ShoreRivers Honored with Prestigious Environmental Award

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The Maryland League of Conservation Voters announced this week that it would honor ShoreRivers this year with its prestigious John V. Kabler Memorial Award, presented annually to Maryland’s most outstanding environmental leaders and organizations.

Past recipients have included such noteworthy environmental champions as Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, former Maryland Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, former Maryland Governor Harry R. Hughes, and former Maryland DNR Secretary John Griffin.

ShoreRivers protects and restores the waterways of the Eastern Shore and the living resources they support. The organization was formed January 1, 2018, from the merger of three river-protection organizations, and now serves Delmarva from Cecilton to Cambridge, representing rivers and watersheds draining to the Chesapeake Bay.

Photo: Front row, L-R: Elle Bassett, Jeff Horstman, Tim Trumbauer, Suzanne Sullivan, Tim Junkin, Kristin Junkin, Matt Pluta; Back row, L-R: Kristan Droter, Isabel Hardesty, Laura Wood, Tim Rosen, Ann Frock, Kim Righi, Emily Harris, Emmett Duke, and Rebecca Murphy.

“As ShoreRivers, we are a powerful voice for clean water with a dedicated team of staff, board members, and volunteers,” said ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman. “We are having a greater regional impact in advocacy, restoration, and education. We are honored and thankful for the recognition the Kabler Memorial Award brings to our work for healthier waterways and for all the great work the Maryland League of Conservation does for the environment.”

ShoreRivers employs 18 professionals including four Riverkeepers, scientists, educators, policy advocates, lawyers,and restoration specialists who work from offices in Easton, Chestertown, and Georgetown, Maryland. Its work is supported by over 3,500 community members and families and engages over 1,000 students and volunteers each year. The organization works at every level including policy and legislative advocacy, regulatory enforcement, agricultural outreach and restoration, education, oyster repopulation, and community engagement to improve our rivers.

The award ceremony will take place Tuesday, October 9 at the Westin Annapolis, located at 100 Westgate Circle, beginning with cocktails at 6pm, followed by dinner and program at 7pm. For program details or to sign up as a sponsor, contact Karen Polet Doory at kdoory@mdlcv.org or 202-281-8780.

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

You can Own the Chesapeake without Property by Tom Horton

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I grew up middle class but land rich: roaming hundreds of acres of woods and marsh, hunting properties owned by my dad’s poultry company and his best friend. And I always dreamed that someday I’d be wealthy enough to afford my own wonderful, big chunk of Chesapeake, a dream that receded after I chose newspapering over chicken moguldom.

But there are a lot of ways to “own” land, as it has turned out — and many ways to become “rich.”

The most obvious way is to know and support the lands you, as a citizen, already own — your nearby national treasures, which for me include Assateague National Seashore and the Chincoteague and Blackwater national wildlife refuges.

Despite the millions who visit its beaches, Assateague’s remote, hike-in or paddle-in campsites are underused, partly because so many people focus only on summertime visits, when the sites are deadly buggy. Cool and cold weather adventuring is a taste easily acquired and opens up all sorts of territory.

I’m as road-averse as any greenie, but the need to access lands for logging and fire control means our region’s forestlands are full of roadways. Most are off limits to cars, but accessible for walkers, horseback riders and bicyclists (if the latter are willing to ditch those skinny racing tires). With Google Earth and similar mapping apps, and some ground-truthing to determine which of the mapped woodland roads are really there — or, conversely, are there but don’t show on the apps — I’ve been able to “acquire” thousands of acres of land around the Delmarva Peninsula where I live.

Farther afield, there’s massive back country access in Pennsylvania’s state forests — Michaux in southcentral Pennsylvania is one beloved by off-road bikers. Its 85,000 acres sprawl through several counties and are convenient to central Marylanders.

