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.

Adkins Arboretum Hosts Jill Jonnes for Urban Trees Talk Oct 5 at Academy Art Museum

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Jill Jonnes, author and historian

Nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinary role in our landscapes. They are living landmarks that define space, cool the air, soothe our psyches and connect us to nature and our past. Learn about the fascinating natural history of the tree in American cities when Adkins Arboretum hosts author and historian Jill Jonnes speaks about Urban Forests on Thurs., Oct. 5 at the Academy Art Museum in Easton. The talk begins at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a book signing.  The academy Art Museum is located at 106 South Street, Easton, MD, 21601.  Call the museum during business hours at 410-822-2787.

Jonnes’s latest book, Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape, celebrates urban trees and the Americans—presidents, plant explorers, visionaries, citizen activists, scientists, nurserymen and tree nerds—whose arboreal passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities. Ranging from Thomas Jefferson’s day, to the postwar devastation of magnificent American elm canopies by Dutch elm disease, to the present, Jonnes lauds the nation’s arboreal advocates, from the founders of Arbor Day, arboretums and tree surgery to the current generation of scientists who engage technology to illuminate the value of trees as green infrastructure and their importance to public health.

Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape by Jill Jonnes

Jonnes holds a Ph.D. in American history from Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of numerous books, including Eiffel’s TowerConquering Gotham and Empires of Light. Founder of the nonprofit Baltimore Tree Trust, she is leading the Baltimore City Forestry Board’s new initiative, Baltimore’s Flowering Tree Trails. As a staff member of the 2010 Presidential National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, she wrote the first chapter of the report Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling. Jonnes also has been named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation.

The talk is $15 for Arboretum members and $20 for non-members. Advance registration is requested at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature, conservation and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum    12610 Eveland Road     Ridgely, MD 21620     adkinsarboretum.org     info@adkinsarboretum.org

Adkins Arboretum’s Enchanted Fairyfest is Oct. 14

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Bring your wings and wands for a day of magic at Adkins Arboretum! The Arboretum’s second annual Fairyfest, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 14, celebrates fancy, fantasy and fun in the forest. Follow a trail of fairy houses along enchanted forest paths, and join in a meadow maypole dance. Search for gnomes in the Funshine Garden, craft magical treasures to take home, and wave to the Billy Goats Gruff from atop a hay wagon.

The event includes live entertainment throughout the day in the woodland theatre, shimmering fairy face painting, rainbow bubbles, archery and fairytale games. Unicorn rides provided by Snapdragon Stables and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Kicking off the fun, Master Naturalist Beth Lawton will offer a special Fairy Makers crafting program for ages 12 and up on Fri., Oct. 13. Crafted of felt, silk flowers, wooden beads and seed pods, the tiny acorn fairies made in the workshop will delight fairy lovers of all age. Each participant will create a one-of-a-kind fairy to take home. The workshop is $10 for members and $15 for non-members; spots are limited, and advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org.

Admission to Fairyfest is $10 for adults and children ages 3 and up. Children ages 2 and under are admitted free.

Fairyfest is sponsored in part by Garden Treasures of Easton and Soistman Family Dentistry. For more information, call 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or visit adkinsarboretum.org.

Pickering Creek’s Harvest Hoedown Celebrates Fall October 8

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Pickering Creek celebrates fall on the Eastern Shore at this year’s Harvest Hoedown on Sunday October 8. Harvest Hoedown features music at three locations, unique craftspeople, nature walks, wildlife exhibits, boat rides on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Winnie Estelle and entertaining kids and adult activities as well as food prepared by the Easton Lions Club and new local food vendors. Activities and vendors will be found throughout Pickering Creek. Explore the property with hay wagon rides or take a stroll on the forest trail for a sampling of the Eastern Shore’s natural beauty from wetlands to 100 year-old trees, all highlighted in vibrant fall colors.

Great Family Fun at Harvest Hoedown.

