Bay Crossing Study Stalled? by Janet Christensen-Lewis


Spring ended with the solstice on June 21, but the promised Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) public meeting on a Bay Crossing has not materialized.

Since rescinding an announcement of “open house” style meetings for the winter of 2019 (itself a delay from the original plan for such meetings by the close of 2018), MDTA asked the public to watch for such meetings in the spring of 2019. The excuse we were given for not meeting the winter deadline was the federal government shutdown, which did not allow federal staff to participate in meetings.

Now, the current notice on states only: “Please check back here for upcoming Public Open House dates and times.” There are no explanations for the further delay.

This significant delay, currently more than six months, raises two grave concerns. First, exactly how transparent is this public process? How are we, the public, supposed to interpret this delay? It seems to us that the MDTA is totally disregarding its obligation to provide the public with real information about what is happening on this important and controversial project.

Second, this delay is robbing the public of time to consider critical information and participate adequately in the next phase of the process. A delay of this magnitude should be reflected in a comparable modification of the overall schedule and deadline, extending the close of the process.

MDTA was given five million taxpayer dollars to conduct a study required under the National Environmental Protection Act for the project. Were these wasted dollars on an agency that is unable to conduct a professional and transparent study? One of the primary responsibilities stated in the Coordination Plan for agencies conducting these reviews is public input. Another important aspect of their work is to implement consultation on historic resources in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, known as the Section 106 process. Neither of these is happening. Unless there is a change in the scheduling they will be shortchanged. Of particular concern would be that the Section 106 process will be foreshortened in a way that is unsuited to the sensitive and important historic resources across the Eastern Shore that could be affected by a new Chesapeake crossing.

There seems to be a great deal of chaos at MDTA. First a map showing 14 potential corridors for Bay crossing turned out to be leaked “pre-decisional” maps that were for internal use and not meant to be shared with the public. This was followed by the abrupt unexplained departure of Kevin Reigrut, the head of MDTA’s 1,700-employee agency. His replacement, James F. Ports, Jr., formerly Maryland’s Deputy Transportation Secretary, was appointed in June. Coupled with the unexplained missed deadlines there is the appearance that this agency is unable to get its house in order. This track record is not reassuring when the agency is tackling a decision on what will be an extraordinary expense for Maryland residents, a potential scar on the Chesapeake Bay, and could result in a profound alteration of the culture and landscape of the Eastern Shore.

We deserve an explanation of why dates in the schedule have effectively been changed to TBD, why the Coordination Plan has not been updated and extended to reflect delays in the scheduling, when the Section 106 consultation process is going to happen, and where MDTA currently stands in its obligation to bring forward the Corridor Alternatives Retained for Analysis for public participation. As the situation is now, MDTA is operating in its own bubble and the public is completely excluded from the conversation.

Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance has tried communicating with project coordinator Heather Lowe at MDTA to no avail. We have written to Senator Hershey and Delegate Jacobs for help in getting some answers to our questions about this project and holding the agency to its responsibility to be open and transparent. Mr. Ports, copied on the letter sent to our State representatives, has replied: “I appreciate hearing from you and as the newly appointed Executive Director, I’m sure you can imagine that I have quite a few issues to follow up on. I will look into this issue and as soon as I can garner the information about this request, I will do my best to inform you and the public at large.” We will have to take him at his word but are mindful that this is only a promise that has been made by an agency that has failed repeatedly to answer questions that we and the residents of Kent County have posed.

You will not be asked to “check back with us” as MDTA has done, KCPA will publicly release any information received in real time.

Janet Christensen-Lewis, Chair

Board of Directors

Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance


One Nation One Team by Nancy Mugele


Nike, the Goddess of Victory, had an epic fail last week when she canceled her launch of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross flag. No matter which side of the equation you are on regarding athletes taking a knee in the NFL, or any other sport, during the National Anthem, Nike’s reversal on a shoe design is a fail for another critical reason.

