ShoreRivers Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week – March 31 to April 7

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ShoreRivers has launched its fourth annual Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week (LFAW) from March 31 to April 7, 2019. For this initiative, ShoreRivers partners with other organizations throughout the

Chesapeake Bay watershed to provide awareness about lawn fertilizer usage. Last year, LFAW reached over 24,000 individuals via social media, and aims even higher for this year.

The goal of Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week is to inform the public about the effects of lawn fertilizer, while encouraging individuals and lawn care professionals to reduce fertilizer use and turn to organic products for healthier lawns and waterways. This social media campaign includes daily posts that highlight native plant landscaping that requires less fertilizer, as well as ways to make composted fertilizer. LFAW also focuses on the impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus—two key ingredients in fertilizer—on water quality for the Chesapeake Bay. Runoff of these nutrients from lawns into waterways is known to cause harmful algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, rob the water of oxygen, and threaten underwater life.

Last year, this campaign introduced ShoreRivers’ new River-Friendly Yards program. ShoreRivers, with support from Chesapeake Bay Trust and Queen Anne’s County, is working to empower residents in the Chester and Sassafras watersheds to implement best practices and establish more river-friendly yards that mimic the natural environment to benefit water quality. ShoreRivers encourages residents to adopt river-friendly practices to achieve healthy waterways across Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The 2019 campaign will give an update on the program and highlight Maryland laws and regulations. It will include fun, simple, and attractive ways to transform yards. Maryland’s Nutrient Management Program has the goal of protecting water quality by ensuring that both farmers and urban land managers are safely applying fertilizer. Lawn fertilizer accounts for approximately 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland. There are over 1,300,000 acres of lawns in Maryland; almost 86 million pounds of nitrogen lawn fertilizer will be applied to these properties each year. It is critical that everyone know the importance of applying fertilizer in an effective and environmentally sound manner for the health of Maryland’s tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay.

Follow along with Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week 2019 by tuning into ShoreRivers’ social media pages.

More details are available at mda.maryland.gov/Pages/fertilizer.aspx. Additional guidance, along with seasonal and yearly fertilizer rates, is available at county extension offices or online at extension.umd.edu. For more information about Lawn Fertilizer Awareness Week, visit shorerivers.org or contact Rachel Plescha at ShoreRivers at rplescha@shorerivers.org or 443.385.0511 ext 208.

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.

shorerivers.org

Adkins Arboretum Announces Spring Open House, Native Plant Sale

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Adkins Arboretum, offering the Chesapeake gardener the largest selection of native plants for more than 20 years, announces its Spring Open House & Native Plant Sale weekend, April 26–28. The sale benefits the Arboretum’s education programs and affords the public an opportunity to learn about the Delmarva’s native plants and their connection to a healthy Chesapeake Bay.

Plants for sale include a large variety of native perennials, ferns, vines, grasses and flowering trees and shrubs for spring planting. Native flowers and trees provide food and habitat for wildlife and make colorful additions to home landscapes, whether in a perennial border, a woodland garden or a restoration project. Native honeysuckle entices hummingbirds, while tall spikes of purplish flowers grace blue wild indigo. Milkweed provides critical energy for Monarch butterflies on their winter migration to Mexico, and native azaleas present a veritable rainbow of colorful blooms.

Open House and plant sale hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fri., April 26 and Sat., April 27, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sun., April 28. Presale orders may be placed at adkinsarboretum.org through April 4. Simply place your order, and your plants will be ready for pick-up during the Open House weekend. Following the Open House, plants will be for sale at the Visitor’s Center throughout the growing season.

The Arboretum gift shop will be open during the Open House weekend and will offer books and nature-inspired gifts for gardeners. Members, including those who join during the Open House, receive a 10% discount on plant, gift shop and book purchases. Members at the Contributor ($100) level and above receive a 20% discount on plants.

For more information, call 410-634-2847, extension 0 or visit adkinsarboretum.org.

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.

