research efforts, and innovative county watershed and citizen engagement grant programs.

It says in your bio that you intend on pursuing a Master’s degree. Is that still on the table for you?

“Yes, I miss school and I enjoy learning. Although I’m still in the process of deciding what to pursue, I know that I want to involve either the environmental or public health realm or possibly an intersection between the two. A perk about working here is that you get to review a lot of applications for grants and programs. I’m hoping they will guide me towards what to do next.”

Is there any advice that you’d like to give for future interns at the Trust?

“I would advise future interns, specifically those who are working with the Rain Check Rebate program, to stay organized. There are so many transitions and in between all of them, there’s a risk that an applicant can fall through the cracks and you don’t want to deprive them of something like the RCR program. You need to be mindful of those. Also, make the most of the pre- and post-site visits! It’s a great teaching opportunity and a great way to share and educate others about it.” Somoza also advises applicants to “keep an open mind. Sometimes when applying, people have specific goals or positions they want. If I stuck to my specific goals, then I would have missed out on this opportunity. Be flexible! Open minds lead to greater opportunities. And lastly, do your research. If you have a pool of many interests, see if they fit with the culture you are going to be a part of.”

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Katherine!

Chesapeake Bay Trust Celebrates at 2020 Legislative Reception

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The evening’s speakers are pictured from left: Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio; Department of Natural Resources, Gary Jobson, Chairman of the Board of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Jana Davis, Trust executive director, Senator Pam Beidle, Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, and Superintendent of the Chesapeake Bay Office for National Parks Service, Wendy O’Sullivan.

The start of January marked the convening of the 441st session of the Maryland General Assembly and with that, the annual Chesapeake Bay Trust Legislative Reception. This year’s event was a special celebration honoring the 10th anniversary of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program.

The evening brought together the 10th cohort of Conservation Corps members, Corps alumni, Maryland State Delegates and Senators, grant program partners, supporters, and friends to network, celebrate, and acknowledge the importance of the work both the Trust and the Corps do.

Guests were reminded by Senate President Bill Ferguson that “The Bay is not political. The Bay is the most important thing that we have in the state of Maryland. It is the commerce hub and is where we have the birth of our future experiences.”

10th cohort Corps members networked with alums, mentors, and host sites as well as Trust leadership and elected officials.

The Trust featured its newly released annual report for FY 2019 highlighting the over $11 million granted out to organizations throughout the watershed to fund almost 400 projects collaboratively supporting natural resource projects through education, restoration, community engagement, science and innovation, and capacity building. Board of Trustee member, Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo spoke about the Trust’s reputation for transparency and operational excellence noting “The Chesapeake Bay tag is the … piece that allows the Trust to leverage so much more. If you think about when you go to the MVA and pay that little extra money for that Bay tag and you encourage all of your friends and you encourage all of your family members to get that bay tag. That equates to about $3.5 million to the Trust. But the great thing about that is that the $3.5 million because the Trust is run so well, is leveraged to more like $12 million dollars. Which is absolutely incredible when it comes to the amount of work that needs to be done to restore the Bay.”

And speaker Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio reminisced about her involvement in protecting the Trust as a member of the Maryland General Assembly. “Before I was Secretary of Department of Natural Resources (DNR), I served in the Maryland House of Delegates and at that time I learned that the Bay plate program was a pilot program that was going to expire. Senator Astle and I got together and made a joint decision to co-sponsor legislation to make it a permanent program. And I’m still really proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish that and have the support of the entire Maryland General Assembly to make that happen because the Chesapeake Bay Trust is so important. At DNR, we firmly believe that cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay takes participation from a variety of stakeholders and it takes every citizen in Maryland to be a part of the process. And I think that is really one of the great and unique things about Chesapeake Bay Trust is that your programs and your grants are getting projects done on the ground in our local communities and really engaging citizens in the process. And we’re really proud to partner with the organization.”

Senate President, Bill Ferguson welcomes the crowd.

One way the Trust continues to engage is through the operation of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program (CCC). Each year, the CCC places young adults (ages 18-25) with nonprofit or government agencies to work full-time in the environmental field for a one-year term of paid service in the Chesapeake Bay region. The Corps Members receive hands-on green job and leadership experience through on-the-ground experience leading and assisting with projects and programs for their host sites, extensive training hosted by the Trust and other service-learning opportunities including grant writing and project management.

Since its inception, the program has partnered with over 117 host sites and graduated 265 corps members, many who were in attendance representing the environmental agency they went on to work for after graduation.