As a former Cover Girl cosmetics marketer, I can assure you that in general “talent” does not have a say in product development, design, or marketing, nor can they impact a product launch. Imagine Christie Brinkley telling Cover Girl execs back in the day – “I don’t like that eye shadow color, it’s unappealing, don’t ship it.” Trust me, the talent would lose their lucrative endorsement contract. Companies whose management do not value their product development, design and marketing professionals, the ones who work tirelessly to advance their brand, will eventually lose those creative minds to competitors. To me, this recent event makes me sad for those Nike employees who have worked for a year or more on this sneaker launch in product development, package engineering, planning, logistics, sales, marketing, and publicity, only to have it derailed by one voice who did not pay attention in history class.

The Betsy Ross flag, named for the Quaker seamstress, upholsterer and flag maker, and one of the only females associated with the Revolutionary War (along with Deborah Sampson who disguised herself as a man and joined George Washington’s army, but that is another story), is a significant patriotic symbol which should be honored. According to her family, she created the design with its distinguishing feature, thirteen 5-pointed stars (vs. 6-pointed stars which were suggested) arranged in a circle to represent the unity of the Thirteen Colonies. My grandmother was also a seamstress and as a young girl I felt a kinship with Betsy Ross, because of my grandmother.

The fact that an extremist group may have hijacked this flag to represent hate in recent history does not negate or diminish its importance to the country’s founding. In fact, it is ironic that a group that avows to hate women would use a symbol created by a woman. The joke’s on them, but seriously, this flag flown by normal American humans is, and was, meant to signify our new nation, as Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address, “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men [humans] are created equal.” Our union is far from perfect, yet we must continue to choose kindness and love.

We are an UnderArmour family, so I don’t usually pay attention to the Winged Goddess except as it relates to women’s soccer. Nike also had an epic victory last week announcing that the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team official home jersey is its number one top-selling jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold in one season. It is so fun to rally behind #OneNationOneTeam. As I wrote in a column last year, collective joy truly uplifts. These exceptional soccer players are a special breed – dedicated, full of athleticism, spirit, and patriotism – and they have captured our hearts in a way that overpaid male athletes have not. These 23 highly trained athletes are role models to an estimated one million girls playing soccer in our country who all share their dream. And, they deserve to celebrate their individual and team goals, and wins, unapologetically. They are, after all, playing in the WORLD Cup – a championship far greater than any Super Bowl.

I was at home last Sunday, along with many of you, watching with bated breath, as the U.S. took on the Netherlands. It was a hard fought game. The U.S. defended their World Cup title and, again, took the win, for the fourth time. Historic and incredibly inspirational!  I hope they also win their lawsuit for equal pay. Women and girls in this country, and in the world, are watching.

And, let’s just be One Nation One Team all of the time.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.

QACA Hails Balloon Release Legislation


July 9, Centreville–Queen Anne’s Conservation Association (QACA), the oldest environmental group on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, today announced its strong support for pending legislation prohibiting the release of non-biodegradable helium balloons into the atmosphere.

“Deflated mylar and latex balloons, and the ribbons they’re attached to, are rapidly accumulating in the environment, maiming and killing wildlife, sea creatures, and farm animals,” said QACA’s Executive Director Jay Falstad. “We applaud the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners for taking the lead against this increasing, but readily preventable, form of environmental pollution.”

The balloon release ordinance, first in the State, was introduced by Commissioner Christopher M. Corchiarino before the Board of the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners on July 9. A hearing is expected for July 23rd. The bill provides for fines of up to $250 for deliberate violations of the prohibition on balloon releases.

“Intentionally releasing balloons into the atmosphere is nothing short of littering”, said Commissioner Corchiarino.  “This ordinance will allow us to protect a cross-section of interests in the County while furthering the stewardship of our waterways and rural landscapes”.

Kristin Weed of Kent Island Beach CleanUps said balloons are always part of the trash collected during the organization’s beach clean-up efforts.

“We find clusters of balloons during every single beach or road cleanup,” she said.  “They’re usually stuck in trees or bay grasses, on the beach, and in ditches along our county roads.”

On Unicorn Lake, in northern Queen Anne’s County, balloons were found that had been released in Dayton, Ohio, four days earlier and had traveled some 460 miles.

