New Trustees Welcomed to the Pickering Creek Audubon Team

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At Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s recent Board of Trustees meeting Esther Fleischmann, Dorothy Whitcomb and Andrew Smith joined the Pickering Creek Audubon Center Board of Trustees as new members, elected to a three year term.  They join recent addition Ron Ketter and current trustees Dirck Bartlett, Dave Bent, Tom Kimbis, Cemmy Peterson, Tom Sanders, Stuart Strahl, Carol Thompson and Cheryl Tritt.

Esther Fleischmann has been teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology at UMBC for over 20 years where she has been privileged to work with curious and highly motivated students.  Her academic roots stem from time living on Guam where she learned to scuba dive and decided to become a marine biologist.

Esther only started birding seriously in the last five years and can only imagine what her life lists would look like if they included Guam and other places she has traveled.  Birding and an invitation from long-time colleague, Bryan Mackay, led to her serving on the board of the Chesapeake Audubon Society for the last two years.  It is all she can do to get to work on time during the spring migration, wiping off her muddy boots on the way into the classroom.  Esther is committed to being an educator and a life-long learner herself.

Top: Esther Fleischmann and Dorothy Whitcomb. Bottom: Andrew Smith and Ron Ketter

Dorothy Whitcomb worked in the home furnishings industry for over 30 years.  As a contributing editor and freelance journalist, she covered business and design trends, as well as a diverse range of products. In addition to her work in the home furnishings industry, she is the owner and president of Quarter Cove Associates, a consulting firm that provides communications and business strategy services to small businesses and non-profit organizations.

In 1997, Whitcomb began living part time the Eastern Shore. Two years later, she and her husband, Don Whitcomb, moved full time to a home they built on Presquile Point, just down the road past Pickering Creek. They lived there for seventeen years before moving in 2017 to the town of Easton.

Andrew Smith’s family moved to Easton when he was 14. He grew up on the Miles River where he developed a love for the outdoors. He met his future wife, Sally, in high school, and together they have raised three beautiful children and five wonderful grandchildren.

Before moving back to Easton, Andy spent from 1970-1980 at a family lumber business in Baltimore. He retired four years ago from a twenty-eight year career with O.N.Andrew and Son, a local roofing contractor. Andy has been on the board of the Chesapeake Center, and delights in seeing the accomplishments of the clients there!

Andy enjoys being involved with the wood duck monitoring program at Pickering Creek for several years. It is truly a treat to have seen Pickering Creek develop into an educational asset for the community for young and old.

Ron Ketter and his wife, Janet, moved to the Eastern Shore in 2016, where they live just outside of Easton and enjoy birdwatching, gardening, camping and hiking. Ron has a lifelong interest in nature and conservation, both in his personal and professional life. He retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 2016, where he served in the national office in Washington DC as Director of Strategic Planning, Acting Budget Director, and Chief of Staff to the Chief Financial Officer. He also spent over four years in California as Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. In addition to volunteering at Pickering Creek, Ron’s other volunteer activities include assisting with biological surveys and monitoring at Blackwater National Refuge, serving on the Board of the Friends of Blackwater as their Treasurer, monitoring the Tred Avon River quality for ShoreRivers, and serving as a mentor with Talbot Mentors.

A key part of the National Audubon Society network, Pickering Creek Audubon Center funds its budget through contributions and fees secured by the Pickering staff and board. This local funding directly supports science and environmental education programs for students and residents in Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline and Wicomico counties.

Nick DiPasquale, former director of EPA Bay Program, has joined ShoreRivers

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Nick DiPasquale, former director of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, has joined ShoreRivers as its Policy Advisor. Nick will work to elevate ShoreRivers’ mission for clean Eastern Shore waterways through State and regional advocacy efforts.

“We are delighted to have Nick joining ShoreRivers as a policy adviser,” Jeff Horstman, executive director of ShoreRivers, stated. “He has enormous experience and expertise in Chesapeake restoration issues and will add great value, strengthening our analysis and voice. His hire underscores the vital importance that ShoreRivers places on policy change.”

“I am thrilled,” Nick summed up, “with the opportunity to be working with ShoreRivers, an organization that is doing incredible work to reduce pollution and promote sustainability on the Eastern Shore.”

Nick served as the Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program from August, 2011 to December, 2017. The Program coordinates and provides administrative, technical, management and financial support for the overall Bay watershed restoration effort, and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, ensuring the six states and the District of Columbia meet their pollution load reduction targets.

