ShoreRivers Hosts “State of the Rivers” Series Across the Shore

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ShoreRivers is pleased to invite the community to a series of five State of the Rivers presentations during April and May (offered at different locations for the convenience of our public). ShoreRivers will unveil its 2017 Report Cards for the Choptank, Chester, Miles, Wye, and Sassafras Rivers, as well as Eastern Bay, and lead informative discussions about the results. River Report Cards analyze the data from our extensive water quality monitoring during 2017. Admission to each event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Our Report Cards reflect data collected at hundreds of sites by our scientists, Riverkeepers, and dozens of trained volunteers. The presentations will provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the health, trends, and challenges of our local waterways and how the most recent grades compare to those from previous years.Distinguished keynote speakers will enhance the programs. Our Riverkeepers and staff will also discuss new initiatives being undertaken in 2018, including the new RiverWatch real-time water quality online platform.

STATE OF THE RIVERS SERIES . . .

MILES, WYE AND CHOPTANK RIVERS—Saint Michaels
Keynote Speaker: Senator Chris Van Hollen
April 20, 5:00pm
Sponsored by the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Small Boat Shed
213 N. Talbot Street

CHOPTANK RIVER—Cambridge
Keynote Speaker: Jay Lazar, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
April 26, 5:30pm
Robbins Heritage Center, 1003 Greenway Drive

CHESTER RIVER—Chestertown
Keynote Speaker: John Seidel, Director of Center for Environment & Society
April 26, 5:15pm
Washington College, Hynson Lounge, 300 Washington Avenue

SASSAFRAS RIVER—Cecilton
Keynote Speaker: Nick DiPasquale, former EPA Director of Chesapeake Bay Program
May 3, 7:00pm
Cecilton Fire Department, 110 E. Main Street

WYE AND CHESTER RIVERS AND EASTERN BAY—Grasonville
Speakers: Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett and Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer
May 16, 5:30pm
Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 600 Discover Lane

For more information, visit shorerivers.org or contact Eleanor Nelson at 443.385.0511 or eleanor@shorerivers.org.

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Senator Van Hollen to Speak at Inaugural ShoreRivers Event April 20

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ShoreRivers will host its annual State of the Midshore Rivers Party on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm. The event takes place at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in Saint Michaels, Maryland and will report on the current state of the Choptank, Miles and Wye Rivers. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond.

This will be the first of five ShoreRivers events in April and May unveiling the results of extensive water quality monitoring. Other presentations will take place in Cambridge, Chestertown, Cecilton, and Grasonville. These events will detail the state of the Choptank, Chester, Sassafras, and Wye Rivers, depending on location. Visit ShoreRivers.org for more information.

ShoreRivers is a newly-formed entity resulting from the recent merger of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association into one region-wide organization. ShoreRivers is now one committed voice for Eastern Shore rivers with greater influence on policy, increased capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects.

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce that Senator Christopher Van Hollen Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the State of the Midshore Rivers Party. Van Hollen is U.S. Senator from Maryland and has worked to pass bipartisan legislation on issues of common concern, including protecting the Chesapeake Bay. He won the general election 60 to 36 percent to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2017. From 2003 to 2017, he held the position of U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district. In the House of Representatives he served as a member of the Democratic leadership and was elected by his colleagues to be the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and protect vital interests like Social Security and Medicare. He serves as Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2018 elections cycle. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center.

“We are thrilled and honored to have Senator Van Hollen, who has been a tough and effective environmental leader for our state and the Chesapeake Bay,” says ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman. “His defense of clean water, his fight for renewable power and his efforts to address and combat climate change make him an ideal keynote speaker for ShoreRivers’ inaugural event.”

ShoreRivers welcomes and encourages the community to join this evening of conversation and informative discussion as it releases its 2017 Midshore Rivers Report Card. The report card reflects data collected at 115 sites by ShoreRivers scientists, Riverkeepers, and more than 50 volunteers in ShoreRivers’ Creekwatcher water quality monitoring program. This is an opportunity for the community to learn about the health and challenges of our local waterways and how the most recent grades compare to previous years. Presentations and interpretations will be given by Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett, Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, and Watershed Scientist Tim Rosen. ShoreRivers staff will also discuss programs being undertaken in 2018, including the new RiverWatch real-time water quality online platform.