Many off-the-beaten paths also traverse private lands, or lands owned by private nonprofits like The Nature Conservancy. I find most aren’t often used by their owners, with the major exception of firearms deer season, which in most places occupies only a few weeks per year. Similarly, those who paddle marshways may want to know when it is duck season.

As a Salisbury University professor who runs a lot of field trips, I’ve several times driven up to a private landowner’s place and asked permission to explore or camp. Many have been quite cooperative. I now have “anytime access” to a wonderful patch of riverine forest where you can see what Eastern Shore woods might have been like hundreds of years ago.

Last year, I decided to explore the Chesapeake shoreline of Virginia’s rural Accomack County, simply turning onto every little road that ran west toward the Bay. There are a lot of those, and to my surprise I found more public access to little beaches, scenic views and launch spots for paddlecraft than most any other tidewater county I know of in Maryland or Virginia.

As my ecological comprehension of the region has grown, I’ve come to “own” the landscape wherever I travel. Riding through farmland, I notice the deep drainage ditching that makes agriculture possible. I know also that here, pre-drainage, a great cedar-cypress swamp once covered 60,000 acres, and beyond that I know the underlying wetland soils would immediately revert to swampiness if we could plug those ditches.

And while I favor swamps, I can appreciate where a green gloss on winter cornfields means the farmer is using cover crops to stop nitrogen fertilizer from running into the Bay. I also notice where farmers are plowing on the contour, installing grass swales and natural buffers to keep soil and nutrients out of the water.

Beware though: A keen appreciation for the land also risks heartbreak whenever you see the pipes and survey markers that mean field and forest will soon be stripped and paved for development.

Lately, I’ve been looking at the big power lines and gas pipeline right-of-ways that arrow across the landscape and wondering why we can’t make these do double duty as hiking-biking corridors.

The possibilities came home to me after some happy weeks roaming the Netherlands with lifelong Dutch friends. While that people-dense nation hasn’t 1 percent of the untrammeled landscapes of the United States, it is so interlaced with trails that there is scarcely a single citizen who cannot quickly hop onto a trail network that connects them to everywhere in the country.

Even where access is restricted, there are ways to push the edge. A friend of mine, who loves fishing and progging the remote seaside edges of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, has outfitted his skiff with a foldout platform so he can pitch a tent on the bow while anchored alongside barrier islands that are off limits to overnight stays. Last year, he took a whole high school class along for a week with tents lashed to a barge.

I suppose if I’d gotten rich, I’d own more land than the tenth of an acre behind my home. But think how much time acquiring that wealth might have taken away from a lifetime spent roaming the Chesapeake.

Tom Horton has written about Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, where he is also a professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University. His views do not necessarily those of the Bay Journal.

Graphite Drawings and Watercolors by Lee Boulay D’Zmura at Adkins Arboretum

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“Lichen” by Lee D’Zmura

The pure beauty and precision of Lee Boulay D’Zmura’s botanical drawings and watercolors are astonishing. But in her exhibit Wabi Sabi, on view at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center through July 28, this Saint Michaels artist departed from the botanical art tradition of illustrating perfect plant specimens in order to explore the ongoing changes plants experience in their life cycles. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with a reception for the ninth biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational.

Two things happened to inspire this show. D’Zmura found a branch from a box elder tree that had fallen in a storm. Although dying, its crinkled leaves still clung to it, as did its samaras, the winged seedpods often called “helicopters,” so that the branch was both dying and giving life through its seeds.

Shortly afterward, she found herself reading a magazine article about wabi-sabi, the Japanese art aesthetic that recognizes beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The idea of honoring the ever-changing cycle of growth and decay and the dignity of aging with grace resonated strongly for her.

“I have been on the hunt for the dead and dying ever since,” she said.

Before the advent of photography, scientists relied on botanical illustration to accurately record the distinct characteristics of plant species. Trained as a botanical artist at Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration, D’Zmura has been teaching botanical art classes at the Arboretum since 2006 and has become known for her remarkable skill in accurately reproducing every detail of a plant, from the subtlest colors to the finest webbing of its veins. But in this show, she uses her expertise to capture the fascinating beauty and poignancy of individual plants throughout the stages of their lives, including the death and decay of their blossoms and leaves.