Harvest Hoedown 2017 will feature live music, puppet shows, a family friendly scavenger hunt with prizes and storytellers will give families great entertainment and fun throughout the day.  Milkweed plants and pollinator seed balls will be available for guests who participate in fun activities about monarch butterflies, pollinators and climate. From deep in the vaults of Pickering Creek the Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt Art collection will be on display, featuring the great folk art that has graced the back of each Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt for the last seventeen years.  These works will be on display at the Center’s Welcome Center.  Scheduled events will include not only music on the main stage, but also brief nature talks by area naturalists including topics such as Bird Rescue, Poplar Island, Monarchs, Honey Bees and more.

This year features a number of great returning craftsmen including Matt Redman’s Chesapeake Soaps and Bee George Honey.  Both Matt and George have great interactive displays and are mainstays of our local community. Craftspeople from across the peninsula including Joan Devaney, Damaris ToyWorks, Plein Air Painters, Sisters Clay Art, Birdworx and Wacky Wind Chimes and more will have locally made quality items on sale that make great Christmas gifts and birthday presents while supporting our local economy.

Harvest Hoedown features great music for all ages!  The Harvest Hoedown main stage, framed by Pickering’s historic corncrib, will host toe tapping blues and bluegrass with four acts throughout the day. The kid’s stage is just down the lane right next to Pickering’s beautiful gardens, surrounded by a bevy of fun educational activities led by Audubon Naturalists and budding volunteer leaders.  The musical artists featured frequently perform in their own right, but Pickering puts them all together for a wonderful fall day of music and fun.

Slim Harrison and new Sunnyland Band’s youngest members.

The kid’s stage features a very accomplished act from Western Maryland. First Slim Harrison and the Sunnyland Band return for their sixteenth year.  The best thing about the Sunnyland Band is that it is you!  With over 40,000 members worldwide it may very well be the biggest band around. For over 25 years, Slim has performed at Schools and Festivals, Hoedowns & Throwdowns all over North America and around the world.  He is a “Master Artist” with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and full-time “Artist in Residence” with the Maryland State Arts Council – Artists in Education, Touring Artists Program.

Slim’s solo performance titled: “Exploring the Roots of American Folk Music” teaches children about the many cultures that brought lots of different flavors to the American Musical Gumbo.  Kids are given an opportunity to join the “Sunnyland Band” and play along on spoons, jugs, washboards, skiffleboards, limberjacks, washtub bass, PA Dutch “stumpf-fiddles”, African tambourines, Cajun frattrois,  Native American whammy-diddles, Chinese gaos, Latin maracas, clave`s & quiros.

The main stage kicks off at 11:00 am with local favorites Alan Girard and Meredith Lathbury, followed by Baltimore musician Norm Hogeland. Playing next at Harvest Hoedown on the main stage are Slim Harrison and the Rock Candy Cloggers.

Headlining the main stage is the New and Used Bluegrass band, based on the Eastern Shore with members from across the shore. New and Used Bluegrass features Alan Breeding on banjo, Jim Bieneman on bass fiddle and vocals, Toby Price on mandolin and vocals, Ed Finkner on guitar and vocals and Jon Simmons on fiddle, mandolin and vocals. New and Used Bluegrass performs various flavors of bluegrass music, ranging from the traditional  – like the Stanley Brothers “How Mountain Girls Can Love” to “Eastbound and Down” from the Smokey and the Bandit movie, to “Caravan”, a Duke Ellington tune, as well as assorted banjo and fiddle tunes and songs.  They are well known locally for their excellent bluegrass pickin’.

Harvest Hoedown is generously supported by the following sponsors: Bartlett Griffin and Vermilye, Shore United Bank, Wye Gardens, LLC, Johnson Lumber Company, Colin Walsh & Carolyn Williams, Richard & Beverly Tilghman, Stuart and Melissa Strahl, The Star Democrat, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, Out of the Fire, Kelly Distributing, and Pepsi Cola. Please contact the Center for if you would like to be a sponsor.

Harvest Hoedown means fun for all ages!  Music, hayrides, boat rides, local arts, and great family activities put smiles on every face. Mark your calendar, dig up your overalls, boots and hat and make your way out to Pickering Creek on October 8.  We will be having fun from 11 am- 4 pm.