Nick has over 35 years of public policy and environmental management experience in both the public and private sectors. He previously served as Deputy Secretary for Air, Waste & Radiation Protection in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Director of the Environmental Management Center for the Brandywine Conservancy in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; and, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Nick worked for 6 years in the private sector as a senior consultant on environmental and ecological restoration issues with an environmental engineering consulting firm in Delaware. He also served as the Director of Waste Management and Water Pollution Control Programs for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and as a Research Analyst with the Missouri House of Representatives.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the State University of New York, and a master’s degree in Energy and Environmental Policy from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Nick retired at the end of 2017 and lives in Chestertown, MD with his wife Becky and their two dogs.

Enjoy the Sights and Sounds of Fall at Blackwater NWR

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Come experience the changing of the seasons at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by participating in one of our remaining Guided Birding tours in the fall of 2018.  You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy identifying and learning about the many species of plants and animals that inhabit the refuge.

Fall birding tours at Blackwater highlight the returning migratory waterfowl, and you will not want to miss the opportunity to observe and identify our diverse array of feathered friends, from warblers and wading birds to numerous species of waterfowl and raptors, including the bald eagle.  The three remaining dates for Guided Birding are: Sunday, November 18, led by Harry Armistead; Sunday, November 25, led by Dave Palmer; and Sunday, December 2, led by Terry Allen.  Participants will meet at the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center at 8:00 a.m. for each bird walk, which may last 3 to 4 hours.  The birding party usually car pools, stopping at various points around the refuge’s Wildlife Drive.

Binoculars and field guides are highly recommended for an enjoyable experience, and be sure to dress for the weather!  There is no fee or advanced registration for these activities.  For further information, please call the Blackwater Visitor Center at 410-228-2677.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwoods and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or follow us on Facebook @BlackwaterNWR.

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

Adkins Arboretum Receives Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grants

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Support from Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) and the CBT Chesapeake Conservation Corps program has made several exciting projects possible at Adkins Arboretum.

In 2016-2017, Corps member Kathy Thornton (now the Arboretum’s Land Steward) organized an All Hands on Deck workshop for the Conservation Corps to learn from renowned landscape designer and author Claudia West and to help her install a 4,500-plant plug design for the Arboretum Entrance Garden. What used to be mostly mulch was transformed into a living matrix of purple love grass, butterfly milkweed, aromatic asters, nodding onion, broomsedge, columbine and small’s ragwort. A CBT Chesapeake Conservation Corps mini grant and a CBT All Hands on Deck award provided funding for plants, and Conservation Corps members volunteered to plant the garden in early summer 2017. Now, a year after its installation, the garden is lush, thriving and a haven for birds and pollinators. West, North Creek Nurseries, New Moon Nurseries and numerous private donors also made generous contributions to help create the garden.

From left, Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Nathaniel Simmons, Adkins Arboretum Land Steward Kathy Thornton and Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Emily Castle.

Earlier this year, Corps member Blake Steiner created a citizen-scientist phenology program at the Arboretum. With support from a CBT Mini Grant, Steiner held two training workshops for volunteers interested in phenology, the study of cyclic and seasonal natural events. He also developed a phenology walk that included eight species of focus. Data collected by staff and volunteers are submitted to Nature’s Notebook, the National Phenology Network’s data platform, to be shared and publicly accessible nationwide.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps program has also matched the Arboretum with two full-time Corps members for 2018-2019. The Corps is a green jobs program created by the Maryland Legislature, and administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, to educate and train the next generation of environmental stewards. The program matches young people ages 18–25 with nonprofit and governmental organizations for paid one-year terms of service that focus on improving local communities and protecting natural resources. Corps members Emily Castle and Nathaniel Simmons joined the Arboretum staff in August. Both are 2018 graduates of Washington College in Chestertown.

Castle served as president of the Washington College Campus Garden initiative, which created a flourishing sanctuary for wildlife and hands-on learning. She also has worked at Mt. Cuba Center and Longwood Gardens, and she is co-founder of the college’s Food Recovery Network, a program that transports leftover food from the dining hall to a local church to serve members of the Chestertown community at weekly dinners.