The State of the River Party will be held in CBMM’s Small Boat Shed, where guests can discover the re-created interior of a crab‑picking plant and small, locally-built craft used around the Chesapeake Bay for fishing, oystering, and crabbing. The event will begin at 5:00 pm with fresh farmed oysters on the half shell and a cheese and wine reception. The program will follow at 5:30 pm.

For more information, contact Eleanor Nelson at eleanor@shorerivers.org or phone 443.385.0511.

ShoreRivers Seeks Volunteers for Project Clean Stream April 7

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As spring rains fill roadside ditches and flow into streams, they wash trash and debris into our waterways.Project Clean Stream, commencing on Saturday, April 7, will once again address this problem by organizing thousands of volunteers throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. ShoreRivers, partnering with the program’s main sponsor, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is matching volunteers with cleanup sites across the Eastern Shore, including locations in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties.

The Cambridge Main Street Green Team participates in Project Clean Stream. Photo by David Harp.

ShoreRivers seeks additional volunteers to join the largest cleanup event in the Chesapeake Region, and thanks those teams that have already pledged their support: Bill Burton State Park, Busy Beaver’s 4H Club, Cambridge Association of Neighborhoods, Cambridge Multi-Sport, Cambridge Power and Sail Squadron, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (Mr. Roache’s classes), Caroline County Bird Club, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Choptank Heritage, Corsica River Conservancy, The Country School, Dorchester Citizen’s for Planned Growth, Easton High School (Mrs. Rose’s classes), Friends of the Bohemia, Girl Scouts of Easton, Habitat for Humanity Choptank, Kent County Young Professionals, Quota International of Cambridge, Saint Michaels High School (Mrs. Greer’s classes), Saints Peter and Paul High School (Mr. Leve’s classes), Salt and Stream Shoreline Cleanups, ShoreRivers members, Tidy Up Tilghman Island, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton.

Individuals interested in joining a team should visit the Project Clean Stream website at pg-cloud.com/ACB/, or search “Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Project Clean Stream” and click “volunteer.” Businesses, clubs, groups, churches, and other organizations interested in creating their own teams may contact Suzanne Sullivan at ssulivan@shorerivers.org or 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeepers Receive Major Grant for Agricultural Conservation

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) was recently awarded a grant of $451,960 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to create a regional program that advances the implementation of conservation drainage practices and tests new agricultural best management practice technologies that have great potential to reduce nutrient and sediment from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

Many local farms were initially drained using a system of drain tiles. Unfortunately, over the decades these structures have deteriorated. MRC will work with agricultural landowners to retrofit old and failing drain tile lines with the latest conservation practices and create a drainage water management plan to maximize the benefits of the new conservation drainage system. These innovations will reduce sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus losses from agricultural land that has drain tile lines. A goal of this program is to accelerate the implementation of the outlet and infield best management practices by incentivizing farmers through offering the replacement of antiquated existing drain tile and surface inlets.

MRC Staff Scientist Tim Rosen installs an updated conservation drainage system at an agricultural site.

This work will create a framework for a conservation drainage program that can be used to justify the funding of a state-run program administered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. In addition, the program will provide a blueprint for other Bay states to adopt their version of a conservation drainage program. This program will help bring Maryland to the forefront in addressing agricultural drainage pollution and help position our farm community to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. MRC’s program will focus on four watersheds—the Choptank, Nanticoke, Pocomoke/Tangier, and Chester—that span eight Maryland counties.

Completion of this grant will result in the installation of eight separate projects that incorporate either a denitrifying bioreactor, saturated buffer, or structure for water control and blind inlets. It is anticipated that 2 denitrifying bioreactors, 2 saturated buffers, and 4 structures for water control will be installed with an estimated 14 blind inlets. In total, this will reduce a total of 3,456 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen per year, 49 pounds of phosphorus per year, and 46,666 pounds of sediment per year.

MRC has obtained commitments from private and state sources to provide a match of $467,980, enabling the organization to devote a total of $919,940 to this important work.

For more information contact MRC Staff Scientist Tim Rosen at 443.385.0511 or trosen@midshoreriverkeeper.org.

