Oyster Shell Recycling Now Available at Rock Hall Recycling Center

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The Chester River Association announced on Aug. 22 that an oyster shell recycling bin is now located at the recycling center in Rock Hall. Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Shell Recycling Alliance is providing a dumpster for shell recycling and will empty it as needed.

The oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay is only a fraction of what it once was, and recycled shell is an essential part of restoring oyster reefs in the Bay and its tributaries. The shell is collected in bins and dumpsters all over the watershed and brought to Horn Point Lab’s oyster hatchery in Cambridge.

Once the shells are aged and cleaned they can be recycled for use in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program, aquaculture operations, private oyster gardens, or state and federal restoration efforts.

Any time you eat oysters at home, please recycle the shells at the nearest drop off location! In addition to the dumpster in Rock Hall, there are bins at the Washington College boat house in Chestertown. Local restaurants can utilize the public shell recycling bins or contact the Shell Recycling Alliance for more information on how to become a participating business.

For more information about the Shell Recycling Alliance visit the Oyster Recovery Partnerhsip’s website.. If you are interested in participating in CRA’s Marylanders Grow Oysters program or just want to learn more about oyster restoration efforts in the Chester River, visit the CRA website.

What’s Growing in Our Rivers? SAV Workshop in Millstream Park on Saturday, July 29th

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SAV Workshop in Millstream Park on Saturday, July 29th.

We’re seeing a lot of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), like the curly pondweed pictured on the rake! If you spend a lot of time boating on the river, paddling in a creek or stream, or wading near your dock, we suspect you’ve come across these aquatic grasses as well. If you want to increase your general knowledge about SAV, learn how to collect samples, and learn how to identify different species, join us for our first SAV workshop led by our Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer Lindsey Hughes!

Join Chester River Association staff for a morning of SAV sampling in Millstream Park! We’ve seen a major comeback in SAV in recent years, which are important for holding sediment in place, providing habitat, and producing dissolved oxygen for other aquatic critters.

The grasses in Old Mill Stream can be reached from the stream bank with the help of rakes and other sampling gear provided by CRA. We will meet in the park pavilion before heading to the stream to collect samples.

Snacks and water will be provided for all participants, please bring appropriate sun protection! This event is free and open to the public. If you’re interested in attending or have questions about the event, please call our office at 410-810-7556 or email Lindsey at lhughes@chesterriverassociation.org.   Check out the Chester River Association’s website for more information.

We hope to see you there!

SAV Workshop on Saturday, July 29th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Millstream Park, Centreville, MD

The CRA Sets Date for Report on The Chester River

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The Chester River Association will release the 2016 Report Card at the Second Annual State of the Chester. The event, co-sponsored by the Center for Environment & Society, will be hosted in Hynson Lounge at Washington College on Wednesday, April 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Join us for beer and wine, appetizers, and oysters from Orchard Point Oyster Company from 5:30 to 6 p.m. The program will start at six with a review of the 2016 Chester River grade, water quality results for the year, and a programmatic update from CRA staff. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

The Chester River Association’s sampling methods and grade calculations are based on the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition’s (MTAC) guidelines. The 2016 Report Card will show grades for the entire watershed, as well as grades for each of the tidal and non-tidal tributaries where CRA staff and Chester Tester volunteers collect samples.

Tom McHugh and Tom Anthony will end the night with a musical performance celebrating the Chester River. This will be a night full of food, fun, and science that you won’t want to miss! The event is free and open to the public.

Current Threats to Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay

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Anna Wolgast, Executive Director of the Chester River Association

In Honor of Earth Day, on April 20, 2017, The Democratic Club of Kent County presents “Current Threats to our Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay-Can We Stop Them?”  Chestertown’s own Anna Wolgast, Executive Director of the Chester River Association (CRA) and former Environmental Protection Agency Deputy General Counsel of EPA and Appeals judge on EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board will share the proposals of the current administration and the impact on our local waterways.  Ms. Wolgast will discuss what the CRA is doing to combat the proposals and how concerned citizens can help.  She will also discuss additional efforts to improve water quality for the Chester and it’s tributaries being done by the Chester River Association.

The meeting takes place at JR’s Pub, 337 High Street in Chestertown.  Doors open at 5:30 pm, with the program starting at 7:00.

Project Clean Stream in Wilmer Park

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In coordination with the Sassafras River Association, CRA is hosting our first shoreline trash cleanup of the year on Saturday, April 1st in Wilmer Park. This event will be part of the larger Project Clean Stream effort organized by Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay every year.

The event will start at 9 a.m. and last until 12 p.m. All volunteers are welcome, and CRA will provide all necessary supplies. We will be picking up trash along the shoreline in the park as well is in the wetland behind the pavilion, so if you want to venture into the mud please dress accordingly!

Visit the Project Clean Stream website (https://pg-cloud.com/ACB/) to register for the Wilmer Park event. If you’re not in the Chestertown area and would still like to participate, look for another cleanup near you! There will be over 60 cleanups taking place throughout the Bay watershed on April 1st, with countless more planned throughout the spring.

If you have any questions about the event or want to organize a shoreline cleanup for your group in 2017, please contact Emily Harris at eharris@chesterriverassociation.org or 410-810-7556.

The Chester River Association is a non-profit organization that works for a healthy Chester River for our communities and for future generations through science-based advocacy, restoration, and outreach.

Letter to Editor: Sassafras & Chester Riverkeepers Say Keep Best Technology Septic Systems for All

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The Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association oppose the newly proposed regulation that eliminates the requirement for Best Available Technology (BAT) septic systems outside of the Critical Area. We oppose this repeal for one reason: it will result in more pollution to our local waters. Please share your views with your elected officials; we believe in investing in this technology because it will reduce pollution.

