Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

Trust Unveils Newly Designed Chesapeake Bay License Plate

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Marylanders can help restore natural resources and give back to their communities by requesting the newly redesigned Bay Plate

The Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) gathered with partners and friends to reveal the new design for Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay license plate during a special unveiling ceremony at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. The newly redesigned plate features two prominent Chesapeake icons: the blue crab and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Sales of the Chesapeake Bay license plate support the Trust’s grant programs, which fund K-12 outdoor education, environmental restoration projects, and community engagement in natural resources. The new plate will be available for purchase beginning Monday, October 29, 2018.

The unveiling of the new plate, frequently referred to as the Bay Plate or Chesapeake Bay Plate, is the culmination of an extensive process that engaged multiple Maryland-based artists and incorporated input from thousands of Marylanders who considered over 250 alternative designs. Ultimately, TM Design, a Frederick-based design firm and member of the Maryland State Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, created a design that won the majority of survey respondents’ votes and resonated with Marylanders’ desire for a plate that evokes “Chesapeake Pride.”

“The Maryland Department of Transportation is proud to partner with the Chesapeake Bay Trust and support its efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay through the Bay Plate,” said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

The Bay Plate is a popular choice among Maryland drivers, with 7 percent of all vehicles displaying them and 12 percent of households across the state reporting that they have at least one set of Bay Plates in the family. Close to 338,000 Bay Plates are on the roads today.

“MDOT MVA is pleased to offer this new option to Maryland drivers,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, whose agency administers the Bay Plate program.

Scenes from the Unveiling: Maryland Secretary of Transporation Pete K. Rahn; Maryland MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer;  Trust Executive Director Jana Davis; new Bay Plate designer  Tina Cardosi of  TM Design, Inc.; and 2018 Trust scholarship winner Darrea Frazier addressed guests at the unveiling ceremony.

“We look forward to providing premier customer service to all those interested in purchasing the new Bay Plate at one of our branches or through our convenient web services starting on Monday, October 29th.”

The new design is the third design in the history of the Bay Plate, with the first introduced in 1990 and the second in 2004. All Maryland license plates are manufactured by Maryland Correctional Enterprises, a division of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Bay Plate Designers: Designers of the new Bay Plate, Tina Cardosi (center) and Sujen Buford (right) with designer of the 2004 plate, Joe Barsin.

“We are so proud to have worked on the new Bay Plate,” said Tina Cardosi, president of TM Design. “It will be an honor and a thrill to see our work on so many vehicles on Maryland’s roads and beyond. Knowing that this plate will help to improve water quality and our natural resources throughout the state is incredibly rewarding.”

Through Chesapeake Bay Plate funds, the Trust provides approximately 400 grants per year to schools, faith-based organizations, civic associations, homeowners associations, watershed groups, environmental organizations, and more. Each year, about 80,000 students and 20,000 volunteers are engaged through the Bay Plate and Trust grants. These grantees plant thousands of trees, native plants, marsh grasses, and oysters; remove tons of trash; and create over 100 acres of wetlands, rain gardens, stream buffers, and living shorelines each year.

“We are thrilled to introduce this iconic Chesapeake Bay Plate that captures the essence of where we live,” said Jana Davis, PhD, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “By asking for the Bay Plate, drivers help to get kids outside on field trips and trees and gardens planted across our communities, all of which helps the Bay and its contributing rivers and streams.”

Maryland has made significant progress in restoring the Chesapeake Bay in recent years. Under the Hogan Administration, the state has invested a historic $4 billion in Bay restoration initiatives. The Chesapeake Bay recently received its highest recorded grade in the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences annual report card, and Maryland’s coastal bays hit a historic high mark in the 2017 Coastal Bays Report Card from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

The newly designed license plate will be available for $20, and can be purchased through an MDOT MVA branch, car dealerships, tag and title agencies, and online at https://cbtrust.org/purchase-a-bay-plate/.

