Guided Kayak Tours at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

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The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) located at 600 Discovery Lane in Grasonville, Maryland has as its mission promoting stewardship and sustainability through environmental education and habitat restoration. CBEC is located on a peninsula offering visitors unique outdoor, recreational opportunities. Kayak rentals and Guided Kayak Tours allow visitors to glide around the Marshy Creek, Kent Narrows and Cabin Creek tributaries viewing underwater grass beds and acres of marsh and restored shoreline. Kayaking is one of the best ways to experience the wonders of these wetlands. Never been kayaking? Always wanted to kayak! Sign up for one of the monthly Guided Kayaks Tours from May-October. Courtney Leigh, CBEC’s Volunteer/Adult Education Coordinator and Certified Interpretive Guide, will guide you through basic kayak instruction and then will lead you on a paddle to explore the watershed of Marshy Creek. During the tour you will get the opportunity to encounter wading birds, waterfowl, and migratory raptors hunting the marshland. Other common sightings include otter, muskrat, terrapin turtles, mating cownose stingrays, schooling silversides, undulating jellyfish and slithery water snakes!

Tours are designed to give participants, beginners and intermediate levels, an introduction to the basic skills of kayaking. Paddling techniques, vessel orientation, loading and unloading, and kayaking safety will be covered. No experience is necessary. An estimated 2 hours of paddling time is scheduled. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

2017 Dates
Sunday, May 7 at 1:00pm
Thursday, May 18 at 5:30pm
Sunday, May 21 at 1:00pm
Thursday, June 1 at 5:30pm
Sunday, June 11 at 1:00pm
Thursday, June 22 at 5:30pm
Thursday, July 13 at 5:30pm
Sunday, July 16 at 1:00pm
Sunday, July 23 at 1:00pm
Thursday, August 10 at 5:30pm
Thursday, August 20 at 1:00pm
Thursday, August 31 at 5:30pm
Sunday, September 10 at 1:00pm
Thursday, September 21 at 5:30pm
Sunday, September 24 at 1:00pm
Thursday, October 5 at 5:30pm
Sunday, October 15 at 1:00pm
Thursday, October 19 at 5:30pm

To make reservations register on CBEC’s website form: https://www.bayrestoration.org/guided-kayak-tours/ or please email Courtney Leigh, cleigh@bayrestoration.org, for more information. The cost is $15 for CBEC members and $20 for non-members.

Once registered you will receive an email confirmation explaining pre-trip preparations. CBEC reserves the right to cancel any trip due to unsafe weather conditions or if the minimum participant amount has not been reached.

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!

Project Clean Stream on April 30

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Some volunteers take to canoes to clean up the rive, but most remove trash from the shoreline. Either way, come join the fun and make an impact in your community.

Let’s give the Corsica River a good spring cleaning!

The Corsica River Conservancy is seeking volunteers for the annual “Project Clean Stream” to pick up trash and debris from the watershed Sunday, April 30, from Noon to 4 p.m. (rain or shine).

Meet up with friends and neighbors at one of three clean-up locations in Centreville: Millstream Park at 416 S. Liberty St., Centreville Wharf at 101 Water Way, or Northbrook at 301 Trickling Brook Way.

Gloves and trash containers will be provided.

The event is sponsored by the Corsica River Conservancy, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Town of Centreville.

For more information visit www.corsicariverconservancy.org.

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

UMCES Commits to Generating Solar Energy on Horn Point Campus

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Solar renewable energy will soon be generated in Cambridge, Maryland on the grounds of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). UMCES has signed an agreement with Standard Solar, Inc. to install solar field on approximately 10 acres of its Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) campus. The solar field will be a 2 MW system with expected approximate annual generation of 3.5 MWh of solar renewable energy.

“While the work we do here helps others live more sustainably, it’s essential that we lead by example,” said UMCES president Don Boesch, who has led the University System of Maryland’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative since 2008. “Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society.”

The project is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which the entity, Standard Solar, installs and operates the solar panels in exchange for the use of land, and UMCES agrees to purchase the equivalent energy being generated over the next 20 years from Standard Solar. It is expected that the solar field will generate approximately 50% of the Horn Point Laboratory’s annual energy consumption with anticipated cost savings over the duration of the agreement. 

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and has launched several programs aimed at reducing our environmental footprint, including setting goals for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at each of our laboratories, upgrading aging infrastructure to newer, more energy-efficient alternatives, and building all new campus buildings to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

Design of the system has already begun on the solar project at the Horn Point Laboratory and construction is expected to begin this summer and be in service by the spring of 2018.

“The solar field is another example of how we are using innovative ways to manage Horn Point Laboratory in a way that reduces our environmental footprint and engages with the community,” said Mike Roman, director of the Horn Point Laboratory. This project also contributes to increasing Maryland’s in-state distributed electricity generation capacity and reducing the dependency on electricity imported from other states.”