Diversity matters in this different kind of fishing tournament

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A different kind of fishing tournament here on Oct. 7 will give anglers advanced notice of the best fishing spots in the area, and will award prizes for the diversity of fish netted, not just size. It’s the Rod & Reef Slam, a celebration of the Chesapeake Bay fisherman’s best friend: an oyster reef.

Sponsored by Coastal Conservation Association, Maryland; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF); the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative; and NOAA, the Slam is taking registrations here and at hgibson@cbf.org and 302-388-7659.

The late Clint Waters of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association (MSSA) used to tell his fellow anglers that “the best fishing hole” in the Choptank River was a place called Cook’s Point. Waters wasn’t telling fish stories when he reported that he routinely caught up to seven different species there: striped bass, hardhead, white perch, spot, and more. Some fishermen have even snagged legal black sea bass, fish rarely seen around the Chesapeake over the past 100 years.

Cook’s Point is an oyster reef near the mouth of the Choptank – a man-made reef at that. It is one of three such reefs that anglers will fish on at the Rod & Reef Slam. The others are Harris Creek and the Tilghman Island Artificial Reef just outside Knapps Narrows.

“Fish love oyster reefs like humans like a buffet line. As a result, recreational fishermen also love oyster reefs,” said John Page Williams, a CBF naturalist and widely known angler.

Oysters are called a keystone species in the Chesapeake. Oyster reefs are more than just mounds of shell; they form a foundation of the entire Bay ecosystem. They filter the water. And the intricate latticework of shells provides vital habitat for many small plants and animals that make their homes on reefs. Barnacles, mussels, and bryozoans attach to the oyster shells. Other animals like redbeard sponges, flower-like anemones, and feathery hydroids branch out into the water. Mobile invertebrates such as mud crabs, oyster drills and grass shrimp inhabit the nooks and crannies. Small fish like blennies, gobies and skillet-fish feed on the reefs, and attract larger animals such as striped bass and blue crabs.

But the benefits of these reefs are sometimes lost in debates about the cost of restoring oysters in Maryland. Some critics have questioned the tens of millions of dollars (mostly in federal money) that has been spent to restore over nearly 600 acres of oyster reefs in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River and the Tred Avon River.

These man-made reefs are showing real promise in their primary job: growing oysters. The latest report about on the Harris Creek project, for instance, found 97 percent of the area meeting minimal density standards for a restored reef, and 80 percent meeting optimal standards.

But just as the Harris Creek reef seems to be doing so well, some critics are questioning the state’s plan to finish large projects on the Little Choptank, and Tred Avon, as well as man-made reefs planned for the future.

The Rod & Reef Slam is meant to remind us of the benefits from such projects. Recreational fishermen typically understand those benefits. For instance, the Dorchester Chapter of the MSSA (of which Clint Waters was president) partnered with CBF and the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative to submerge more than 650 “reef balls” with baby oysters below the Bill Burton fishing pier in Cambridge – to attract fish.

Where you find oysters, you’ll find fish, and fishermen.

The tournament cost is $50, which covers entry fee, after party food, giveaways, live entertainment and access to a cash bar. Youth ages 16 and under may participate for free with a participating adult. Tickets for $10 are available for after party food and entertainment only. Lines in will be 6:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 and lines out 2:30 p.m. Powerboat, kayak, and youth divisions. More information here or at 302-388-7659 or hgibson@cbf.org.

New research award will help resource managers plan for increase in toxic algal blooms in Chesapeake waterways

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Researchers from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory have been awarded funding to develop a new model to better predict the long-term occurrences of dangerous and costly harmful algal blooms in the Chesapeake Bay. The cooperative project is made possible by the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS).

“The harmful algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay have been increasing due to nutrient enrichment, and with climate change we are going to have more occurrences,” said co-investigator Professor Ming Li. “In this project we will be developing a new mechanistic model to predict the harmful algal blooms.”

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have long suffered from harmful algae blooms, or HABs, caused by excess nutrients running off of the land, due largely to a continually growing population in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and the development of animal and plant agriculture in its watershed. Ecosystem-disrupting events, harmful algal blooms have shown marked increase in the past 20 years.