Ways to Give this Holiday Season

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Four Ways to Make and Impact for a Cleaner, Greener Watershed 

Each year, the Chesapeake Bay Trust provides resources to hundreds of communities throughout Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay watershed for projects big and small.

This means that people in your community are making a BIG difference for our waterways, our forests and parks, and our schools and neighborhoods with just a little bit of help from the Trust.

As we enter the holiday giving season, we are so thankful for supporters like you! We can’t do our work without your support!

Below are several ways that you can support the Trust this holiday season.

1. Make a Gift

Chesapeake Bay Trust supporters kicked off the holiday season with a bang on#GivingTuesday. Thanks to you we more than exceeded our Giving Tuesday goals!

But we still have a way to go to meet our goals for the year!

Gifts to the Chesapeake Bay Trust support projects to green local parks, add trees to urban neighborhoods, remove trash that chokes tiny streams, send students on life-changing outdoor experiences, and more.

You can make your gift to the Chesapeake Bay Trust this holiday season at www.cbtrust.org/make-a-gift.

2. Shop AmazonSmile

When you’re shopping for that perfect holiday gift—or even if you’re just stocking up on household goods—be sure to shop through Amazon Smile at smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1454182. When you do, Amazon donates a percentage of every purchase to the Trust! 

Checking items off your holiday to-do list and making a difference for the Bay has never been so easy!

3. Get Your Bay Plate

Did you know Chesapeake Bay license plates help restore the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources of our region?

Simply by purchasing a Chesapeake Bay plate for only $20, car owners can show their support for the environment. Your contribution is distributed through the Trust in the form of grants to schools, community groups, and other not-for-profits for K-12 environmental education, restoration and protection of our waterways.

Learn more at www.bayplate.org and order your plate from the MVA here.

4. Contribute through the Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund

Calling all boaters, hunters, and anglers! Did you know that when you obtain your registration or licenses through Maryland Department of Natural Resources Compass online registration system you can now make a contribution to support fish and wildlife habitat, clean water,wetlands, and K-12 student field trips. Donations to the new Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund will be equally distributed as grants to not-for-profit entities through the Chesapeake Bay Trust and DNR, with an average of 95 cents of every dollar spent on programs.

Learn more about this new program here.

Please know that however you contribute to the Trust this holiday season, you are making a difference for a cleaner, greener, healthier watershed. And you can rest assured that your contribution will be used wisely for what you intended: 92 cents of every dollar we receive goes directly to projects and educational programs in the community.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Jesus Munoz Buenrostro & Southeast Community Development Corporation

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Jesus Munoz Buenrostro grew up in Baltimore and is currently a senior at the University of Baltimore, studying Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology.

Last year, he served as a Legislative and Community Engagement intern with the Baltimore City Council, where he was able to advocate and gather support in Southeast Baltimore for the polystyrene ban. Most recently, he gained experience in the conservation field working for the National Aquarium as an Urban Conservation and Education intern, where he worked on restoration projects, invasive species management, and community outreach events with the National Aquarium, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Living Classrooms Foundation.

As a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member, Jesus is working with the Southeast Community Development Corporation (Southeast CDC), a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to growing and supporting a thriving socioeconomically and racially diverse Southeast Baltimore where residents share in the success and improvement of their communities.

Southeast CDC operates a number of community revitalization programs in the Highlandtown area of Baltimore, including partnering with a wide variety of environmental organizations, such as Blue Water Baltimore, the Parks and People Foundation, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust to reduce storm water runoff and increase the tree canopy in southeast Baltimore, offering Jesus the chance to work on community engagement events, environmental education, and conservation projects during his year of service.

Now Open! Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program

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Get the resources you need to make your community cleaner and greener through the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program.

According to the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction Campaign, “litter costs [the] County millions of dollars a year, decreases property values, has a negative impact on health and wellness, and threatens wildlife, reservoirs and waterways.” Therefore, “reducing litter is critical to improving the economic, environmental, and social health of [the] County.”