MRC Breaks Ground on Restoration and Stormwater Projects at Chesapeake College

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On June 28, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Chesapeake College jointly hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on the college’s Wye Mills campus. MRC has been leading an effort in collaboration with the college and funding partners to develop a comprehensive initiative to address major stormwater challenges on the campus. A suite of 14 projects will materially improve water quality in the Wye River. The projects include a wetland restoration, bioretention facilities that filter stormwater, and a stream restoration that will reduce erosion and treat pollutants coming off hard surfaces and the agriculture fields surrounding the campus.

Kristin Junkin, director of operations for MRC, led the ceremony by describing the projects and the valuable partnerships with both Chesapeake College and the funders that are supporting the work. These funders include Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Queen Anne’s County. She thanked all of these partners and emphasized the importance and necessity of local leaders taking responsibility for restoring and protecting our rivers and Chesapeake Bay.

Photo: Pictured at the groundbreaking ceremony are (left to right) Rob Gunter (Queens Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Ben Hutzell (Resource Restoration Group), Michael Mulligan (Chesapeake College), Sarah Hilderbrandt (Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources), Steve & Julie Burleson (MRC Advisory Committee), Barbara Viniar (former Chesapeake College president), Jim Moran (Queen Anne’s County Commissioner), Kristin Junkin (MRC Director of Operations), Evan Blessing (Blessings Environmental Concepts), Greg Farley (Chesapeake College), Bill Anderson (MRC Board), Timothy Jones (Chesapeake College), Michael Wiznosky (Queen Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Dr. Clayton Railey (Chesapeake College), Lucie Hughes (Chesapeake College), Chris Oakes and Jess Lister (Environmental Concern), Tim Junkin (MRC founder) and Gus (Tim’s puppy). 

The college’s vice president of finance, Tim Jones,thanked MRC and all of the funder partners, saying,“Chesapeake College’s mission is to educate the residents of our five county region. Not only will these watershed projects allow us to enhance our classroom programs, they will also allow the college to serve as a working model of best practices for all residents on the Eastern Shore. The college is very appreciative of our partners on these projects. It is through partnerships like these that the college has become a nationally recognized leader in sustainability.”

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran applauded the well-organized and thoughtful proposal MRC brought to the county, adding that,“Queen Anne’s County is ready to do our part in cleaning up our waterways. We are delighted to work with MRC and we look forward to more projects down the road.”

The attendees at the ceremony had the unique opportunity to explore with the contractors the keystone project in the group, a Regenerative Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance. This project uses shallow pools to slow down and treat runoff from the college’s hard surfaces and surrounding agricultural fields before the water empties into the headwaters of the Wye East River. Attendees got a behind-the-scenes tour on how these types of projects are engineered and constructed.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust funded MRC’s Wye River Assessment that identified the project opportunities, Queen Anne’s County and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded the design work, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County are funding the construction. All of these projects are scheduled for completion by 2018.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the watersheds of the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River. For more information on these projects, contact Kristin Junkin at kristin@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeeper Erects Waterfront Signs

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), in partnership with Talbot County, has installed informational waterfront signs at Oak Creek Landing, Bellevue Landing & Marina, and Neavitt Landing. The attractive signs are an outreach tool to help readers understand current threats to clean water and ways to take action to improve local water quality.

Sign(s) and location map.

“Talbot County and the Eastern Shore have some of the most beautiful rivers and waterfront in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” says Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “Because these rivers are such valuable natural resources, we all need to work together to protect and preserve them. These water quality signs are a great way to remind the public about the value of our rivers—socially, economically, and environmentally—while encouraging the reader to take specific actions that make a difference.”

Local vendors produced the signs, with design by Joanne Shipley Graphic Design, printing by Sharper Image, and frames constructed by Warren Woodworks.The project was partially funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust.

For more information, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Riverkeepers Present 2016 Report Card at State of the Rivers Party

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will host its annual Cambridge State of the Rivers Report Card Party on Thursday, May 25 at 6 pm at the Cambridge Yacht Club, located at 1 Mill Street, next to Long Wharf Park. Light fare and drinks will be served.The event is free and open to the public.

MRC is excited to partner again with the Cambridge Yacht Club for the evening. The yacht club also participates in MRC’s Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) program.

