Big Game Hunting Program on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced the Compatibility Determination for big game hunting of white-tailed deer, sika, and wild turkey on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is available for public comment.  The Service developed this compatibility determination to facilitate the evaluation of the proposed refuge use, including anticipated impacts of the activity and stipulations to ensure compatibility.

In addition to the formal comment period on the Compatibility Determination, the public is also invited to attend an open house on the refuge’s big game hunt program. The open house meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about big game public hunting opportunities on the refuge, ask questions, and provide comments on the hunt program in general or the Compatibility Determination specifically.  The open house will be held on Wednesday April 5, 2017 from 6-9 pm at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, address 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613.

The compatibility determination is available for viewing at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and on the refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/. Comments should be submitted in writing to the attention of Mr. Matt Whitbeck, Wildlife Biologist, at Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC, 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613; or matt_whitbeck@fws.gov.  Comments will be accepted until April 14, 2017.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

No Fooling! Project Clean Stream is April 1st

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Every spring, from New York to Virginia, tens of thousands of volunteers come together to clean up local streams and neighborhoods as part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Project Clean Stream, one of the largest cleanup events in the Chesapeake Bay region.This year’s Project Clean Stream takes place on Saturday, April 1, 2017 (in case of schedule conflicts, groups may opt to participate on a different date). Once again local partner MidshoreRiverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) is seeking residents, organizations, and businesses to take action to clean up local streams, rivers, and community streets. MidshoreRiverkeeper 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.

clean stream

Project Clean Stream teams pick up trash at the Bill Burton Pier in Talbot County

Through Project Clean Stream, individuals make a true impact on their local environment. For years, dedicated groups have adopted sites and removed thousands of pounds of trash and litter. In 2016, MRC organized 200 volunteers at 19 sites and collected 1,400 pounds of trash. The bay-wide project brought in approximately 3.3 million pounds of trash with more than 74,000 volunteers across 3,700 cleanup sites.

Previous MRC Project Clean Stream teams have included: The Country School, Talbot and Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Talbot Mentors, Easton High School, Royal Bank of Canada, and many more.

Join the movement to restore and protect our local waterways! To captain a team, join a team, or recommend a pickup location, please contact Suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeepers Launch Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week April 1-8

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) has launched its second annual Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week from April 1 to April 8, 2017. 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. Last year, MRC spearheaded Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week, partnering with over other 20 environmental organizations to spread the word about lawn fertilizer awareness. These combined social media efforts reached over 10,000 people across Maryland.

This year, MRC is building on this outreach in an effort to reach an even larger audience. The goal of the program remains to educate the public and lawn care professionals and encourage them to reduce or eliminate lawn fertilizer. In addition, the program promotes alternatives to lawns that keep landscapes beautiful. It is vital that we reduce lawn fertilizer use due to its key ingredients—nitrogen and phosphorous. When it rains, excess nutrients are a major source of pollution that washes off the land into storm drains, streams and rivers. Once in our waterways, these nutrients have negative impacts by contributing to the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, robbing the water of oxygen, and threatening underwater life.

Lawn Fertilizer Campaign CroppedIn October 2013, Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law went into effect. The law helps protect the Chesapeake Bay against excess nutrients entering its waters from a wide range of non-agricultural sources, including golf courses, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields, businesses and hundreds of thousands of lawns. The law spells out common sense practices that can reduce the risk of fertilizer runoff while promoting best management practices that support healthy lawns.

Lawn fertilizer accounts for approximately 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland. There are over 1,300,000 acres of lawns in Maryland and almost 86 million pounds of nitrogen-rich lawn fertilizer will be applied to their lawns each year. It is critical that everyone does their part to help Maryland meet the pollution caps established by the “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay.

More information is available at mda.maryland.gov/Pages/fertilizer.aspx. Additional guidance, along with seasonal and yearly fertilizer rates, is available at county extension offices or online at extension.umd.edu.

A Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week Tool Kit is available on the MRC website at midshoreriverkeeper.org. For more information please contact Tasha at 443.385.0511 or keitasha@midshoreriverkeeper.org.

ESLC Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Half-Day Conference Set for April 1

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The Eastern Shore is the third most susceptible region to the effects of sea level rise in the country. The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a progressive, environmentally-focused nonprofit organization headquartered in Easton, will host the half-day conference, Unsinkable Eastern Shore II: Rural America Responds to Climate Change, on Saturday, April 1st from 9am to 1pm. The event will be held at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center – the former McCord laundry facility which ESLC rehabilitated and has since occupied with several other conservation groups since 2015.

The event is $20 to attend and includes breakfast, two panel discussions, and presentations by two keynote speakers. Also included with admission is a copy of speaker John Englander’s book High Tide on Main Street, which Politico Magazine called “one of the 50 most important books to read in 2016.” Attendees may register online at eslc.org/events, but are encouraged to do so soon, as seating is limited.