To support and engage County residents in the fight against litter, the Prince George’s County Government and the Chesapeake Bay Trust announce the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program.  This program supports community-driven litter reduction and litter-related citizen engagement projects that engage and educate residents, students, and businesses about ways to make their communities cleaner and greener. Communities may request funding for community cleanups, “Adopt-a-Stream” cleanups, storm drain stenciling projects, and more through this program.

Join the fight against litter for a #LitterFreePGC! Contact Nguyen Le at (410) 974-2941 x110 or nle@cbtrust.org if you have questions or to discuss project ideas.

Community-based organizations (homeowner associations, civic associations, and nonprofits) and small municipalities are encouraged to apply. Faith-based organizations interested in participating are encouraged to be a partner for a community group nearby that will serve as the lead on the project. If you are a resident interested in participating, we encourage you to reach out to your community organization and share this opportunity.

Applications for this program will be accepted on an on-going basis until funds for this fiscal year are exhausted. 

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Kelly Peaks & Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Kelly Peaks graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, in May 2018, with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy and a minor in music.

As a member of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Kelly is working with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, which is one of ten University-based centers across the country providing communities with the tools and information necessary to manage change for a healthy environment and an enhanced quality of life.

Kelly is assisting with the Center’s Sustainable Maryland Program; a certification program for municipalities in Maryland that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.

In addition to assisting in the Sustainable Maryland certification process of select municipalities, Kelly will also assist with the pet waste program, developing new actions in the certification process, preparing small water systems resilience workshops, and preparing and hosting program events.

In 2019, Kelly hopes to build on her experience in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by attending graduate school to study international issues related to climate change.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Syler Merski & Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort, along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Syler Merski is a recent graduate from Huntingtown High School, in Huntingtown, Maryland, where she specialized in Environmental Science.  Through her coursework, she recognized the need for quality environmental education opportunities for young students.

Through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Syler is working with the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM) to educate and promote the natural and cultural history of the southern Maryland region.

With her American Indian heritage, Syler hopes to bring a new and creative touch to the children’s events and educational programs on the park as well as with outreach programs in the community.  She aims to use her gardening experience to assist in maintaining gardens, and developing planted areas in an effort to help prevent areas of the park from eroding.

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is a 560-acre property along the Patuxent River which was donated to the State of Maryland in 1983 as a way to preserve the rich cultural and natural resources present on the land.  The mission of the organization is to connect people to the past through history and archeology, and support the preservation of Maryland’s cultural resources.

Syler is excited to assist with educational programs on such a diverse park along the scenic beaches of the Patuxent River. She is eager to gain first-hand teaching experience by supporting the park’s established programs for 4th and 6th graders in Calvert County Public Schools.  Syler will also gain field experience with biodiversity surveys and habitat monitoring projects on the park. However, Syler is most excited to spend her time in a place where she feels at home, and more importantly, where she’ll never truly have to “work” a day in her life.

Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

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Follow these five tips to winterize your stormwater management practices to ensure that they function properly for years to come.

Residents in Prince George’s County are dedicated to improving their communities and the environment by participating in the County’s Rain Check Rebate program. This program offers rebates to property owners in the County to install approved stormwater management practices. These practices reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local rivers and can also beautify the property, reduce water costs, and reduce erosion, pooling, and flooding. After the installation of these practices and as winter approaches, it is important to inspect and maintain them periodically to ensure they will continue to function properly.

What is a Rain Check Yard?

A Rain Check Yard is a property that has installed one or more of the seven eligible practices. These practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Rain Check Rebate participants can receive a yard sign (pictured above) to proudly display their commitment to keeping our waterways healthy and clean!

Five Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

In addition to the tips listed below, view the fact sheets and guidelines for each practice linked above for additional maintenance tips and suggested maintenance schedules.