“Balloons are often mistaken for food by marine animals such as turtles and birds,” Falstad said. “These creatures then become tangled in the ribbons and are killed.  If balloons from the Midwest are reaching the East Coast, then balloons released from the East Coast are ending up in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Alerted to the balloon problem, Falstad reached out to sailors, boating enthusiasts, and off-shore fishing organizations and learned that they have spotted clusters of helium balloons floating miles off-shore along the Atlantic Coast.

Released helium balloons pose a problem for the agricultural community, as well.  In an online survey Falstad created, farmland owners reported deflated balloons in their fields, requiring farmers to retrieve the balloons in order to prevent them from being entangled in equipment.
 Queen Anne’s farm owner Clara Bramble said runaway balloons pose a risk to their animals.

“When balloons land in our pastures, the cows—and especially calves—can ingest them and the balloon strings can cause choking,” Bramble said.  “The horses and foals are also at risk, and I’ve witnessed horses being spooked by shiny balloons landing in our fields and seeing a horse run through a fence to get away from the balloons.”

Wye Mills farmer Jon Shaw says they recover at least 50 clusters of balloons a year.

“We find them almost every week,” Shaw said. “Balloons spook our horses, they get trapped in our hedgerows, and get wrapped in our equipment all the time.”

“The bill doesn’t apply to the six-year-old kid who accidentally releases a balloon at a birthday party,” Falstad said.  “What it does is raise awareness, and tell people to be thoughtful, because these colorful, non-biodegradable balloons are a serious form of environmental pollution. We’re one county, but this is a nationwide problem, and balloons in trees or farm-fields, or the Chesapeake Bay or any other waterway are a significant, if not widely realized, environmental threat.”


Contact: Jay Falstad, 410-739-6570 –

Plein Air 2019: Award-winning Painter Jove Wang at Studio B


Master Jove Wang is a highly sought after World-renowned Artist, Award-winning Plein Air Painter, Professor and Author. His career spans more than three decades. During his impressive career, he has received exceptional recognition and won numerous awards.

Master Jove Wang’s theory in creating is that “A work of art Must Have Soul”. Jove’s paintings are a visual accumulation of experience and artistic integration that create a powerful and emotional visual effect that reflects the soul of what he paints, whether it is a character or a landscape or a still life. His spirit of freehand expression base on realism has achieved a level of mastery sought by many.

Plein Air Easton and Studio B Art Gallery are pleased to offer this exciting and rare opportunity during 2019 PAE’s 15th Anniversary at The Avalon Theatre, 40 E. Dover St. Easton, Maryland.

For Information – Jove Wang: or demonstration tickets: 410-822-7299 •

Letter to Editor: Harris Needs to Act on Mueller Report


To the Editor,

As members of a coalition of progressive groups on the Eastern Shore, we were appalled by Congressman Andy Harris’ response to the Mueller report.

In a statement on his website, Congressman Harris makes it clear that he believes Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that “there was no collusion between President Trump and the Russian government, and there was no obstruction of justice.”

Attorney General Barr’s statements on this matter are not credible. He claimed in a press conference that the Trump administration cooperated with the Mueller investigation. But the Mueller report shows otherwise, citing Trump’s public attacks on the investigation, behind-the-scenes attempts to control it, and public and private attempts to encourage witnesses not to cooperate. The report also finds Trump’s own answers inadequate.

Contrary to Congressman Harris’ assertion, the Mueller report lays out in detail incontrovertible facts proving Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to the benefit of the Trump campaign but finds insufficient evidence to establish a conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government.

Further, Part II of the Mueller report establishes substantial evidence (eleven instances) for a charge of obstruction of justice but notes that Department of Justice policy prevents bringing charges against a sitting president. He clearly leaves the matter in the hands of Congress. Included in these instances are:

    • attempting to have the investigation stopped and Mueller fired,
    • attempting to have the purpose of the investigation shifted to future attempts at election interference and away from the actions of his own campaign,
    • attempting to prevent his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and White House Counsel Don McGahn, from cooperating with the investigation.
    • the appointment as Attorney General of William Barr, who had made clear his own disapproval of the investigation—and indeed who proceeded to lie about the content of the report after receiving it.