Acclaimed Environmental Journalist Tom Pelton at Washington College March 27

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Tom Pelton, an award-winning environmental journalist and author of The Chesapeake in Focus: Transforming the Natural World, will give a talk at Washington College on March 27 called “Myths and Truths of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 5:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall of the Toll Science Center and is sponsored by the McClain Program for Environmental Studies. A book signing will follow.

Pelton has hosted the public radio program “The Environment in Focus” since 2007. He also works as Director of Communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit organization that publishes investigative reports about environmental issues and works to hold polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

From 1997 until 2008, Tom was a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, where he was twice named one of the best environmental reporters in America by the Society of Environmental Journalists. He has also published in The Washington PostThe Boston GlobeHarvard MagazineYankee magazine, and several other publications. Pelton earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and his graduate degree from the University of Chicago.

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 39 states and territories and 25 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.

ShoreRivers Announces New Sassafras Riverkeeper, New Galena Office

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Retiring Sassafras Riverkeeper Emmett Duke (left) and new Sassafras Riverkeeper Zack Kelleher.

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce that Zack Kelleher will serve as the new Sassafras Riverkeeper, acting as primary spokesperson for the Sassafras River, and advocating for its protection and restoration. Kelleher will use advocacy, outreach, restoration, and education to be a voice for the river, its natural resources, and its inhabitants. He will be a vigilant, on-the-water presence working with local communities to achieve a healthier Sassafras by using science-based solutions to tackle issues including the Conowingo Dam, invasive water chestnuts, and harmful algal blooms.  Additionally, Kelleher will expand outreach and restoration programs to four creeks in northern Kent County that flow directly to the Bay: Fairlee Creek, Worton Creek, Churn Creek, and Still Pond Creek.

“It’s an honor to become the Sassafras Riverkeeper and be a part of an inspiring and effective organization like ShoreRivers that fights tirelessly for Eastern Shore waterways,” said Kelleher. “I’m incredibly humbled to be voice of the Sassafras, its natural bounty, and its community. I’ll see you on the water!”

A native Marylander, Kelleher’s conservation ethic and love of the Chesapeake Bay comes from the time he spent growing up outside of Tilghman Island. There, he learned to appreciate the rich cultural heritage and immense beauty of the Eastern Shore while hunting, fishing, and crabbing on Harris Creek and the Choptank and Miles Rivers. Kelleher graduated from the University of Maryland with degrees in Psychology and Sustainability. Prior to becoming a Riverkeeper, he was ShoreRivers’ restoration and outreach manager. Kelleher is excited to continue furthering ShoreRivers’ mission of protecting and restoring Eastern Shore waterways while serving as the voice of the Sassafras.

ShoreRivers opened a new office in downtown Galena on March 1. Located in the heart of town, ShoreRivers will be an active, contributing member of the community and a clearinghouse of resources for community members. This office location will allow ShoreRivers to continue expanding its reach into northern Kent County and southern Cecil County to effectively work with communities throughout the Sassafras and northern Chesapeake watersheds and tackle water quality issues with a local, hands-on approach.   The new office address is 111A North Main Street, Galena.

Learn more at shorerivers.org. For more information or to get involved with ShoreRivers, contact Zack Kelleher at zkelleher@shorerivers.org or 410-810-7556 x281.

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

shorerivers.org

ShoreRivers Partners with Town of Templeville on Pond Restoration

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ShoreRivers has been awarded a $19,000 grant from Chesapeake Bay Trust to support the Town of Templeville’s restoration efforts at their town park by installing a denitrification wall around the north shoreline of the park’s pond.

In the past, the park and its pond were a gathering place and local fishing spot for town residents; but it has deteriorated over time. Unfortunately, the park area is now overgrown with invasive and nuisance weeds, and the increased load of nutrients has turned the pond eutrophic, or overly rich in nutrients. While discussing the current conditions, Mayor Helen Knotts said, “I remember when the neighborhood kids would fish and play in the park. The commissioners and I are very excited to work to restore the space as a great place for kids and families again.”

The town has a long-standing interest in returning the park to a suitable gathering place where local residents may once again spend time and recreate. In order to accomplish this, sources of nutrients must be reduced, and groundwater and surface water need to be better managed.