In her graphite drawing of the box elder branch, D’Zmura sketched its clusters of samaras and each elaborately complicated curve of its crinkled leaves with lines finer than a single hair. Likewise, she captured the stages of anemone plants at different times of year, from blossoms through dormancy.

As any gardener knows, decaying plant material is an important nutritional source for other plants. In one of four compelling watercolor studies of bark through the seasons, D’Zmura shows a cluster of fragile, frilly gray-green lichen spreading across a decaying log.

“I came across this while hiking with my daughter and grand dogs,” she said. “I loved the contrasting colors and surfaces of the decaying log and lichen.”

D’Zmura’s extraordinary sensitivity to the myriad kinds of nuanced beauty found in plants is a magnet for looking closer and closer at her work to discover all the extraordinary details she was able to find. Studying her unbelievably fine line work and stunning color range has the quietly exhilarating effect of honing the eye to nature itself. It’s an invitation to see our everyday environment with fresh eyes and deeper understanding.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through July 28 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

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.

Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape at Adkins Arboretum

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The ten artists in Adkins Arboretum’s Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape share a passion for working in nature. Throughout May, they could be found in the Arboretum’s forest and meadows collecting branches, moss, grasses, pinecones and other natural materials and using them to create sculptures.

On view through Sept. 30, this is the ninth biennial Invitational show the Arboretum has hosted since 2002. There will be a reception and a guided sculpture walk on Sat., June 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the reception for Lee D’Zmura’s show in the Visitor’s Center.

“Nature is my studio. Nature is my teacher,” wrote Diane Szczepaniak, an artist from Potomac, Md., whose sculpture “Octagon of Grass, Watching the Grass Grow, Going at the Speed of Nature” is an invitation to slow down and observe and meditate on nature.

“Guardians,” a beehive-shaped sculpture by Towson, Md., artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills.

Szczepaniak installed a low octagon of steel flanked by a simple bench in a mown area beneath tall loblolly pines. The grass inside the octagon will be left to grow and mature throughout the summer, and visitors may come to sit and enjoy the quietude and the slow changes as the sculpture develops.

There’s a sense of play and discovery throughout this show. Both Ben Allanoff of Joshua Tree, Calif., and Baltimore artist Eliezer Sollins came to Adkins with no specific plans for their sculptures. Walking the paths through its forest and meadows, they found places and materials that triggered ideas. Sollins collected fallen branches laden with pinecones and armloads of meadow grass for his sculpture, “Haycone,” while Allanoff balanced long, slim branches and vines in a small grove of trees in “Pick-up Sticks,” a sculpture that visitors can actually enter.

Natural materials are the basis for most of these sculptures, including the swoop of branches framed by a cube (all painted a magical blue) in Washington artist Julia Bloom’s “Forest Cache” and Baltimore artist Marcia Wolfson Ray’s “Tumble,” four rustic boxes made of dried plants angled as if to tumble down into the wetland beside the Visitor’s Center. Using a collection of richly colored and textured materials from the forest and meadow, Susan Benarcik, of Wilmington, Del., employed classic geometry to illustrate a universal natural pattern of growth in her sculpture, “The Golden Ratio in Nature.”

“Modern-Day Fossils,” by Laurel, Md., artist Melissa Burley.

Several of the artists made sculptures exploring their concerns for the well-being of the earth. Melissa Burley, of Laurel, Md., created “Modern-Day Fossils” in which plastic bugs and leaves encased in glittering balls of amber-colored resin stand in for fossilized plants and animals.