The conference will be hosted by ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Manager, Brian Ambrette, who has been working with town and county government on the Mid and Upper Shore for more than two years, helping to bring awareness about the effects of climate change – most notably, sea level rise – as well as working to help implement sound planning in the form of mitigation strategies and town/county comprehensive plans.

“I hope our audience will learn how their communities and their neighbors are embracing change as an opportunity to innovate and make the systems we rely on stronger and greener”, notes Ambrette. “I am excited about the new ideas that our keynote speakers will inject into the conversation.”

While the conference panels boast a mix of knowledgeable educators and emergency management professionals, the inclusion of oceanographer, author, and consultant John Englander is perhaps the most impressive addition to the conference. As a leading expert on sea level rise, Englander’s broad marine science background coupled with explorations to Greenland and Antarctica has allowed him to see the big picture of sea level rise and its societal impacts. He has served as chief executive officer for such noteworthy organizations as The International SeaKeepers and The Cousteau Society. Interestingly enough, legendary Captain Jacques Cousteau tapped John to succeed him as CEO.

Please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager, David Ferraris, at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165 for more information.

Support Adkins Arboretum’s Goat Herd at Twelfth Annual Arbor Day Run

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Dust off your running shoes and start training! Runners, walkers, families and nature enthusiasts are invited to hustle for the herd at Adkins Arboretum’s twelfth annual Arbor Day Run on Sat., April 8. Proceeds benefit the Arboretum’s goat herd, used for targeted grazing of invasive plants.

Featuring a 5K race, a NEW 10K race, a free One-Mile Fun Run/Walk and a free Healthy Kids 100-yard dash, the Arbor Day Run is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an early-spring morning in nature. Participants will pass the Arboretum’s goat herd on the cross-country course plotted along a network of scenic, easily navigable trails.

Check-in and day-of registration begin at 8 a.m. The Healthy Kids Dash begins at 8:50 a.m., followed by the 10K Run at 9 a.m., the 5K Run at 9:05 a.m. and the One-Mile Fun Run/Walk at 9:10 a.m.

arbor run  Adkins goats

Awards will be presented to the overall male/female master winners and to the top three male/female winners in categories 10 and under through 70 and older in 10-year age groups. Bluepoint Race Management will provide chip timing for the 5K and 10K races. Post-race festivities include an awards ceremony with one-of-a-kind tree ring medals, a goat puppet raffle and refreshments, including goats’ milk cheese and crackers.

Registration is underway, with a discount and a goat-themed Arbor Day Run T-shirt for those who register for the 5K and 10K by March 26. Fun Run and Healthy Kids Dash participants may order T-shirts for $10 each. For fee information or to register, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410.634.2847, ext. 0

The Arbor Day Run is generously sponsored by Eco-Goats, a subsidiary of Sustainable Resource Management, Inc. Arbor Day Run T-shirts are funded by an award from Choptank Electric Trust, Inc.

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 and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Annapolis: New Septic Bill Struggles in the Senate

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A bill to require Best Available Technology (BAT) for all new construction on septic everywhere in Maryland is struggling to survive in the Senate.

The bill, SB266, sponsored by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City, would establish a 2012 regulation issued under former Gov. Martin O’Malley into law that required BAT systems for all new construction on septic, even beyond the critical areas.

Gov. Larry Hogan killed the O’Malley-era regulation last summer and limited BAT system requirements to the critical areas only. Hogan told the Maryland Association of Counties that the regulation “created a cost-prohibitive burden for Maryland homeowners and businesses” outside the critical area. BAT systems can cost up to $7,500 or more per home than conventional septic systems.

Critical areas are considered to be within 1,000 feet of the Bay or coastal areas.

Vote falls short

On Thursday a 22-23 vote fell short of advancing the bill, but it was brought back to life moments later when Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s, asked to reconsider the vote, although he did not change his vote.

Currie’s motion to reconsider cleared the way for Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton on Friday to offer floor amendments that would prioritize BAT requirements based on available funding in the Bay Restoration Fund. The amendment would have allowed conventional septic systems outside the critical areas if funding was unavailable.

The amendments failed 20-26.

Shortly after Middleton’s amendment failed, Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, offered amendments to revert back to requiring BAT systems in the critical areas only. Those amendments were laid over until this week.

“It makes no sense to put an enhanced nutrient removal system in the middle of a farmland 25 miles from any critical area in the state and require [homeowners] to pay any more than necessary,” Reilly said. “This focuses the efforts and the money on the most important parts of the state.”

Senate President Mike Miller originally voted against the bill on Thursday but had a change of heart Friday after Reilly’s amendments were laid over. He asked the body to reach a compromise.

“Let’s pass the bill,” Miller said.