Guests included Delegate Dana Stein, Corps Advisory Board member Delegate Anne Healey, and Maryland Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust partners with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, BGE, and the National Park Service to run each cohort of, on average, 35 members. Founding advocate, Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller told the crowd “it’s very easy for me to support this program… We want to protect the Chesapeake Bay; we want to protect Maryland… it takes young people like this with some enthusiasm to make things happen.”

National Park Service Superintendent of the Chesapeake Bay Office, Wendy O’Sullivan, added “I stumbled into the National Parks Service through a youth corps program, right out of grad school. So all of you that are here … you are on a path and you are part of a family now of the champions of the Chesapeake of Ambassadors for our environment and the Park Service couldn’t be more proud to add and be part of that leveraging of the bay plate money for the corps program.”

 

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program is open for application! Learn more about the program and how to apply to join the 11th cohort 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

November 2019

Tidewater Colony Open Space Association: for the removal of invasive plants and planting of native trees in the Tidewater Colony community in Annapolis. $2,500.
Whitehurst Residents Club Association, Inc.: for the removal of invasive species in the Whitehurst community in preparation for native planting. $500.

Community Engagement Mini-Grant Program

November 2019

Asbury Foundation: for the installation of conservation landscaping and two educational workshops regarding stormwater issues and solutions. $5,000.
Edgewater Beach Citizens Association, Inc.: for the removal of invasive species using goats and community engagement. $5,000.
Plastic Free QAC, Inc.: for a series of informational events regarding the effects of plastic pollution on waterways and reusable bags as a better alternative to plastic bags. $4,420.

Watershed Assistance Grant Program

November 2019

Arundel Rivers Federation: for design and permitting of the Quiet Waters Park Caffrey’s Run stream restoration project. $102,807.
Baltimore County Soil Conservation District: for design and permit submission of the Western Run and Deadman Run stream restoration project. $161,600.
Cecil County, Maryland: for design of a stream restoration and sand filter project at Cecil County Public Schools Administrative Services Center and design of a tree planting at Bayview Elementary School. $183,890.
Chesapeake Rivers Association: for design of the Anne Arundel SPCA ecological restoration project, including stream restoration, wetland, marsh, and living shoreline components. $120,000.
City Neighbors Foundation: for the design of stormwater management practices at City Neighbors Charter School. $38,850.
The Community Ecology Institute: for the development of an ecological master plan and design of stormwater management practices at the Community Ecology Institute’s farm. $65,000.
Eden Korean United Methodist Church: for design of stormwater management practices on the church’s grounds, including a bioretention, rain gardens, a rainwater harvesting system, and an infiltration berm. $22,203.
Harford Soil Conservation District: for design and permitting of the stream restoration and riparian buffer components of the Carey Branch headwater restoration project. $110,000.
Prince George’s County, Maryland: for design and permitting of the Carey Branch headwater restoration project. $75,000.
ShoreRivers: for the development of the Wye Mills Action Plan to identify prioritized stormwater management and green infrastructure opportunities within the Wye Mills Community. $30,818.
ShoreRivers: for design and permitting of a stream restoration project at Foster Farm in Church Hill, Maryland. $44,927.
ShoreRivers: for design and permitting of a stream restoration project at Hickman Farm in Kent County, Maryland. $95,000.
Southeast Community Development Corporation: for the design of stormwater management practices at Tench Tilghman Elementary/Middle School. $29,163.

