For ten-thousand years the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers have played a pivotal role in shaping and sustaining our surrounding environment. They are crucial components of our complex ecosystem and cultural landscape, offering a myriad of benefits that impact both aquatic and terrestrial life.
The beauty of many of the Bay’s tributaries led Capt. John Smith to write in 1612 to write, “Heaven and earth have never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation,” and while that praise still holds, the health of rivers—like the Bay—is a constant concern requiring long-term monitoring and preservation techniques.
Feeding in the Chester River, the six-mile Corsica River and its navigable streams have been widely popular for kayakers, canoers, paddleboarders, and fishing and maintain an active public dock at Centreville Wharf.
The river’s health, however, has been an uphill battle, but Chester Riverkeeper Annie Richards quickly notes that the whole picture is not bleak. In fact, some testing points water quality is showing a 30% recovery.
“The Corsica River, which converges with the middle Chester River at a junction of key waterways, struggles with several water quality parameters. Its relatively shallow nature poses issues with flushing and tidal flow. Unfortunately, the Corsica River ranks as one of the weakest performers in terms of water quality monitoring carried out by Shore Rivers,” Richards says.
From April to March, Richards and her Corsica River volunteers test the water quality twice a month, looking for changes in the water quality parameters, including dissolved oxygen levels, clarity, chlorophyll A (floating plant matter), nitrogen, and phosphorous levels.
“Corsica is not a surprise when we look back at Maryland Department of the Environment’s data whose series of tests in all of the sub-watersheds of the Corsica of which there are 45. 21 out of those 45 tested high high in phosphorus,” Richards says.
With science data in hand, Richards says that Shore Rivers meets in Annapolis every winter to advocate for better laws that can improve water quality and implement correct land use policies on the Eastern Shore.
Partnering with the Natural Lands Project, a program that runs out of the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College, the Annapolis meetings also provide a platform to plan for continued restoration projects, including returning native grasses to replace critical lost habitats.
The Spy recently talked with Shore Rivers Chester Riverkeeper Annie Richards about their ongoing stewardship and plans to enhance the health and quality of the Queen Anne’s river.
ShoreRivers is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health of Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. ShoreRivers was created in 2017 when the Chester River Association (CRA), Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), and Sassafras River Association (SRA) merged.