The three-year project will develop a framework for scientists and natural resources managers to understand the impact of blooms by two of the most common microscopic algae in the Chesapeake Bay. Prorocentrum minimum, better known as ‘mahogany tide,’ can severely reduce the amount of oxygen available to living things, killing fish and altering food webs. Kalrodinium veneficum produces a toxin that has been implicated in fish-kill events in the Chesapeake Bay, as well been as associated with failure of oyster spawning and development.

“This is not a forecasting model for three or four days out,” said Professor Patricia Glibert. “Our aim is to ask longer term questions, such as if temperatures warm by a certain amount, what effect will that have? If we were to reduce nutrients, how will that affect harmful algal blooms?”

The model would be a tool to play out a number of different scenarios to understand the impact of different potential management decisions and ecosystem responses over decades. Glibert, who has been working on understanding toxic algal blooms around the world, will be handling the physiological experiments. Li, an expert on modeling hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay, will focus on developing a numerical model for the HABs.

The Chesapeake Bay is not the only place facing such problems. Similar events are happening off the coast of China and in many parts of Europe.

“We’re seeing this all over the world. More blooms, more often, lasting longer. In many places these trends are consistent with increased nitrogen loads,” Glibert.

Climate change is expected to result in warmer temperatures, higher sea level, and a changing weather patterns that will further increase the amount of nutrient pollution running off the land into waterways.

“We will be working closely with managers to develop scenarios and questions they wish to have us ask,” said Li, referring to groups like the Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, and others. “We will add a model of the harmful algal blooms to an existing water-quality model and come up with a product that will be useful for managers.”

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

Join Adkins Arboretum for CHIHULY at the New York Botanical Garden

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Artist Dale Chihuly has mastered the translucent and transparent qualities of ice, water, glass and neon to create works of art that transform the everyday experience. He is globally renowned for his ambitious site-specific installations in public spaces as well as exhibitions in museums and gardens worldwide. For the first time in more than 10 years, Chihuly’s artwork is on view in a major garden exhibition in New York. CHIHULY, on view through October at the New York Botanical Garden, showcases more than 20 installations and includes drawings and early works that reveal the evolution and development of Chihuly’s artistic process during his celebrated career. Join Adkins Arboretum on Sat., Oct. 28 for an afternoon and evening adventure to NYBG to view Chihuly’s breathtaking works of art that dazzle with color, light and form in both day and night.

Set within NYBG’s landmark landscape and buildings, this sensory-filled exhibition is a must-see as the Garden’s dramatic vistas become living canvases for work created specifically for NYBG, showcasing Chihuly’s signature shapes and brilliant colors. The exhibit includes a monumental reimagining of his storied 1975 Artpark installation, with new works enlivening the Garden’s water features and reflecting the interplay and movement of color and light. One-of-a-kind installations highlight the synergy between Chihuly’s organic shapes and the natural environment. 

The trip includes CHIHULY Nights, when the artworks are spectacularly illuminated amid NYBG’s sweeping vistas and magnificent Conservatory. The after-sunset atmosphere is thrilling as the exhibition is infused with magical energy, heightened drama and luminous colors and forms when works are lit under the evening sky.

This trip is offered during the final weekend of CHIHULY and CHIHULY Nights. The bus departs from the Easton Firehouse on Aurora Park Drive at 10 a.m. and from the Route 50 westbound Park and Ride at Route 404 at 10:20 a.m. An additional stop at the 301/291 Park and Ride will be added upon request for Chestertown-area residents. The bus will depart for home at 8 p.m. The program fee of $150 for members and $205 for non-members includes transportation, admission to NYBG and CHIHULY Nights and driver gratuity. To ensure the trip proceeds, please register by Fri., Sept. 29 at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature, conservation and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Cardboard Boats Make a Splash!