During the State of the Rivers Party, MRC Riverkeepers will release the results of the 2016 State of the Rivers Report Card. Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, along with other experts and educators from MRC’s staff, will explain and interpret results from last year when scientists and MRC’s 50+ Creekwatcher volunteers collected water quality samples at over 115 sites.

The City of Cambridge is located on the shores of the Choptank River, which will be the focus of this presentation. Special guest speakers for the evening will be partners from the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee, including Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, City of Cambridge, and University of Maryland Extension. Each partner will give a short update about various initiatives underway in the region.

The 2016 Report Card results will reveal whether grades improved over the past year and how specific testing parameters contributed to overall scores.Production and presentation of the Report Card was supported by a grant from Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways that comprise the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River watersheds. For more information, email matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443.385.0511.

Midshore Riverkeepers Announce Tour the Shore Kayak Series

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC)is pleased to announce the 3rd Annual Tour the Shore Kayak Series, which explores local rivers, creeks, and parks. Tours will be hosted by MRC Riverkeepers, educators and scientists on paddling trips along the rivers they strive to protect. Participants will learn about local ecology, history and water quality. Tour the Shore is open to the public and enables community members of all ages and paddling abilities to rent a kayak, or bring their own, for a guided tour of some of the Eastern Shore’s unique creeks and rivers that. MRC values time spent on the water connecting people to the waterways they drive past every day. This year MRC is introducing new paddles to the roster that highlight narrow creeks, flooded forests, and sunken marshes. Trips may combine water and land exploration. Whether paddling, hiking, or both, MRC wants to help paddlers reconnect to nature while meeting new people. Tours are $40 for non-members and $25 for members. A limited number of binoculars and guide books are available to borrow during the paddles.

Date: Wednesday, May 2
Time: 2 PM – 5 PM
Location: Tuckahoe State Park
Paddle the upper Tuckahoe River through a flooded forest filled with swamp maples, black gum, and green ash trees rooted in the sandy soil. A beautiful paddle when spring will be showing itself through floral blooms and emerging wildlife.

Date: Friday, June 16
Time: 10 AM – 2 PM
Location: Blackwater Wildlife Refuge
Pack a lunch and prepare to paddle one of the Eastern Shore’s most famous marsh systems, and for good reason. Be sure to bring or borrow binoculars for eagle sightings. The tour will stop off at a small island for lunch.

Date: Friday, July 21
Time: 10 AM – 1 PM
Location: Upper Choptank River
Leave from Greensboro and paddle past red clay riverbanks and gravely stream beds.

Date: Friday, August 18
Time: 10 AM – 1 PM
Location: Skeleton Creek
Launch at Windyhill Landing, cross the Choptank River to paddle the narrow and winding Skeleton Creek as it transitions from a brackish marsh to fresher waters with corresponding changes in plant and animal species.

Date: Friday, September 22
Time: 1 PM – 4 PM
Location: Miles Creek
Explore this undisturbed creek in Talbot County when pickerel weed and groundsel tree are beautifully blooming.

Preregistration is required. Space is limited, so don’t wait to get on the list. Contact Suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443-385-0511 to sign up and get all the details. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Grab a paddle and get out there to tour the shore!

Melanie Jackson Joins Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy Board of Directors

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) is pleased to announce that Melanie Jackson has joined the organization’s board of directors. Jackson received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in 2012. Following graduation, she served a term as the watershed ambassador for the Hackensack River, New Jersey, which is an AmeriCorps program, working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and alongside Hackensack Riverkeeper. In 2013, Melanie left her home state of New Jersey for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Maryland, to study algae blooms and nitrogen pollution for her Master’s degree. Jackson completed her Master’s degree in 2016, and is currently working toward her doctorate degree, specializing in oyster reefs and how they remove nutrient pollution. Jackson was selected through a new collaborative agreement with UMCES to have a board position available on a rotating basis for one of its Ph.D. candidates.

“I am so thrilled to be joining the board of directors of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy,” Jackson say. “Since meeting members of MRC’s energetic team, I’ve wanted to get involved in their outreach activities. After I volunteered in an AmeriCorps program, I have been passionate about environmental stewardship and sharing my knowledge and research at Horn Point Laboratory with future generations.”

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways that comprise the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River watersheds. For more information, visit midshoreriverkeeper.org, email info@midshoreriverkeeper.org, or phone 443.385.0511