Three of the artists created sculptures about the current severe decline in bee populations. Both Elizabeth Miller McCue of Yardley, Penn., and Bridgette Guerzon Mills of Towson, Md., constructed beehive-shaped sculptures made of many small hexagons. An intricate web of glistening wire, McCue’s is a ghostly skeleton of a beehive, long deserted by its denizens. Mills’s mixed-medium hive is more colorful, but while some of its hexagons are empty, others are mirrored so that visitors may see their own faces, implicating our human role in the disappearance of the bees but also suggesting that by promoting healthy ecosystems, we can be the agents of restoring their dwindling populations.

That possibility was the impetus for Ashley Kidner’s “Pollinator Hexagon V,” one of a series of sculptures this Baltimore artist has created in parks and art centers around Maryland. Like his other hexagons, this is a large circular garden filled with hexagonal sections where native pollinator plants are growing. Functioning not only as a work of art, its nine species of flowering plants provide a healthy source of nectar for the Arboretum’s bees.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

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.

Chesapeake Region Unlikely to Meet 2025 Bay Cleanup Goals, Unless it Picks up Pace

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The Chesapeake Bay is getting healthier, but its recovery is “fragile” unless state and federal governments pick up the pace of their actions, environmental groups warned Wednesday.

As the halfway point toward the 2025 cleanup deadline approaches, the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation reported that the region is generally on track toward meeting pollution reduction goals for phosphorus and sediment but is far off pace for nitrogen.

The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus create algal blooms that cloud the water and lead to oxygen-starved “dead zones” in the Bay. Nutrients, the Bay’s primary pollutant, enter the Bay and its rivers largely through sewage, fertilizers and animal waste.

Regional Bay cleanup efforts have been under way since the 1980s. They intensified in 2010 when the federal government put the Bay under a Total Maximum Daily Load [TDML], often called a “pollution diet,” that requires state actions to meet federal clean water standards.

Those efforts have spurred improvements in the Bay’s health, but CBF President Will Baker cautioned against too much optimism, noting that Lake Erie was declared recovered decades ago but is now “worse than ever.”

“Unless the states and their federal partners expand their efforts and push harder, the Bay and its rivers and streams may never be saved,” Baker said. He expressed concern that the states and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might back off on their commitments to take all needed cleanup actions by the end of 2025. “CBF, and I imagine others, will use every means available, including possible litigation, to oppose any attempt to delay the deadline,” he said.

The possibility of allowing a delay has been floated behind the scenes, but officials familiar with the conversations say they expect that the state-federal Chesapeake Bay Program will ultimately keep the original deadline.

The Bay Program failed to meet two previous cleanup deadlines, which led the EPA to impose the TMDL as a more enforceable cleanup program that set established pollution limits for each state and river draining into the Bay.

This summer is roughly the halfway point between the 2010 establishment of the TMDL and the 2025 cleanup deadline.

States were supposed to achieve 60 percent of their assigned pollution reduction actions by the end of 2017. But the Bay Foundation, using preliminary computer model estimates from the Bay Program, said the region as a whole has achieved only about 40 percent of its nitrogen goals, though it has met the mark for phosphorus and sediment.

The CBF and Choose Clean Water — a coalition of 240 regional groups working on water issues that jointly released the analysis — credited pollution reductions for recent improvements in the Bay’s health. Underwater grass beds, a key Bay habitat, reached record levels last year, the Bay’s “dead zone” has been shrinking, and the population of important species like oysters and blue crabs have shown encouraging signs.

“We are at a critical point in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. We are seeing some incredible progress,” said Chante Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

But the environmentalists warned that the Bay’s health was still in jeopardy and that pollution reduction efforts among the four jurisdictions it examined — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia — were uneven.

Pennsylvania, which contributes the largest amount of nutrients to the Bay, is far behind in its nitrogen reduction goals, largely because of the nitrogen generated by its large agricultural sector. Pennsylvania accounts for the lion’s share of the regionwide shortfall for nitrogen reduction.

All four jurisdictions met or exceeded their goals for reducing pollution from wastewater treatment plans. Because wastewater accounts for a large portion of the nutrients from Maryland and Virginia, those efforts helped offset shortfalls in controlling runoff from farmland and stormwater in those states.