UMCES has also been selected to receive a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration’s Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program to offset the cost of four level-II electrical vehicle-charging stations on campus.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Walter Boynton at State of the Rivers Party

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will host its annual State of the Rivers Party and 2016 Midshore Rivers Report Card Release on Friday, April 21 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, Maryland. This year, the launch party will be held in the Small Boat Shed, where guests can discover the re-created interior of a crab picking plant and boats once used in the fisheries.

27_2009_Gonzo3NPRResearcher Walter Boynton, who hails from UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland, will serve as honorary speaker for the evening. Boynton, in true scientist form, will make a few observations on the state of the Chesapeake Bay. Boynton says he has always enjoyed history and figuring out the “why.” Why is this happening in the Chesapeake? Why do we see increased “dead zones” in the summer? Why are we seeing an increase in aquatic grasses?During the evening, Boynton will highlight a few observations by early settlers about unspoiled water clarity on the Bay and the aquatic creatures found in those clear waters. He will also discuss issues facing the Chesapeake Bay today, and the prospect of good news for our communities. (Spoiler alert—there is good news!)

Starting as a research assistant in 1969, Boynton spent his career studying the Bay and offering new insights into how the Bay’s ecosystem works. In particular, Boynton and fellow researchers investigated the impacts of excess nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, flowing into the Chesapeake. Boynton co-authored one of the first scientific papers, still cited today, that stated excess nitrogen entering the Bay from parking lots, farms, and other human sources, was a key element to the creation of  low-oxygen “dead zones” that weaken the ecosystem. Since then, Boynton has become known in the Chesapeake Bay community for his slight New England accent and his ability to effectively communicate the science of the Bay to a wide variety of groups. From testifying in front of Congress, to talking policy with state officials, to giving talks to local watershed and school groups, Boynton is a formidable source of information on the Chesapeake Bay.

Boynton has been working on the Bay for almost 50 years. He recently was honored with the 2016 Mathias Medal recognizing his career of environmental stewardship. The award is named after U.S. Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias of Maryland, who championed efforts to clean up the Bay. The award recognizes outstanding scientific research that contributes to informed environmental policy in the Chesapeake Bay region. Since the Mathias Medal was established in 1990, only six have been awarded.

The State of the Rivers Party on April 21 takes place from 5-7 pm, beginning with a wine and cheese reception. The event is free and open to the public. MRC Riverkeepers will also release the results of the 2016 State of the Rivers Report Card. These results assess water quality data collected by MRC scientists and 50+ Creekwatcher volunteers in sampling jurisdictions on the Choptank River, Miles River, Wye River, Tred Avon River, Tuckahoe River, Harris Creek, Broad Creek, Island Creek, La Trappe Creek, and Eastern Bay on the southern tip of Kent Island.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a non-profit 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 sarah@midshoreriverkeeper.org or phone 443.385.0511.

 

State of the Midshore Rivers Report Card Party Comes to CBMM

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will host its annual State of the Rivers Party on Friday, April 21, the eve of Earth Day. The event takes place at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in Saint Michaels, Maryland.

The State of the Rivers Party is free and open to the public.

MRC welcomes and encourages the community to join an evening of conversation and informative discussion as they release their 2016 Midshore Rivers Report Card. The report card reflects data collected by MRC scientists, Riverkeepers, and more than 50 volunteers in MRC’s Creekwatcher water quality monitoring program, which runs from April through October. These results assess water quality at approximately 115 sampling jurisdictions on the Choptank River, Miles River, Wye River, Tred Avon River, Tuckahoe River, Harris Creek, Broad Creek, Island Creek, La Trappe Creek, and Eastern Bay on the southern tip of Kent Island. 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.

MRC staff will also discuss other current programs being undertaken in 2017. MRC is excited to launch two new programs, which will be announced at the event.

In addition, researcher Walter Boynton, who hails from UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland, will serve as honorary speaker for the evening. Boynton, in true scientist form, will make a few observations on the state of the Chesapeake Bay and what the future holds not only for our local waterways, but also for the overall Chesapeake Bay.

The evening will close with the presentation of the Andy Coombs Volunteer of the Year Award. Each year, MRC recognizes a volunteer who has gone beyond the call of duty in support of its programs and mission. Robust, continued support from the community allows MRC to continue to be a strong, effective voice for local rivers.

The 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 a cheese and wine reception. The program will follow at 5:30 pm.

For more information, email sarah@midshoreriverkeeper.org or phone 443.385.0511.

CBF View: Legislation Passes to Prevent Harvesting on Oyster Sanctuaries until Science Complete by Tom Zolper

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Harvesting on oyster sanctuaries won’t be allowed, at least for the time being, after the Maryland General Assembly reaffirmed that it wants to proceed with caution when it comes to the state’s famous bivalve.

A bill, HB 924, approved overwhelmingly in both houses, reiterated that the state wait for a scientific assessment of the oyster stock in Maryland waters before contemplating any major changes in oyster management. Governor Hogan took no action on the bill, so it became law April 6.

The legislature approved the stock assessment a year ago. But in the meantime, the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC), with support from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), had begun to consider a plan to harvest oysters on nearly 1,000 acres of oyster sanctuaries.