1

Drain and disconnect rain barrels.

Water that is left in the rain barrel may freeze and cause damage to the barrel or downspout.
2

Remove leaves and debris.

Check your rain gardens and permeable pavement for leaves and other debris that may prevent runoff from flowing properly through the practice. Remove and dispose of the debris appropriately.
3

Apply a new layer of mulch.

Replenish mulch in your rain garden and trees with double shredded hardwood mulch for 2 to 3 inches of cover. Mulch helps maintain the temperature of the soil, encourages retention of moisture, and suppresses grass and weeds.
4

Use salt in moderation to melt ice.

Salt can be used in moderation to melt ice, but never use sand unless you have paving stones. Sand can cause clogging and reduce infiltration.
5

Water young trees.

Trees that have been in the ground less than three years require 25 gallons of water, or about 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week.
How Can I Participate?

Interested applicants must be the property owner and submit an online application. Once we receive your application, the Rain Check Coordinator, Bre’Anna Brooks, will contact you to set up a site visit. The project must be approved prior to installation, with the exception of rain barrel projects. After approval, the practice should be installed within 12 months. Once the project is complete, Bre’Anna will conduct a second site visit to ensure that the project followed the guidelines and criteria specified for the project type. The County will then review the project and provide a rebate (a partial or full refund) to the property owner. The refund amount is dependent on the type of practice installed, the property type, and final receipts/invoices. Learn about the projects and amount of rebates available by clicking on the “Learn More and Apply” button below.

To date, over 300 property owners in Prince George’s County have participated in the Rain Check Rebate program and are making a difference in keeping the County’s waterways healthy and clean!

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate program is a partnership between the County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis. 

Kent Island Beach Cleanups Unveils Educational Environmental Sculpture

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Images courtesy of Kent Island Beach Cleanups.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Enthusiasts Have Yet Another Way to Give Back

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Photo: Maryland DNR/Larry Hindman

Partnership with Maryland Department of Natural Resources Establishes Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund

Anglers, boaters and hunters who purchase their licenses or registrations from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources have a new way to contribute to give back to natural resources they enjoy and love. In partnership with the Trust, the department announced a new voluntary option in the online checkout for the Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund.

Funds generated by the new program will be distributed as grants for on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects that seek to enhance habitat and water quality as well as programs aimed at getting K-12 students outdoors. Grants will be provided to nonprofits in support of environmental and natural resources priorities throughout the state, from the Youghiogheny to the Coastal Bays.

“Our citizens and customers shared our commitment and passion for the great outdoors, and are great advocates and stewards in the conservation, protection and wise use of our state’s lands and waters,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Thanks to our strong partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, we can provide our customers with an easy and simple way to give back to nature’s bounty.”

Grants from the Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund will support projects as small as $100 to over $500,000 made to community and environmental organizations as well as research and watershed groups.

“We are thrilled to make stronger connections between the fishing, hunting and boating communities, and improvement of the resources they enjoy,” Chesapeake Bay Trust Executive Director Jana Davis said. “The evidence is mounting that being outdoors is good for all of us: We want these communities to have an option not just to enjoy their outdoor activities, but the opportunity to take part in restoring and protecting outdoor resources.”

All contributions will be tax deductible. Contributors over $10 will have the option of enrolling in a “Perks Program,” which offers discounts and preferred parking at local businesses throughout Maryland.

Examples of projects supported by the Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund include:

  • Boating field trips
  • Eel, oyster, shad, terrapin, trout and other raise-and-release programs for students
  • Living shoreline projects, including access for canoes and kayaks
  • Local sustainable seafood projects
  • Research to improve efficacy of stream restoration practices
  • Trout stream restoration projects
  • Wetland restoration projects

For every $20 contributed, one tree can be planted and one student can receive an outdoor field trip.

Funds will be managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Trust.

Learn more about this program at www.cbtrust.org/mdoutdoors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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