Robert Mueller has made it clear that it is up to Congress to take action, and that includes our Representative Andy Harris, who gives no indication that he understands or believes the content of the Mueller report. Constituent calls to Representative Harris’ office asking whether he has read the report do not yield answers. We call upon the Congressman to acknowledge the fact that it was not appropriate for the President and his campaign to welcome and exhort Russian interference in our elections. Nor was it appropriate or even legal to so blatantly obstruct the investigation. Read the report. Do your job, Congressman Harris.


Indivisible Worcester

Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible

Talbot Rising

Together We Will Delmarva

ShoreRivers Announces “Tour the Shore” Public Paddle Series


Press Release–ShoreRivers’ Tour the Shore summer kayak series begins this month, with a monthly paddle on one of four rivers through September. Tour the Shore gives novice and experienced paddlers alike an opportunity to explore creeks and rivers with small groups led by ShoreRivers’ experienced, certified staff.  Paddle routes are chosen to highlight the Eastern Shore’s most scenic riverscapes and natural features, including great blue heron roosts, underwater grasses, and flooded forests.

Director of Education and Outreach Suzanne Sullivan, describes how the paddles serve ShoreRivers’ vision of health waterways across the Eastern Shore. “The Tour the Shore paddle series provides an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to get to know our rivers intimately. The more that individuals connect with a waterway and experience its value firsthand, the more they are going to want to protect that natural resource.”

Paddlers may bring their own kayaks or rent one from ShoreRivers’. Space is limited. Contact Suzanne at 443-385-0511 or to reserve seats. Tours are $20 for ShoreRivers members, $30 for non-members; kayak rentals are an additional $30. Bring your lunch!

2019 Tour the Shore Dates and Locations

Friday, July 12, 10am to 1pm – Robbins Creek (Choptank River)
Departs from Two Johns Landing in Preston. This paddle helps beat the heat as it meanders alongside the forested Lynch Preserve, property that was donated to Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.  Paddlers might just flush some wood ducks!

Friday, August 23, 10am to 2pm – Wye Island (Wye River)
Join the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper for a paddle that explores the peaceful coves around Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area. With over 85% of the island managed by Maryland State Park Service, this paddle-plus-hike showcases old growth trees and brightly colored song bird species.

Thursday, September 13, 10am to 1pm – Turner’s Creek (Sassafras River)
Join the Sassafras Riverkeeper for a paddle on Turner’s Creek in Kennedyville. Explore the famous tidal pond, see the magnificent lotus blooms, and witness one of the last working waterfronts on the river; a quintessential day on the Sassafras!

Friday, September 27, 10am to 1pm – Chester River
Late September is prime paddle time as the air cools and marshes and forest edges change colors on the upper Chester. For the final paddle of the season, kayakers will be joined by the Chester Riverkeeper, launching from Shadding Reach Landing in Crumpton, and exploring the narrow upper reaches of the Chester.


ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.
Media Contact:
Ann Frock
(EASTON, MD) July 1, 2019




Letter to Editor: The Flaws in Current Bay Grass Protection


Underwater grasses, otherwise known as Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), are vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The grasses provide habitat for fish and crabs, oxygenate the water, filter sediment, absorb nutrients, and protect shorelines. These grasses are so valuable that the Chesapeake Bay Program has prioritized restoring them to 185,000 acres from their current 104,900 acres Bay-wide.

Underwater grasses are vulnerable to the hydraulic escalator clam dredge. This dredge uses hydraulic jets to cut into the bottom sediment and access buried clams, and in the process scours trenches along the river bottom, kicks up sediment plumes that cloud the water, and tears up our essential grass beds. Even dredging in a seemingly grassless area of river bottom can be harmful, as it can destroy any dormant seed bank buried in the sediment.

According to studies by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), “the direct impact of dredging in seagrasses is catastrophic.” The hydraulic clam dredge, which is banned in Maryland Coastal Bays, suppresses seed germination, restricts or completely inhibits growth, and completely uproots underwater grasses. Also according to DNR, “because of their importance, the restoration of bay grasses in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays is a priority for the department as well as the other Bay partners.”

In an effort to protect grasses from clam harvesting activities, DNR delineates SAV Protection Zones that prohibit clamming activity within grass beds. Currently, the Department updates these zones every three years based on annual fly-over data from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Updated zones are due this year. The problem with this process is that when grasses start growing in new areas they can be vulnerable to dredge activities for up to three years until the Department delineates the next Protection Zones.

Claiborne, Maryland is a prime example of how the current three-year update process is failing to protect our natural resources. The cove by the public boat landing is a prime clamming location and currently has no SAV Protection Zones. According to the Virginia Institute for Marine Science, on which DNR bases their Protection Zones, this cove has had significant acreage of underwater grasses since 2014. However, DNR did not delineate SAV Protection Zones in the area for the 2016 update. While we wait for the updated 2019 zones, this area continues to be harvested almost daily.

To address this issue, ShoreRivers introduced a bill in the 2019 Maryland legislative session that would require the Protection Zones to be updated annually. However, we withdrew our bill after DNR indicated they would revise their protocols to enhance protections. We are disappointed that, six months later, we continue to wait for DNR’s promised enhancements while Maryland SAV Protection Zones continue to fail in achieving their original intent of protecting and restoring underwater grasses.

The current process of identifying and delineating SAV Protection Zones every three years is ineffective and inadequate. These zones should be updated annually to adequately protect new, recovering, and expanding grass beds. It is a waste of both natural and personnel resources to put protections in place after a grass bed has been dredged in. If we are going to meet our goal of increasing SAV acreage, we need to protect grasses both during peak bloom and during dormancy, when they do not show up on aerial maps. It’s time for DNR to walk the walk for grass protection.

Elle Bassett
Miles- Wye Riverkeeper

ShoreRivers anticipates the release of 2019 Protection Zones this summer, which will include a 90-day public comment period. We urge our members, advocates, and supporters to advocate that the Department adequately protect our underwater grasses from the hydraulic clam dredge. We are working to better map grass beds on the Eastern Shore and document clamming activity within these beds. We must hold DNR accountable to their job of protecting our natural resources. Continue to alert your Riverkeepers of any activity on your river by calling 443.385.0511 or emailing


“The Longest Day” — A Poem for the Summer Solstice by Ed Minch



Farm field at sunrise  –  Photo by Federico Respini, Courtesy of Unsplash

The Longest Day

It snuck up on me again
timidly allowing tomorrow to be shorter
slipping slowly at first then faster
til dark overtakes light
then comes to a halt letting light start to catch up
and as it stretches into next year
it sneaks up on me again

Ed Minch, Chestertown, 2019

The Spy Near Death Experiences Dialogue: Roland Comtois


Given the popularity of the Spy’s recent interview with David LaMotte and his observations and interest in near-death experiences last month, we have been eager to continue on an ongoing dialogue with others who have personally experienced this phenonium or have helped with individuals understanding their own NDE.

So when we heard the Roland Comtois, the acclaimed spiritual medium and grief specialist was returning to the Eastern Shore this weekend for several programs related to EDE and his spiritual work in connecting those experiencing profound grief with departed loved ones, we were successful in asking him to stop by the new Spy Studio on Goldsborough Street in Easton to discuss his own experience.

In our conversation, Roland shares with us his own NDE and how this experience shaped his perceptions of life, love, and his mission of healing and comforting his patients.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. Roland will be presenting a program on June 21– Channeling Event: The St. Michaels Inn, St. Michaels, MD 7 PM to 9 PM and on June 22nd – “Through the Door’ and Channeling Event: Avalon/Stoltz Listening Room, “Through the Door” the story of Roland’s near-death experience and then the second part is channeling of messages. 8 PM to 10 PM. Tickets can be purchased through for the St. Michaels event and the other events in the area or for the Easton event.

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