Outreach and Restoration Grant Program

November 2019

Gunpowder Valley Conservancy: for the removal of asphalt, the installation of two micro-bioretention practices, the installation of an outdoor teaching area, and educational workshops. $75,000.
ShoreRivers: for a two-year program to engage and activate faith organizations of any denomination in environmental education to their congregations, and ultimately environmental stewardship action. $74,958.
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: to educate local Harford County residents, community groups and faith-based groups about the importance of trees and forested landscapes for water quality and quality of life. $74,901.
City Neighbors Foundation: for the implementation of four stormwater Best Management Practices, the removal of impervious surface, and the development of associated environmental education curricula. $74,741.
The Church of the Redeemer: for the removal of an asphalt parking lot to be replaced with bioretention, pervious paving, and native plants, trees, and shrubs. $74,043.
Lower Shore Land Trust
: to develop an invasive species management model program within Wicomico County that will be transferrable to other counties building a framework for mapping invasive species on County property and extending outreach to landowners and community groups. $72,069.
Urban Ecosystem Restoration, Inc.: to convert approximately 3,838 square feet of turf to conservation landscaping in the Lakelands HOA and provide multiple modes of educational outreach to 465 members of the Gaithersburg community. $66,629.
Baltimore Tree Trust: for the Fells Point Gateway Tree Project to plant a “gateway” of trees along Eastern Avenue and Fleet Street in Baltimore to create a green corridor running parallel to Patterson Park and the waterfront. $66,331.
Howard EcoWorks: for planting trees and shrubs and associated educational events to encourage homeowners to convert turf grass to more functional systems. $50,856.
Port Tobacco River Conservancy: for the construction of an outdoor classroom shelter and the enhancement of stormwater control best management practices. $51,000.
Gunpowder Valley Conservancy: to conduct formative social marketing research for motivating businesses to install rain gardens and microbioretention practices on their properties. $50,000.
The Ocean Foundation: expand our successfully pilot tested social marketing campaign in Chesapeake Bay tributaries throughout Maryland to improve recreational boating practices in the presence of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). $49,979.
Canton Canopy: for creating tree pits, planting trees, and maintaining trees in the sidewalks along Fait and Linwood Avenues, as well as community volunteer events in Baltimore City’s Canton neighborhood. $38,900.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance: for support of the Baltimore Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Composter Training Program. $30,000.
Civic Works, Inc.: for support of a certification-based stormwater management training for 10 Baltimore City residents from historically marginalized communities. $30,000.
Patterson Park Audubon Center: for support of the Audubon’s Avian Ambassadors for Baltimore, Birds, and the Bay program. $30,000.
University System of Maryland Foundation- The Environmental Finance Center: for support of the Stormwater Management Residential Action Framework and Outreach project. $30,000.
Gunpowder Riverkeeper: for a countywide outreach campaign to curb stormwater pollution using online/print communications, social media, and events. $30,000.
Friends of Patapsco Valley Heritage Greenway, Inc.: to conduct at least 10 stream cleanups, 4 invasive plant removals, 2 native shrub and tree plantings, and storm drain labeling to reduce the amount of pollution and increase the native tree canopy in Elkridge. $29,998.
Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.: for support of the revival of the Harris Creek Connected group to utilize their collective actions to inspire a cultural shift of environmentalism as it relates to cleaner water and neighborhoods in Baltimore City. $29,995.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: to assist in restoring BMP projects as well as educate 6 to 8 congregations to maintain these BMPs. $29,943.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: to facilitate restoration projects at congregations in Salisbury through a multi-session workshop.  The course will foster greater understanding of local water-quality challenges. IPC will work with Lower Shore Land Trust on restoration projects. $28,347.
Anacostia Riverkeeper: for a microplastic monitoring and outreach program in the Anacostia watershed. $27,819.
Howard County Conservancy: The Howard County Conservancy will work with county partners to reduce pesticide use, encourage planting of native plants and become a certified Bee City. $27,816.
Nanticoke Watershed Alliance: for an outreach campaign with poultry farmers about alternatives to mowed grass for improved stormwater management. $26,695.
Alice Ferguson Foundation: to provide training for Charles County residents and organizations to monitor and provide detailed data on the waste entering the Charles County waterways. $22,784.
Lower Shore Land Trust: for support of the project “Engaging Faith-Based Communities in Stewardship and Restoration” for rain barrels, cisterns, native garden, and educational workshop supplies at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of Salisbury. $20,207.
United Workers Association (United Workers): The core of this program will be developing and disseminating a citywide Zero Waste Plan in collaboration with Baltimore Office of Sustainability and Zero Waste Associates. $20,000.
Clean Water Fund: for support for the Testing Methods for Communicating Best Practices for Living on Septic project. $19,927.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: to train congregations within the City of Gaithersburg to educate 60-100 people about watershed restoration. $15,038.
Wicomico Environmental Trust: for a water quality testing program that engages the citizens, is led by trained scientists, and supports the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County watershed restoration goals. $15,000.
Columbia Association: for invasive species removal, native perennial plantings, 300 tree planting, and to install 500 live stakes along eroded stream banks. $15,000.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: for a leadership development program to increase the impact of the faith community on Chesapeake Bay Watershed improvements. $14,466.
Nanjemoy-Potomac Environmental Coalition, Inc.: school students will design a reusable bag to distribute throughout the community at grocery stores and community events and present their reusable bag program to government and non-governmental representatives. $13,510.
Department of Natural Resources: for native trees and shrubs planting, workshops, and signage at a publicly accessible location at Bloomfield Farm. $9,499.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: for support of the Green Team Leadership Development Program, educating 100 people about watershed restoration in Baltimore City. $9,298.
Wicomico Public Library: to create a StoryWalk along the Riverwalk in Salisbury to increase childhood physical and ecological literacy. $7,853.
Baltimore Community ToolBank: for the education of business owners and property managers in Baltimore City on sustainable stormwater practices. $4,500.
Stone Gate Town House Community Association: for workshops covering stormwater management and bay-wise Gardening in the Association. $4,255.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!