Flush tax money

The measure, if passed, would provide funding, if available, from the Bay Restoration Fund — where the “flush tax” goes — to subsidize the cost difference between conventional and BAT systems, currently estimated at $7,500, according to a legislative analysis.

An $8,000 fine would be levied for any home not using a BAT systems where required.

O’Malley put the regulation in place just weeks after signing the controversial Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, which put tighter limits on septic in subdivisions but preserved some local control over septic use.

Rural lawmakers and local governments reeled at the time and said it would put too many restrictions on development and was an affront to property rights of farmers and landowners.

The Act established the size and scale of major developments using septic systems as a way to encourage development closer to priority funding areas that could be served by sewage treatment plants.

by Dan Menefee

Horticulture Lecture Series

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Hort Series 2017 flyerThe Kent County Extension Office and the Kent County Public Library are pleased to announce the start of the 18th annual Horticulture Lecture Series. The series is meant for anyone who like to garden, both amateurs and professionals alike. The talks will focus on a wide array of gardening related topics. The purpose of the talks is to show the audience how to create beauty in your landscape while keeping the health of the environment and the Chesapeake Bay in mind. The programs will be held at the Kent County Public Library, 408 High Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.  All sessions run from 10 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m. This event is free of charge. For more information, please contact Sabine Harvey, 410-778-1661 or sharvey1@umd.edu

The schedule is as follows:

March 10: Plant Propagation: How to Multiply your Favorite Plants, Vic Priapi, Owner of Priapi Gardens

March 17: Beautify your Landscape and your Food with Aronia (Purple Chokeberry), Roy Mears, Owner of Chester River Aronia

March 24: Lawn Alternatives, Wanda MacLachlan, UMD Extension, Bay-Wise and Master Naturalist Coordinator

March 31: Caterpillars in the Landscape, Elizabeth Hill, UMD Extension, Entomologist

The University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources programs are open to all and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Senator Ben Cardin Set to Visit ESLC Cambridge Project March 10

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Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be visiting Cambridge, Maryland on Friday, March 10, 2017 to join join representatives from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, and Preservation Maryland for a tour and media availability regarding The Packing House – a historic tax credit rehabilitation project.

In addition to addressing the media and answering questions immediately following the tour, Senator Cardin will spotlight his new legislation to improve the federal historic tax credit program, which will benefit rural communities and small towns across Maryland.

A partnership between ESLC, Cross Street Partners, and the City of Cambridge, The Packing House (ThePackingHouseCambridge.com) is an urban revitalization project that seeks to repurpose the historic, 60,000 square-foot Phillips Cannery building in Cambridge into an active, mixed-use plan for office and food-related innovation.

This structure is the last standing piece of the storied Phillips Packing Company empire, which employed thousands in Cambridge and served as the largest supplier of rations to American troops in World War II.

The project was recently awarded a $3M historic tax credit for revitalization of a structure located within an underserved community. Plans include an array of food-related uses that acknowledge and support local hunger and nutrition needs, building off of the Eastern Shore’s agricultural resources and a growing local food economy of growers, makers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants.

The ambitious vision to renovate and repurpose the former Phillips ‘Factory F’ is key to the continued revitalization of Cambridge, including Cannery Park – the adjacent 6.6 acres of land which includes the Cambridge Creek headwater area that will begin a stream restoration process this coming spring.

The event is free and open to interested members of the public, friends of ESLC, and the media. For members of the media planning to attend the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center immediately afterwards, a bus will be held at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge so that they will be able to attend both events. Please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager, David Ferraris, at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165 for more information.

LOCATION: Phillips Packing Plant, 411 Dorchester Avenue, Cambridge, MD 21613
AGENDA: Arrive at Packing House 11:15am; Tour the building; Press availability 11:40am; Depart Packing House at 12:00pm.

Free Tree Seedlings Available for Qualifying Eastern Shore Landowners

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Kent and Queen Anne’s county landowners who have a drainage ditch, stream, creek or other waterway on or near their property are eligible for free tree seedlings through Department of Natural Resources’ Buffer in a Bag program.

Each bag contains 25 native, bare-root tree seedlings suited for planting in wet soil conditions. The bundle will include five of each species: common persimmon, eastern redbud, spicebush, willow oak, and sassafras or swamp white oak. All seedlings are 1-year-old and approximately 8 to 10 inches tall.

Trees planted along waterways help protect and improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, reducing sediment, lowering peak water temperatures and stabilizing stream banks.

Maryland Forest Service staff will provide information on tree planting techniques, maintenance, and other good native species choices at the time of pick up.

Interested homeowners should call the Annapolis office at 410-260-8589, or email dakota.durcho@maryland.gov to reserve their seedlings for early April pick up. Quantities are limited so reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Requests must be received by March 23rd, 2017.