Simmons spent his college tenure working with Dr. Aaron Krochmal on a multi-year mark and recapture study on eastern painted turtles and snapping turtles. In addition to working year-round on his family’s Christmas tree farm, he worked as an intern for the college’s Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory and is a certified 4-H Leader Volunteer.

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.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of Maryland and the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement and local watershed restoration.

Horn Point Laboratory Offers Science Seminars for Local Residents

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The Chesapeake Bay and its rivers are the lifeblood of the Eastern Shore. While many easily recognize the natural beauty Bay country offers, the Horn Point Laboratory is offering “Science After Hours with Horn Point Laboratory,” to make the science of the Chesapeake Bay as accessible as its beauty.

“Science After Hours with Horn Point Laboratory” will be held on November 15 and December 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Michaels Branch of the Talbot Co. Library, located at 106 Freemont Street, St. Michaels MD 21663.

Register on line:  https://www.umces.edu/science-after-hours-november, or contact Carin Starr, cstarr@umces.edu or 410-221-8408.

Dr. Patricia Glibert (left) and Dr. Victoria Coles

Programs include:

Thursday, November 15:
Dr. Patricia Glibert; “Nutrient Pollution and Water Quality – global insight & local perspective ”
This talk will explore nutrient pollution and algal blooms – lessons from around the world, the recent Florida red tide and blooms in the Bay.

Monday, December 3:
Dr. Victoria Coles; “Changing Chesapeake: What’s in store for the Eastern Shore”

This interactive talk will go back in time over the past century using local weather stations to learn how our weather has been changing – and what models predict for the future.”

Free and open to the public the forty-five-minute talks will shed light into the mysteries of the Bay and highlight Horn Point Laboratory’s research working to improve the health of the Bay and coastal waters globally.  Questions and participation by the audience are encouraged.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The Horn Point Laboratory is part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University System of Maryland’s environmental research institution. UMCES researchers are helping improve our scientific understanding of Maryland, the region and the world through five research centers – Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, and the Maryland Sea Grant College in College Park. www.umces.edu

ShoreRivers Pumpout Boat Has Best Season Yet

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Pumpout boat captain Jim Freeman. Photo courtesy of CBMM

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce that its pumpout boat had its most successful season this year. The vessel was acquired in 2016 with funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in conjunction with the Clean Vessel Act administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. It continues to operate with funding from DNR.  The pumpout boat operates from May through October offering free service on the Miles and Wye Rivers. The boat pumped over 8,500 gallons in 2016 and over 12,000 gallons in 2017. ShoreRivers exceed its 2018 goal by pumping over 15,000 gallons of waste, reaching the final numbers during Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s annual Oyster Fest on October 27.

The pumpout boat operates in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels. CBMM donates free dockage, storage, and use of their land-based pump-out station to offload the waste from the boat. The sewage waste removed from boats then goes directly to the St. Michael’s wastewater treatment plant.

ShoreRivers’ pumpout boat works to reduce nutrient pollution and harmful bacteria that can be introduced from recreational boaters’ waste. In an effort to assist local boaters committed to more river-friendly boating practices, the pumpout boat is a convenient way to properly dispose of waste rather than discharging it into our waterways.

“We are thrilled to have met our goal for this third season of the pumpout boat,” says ShoreRivers Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett. “This vessel directly supports our vision of healthy waterways on the Eastern Shore. We extend our special  appreciation to Capt. Jim Freeman for expertly operating the vessel and to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for their continued support in our efforts to achieve healthier rivers. I’m looking forward to setting a new record in 2019!”

“Preserving the Chesapeake Bay’s environment is key to helping fulfill the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s mission; so this project is very close to our hearts,” says CBMM president Kristen Greenaway. “CBMM is very grateful for the opportunity to work with ShoreRivers and the pumpout boat, and to see that the effort is increasingly making such a difference in removing waste from the bay is extremely heartening.”

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.

For more information about the pumpout boat, please visit shorerivers.org or call 443-385-0511.

Expert Witness: Former EPA Chesapeake Director Nick DiPasquale on Conowingo and the Problem of Pennsylvania

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It seems that more often than not, whenever the Spy seeks to interview an expert on the some of the topical issues of the day, one is just around the corner. This is one of the great benefits of serving a region that has become the home of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of retired professionals from almost every field of concentration. From members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, professors, scholars, CEOs, or government executives, the Mid-Shore is blessed with disproportionately well populated with people who really do know what they are talking about.