Current Maryland regulations require all new or replacement septics to utilize best available technology. These high-tech systems reduce nitrogen pollution by 50%-70%, while conventional systems do not reduce nitrogen at all – clearly, high-tech septics are the best choice for local water quality. Yet the proposal from the MD Dept. of the Environment would roll back these protections.

We cannot afford to go backwards in our efforts for cleaner water – everyone must do their part and homeowners with septics are no exception. Our rural area has many neighborhoods that depend on septics; it’s only fair that septic owners, like farmers and other landowners, participate in reducing pollution.

Some people oppose using the high-tech septics because of cost, but the systems are relatively cost-effective. A high-tech system costs about $7,500 more than a conventional system; if you spread this installation cost over its 20-year pollution-reducing lifespan, the cost-effectiveness of the high-tech system is $23 per pound of nitrogen removed. For comparison, the cost-effectiveness of agricultural best management practices ranges from $10 to $800 and of stormwater practices ranges from $100 to thousands of dollars, according to the MD Dept. of the Environment.

The Chester and Sassafras River Associations stand together in opposing this repeal because it puts at risk water quality, public health, and Maryland’s commitment to a clean Chesapeake Bay.

Isabel Hardesty, Chester Riverkeeper
Emmett Duke, Sassafras Riverkeeper

Chester River Association Coordinates Volunteers for Oyster Restoration

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screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-9-58-42-amThe Chester River Association staff and volunteers spent the morning of Thursday, September 22 preparing over 150 cages of oyster spat on shell for the Marylanders Grow Oysters program. The oysters will be cared for by volunteer oyster growers throughout the winter until we plant them on oyster sanctuaries in the Chester River.

Since 2012 CRA has planted over 200,000 oysters in the river. These oysters improve water quality and create vital habitat for fish and crabs. With spat and cages provided by the Oyster Recovery Partnership, CRA is able to work with volunteers in both Kent and Queen Anne’s counties to provide a hands-on experience for those interested in learning more about the Bay’s most important bivalves and improving local water quality.

Staff and volunteers from CRA, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, the Chestertown Christian Academy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service helped fill the cages at the two pick up locations. The cages this fall will yield around 40,000 spat for planting on sanctuaries in the spring.

If you want to participate in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program or simply want to learn more, visit the Chester River Association’s MGO page (http://www.chesterriverassociation.org/mgo) or email Emily Harris at eharris@chesterriverassociation.org.

The Chester River Association is a non-profit organization that works for a healthy Chester River for our communities and for future generations through science-based advocacy, restoration, and outreach.

Volunteers Clean Up Kent County Shorelines

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The Chester River Association organized a day of shoreline cleanups and trash trawls on the Chester River for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps at Eastern Neck Island Wildlife Refuge. The Corps is a group of volunteers that are placed with environmental organizations for year-long internships funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. A group of 30 volunteers from the Corps, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chester River Association, and the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College picked up trash from two shoreline sites at the refuge and conducted trash trawls aboard the research vessel Callinectes on Friday, July 29.

A group prepares to launch the trash trawl equipment from the Callinectes.

A group prepares to launch the trash trawl equipment from the Callinectes.

This day of volunteer effort and citizen science was just one in a series of trash cleanup events organized by CRA and the Sassafras River Association. In March, CRA and SRA proposed a partnership with Kent County Public Works to organize volunteers and clean up shorelines around Kent County to improve water quality and health of shoreline ecosystems for residents and visitors alike.

In order to understand the life cycle of plastic in the environment, CRA brought in Julie Lawson, Executive Director of Trash Free Maryland, to lead the trash trawls and discuss recent efforts to ban plastic bags state-wide and engage new audiences on the subject of trash and how it affects communities. The group used NOAA equipment and techniques to sample for microplastics in the Chester River.

There were two shoreline cleanup events through the CRA and SRA partnership prior to the event at Eastern Neck. The first was a cleanup in Wilmer Park with Washington College Students in March, and the second was an event with the Young Professionals of Kent County at Turners Creek in May. These cleanups have engaged over 45 volunteers and removed almost 20 bags of trash and debris from shorelines throughout the county.

The two Riverkeeper groups will continue to organize cleanups on the Chester and Sassafras Rivers. If you have a group that is interested in participating, please contact Emily Harris at eharris@chesterriverassociation.org.

The Chester River Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and restore the health of the Chester River for our communities and for future generations.

Care About the Chester River? Save the Date of April 21 for First Annual State of the Chester

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In partnership with the Center for Environment & Society, the Chester River Association invites you to join us for the first annual State of the Chester event introducing the 2015 Chester River Report Card, revealing CRA’s new River Watch website, and tackling the ever-important question: is the health of the Chester improving?

The event will begin with a happy hour at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 21st and will feature an open bar, oysters, and appetizers. The program will begin at 6 p.m. and end with a Q&A session. The event will be held in Hynson Lounge on the Washington College campus. The event will also be part of RiverArts Earth Stewardship Days.

Water quality in the Chester impacts everyone who enjoys boating, working, and living on the river. Whether you want to know if it’s safe to swim at your local beach or learn more about nutrient and sediment pollution in our watershed, CRA is excited to share the results of the 2015 testing season and what they mean for residents and visitors in the Chester River watershed.

CRA’s Watershed Manager and Riverkeeper will introduce recent updates to the tidal testing regime and review the results of the 2015 testing season. CRA will share their updated website and the new Chester River Watch data website. River Watch will compile the data collected by CRA staff and dedicated team of Chester Testers in one place to show a comprehensive picture of water quality in the main stem of the Chester as well as our creeks and streams.

For more information on the event contact Emily Harris at eharris@chesterriverassociation.org