Because most treatment plants in the region have been upgraded, the majority of pollution reductions in coming years must come from farms and developed lands, where reductions have been harder to achieve.

“As the clock ticks down to 2025, we know the second half is going to be more difficult,” Baker said. Further, he noted, new problems — such the filling of the reservoir at Conowingo Dam, which was once an important trap for nutrients and sediment — are making the cleanup job harder. The region’s changing climate is an added challenge, too, increasing the amount and intensity of rainfall that washes greater amounts of pollutants into the water.

Baker said that efforts were also threatened by the Trump administration, which “regularly releases new plans to undercut clean air and clean water nationwide. Those plans, if implemented, would have adverse impacts on the Bay.” In particular, he expressed concern about multiple efforts to roll back air pollution controls. Air pollution is a significant contributor of nitrogen to the Bay.

The EPA is expected to release its own midpoint analysis of the cleanup in July. It will evaluate the progress of individual states, which could result in actions against those that have fallen behind in their cleanup schedules, either statewide or in particular sectors, such as stormwater or agriculture.

Environmental groups are split over what action the EPA should take, though, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Baker called for the EPA to exercise its “backstop” authority under the TMDL, which allows it to impose sanctions against states that fall behind. Such sanctions could include withholding grant money or exercising more oversight for new discharge permits.

“At the very least, the EPA needs to exert its authority in Pennsylvania while also putting Virginia and Maryland on notice that pollution from urban and rural runoff must be addressed more effectively,” Baker said.

But Coleman said many of the coalition’s members would oppose taking backstop actions against Pennsylvania, especially if they involve withholding funds. “Pennsylvania is so far behind in the cleanup that taking away money at this point would be quite detrimental to the cleanup as a whole,” she said.

She said there were other actions that could help meet goals, including efforts by senators from the region to bring more support for farmers as Congress considers a new Farm Bill.

“There is a golden opportunity as the Farm Bill moves through Congress to increase funding in the Chesapeake region for conservation practices on farmlands,” she said.

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and executive director of Bay Journal Media. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991.

OysterFutures Make Recommendations for Oyster Management in Choptank

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After a two-year process to find common ground on ways to improve oyster fishing practices and restoration in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers, the OysterFutures stakeholders reached consensus and submitted their recommendations to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The OysterFutures research program—an experiment in consensus building funded by the National Science Foundation—brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from the oyster industry, environmental groups, other nonprofits, and government agencies to build consensus recommendations on ways to improve the oyster resource in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“The ultimate goal of the OysterFutures stakeholder workgroup was to ensure that oyster fishing and restoration policies are informed by the best available science and share stakeholder stewardship values, resulting in an economically viable, healthy and sustainable oyster fishery and ecosystem in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers,” said OysterFutures project leader Dr. Elizabeth North, a scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

In their package of 29 Consensus Recommendations for improving the oyster resource in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers, the OysterFutures Stakeholders recommended that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

· Enhance enforcement

· Explore a limited entry program

· Allow hand tonging in some sanctuary areas where no restoration efforts are planned, some with rotating harvest

· Increase planting of shell and hatchery-reared spat

· Complete planned restoration efforts

· Help place privately-funded reef balls

· Combine the above options to improve outcomes

· Use the Consensus Solutions process in Maryland

· Develop cost effective strategies for shell and substrate

· Coordinate investments in marketing strategies and business plans

· Consider increasing oyster fishery related fees and taxes

· Promote education, training, and research

OysterFutures stakeholders considered over 100 options in the process of making these recommendations, many of which were informed by the use of a computer simulation model which forecasted the potential outcomes of the recommendations.