So when we were eager to find another expert to interview in our ongoing coverage of the Conowingo Dam and the impact of upstream pollution problems from Pennsylvania, as if by magic, the Spy was notified that Nick DiPasquale, who had recently retired as the Director of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, had just bought a house in the historic district in Chestertown.

Even if we only looked at Nick’s tenure running the Chesapeake Bay program, it would be interesting to learn first hand his impressions of the health of this critical ecosystem. But what turned out to be so beneficial in helping our readers understand the complexity of Bay challenges was his remarkable career before the EPA when he had also served as the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and as Deputy Secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Spy sat down with Nick at the Spy HQ in Chestertown a few weeks ago to talk about some of the Bay’s most significant challenges with a specific focus on the Conowingo Dam and how Pennsylvania must dramatically change its policies to seriously regulate the damaging agricultural run0ff that contributes so substantially to the Bay’s poor environmental health.

This video is approximately twelve minutes in length. 

Washington College Hosts Electric Vehicle Cruise-In

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Washington College fired up its first electric vehicle charging stations this week, hosting a cruise-in that drew half a dozen electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to plug in behind Bunting Hall, as car owners, faculty, staff, students, and local residents stopped by to learn more about electric vehicles, compare notes, and even go for a test drive.

“The plan at the Center for Environment & Society, which started this concept, was to build forward,” says Greg Farley, the College’s director of sustainability. “This is the infrastructure that students and parents will come to expect. I’ve already had one parent call me and say, ‘Can I charge my car while I’m here visiting with my student?’ and it was great to be able to say, ‘Yes!’ ’’

Greg Farley, Director of Sustainability at WC, plugs in a Ford C-Max hybrid.

The network, comprised of four chargers behind Bunting Hall, one in the Gibson parking lot near the footbridge, and another in parking lot D next to the residential halls known as the quads, marks a great step forward for the College’s sustainability efforts. The charging network was made possible by $10,000 in donations, while Tesla donated four of the six charging units. Chesapeake College also donated two non-Tesla units.  Three of the units are for charging Tesla model vehicles specifically, while the other three can charge all models of electric vehicles including the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf.

Students, faculty, staff, visitors, and others will be able to use the chargers for up to four hours at a time after purchasing a $25 annual permit from the Department of Public Safety (the fee helps offset the electricity use).

“The College’s commitment to creating this charging network sends the message to everyone in the College community, from parents and students to faculty and members of the Board of Visitors and Governors, that if they choose to make the switch to EVs, we will support them in that,” Farley says.

Shane Brill, assistant director of the College’s Eastern Shore Food Lab, showed up at the charge-in with his Chevy Bolt, which he purchased in June. He says that using the Bolt has enabled him to save about $150 a month in fuel, while the power to charge the car at home costs about $50 a month. Other than rotating the tires on a typical schedule, he says, the car is virtually maintenance-free.

Joining Brill with another Chevy Bolt was Jon Hanley, chair of the Chestertown Environmental Committee, and other car owners included math Professor Gene Hamilton, who topped off the charge on his Ford C-Max hybrid, and Mark Emon of Easton, Md., who brought his Tesla Model 3.

Also in attendance were two officers from the College’s fledgling Automotive Club, Xaeza Olt ’20, a physics major and club president, and Jared Kovacs ’20, a pre-med biology major and club secretary.

Shane Brill, Assistant Director of the College’s Eastern Shore Food Lab (left) and Jon Hanley, chair of the Chestertown Environmental Committee.

Many people are choosing electric vehicles over traditional internal combustion engines to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, improve air quality, and lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the accelerated warming of the planet. However, finding places to charge the vehicles, especially in rural areas like the upper Eastern Shore, can be a challenge. Farley says that while he expects usage at the College’s stations to initially be low, he predicts it will accelerate rapidly as more people choose electric vehicles—a decision that the College’ new network may encourage. Farley also has a vision to expand the charging network in the future.

To obtain a charging pass for the EV charging network, contact Public Safety at 410-778-7810. For more information about the charging network and the College’s sustainability initiatives, contact Greg Farley at gfarley2@washcoll.edu.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Film Screening: “How to Let Go of the World” On November 1

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Documentarian Josh Fox travels the world to meet with global climate change warriors who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming.

This important film will be shown at Sumner Hall on Thursday November 1st at 7pm.