Sanctuaries are protected areas where oysters can’t be harvested. That protection allows the reefs to grow vertically out of the silt, to filter polluted water, and to create habitat for fish. Sanctuaries make up about a quarter of the oyster reefs in Maryland. The remaining three-quarters are open to harvest.

Scientists on the OAC, as well as 30 environmental groups, had repeatedly cautioned DNR and oyster industry representatives on the OAC that it was premature to consider opening sanctuaries to harvest without the scientific stock assessment, set to be completed at the end of next year.

Even current scientific information provides no justification for opening sanctuaries. A study by DNR in July found biomass had increased on sanctuaries generally. Oysters were growing, thanks to the protection. DNR cautioned in that report that the healthiest sanctuaries should be left alone.

Yet a proposal presented in February by DNR recommended that several of those healthy sanctuaries be “declassified” and opened for occasional harvest, as well as several other, slightly less healthy sanctuaries.

The passage of HB 924 indicated the legislature’s desire to continue a more precautionary approach than DNR and the OAC were pursuing.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) supported HB 924. With the oyster population at such precarious levels in the Bay, it makes sense to consider a sustainable oyster management harvest plan. The stock assessment will provide the science for that plan. All other fisheries have similar plans, but none has ever been developed for oysters.

Some watermen and others have blamed CBF for acting in “bad faith” by supporting HB 924. They say the bill was used as a tool to disrupt an otherwise collaborative OAC process. But we aren’t the bad guy here.

We agree that too many hours in OAC meetings were wasted developing a proposal to harvest on sanctuaries. We should never have started down that path—before scientists finish a stock assessment. The OAC could have looked into many other aspects of state oyster policy: aquaculture, harvesting in general, poaching, etc. We encouraged the OAC to look into a pilot program of rotational harvesting in the area of the Bay where harvesting already is permitted—but not on sanctuaries. Once the talks headed down the road of harvesting on sanctuaries, a process DNR Secretary Belton abetted, a clash was inevitable.

We also disagree that environmentalists had in any way agreed to harvesting on sanctuaries, only to renege later. Thirty environmental groups submitted a letter to OAC and DNR in December underscoring the need to leave sanctuaries alone, absent sufficient scientific information. CBF also presented a bipartisan poll showing that about 90 percent of Marylanders, across party lines, share those sentiments about sanctuaries.

Despite all this resistance, Belton asked county oyster committees for their proposals for how harvesting on sanctuaries could happen. Then, the secretary asked the environmental groups if they had any proposals for changing the sanctuaries.

Needless to say, that’s like asking someone who doesn’t like spinach to propose how he’d like to eat it. CBF kept our lips pursed. So did scientists on the OAC, and other environmental groups.

A few community groups stepped up with proposals for small expansions of oyster reefs that their volunteers had been planting with baby oysters over the years. They wanted official ‘sanctuary’ designation for those small reefs.

But no environmental groups expressed support for harvesting on sanctuaries. There never was consensus for this idea on the OAC. The idea came from watermen, seafood industry representatives, and legislators on the panel (all of whom generally strongly support watermen on policy issues).

In the end, CBF and other groups supported HB 924 because they weren’t being heard at the OAC, and by DNR.

That support wasn’t meant to disrupt. Just the opposite. It was meant to prevent a disruption of the state’s cautious, science-based approach to oyster management.
Tom Zolper is the Assistant Media Director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Ecosystem: Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy Seeks Watershed Coordinator

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) is looking to expand its team with the addition of a Watershed Coordinator. MRC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways of Maryland’s Mid-Shore region. These comprise the Choptank River and its tributaries, Eastern Bay, and the Miles and Wye Rivers. The organization serves as an advocate for the health of these tributaries and the living resources they support.

MRC is seeking someone with a strong commitment to environmental protection, and an understanding of, and commitment to, MRC’s mission. Starting in May and running through September, the Watershed Coordinator will be responsible for operating MRC’s pumpout boat, located in St. Michaels at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. During these months, Thursday through Monday, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, the Watershed Coordinator will be responsible for pumping out waste from sailboats and cruise boats in the Miles and Wye Rivers, and will have responsibility for maintaining the pumpout boat.

Not only does the pumpout boat assist in keeping our local waterways clean, it is also an outreach and promotional effort for MRC, so strong verbal and communications skills are important for this position. Job duties will shift during October through April, when the Watershed Coordinator will engage in water quality testing, oyster restoration, river patrols, helping to manage MRC’s 50+ water quality monitoring volunteers, engaging in community outreach, regulatory issues and permit enforcement. The Watershed Coordinator will work with other staff on a variety of projects, and will assist in fundraising and events. The Watershed Coordinator will contribute to MRC’s general communications and outreach efforts to increase awareness in the community and the importance of clean water. These efforts will include contributing content to MRC’s newsletters, commenting on proposed regulatory and legislative changes, speaking regularly at public forums, and writing for local media publications. To view the full job description, visit midshoreriverkeeper.org.