“The stakeholders really wanted to explore a wide range of options, and they found many that are likely to result in better outcomes than continuing current policies,” said Dr. Michael Wilberg, the lead model developer on the project and professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The OysterFutures research program was based on testing a new approach for making regulations and policies called Consensus Solutions. This process – which included multiple meetings, a diverse stakeholder workgroup, professional facilitators, and a science team – built the trust among stakeholders needed to achieve the consensus recommendations.

Nine workgroup meetings were held over two years with representative stakeholders from the key interest groups that affect and are affected by the oyster fishery. Through these meetings guided by professional facilitators, the stakeholders produced a collective vision for the future of oysters in this region.

The final report is available here:  https://oysterfutures.wordpress.com/reports/

This project was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Coastal Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program with scientific support from researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Virginia Institute of Marine Science and with professional independent facilitators from Florida State University’s FCRC Consensus Center, who developed the Consensus Solutions process and facilitated the nine OysterFutures work group meetings.

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

Learn the Art of Hoop Dancing June 10 at Adkins Arboretum

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Come out of your shell and shimmy! Join a fun afternoon of movement and learning for all skill levels when Adkins Arboretum offers Introduction to Hoop Dancing on Sun., June 10.

Melissa Newman, a Baltimore performance artist who performs as Mina Bear.

Professional performance artist Melissa Newman, who performs as Mina Bear, wowed attendees last fall at the Arboretum’s Magic in the Meadow gala when she performed with hoops, lights and fire. She returns to lead a group lesson that will introduce waist, knee and shoulder/chest hooping along with technical tricks that combine these movements. The workshop will also include intermediate off-body hoop illusions and crowd-pleasing technical moves. Attendees will leave with a new understanding of the art of hula-hoop dance and the basics of a healthy and active hobby.

The workshop begins at 1 p.m. and is $30 for members, $35 for non-members. Advance registration is appreciated 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 and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Tour, Toast and Taste Promises Rare Glimpse Inside Lombardy Estate

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On June 9th, Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Tour, Toast & Taste will be held at Joe and Missy Walsh’s Lombardy in Unionville. The event will afford guests a rare look inside Lombardy and a great opportunity to socialize and add culinary adventures to their social calendars for the next year. We’ll also be celebrating the Year of the Bird. 2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years.

Just around the corner from the 400-acre wildlife sanctuary and nature education center, in Unionville, Lombardy is a perfect fit for this year’s Tour, Toast and Taste event to benefit the education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center, the Shore’s premiere environmental center connecting people with birds, habitat and the Chesapeake Bay.

There are two noteworthy buildings at Lombardy. The larger, five part house, known as Lombardy, is a beautiful three story, colonial revival structure of the 1930s with a Mt. Vernon porch.  Immediately adjacent is an early nineteenth century, one and a half story, three bay brick house that was constructed around 1830.  Today’s Lombardy was built and inhabited by the great grandfather of Pickering Creek Audubon Center Board of Trustees member Dirck Bartlett. The father of another recent Pickering Trustee, Colin Walsh, also owned it before being purchased by its current owners, Joe and Missy Walsh, who are not related to the previous Walshs. Joe and Missy Walsh have conducted significant renovations to the buildings and made impressive improvements to the outdoor amenities as well.

The oldest existing building on the site, dating from the early nineteenth century.

The evening begins with a leisurely drive down a long, beautiful tree lined drive. Upon arrival, guests tour seven first floor rooms beautifully decorated by Mrs. Walsh.  The rooms feature significant original woodwork and other detail features as well as artwork that has remained with the house over the course of several owners.  Mrs. Walsh has tastefully decorated each of the rooms, retaining the overall flavor of the house while adding many attractive embellishments.  In addition to seeing seven first floor rooms guests will have an opportunity to view both of the second floor wings from the second floor landing.  Several generations of owners will be on hand to share the history of the house as well as how it got to its present state of perfection.