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Have you ever dreamed of building your own boat?  What about one made out of cardboard, glue and duct tape?  The Center for Environment & Society’s 11th Annual Cardboard Boat Race is fast approaching and will give you the opportunity to test your boat building (and racing) skills.  Now is the time to register your crew and start building your boat. “Add several coats of latex-based paint and you’ll be ready to go,” says Jamie Frees, Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Environment & Society.

The great Cardboard Boat Race day is Saturday, September 23, from 1-4 pm at Wilmer Park in Chestertown.

Spectators and participants alike will have a blast at this event. Whether you sink or float it is great fun on the Chester River.  Hundreds of dollars in prizes for awards ranging from 1st around the course, best construction, most team spirit, even a people’s choice (come early to vote for your favorite boat) and more. Hurry, the deadline for registration is September 22, 2017. Go to this website for boat-building tips or here to register your boat. Entries are $15 per team.

All boats go on display at 12:30 pm on race day.  Captains and crew meet at 2:45 pm, the popular boat parade begins at 2:50 pm and the race starts at 3:00 pm sharp along the Pavilion in Chestertown’s Wilmer Park.  The race is open to individuals, businesses, schools, civic groups and non-profit entities in Kent or Queen Anne’s County Maryland desiring to build a boat and team spirit.  Participants must be at least 12 years of age.

The Cardboard Boat Race is part of the Center’s Get to Know CES event in Wilmer Park during Fall Family Weekend from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on September 23rd. Center for Environment & Society staff will be on hand discussing, and sometimes demonstrating their innovative and educational programs. Visit each booth for a chance to win a 90-minute cruise on the Chester River for up to ten people on the research vessel Callinectes or a guided tour of beautiful Chino Farm, including the bird banding station and historic grasslands, for up to six people. Stop by the trivia table to test your CES knowledge and win a tee shirt!

Activities include river cruises aboard the 46-foot Callinectes ($5 per person), kayaking and paddle boarding on the Chester River. There will be food, beer and live music by the High & Wides.  In case of foul weather, activities may be canceled.  For information contact 410-810-7162 or visit CES’s website.  Events are organized by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College for Fall Family Weekend.  The event is free and open to the public.

For questions about the event please contact Jamie Frees at 410-810-7162 or jfrees2@washcoll.edu.

Washington College Center for Environment & Society – 210 S. Cross Street #101 – Chestertown, MD 21620

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Summer Butterflies and Migrating Monarchs at Pickering Creek

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Visit Pickering Creek Audubon Center this August and September for three excellent opportunities to learn about local butterflies! On Saturday, August 12 from 10:30AM to 12:30 PM, butterfly experts Theresa Murray and Frank Boyle are returning for a second year to lead a “Spectacular Summer Butterflies” talk and walk. Theresa Murray has been learning about butterflies and their life cycles over the past 20 years. She currently maintains gardens with nectar plants and host plants for several butterflies including monarchs. Frank Boyle is a naturalist and butterfly specialist from Rohrersville, MD. He leads several NABA (North American Butterfly Association) annual 4th of July butterfly counts in Maryland and the mountains of Virginia. He has been chasing and gardening for butterflies for 23 years. A short presentation about the most common butterflies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will kick off the program. The group will then walk along Pickering Creek’s meadow trails to look for various species and the native plants that attract them. Participants will Learn about identifying features of these exquisite insects and observe the beautiful blooming plants that bring them in.

Participants in Pickering Creek’s Monarch Watch Tagging program try to carefully catch butterflies sipping nectar on wetland plants.

On September 13th and 20th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM, Pickering Creek naturalists will lead two Monarch Tagging events during the butterflies’ fall migration. Each year, monarchs migrate from their breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. This year the University of Kansas’s Monarch Watch predicts high numbers of monarchs migrating south. Participating in their nationwide citizen science tagging program is a great way to learn about this charismatic local animal and contribute to scientific research on its population, challenges and resiliency. Both tagging events at Pickering Creek will include a short program on the lifecycle and migration of monarchs and how climate change is affecting them followed by an excursion into the wetland meadows where monarchs will be sipping nectar as they fuel up for their journey south! No experience is necessary.

Register for these programs by calling 410-822-4903 or emailing Mary Helen Gillen at mgillen@audubon.org.