Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

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 Chesapeake 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!

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Aubryn Walters & the Patuxent Research Refuge

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Aubryn Walters stands with her poster at the annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum.

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. 

One of the biggest challenges in the mission to responsibly manage and protect our environment is engaging people and equipping them with the right tools and knowledge. Oftentimes, there is a shortage of people who have had the chance to study and understand the issues at hand, and develop the skills necessary to implement solutions.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) strives to close the gap by connecting young adults to nonprofit or government agencies for one-year terms of service in the Chesapeake Bay region. The 2019-2020 Cohort consists of 35 young adults working with 29 different organizations.

One of these Corps members, Aubryn Walters, is currently placed with the Patuxent Research Refuge in Prince George’s County. Below is Aubryn’s reflection on her experience thus far.

Aubryn Walters, Chesapeake Conservation Corps member, pictured here with Mr. Hoots from Rodney’s Raptors, at the Patuxent Research Refuge.

How are you enjoying your first few months in the program?

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Patuxent Research Refuge. The staff is committed to educating the public, putting in the extra hours, and creating engaging programs for everyone who visits. I have learned so much, from how refuges function, to how to create an effective program.

What is your favorite part about working with the Patuxent Research Refuge?

My favorite part about working with the refuge is interacting with and educating the public to help them create a better environment for themselves and the wildlife living in their community.

What are you excited to work on this year at the Refuge?

I am most excited about working with Montpelier Elementary School. They are putting on a yearlong watershed project, with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. They are creating a rain garden and a bio-retention pond to treat runoff from their school. I am supplementing the learning that goes along with that, by working with the fifth grade to teach them about watersheds. We have been working together for five weeks, learning about what watersheds are, how to map their watershed, how land use affects water, and how to measure water quality. The fifth graders then had the chance to come to Patuxent, where they conducted water quality tests and went on a tram tour themed around the water system we have in place. They are enthusiastic and wonderful students, and I am excited to see them learn and grow throughout the year.

Thank you, Aubryn, for helping to educate the next generation of environmental stewards in Prince George’s County!

New Hope Academy and Students Manage Stormwater Beautifully on Their Property

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Prince George’s County Department of the Environment representative Sudhanshu Mishra (left), and principal of New Hope Academy Joy Morrow (right of sign), pose with students in front of one of their rain gardens.

Across Prince George’s County, individuals, business owners, and non-profit organizations are taking action to protect their natural resources and build a greener, healthier environment. The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program was set up in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to encourage eligible applicants to apply for grants that will improve County neighborhoods while also treating and controlling stormwater.

Stormwater runoff occurs when rainwater lands on impervious surfaces, which are paved areas where rain cannot infiltrate into the ground. Instead, the stormwater flows across the paved surfaces, collecting debris, bacteria from pet waste, and other pollutants along the way. This polluted runoff enters storm drains and flows directly into our rivers. This results in poor water quality for humans and animals that depend on the water source. Impervious surfaces force large quantities of water to flow over paved surfaces rather than being allowed to infiltrate slowly can also cause flooding and erosion.

New Hope Academy (NHA), a K-12 international private school located in Landover Hills, is one such applicant that has used the grant program to implement a project to improve both their stormwater management and their community. Through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, NHA was awarded a grant to install two bioretention cells (also known as rain gardens) totaling 250 sq. ft. on their school parking lot, along with educational signage about the rain gardens. The two rain gardens included a total of 22 native trees, some of which were blackgum trees. Blackgum trees are known for being an important source of nectar for honey bees, which play key roles in the environment as pollinators.

Educational signage installed in front of Rain Garden.

The rain gardens help to combat the large amounts of runoff that NHA was experiencing on its parking lot. The runoff caused erosion as it flowed through the parking lot into a nearby creek bed. The University of Maryland, a project partner, brought several college classes to the school property to study the stormwater management project’s implementation. This project will serve as an example of a successful, functioning bioretention project for all of NHA’s students, as well as the many visitors that come through their parking lot. The signage installed will also help students and visitors learn more about native plants, and the benefits they provide for our environment.

Congratulations to New Hope Academy for managing stormwater runoff beautifully!

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!