After the house tour guests will adjourn to a pleasantly breezy riverfront tent overlooking the Miles for cocktails, delicious hors d’ouevres, and light entertainment from Justin Ryan. At the sound of the bell, guests will have the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of intriguing dinners, unique events and auction items offered by strong supporters of the community-based education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center. In the spirit of the Year of the Bird this year’s live auction includes a wonderful trip to view migrating Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska, where every March, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River valley in central Nebraska to fuel up before continuing north to their nesting grounds.

The evening concludes with a special presentation of live raptors of Maryland by naturalist and friend of the Center, Mike Callahan.  Callahan is an expert on barn owls and raptors and introduces the public to them through his work with the Southern Maryland Audubon Society and Charles County Public Schools.  Guests will have an opportunity to learn about the birds and see them up close.

A view of the main estate house from the Miles River.

The Tour, Toast & Taste committee consists of a group of loyal Pickering supporters including Jo Storey, Bill Griffin, Tom Sanders, Dave Bent, Cheryl Tritt, Dirck Bartlett, Debra Rich, Carol Thompson, and Colin Walsh. This year’s Tour, Toast & Taste is generously sponsored by the Bill Davenport and Bruce Wiltsie, Out of the Fire Restaurant, Capital Blackbook, William and Mary Griffin, the Tilghman Family, Bartlett, Griffin and Vermilye, Wye Gardens, LLC, the Dock Street Foundation, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the Wilford Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Phil and Charlotte Sechler, Tidewater Physical Therapy, Avon Dixon Insurance, Wye Financial & Trust, Shore United Bank, Shorebancshares, Cheryl Tritt and Phil Walker, Colin Walsh and Carolyn Williams, Courtney and Scott Pastrick, Clay Railey and Don Wooters, the Star Democrat, Rick Scobey and Bruce Ragsdale, Ewing Dietz Fountain and Kaludis, Jo Storey and many more.

For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has provided environmental education opportunities to students of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed and birds to conservation action in their communities.  Since establishing a well-reputed elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools 25 years ago, Audubon has added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to our continuum of education along with community outreach education about our regions unique saltmarshes. Pickering Creek reaches the people of the Eastern Shore throughout their academic careers outdoor learning experiences that encourage them to continue interacting with the outdoors frequently.

Tickets and more information are available online at www.pcacevents.org.  For more information call the Center at 410-822-4903.

Young Environmental Stewards Summer Conference at Washington College

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Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) announces the launch of a new summer conference for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. July 17 through the July 21st, the Young Environmental Stewards Conference (YES) will introduce students to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through kayaking, wildlife habitat research, marine research and more.

Easy access to the Chester River is one of the things that makes Washington College truly unique. At the YES Conference, participants will have the opportunity to get out on the river with like-minded students and explore environmental science in an up close and personal format.

CES is one of Washington College’s Signature Centers. It is designed to promote the integration of environmental issues, social values, and getting your hands dirty within the field experiences. We live in a world with increasing environmental and related social problems that are rapidly reaching crisis levels. As we work toward finding solutions, we need to train a new generation of creative, solution-oriented leaders. The Center for Environment & Society prepares students – the next generation of leaders – to help solve the most pressing environmental problems of the 21st Century through innovative curriculum, real world experience, training in cutting edge technologies, and new ways of thinking.

At the YES Conference, participants will have an opportunity to explore a 4,700-acre living laboratory at Washington College’s River and Field Campus (RAFC). They will see examples of the pristine ecosystems including some that are geographically exclusive. Students will spend time on the college’sour research vessel, the Callinectes and learn how intricately land and water are connected. In addition, participants will come away with an overview of the many different facets of CES by exploring special topics such as archaeology, geographic information systems, and food production.

The cost of the conference is $700, and covers all costs associated with the program including, overnight accommodations and all meals during the conference. To register please visit: https://www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces/summer-conference/. Registration will close on June 15th.

For more information on the content of the program, or questions in general, please feel free to contact Jamie Frees at jfrees2@washcoll.edu.

To learn more about the Center for Environment & Society or for more information on this event, please visit www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces.