The Nature Conservancy to Release Report on the Deployment of New Solar Energy

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The Nature Conservancy in Maryland and DC today announced that it will release a new series of analyses on the deployment of new solar energy infrastructure in Maryland to help lawmakers and the public make socially and environmentally sound decisions on ideal locations for solar development.  The first of those reports was released today, which synthesizes stakeholder feedback from a series of community meetings focused on solar energy in Maryland’s future that The Nature Conservancy held across the state in 2018.

Following the recent passage of the 2019 Clean Energy Jobs Act by the Maryland state legislature, Maryland has a new goal of achieving 50% from renewable energy by 2030 with a significant focus on solar energy.  With that higher goal now in place, the timeline for making decisions on where to construct new solar infrastructure is accelerating as well.

“Maryland’s Clean Energy Jobs Act is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our state to secure clean air, green jobs, and sustainable energy for the future, but it’s critical that we make informed decisions about the best places for new solar infrastructure,” said Tim Purinton, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maryland and DC.  “Unfettered development in the wrong places could cause permanent damage to Maryland’s natural resources, so it’s vital that we bring the best available science and land management experience to the decision-making process.”

“Largescale solar expansion is crucial to meeting the state’s clean energy goals and driving down emissions required under the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act,” said Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky. “We have to be aggressive and thoughtful in plotting locations for expanding solar and other clean energy. Protecting the planet from climate change while protecting our natural resources should direct our efforts.”

The planned analyses are intended to accelerate deployment in the “right places,” which are usually marginal and low-conflict lands where the construction of new solar infrastructure will benefit people, nature, and the economy, rather than negatively impact them.

Following conversations with partners and stakeholders studying solar development in Maryland, The Nature Conservancy set out to talk to as many people as possible with a role or active interest in renewable energy development to better understand the existing problems and help identify a better path forward.  Listening sessions were convened across the state – in Frederick, Annapolis, and Salisbury – at unique locations with the assistance of a professional facilitator.  The results of those listening sessions have been summarized in the first report, which includes three key takeaways.

• A shared focus on developing renewable energy in marginal and low-conflict lands will allow Marylanders to take advantage of the many benefits of renewable energy while avoiding potential negative impacts.

• Significant hurdles currently prohibit or disincentivize renewable energy development in desired locations (i.e., low-conflict lands), but these hurdles provide opportunities to revise or create incentives and development drivers focused towards these types of lands.

• State and local governments play a critical role in assuring success and fostering continued innovation. Working to coalesce around a common goal of increasing renewable energy development focused on marginal and low-conflict lands will get the best outcome for the State.

“Identifying the areas where we can maximize the benefit of renewable energy is just the beginning for solar deployment,” said Josh Kurtz, policy director for The Nature Conservancy in Maryland and DC. “We now have a much better idea of where we’ll find potential areas for deployment that protect forests and healthy farm soils while maximizing benefits for the State and individual landowners. For the next steps, the leadership of state and local governments and private utilities will be critical as Maryland looks for opportunities to streamline the deployment process and get these new solar projects on the grid.”

These findings and others will be presented by The Nature Conservancy on a panel with Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles and Senator Paul G. Pinsky at the Maryland Clean Energy Center in October 22, 2019.

The Nature Conservancy will also be conducting a mapping exercise to identify and evaluate marginal land areas all across the state as potential sites for development.  This will result in a compilation of areas and locations that contain the most elements for success and a better understand of how much real potential there is for widespread solar development in Maryland.  The data will be made publicly accessible online.

The spatial analysis and data portal are scheduled to go live later this year.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.  Learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s work in Washington DC and Maryland at nature.org/maryland and follow us @Nature_DCMDVA on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

QACA Hails Balloon Release Legislation

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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.”

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Contact: Jay Falstad, 410-739-6570 – jay.falstad@qaca.org

Proposal to Aerate Bay: Breath of Fresh Air or Pipe Dream?

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Dan Sheer, founder and president emeritus of a Maryland water resources consulting firm, guides his sailboat up Rock Creek, where aerators have been used since 1988. They successfully dealt with low-oxygen conditions there that generated a rotten egg odor. Bay Journal photo by Timothy Wheeler

What if the dead zone that plagues the Chesapeake Bay could be eliminated now, not years down the road — and at a fraction of the billions being spent annually on restoring the troubled estuary?

Fanciful as it sounds, Dan Sheer figures it’s technically doable. Whether it’s the right thing to do is another question. Bay scientists are wary of potential pitfalls, but some still think it’s worth taking a closer look.

Sheer, founder and president emeritus of HydroLogics, a Maryland-based water resource consulting firm, has suggested that the oxygen-starved area down the center of the Bay could become a thing of the past if enough air could be pumped into the depths and be allowed to bubble up through the water.

“It pretty much gets rid of the problem,” he said during a recent presentation to scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. And it’s not just him saying that. The federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program ran his oxygen-bubbling calculations through the computer model it uses to simulate water quality in the Bay, and the preliminary results appear to back him up.

Algae blooms produce dead zone

The dead zone, as it’s called, is produced when algae blooms fed by excessive nutrients in the water die and decay, consuming the dissolved oxygen that fish, crabs and shellfish need to live. This zone of low to no oxygen forms near the bottom in the deep trough down the center of the Bay every spring and grows through summer, until finally receding in fall when algae growth ends.

The Bay Program has been laboring since the 1980s to reduce nutrient pollution and raise dissolved oxygen levels enough to eliminate the dead zone, but the effort has been costly and challenging.

The region missed two earlier cleanup deadlines and is now working toward another target date of 2025, when all projects and programs needed to meet nutrient reduction goals should be in place. That’s looking increasingly unrealistic as well.

Aerating the Bay would be quicker, Sheer contends, and potentially less expensive. His idea: Lay 16 pipes across the deepest part of the Chesapeake at 5-mile intervals from Maryland’s Bay Bridge to the Potomac River, with a series of openings in them to release streams of tiny air bubbles. The oxygen in the bubbles would dissolve into the water and help sustain aquatic life.

Not a new proposal

Sheer isn’t the first to suggest bubbling the Bay like an aquarium. It’s been brought up repeatedly over the last 30 years, only to be dismissed as unworkable and inordinately expensive — harebrained, even.

In the late 1980s, Maryland tested floating aerators in a cove off the Patuxent River, but gave up after they produced a barely detectable change in oxygen near the bottom.

In 2011, the nonprofit Blue Water Baltimore, in partnership with a consulting firm, placed a small aerator in Baltimore’s harbor, with similar results.

Aeration has been used with some success elsewhere in freshwater lakes and reservoirs that suffer from nutrient pollution. And, it has helped water quality in some rivers, such as the Thames in the United Kingdom.

Pumping air into big open bodies of tidal water is more problematic. Scientists in Sweden and Finland have looked at and tested aeration as a possible remedy for severe algae blooms in the Baltic Sea. But they’ve held back from trying it on a large scale, in part because of uncertainty about its costs and effectiveness.

Given that history, reaction to Sheer’s proposal has been mixed.

Lot of questions

“I’m enthusiastic about the idea in a lot of ways, but there are a lot of questions,” said Bill Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium, a nonprofit that coordinates Bay studies among seven universities and labs in the region.

Sheer, who holds a doctorate in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University, said the idea of aerating the Bay mainstem came to him about 18 months ago while listening to a presentation at UMBC about the costs and complications of the federal-state restoration effort. When he stood up and asked why not try bubbling the dead zone away, he said others in attendance ticked off a litany of flaws they saw in his proposal.

“The room sort of turned into a shooting gallery,” he recalled, “and I was the target. I had lots of objections … ‘you’re fixing the symptoms and not the problem,’ ‘you can’t possibly pump enough air,’ ‘it’s way too expensive, takes too much energy’” and more.

After that, Sheer set out to see if his critics were right.

“It looks like it really will work,” he said.

Working at Rock Creek

 

Sheer pointed out that aeration has long been in use in one small corner of the Bay watershed, where he happens to keep his sailboat.

Rock Creek, a tributary of the Patapsco River near Baltimore, has had aerators since 1988. They were put there in response to complaints about the rotten-egg odor given off by the creek in summer.

A 2014 study by researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science rated the Rock Creek aerators a success. They raised oxygen levels near the bottom enough to stop hydrogen sulfide from bubbling out of the sediments — another byproduct of low-oxygen conditions.

“The aerators were incredibly effective at restoring dissolved oxygen to the creek,” said Lora Harris, an associate professor at the UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and lead author of the study. Water quality improved even downstream, she said, nearly to the mouth of the tidally influenced creek.

Rock Creek is relatively shallow and small, compared to the water bodies where aeration has been tested before. The aerators there also were placed on the bottom, rather than floating on the surface.

Aeration has successfully treated low-oxygen conditions in Maryland’s Rock Creek, where they caused a rotten egg odor and prompted complaints from local residents. Anne Arundel County is currently replacing the original aerators at a cost of approximately $1 million. Bay Journal photo by Timothy Wheeler

The Rock Creek aerators cost $285,000 to install and about $7,000 a year to run, according to Janis Markusic, a planner with Anne Arundel County’s watershed restoration office. The county is now replacing the original aerators, she said, to the tune of $1 million.

Might cost $10-20 million

Doing it in the Bay mainstem would likely cost much more. Working with scientific colleagues, Sheer has estimated that it would cost $10 million–$20 million to install the piping network, bubble diffusers, air compressors, oxygen generators and other equipment. To run it would take another $11 million a year, by their estimates, with much of that spent on electricity to power the air compressors, pumps and other equipment.

While not cheap, that’s far less expensive than the current Bay cleanup tab, Sheer pointed out. In fiscal year 2017 alone, the six Bay watershed states and federal government spent nearly $2 billion on the restoration effort, according to Bay Program figures.

Sheer said the Bay Program model runs showed his aeration proposal would do just as much to raise oxygen levels in the Bay’s depths as the last round of nutrient-reducing cleanup plans drawn up by the watershed states and the District of Columbia.

The model also indicated aeration would actually outperform the Bay pollution diet in another, important way. Artificially increasing oxygen levels would reduce the release of algae-fueling phosphorus and nitrogen back into the water from bottom sediments where they had built up over time. That recycling of nutrients from the sediments has long been viewed by scientists as a potential hindrance to the Bay restoration.

A lot we don’t know

Scientists with whom Sheer has consulted — and Sheer himself — are quick to point out that his proposal relies on some unproven assumptions and could have unintended negative consequences, what engineers and scientists call “revenge effects.”

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” Sheer said. “There’s a lot we think we know that might be wrong.”

Ball, an environmental engineering professor at Johns Hopkins, said that from his experience with aeration in wastewater treatment plants, he’s not sure how well bubblers will work at raising oxygen levels in the Bay’s depths.

“He’s relying a lot on the sloshing of the tides,” Ball said, adding that “there’s a lot more work to do to figure this out.”

Jeremy Testa, an assistant professor at the UMCES lab, called the Bay Program model results “intriguing,” particularly in regard to limiting the flux of nutrients back into the water from sediments. But there are potentially significant downsides, he said.

One is that if the current rate of nutrient pollution isn’t reduced, he said, the phosphorus and nitrogen may simply continue to build up in the sediments, and then pour out into the water in one huge algae-blooming pulse if the bubblers ever shut down, even for a short spell.

That’s what Lora Harris said that she, Testa and other colleagues found at Rock Creek. They also found that the creek was emitting significantly more nitrous oxide — a climate-warming greenhouse gas — than other comparable water bodies.

There’s even a possibility, Harris noted, that pumping oxygen into nutrient-enriched waters could increase the formation of toxic methylmercury, which can build up in fish and is already one of the top two causes for fish consumption advisories in the Bay.

There’s also some concern that a series of aerators would create “bubble curtains” in the water that would impede fish movement.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you start manipulating the environment,” Testa said.

Treating the symptoms

Others say that even if technically feasible, aeration is just treating one of the symptoms of a distressed Chesapeake without fixing the causes of its woes.

While aeration could engineer a remedy for low dissolved oxygen, Testa warned that if nutrient pollution isn’t reduced, “we’re still going to have problems” with algae blooms, sediment-clouded water and important habitat like sea grasses not getting enough light to grow.

“Frankly, from a policy perspective, I think it’s a horrible idea,’’ said Beth McGee, director of science and agriculture policy with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It would “let people off the hook,” she contended, weakening public and political pressure to make pollution reductions that would benefit the whole Bay watershed, including its rivers and streams — not just the dead zone.

Indeed, the 2014 Bay Watershed Agreement lays out 10 different goals that go beyond improving water quality to seeking such things as sustainable populations of fish, shellfish and black ducks, increased conservation of land and enhanced public access to the Bay and its tributaries.

‘Horrible idea’ or worth a try?

Sheer acknowledges that aeration is not a substitute for the nutrient and sediment reductions states are having to make under the Baywide Total Maximum Daily Load set in 2010 by the EPA. But rather than sap public interest in saving the Bay, he suggested that it could actually boost it. “If you have a big success,” he said, “maybe you’ll increase momentum to finish the job.”

Lewis Linker, acting associate director of the EPA’s Bay Program office, said that model runs testing Sheer’s proposal are very preliminary and need much more study. But he said “no way, no how” would he see aeration replacing the restoration effort’s current multi-goal approach.

At best, Linker suggested, aeriation might serve as an “add-on,” after all needed pollution reductions have been made, to help maintain healthy oxygen levels in the Bay’s mainstem even under extreme weather conditions.

The only way to find out if aeration can help, Sheer said, is to test the idea someplace in the Bay, with a pilot project costing around $2 million.

“This is not ripe to go out and do,” Sheer said, “but it is ripe, really ripe to go out and do a pilot. … I really think what we need to do next is put a station out there and see what the hell happens.”

Some of the scientists with whom Sheer has consulted agree that for all its potential pitfalls, it’s still worth further study.

“It’s not necessarily the complete solution,” Harris said, to the Bay’s nutrient overenrichment. But, she said, “It’s potentially nudging one of the symptoms that we do care about. …We have an obligation to think about all sides.”

By Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler (twheeler@bayjournal.com)is associate editor of  Bay Journal, published by Bay Journal Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to inform the public about issues that affect the Chesapeake Bay. 

ShoreRivers Seeks Development & Events Coordinator

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ShoreRivers seeks a Development & Events Coordinator to join our team and help fulfill our mission to protect and restore Maryland’s Eastern Shore waterways. The position manages all ShoreRivers events and assists with development and communications activities. The ideal candidate will be an energetic, outwardly social self-starter who is organized, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic about the environment and the communities we serve.

The position reports to the Director of Development and works primarily out of Easton, MDat the Eastern Shore Conservation Center, with frequent work out of our Chestertown and Galena offices. This is a full-time position; the employee must be flexible to work weekends, evenings, and longer hours, and to travel when necessary. The employee must be willing to live in the communities we serve. Salary is commensurate with experience; competitive benefits package included.

To apply, send cover letter and resume to Rebekah Hock, Director of Development, at rhock@shorerivers.org

RESPONSIBILITIES

Events (50%) – manage ShoreRivers’ more than 15 annual fundraising and outreach events, including staff and board coordination, event logistics and budget, volunteer coordination, partner liaison, vendor coordination, and event promotion.

Development (25%) – assist the Director of Development in implementing ShoreRivers’ annual fundraising strategy, including coordinating with the Governing Board, Advisory Boards, and Development Committee, working with our membership database, conducting grant research, and coordinating events and stewardship activities.

Communications (25%) – assist with planning and logistics for our suite of communications, including print, web, social media, press, annual appeal, and branded merchandise.

POSITION REQUIREMENTS AND QUALIFICATIONS

• A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and 2+ years’ work experience in a relevant field of event coordination and/or development.
• Belief in our mission to achieve clean local waters.
• Excellent written and oral communication skills.
• Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite.
• Experience with donor database; Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge preferred.
• Experience with managing budgets preferred.
• Experience with managing volunteers preferred.

SHORERIVERS

ShoreRivers seeks to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

We have a dedicated staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of our rivers. Our staff includes four Waterkeepers who regularly patrol and monitor our waters and serve as key spokespersons. Our staff also includes a team of environmental educators and a team of agricultural restoration specialists.

Read more about ShoreRivers at shorerivers.org.

Phillips Wharf Celebrates 9th Oyster Planting Day

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On Saturday, June 1st Phillips Wharf Environmental Center celebrated its 9th Oyster Planting Day.  Staff and volunteers collected oyster growing cages from participating residents in the Bay Hundred area and planted the oysters in the Harris Creek Oyster Sanctuary to aid in oyster restoration efforts. Phillips Wharf, located in Tilghman, Maryland hosts the Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters Program or TIGO for short, which is a part of the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program (MGO).

Oyster Planting Day was well attended with 57 volunteers consisting of youth programs from The National Aquarium and Digital Harbor High School as well as staff and members of Phillips Wharf.  Together they collected, organized and prepared the oysters for their final destination in Harris Creek. This year an estimated 478 cages were collected allowing 73 bushels of oysters to be planted.

As part of the TIGO program, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is actively looking for residents with waterfront properties to host oyster growing cages for an 8-month period. This allows the spat to grow in a protected environment before they are released on Rabbit Point in early June. The oysters require minimal care for participants as they are suspended below docks in small cages. Anyone interested in hosting cages or participating in the Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters program is encouraged to call Phillips Wharf at (410) 886-9200 or email oysters@phillipswharf.org.

Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is located in Tilghman Island, Maryland and looks to provide education and aquaculture training programs to excite, educate and engage generations of stewards through interactive experiences showcasing the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants. Phillips Wharf is funded through public support, education programs and sales from its aquaculture business Fisherman’s Daughter Oysters. Guests are encouraged to visit the campus located just over the Knapps Narrows Bridge in beautiful Tilghman Island or visit www.phillipswharf.org.

ShoreRivers Announces Tour the Shore Public Paddle Series

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Tour the Shore paddlers explore Cambridge Creek. Photo credit: George Norberg

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 ShoreRivers’ kayaks. Space is limited. Contact Suzanne at 443-385-0511 or ssullivan@shorerivers.org 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.

shorerivers.org

ShoreRivers Announces “Tour the Shore” Public Paddle Series

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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 ssullivan@shorerivers.org 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.

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ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.

shorerivers.org
Media Contact:
Ann Frock
afrock@shorerivers.org
443.385.0511
(EASTON, MD) July 1, 2019

 

 

 

Smokestack Repair Begins at Last Remaining Phillips Packing Co. Factory

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On Monday, June 24, Structural Preservation Systems began long-awaited renovations to the two street-facing smokestacks of the former Phillips Packing Company’s ‘Factory F’ – the most visible reminder of the canning operation that once employed thousands in Cambridge. Soon to be known as The Packing House, this 60,000 square foot warehouse has sat vacant and deteriorating for decades.

A revitalization project spearheaded by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, The Packing House will become an active, mixed use facility for office and food related innovation. The revitalization project aims to support and grow regional economic opportunities connected to agriculture, aquaculture, environmental technologies, and tourism – all of which make up the leading industries of the Eastern Shore.

“We are elated to share the start of the smokestack restoration,” shares ESLC’s Katie Parks. “Through funding support from the Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cross Street Partners, and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the long-awaited restoration ensures that this historic viewshed will be preserved.”

The repair and stabilization of the iconic 90’ smokestacks, scheduled to take approximately 80 days to complete, is “Phase 1” of the renovation project. Due to the fragile condition of the smokestacks, the project’s development team selected Structural Preservation Systems to complete the restoration – a firm recognized as the industry leader in developing innovative repair solutions for historical structures and the most challenging problems.

To remain up to date with the progress of The Packing House revitalization project, or for more information about the Phillips Packing Company and its historical significance within the Cambridge community, please visit thepackinghousecambridge.com.

NOTE:  Due to safety concerns please stay outside of the marked area. There will be a future press conference scheduled. In the meantime, do not hesitate to send any questions to the contacts above.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

DNR: Species of Carnivorous Plant Found in Maryland

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Dwarf Sundew Expands its Range North

Photo of dwarf sundew

Photo by Chase Howard

Botanists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy recently confirmed the discovery of a new plant species in Maryland — the dwarf sundew (Drosera brevifolia). Local volunteer botanist Chase Howard discovered and reported the plant growing in open areas with wet, peaty sand in Worcester County.

This is the first record of this species growing in Maryland. Prior to this discovery, Virginia was the northern range limit.

Dwarf sundew is an insectivorous plant with a unique way of catching its prey. The paddle-shaped leaves of the sundew form a rosette at the base and are densely covered with hairs that exude a clear, sticky liquid, which attracts and traps various kinds of insects. It then uses the nutrients from the prey animals as fertilizer. 

Photo of dwarf sundew next to a dime

Photo by Chase Howard

“This clever plant has adapted to life in very nutrient-poor environments,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources community ecologist Jason Harrison said. “Discoveries like this continue to show that we’re not done learning about Maryland’s biodiversity.”

Dwarf sundew is now the smallest of four sundew species known to Maryland. One of the more common sundews is Spatula-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia), which is known to exist in open wetlands in southern and eastern portions of the state. Two other sundews, Pink sundew (Drosera capillaris) and Roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), are much more rare and usually found in very acidic wetlands with peaty soils.

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