In 2017, the town was awarded a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant for community outreach and to design a plan to address the residential management of polluted runoff that affects the park. Town officials are currently working to secure funds to implement the practices identified in the plan. Meanwhile, ShoreRivers worked with Chesapeake Biological Lab (CBL) to test water and better understand the sources of nutrients that are impacting it. In 2018, researchers from CBL took water samples from several locations around the pond and tested them for sucralose. Also known as artificial sweetener and used in many diet foods consumed by humans, sucralose does not break down in the body or in septic systems. Therefore, the presence of sucralose in surface waters can be an indicator of domestic wastewater entering the pond.

An example of an installation of a denitrification wall similar to the one that will be installed around the north shoreline of the pond at Templeville park.

“Domestic wastewater is a threat to human and environmental health and can cause serious waterborne illnesses when people like fisherman, boaters, and swimmers come in contact with it,” says Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “We were excited to apply cutting-edge research on sucralose testing as a way to scientifically identify what is impacting the town pond and how it should be addressed.”

One solution that will be implemented is the installation of a denitrification filter wall, which will intercept groundwater and filter nutrients passing through. A four-foot deep and three-foot wide trench will be filled with local sawdust that acts as a carbon source to grow the bacteria needed to break down nitrogen in the water. Once installed, the wall is covered over with soil and planted with grass, resulting in an attractive camouflage of the wall. Only a handful of these practices have been installed in Maryland, with another having been installed by ShoreRivers on a dairy farm in Caroline County.

To kick-off these efforts, the town will host a volunteer cleanup of debris and overgrown vegetation in the park area. This cleanup will be part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Project Clean Stream, and is scheduled for April 14 at 1pm. Contact the Town of Templeville Town Manager Cindy Burns at cburns@mrdc.netfor more information and to sign up.Other project partners include Caroline County, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension, and local residents in Templeville.

To kick-off these efforts, the Town will host a volunteer cleanup of debris and overgrown vegetation in

For more information, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at mpluta@shorerivers.orgor 443.385.0511 ext 203.

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.

shorerivers.org

Climate of North American Cities Will Shift Hundreds of Miles in One Generation

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In one generation, the climate experienced in many North American cities is projected to change to that of locations hundreds of miles away—or to a new climate unlike any found in North America today. Maryland cities like Baltimore, Salisbury, Frederick and Waldorf are projected to feel more like Mississippi—hotter (by about 9 degrees ) and more humid—by the 21st century.

A new study and interactive web application from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science aim to help the public understand how climate change may impact the lives of a large portion of the population of the United States, including Marylanders.

“Under current high emissions the average urban dweller is going to have to drive more than 500 miles to the south to find a climate like that expected in their home city by 2080,” said study author Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Not only is climate changing, but climates that don’t presently exist in North America will be prevalent in a lot of urban areas.”

Search the interactive climate map for your city at www.umces.edu/futureurbanclimates 

The study found that by the 2080s, the climate of North American urban areas will feel substantially different, and in many cases completely unlike contemporary climates found anywhere in the western hemisphere north of the equator. If emissions continue unabated throughout the 21st century, the climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations about 500 miles away and mainly to the south.

The climate of cities in the northeast will tend to feel more like the humid subtropical climates typical of parts of the Midwest or southeastern U.S. today—warmer and wetter in all seasons. For instance, Washington, D.C. will feel more like northern Mississippi. The climates of western cities are expected to become more like those of the desert Southwest or southern California—warmer in all seasons, with changes in the amount and seasonal distribution of precipitation. San Francisco’s climate will resemble that of Los Angeles.

“Within the lifetime of children living today, the climate of many regions is projected to change from the familiar to conditions unlike those experienced in the same place by their parents, grandparents, or perhaps any generation in millennia,” he said.

Climate-analog mapping is a statistical technique that matches the expected future climate at one location—your city of residence, for instance—with the current climate of another familiar location to provide a place-based understanding of climate change. Scientists analyzed 540 urban areas, mapping the similarity between that city’s future climate expected by the 2080s and contemporary climate in the western hemisphere north of the equator using 12 measures of climate, including minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation during the four seasons.

The study also mapped climate differences under two emission trajectories: unmitigated emissions, the scenario most in line with what might be expected given current policies and the speed of global action, and mitigated emissions, which assumes policies are put in place to limit emissions, such as the Paris Agreement.

“We can use this technique to translate a future forecast into something we can better conceptualize and link to our own experiences,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s my hope that people have that ‘wow’ moment, and it sinks in for the first time the scale of the changes we’re expecting in a single generation.”

The paper, “Contemporary climatic analogs for 540 North American urban areas in the late 21st century,” by Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University, is published in Nature Communications on February 12.

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 evidence and 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

Chesapeake Conservancy Welcomes New Board Members

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Today, Chesapeake Conservancy announced that Chief G. Anne Richardson Thad Bench, and John J. Reynolds have been elected to the organization’s Board of Directors. Additionally, five members recently finished their terms—Jane Danowitz, Holly A. Evans, Stephen F. Harper, Turney McKnight, and outgoing Board Chair Douglas. P Wheeler. The Board has elected Anne W. Scott to serve as the new Chair. She previously served as Vice Chair. Treasurer Robert Gensler and Secretary Robert G. Stanton were elected to second terms.

“The Board is pleased to welcome three new members, each of whom brings tremendous experience, as well as deeply rooted connections to the Chesapeake Bay watershed that will strengthen the Chesapeake Conservancy in the pursuit our mission,” said Chair Scott. “On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank outgoing Chair Douglas Wheeler for his excellent leadership. During his time as Chair, Chesapeake Conservancy grew to become a leader in innovation for the Chesapeake watershed and a strong partner for the National Park Service. Our sincere gratitude is also extended to our outgoing members Jane Danowitz, Holly A. Evans, Stephen Harper, and Turney McKnight, for sharing their time and energy to help lead Chesapeake Conservancy through so many achievements,” Scott continued.

“Thanks to Doug’s leadership, our small but mighty nonprofit is changing how conservation and restoration are approached in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We have created groundbreaking technology, conserved thousands of acres of land, enhanced public access, and cultivated the epic collaboration necessary to address the challenges the Chesapeake faces,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn.

Welcoming New Members

Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe was elected the first woman Chief to lead a tribe in Virginia since the 18th century in 1998. She is a fourth generation chief in her family. Under her tenure as Chief, in 1998, the Tribe purchased 140 acres to establish a land trust, cultural center, and housing development. In 2017, Chief Anne accepted a donation of a 1-acre parcel facilitated by Chesapeake Conservancy to return her tribe to their ancestral lands along Fones Cliffs.

Under her leadership, the Rappahannocks are currently engaged in a number of projects ranging from cultural and educational to social and economic development programs including their Return to the River Project which is a youth leadership program. She has been an engaged partner in Chesapeake Conservancy’s campaign to protect our natural resources from unsustainable development.

In 1989, Chief Anne helped to organize the United Indians of Virginia, which was established as an intertribal organization represented by all Virginia Chiefs. In 1991, Richardson became executive director of Mattaponi-Pamunkey-Monacan, Inc., which provides training and employment services for Virginia Indians. In her work with the Department of Labor, she was appointed by the Secretary to serve on the Native American Advisory Council. She was also elected as Chairman of that Council while working with the Secretary to further the goals of Indian Country through Labor Programs.

Thad Bench serves as the chief executive officer of Benchworks, Inc., a family of companies that specializes in the health care and pharmaceutical industry. Headquartered in Chestertown and Cambridge, MD, it also has offices in Boston, Philadelphia, and Miami. Under his leadership, Benchworks has been named to Inc.’s. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies for the last four years and has grown sixfold since 2014.

Thad has extensive experience in marketing, brand positioning, and product launch management. He was named one of the 2016 ELITE 100 in the entrepreneur category by PM360 magazine, an honor given to the 100 most influential people in the health care industry. He has managed hundreds of large-scale marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies with a particular emphasis in the pharmaceutical industry, including 9 product launches.

Thad owns a number of businesses, including manufacturing and distribution operations and commercial real estate holdings. Formerly, he held senior corporate marketing positions with St. Louis-based Huttig Building Products and with Jeld-Wen Inc, one of the country’s largest forest product companies.

John J. Reynolds is also a returning Board member. During his nearly 40-year-career with the National Park Service he served as park planner for Cape Cod, Yosemite and Alaska; park manager at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, CA and North Cascades National Park, WA; manager Denver Service Center, regional director of Mid-Atlantic and Pacific West Regions and deputy director.

He championed international conservation at NPS, advised on park issues in 12 countries, and was U.S. Delegate to the World Heritage Committee.

He has worked for the National Park Foundation as senior fellow and as executive vice president, and at the Student Conservation Association as government relations manager. He served on the boards of nonprofits including the Student Conservation Association, Landscape Architecture Foundation, George Wright Society, Partners for Public Lands, Shenandoah National Park Trust and as a founding member of the Friends of the John Smith Trail/Chesapeake Conservancy, Global Parks and the Friends of Flight 93.

He represented the Secretary of the Interior on the board of the Presidio Trust. He chaired federal advisory groups for Flight 93 National Memorial, John Smith Trail and Fort Hancock 21st Century. He was Virginia Citizens Representative to the Chesapeake Bay Commission and a member of the California State Parks Commission. He currently serves on the board of the Fort Monroe Authority and the steering committee for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, we helped create 153 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.

www.chesapeakeconservancy.org

Adkins Arboretum Offers Nature Fun for Preschoolers

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Icicles, dinosaurs, wiggly worms and more! Celebrate the seasons and engage your young child with nature with Adkins Arboretum’s Acorn Academy Nature Preschool programs. The series of 10 classes for three- to five-year-olds is offered in either Tuesday or Wednesday sessions beginning Feb. 26 and 27.

Programs run from 10 to 11:15 a.m. and include nature walks, stories, songs, snacks and an art project to take home. The fee for all 10 classes in the series is $75 for members and $100 for non-members. Thanks to a generous grant from the PNC Foundation, the fee is waived for residents of Caroline County. Advance registration is required, and early registration is recommended. For more information or to register, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum Assistant Director Jenny Houghton (at right) explains to preschool students how animals use hollow trees for nesting.

Programs include:

The Icicle on the Cake
Feb. 26 and 27
How does ice form, and where does it go? Bring your mittens as we conduct an icy experiment, look for ice along the Blockston Branch and make a sparkly icicle craft to take home. A special icicle-inspired snack and the beloved children’s book A Snowy Day will cap off the morning.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tree!
March 5 and 6
Learn how to tell a tree’s age by examining its annual rings. Tree ring sleuths will make “tree cookie” necklaces, read tree stories and explore the stumps at First Light Village.

Dirt Detectives
March 12 and 13
Let’s get the dirt on soil! Budding scientists will observe soil samples with hand lenses, mix up gooey mud pies and craft glittery “soil” shakers to remind us that there’s more to dirt than meets the eye.

Potato Power
March 19 and 20
What has eyes but can’t see? A potato, of course! Let’s learn about the amazing spud, plant a potato bin in the Funshine Garden and sing the Mashed Potato Anthem. We’ll also use potato stamps to make fun artwork.

Dinosaurs!
March 26 and 27
Did you know that Astrodon is Maryland’s state dinosaur? Travel back in time as we learn about the dinosaurs of North America. On a nature walk, we’ll look for plants that grew during the age of the dinosaurs and investigate a trail of mysterious footprints along the way.

Cloud Magic
April 2 and 3
Do you see pictures in the clouds? We’ll learn to name the clouds, take a cloud walk along the Arboretum’s meadow paths and make fluffy cotton clouds to take home. A fun cloud song and a rainy-day symphony will round out the morning.

Wiggling Worms
April 9 and 10
Welcome to the wiggly world of worms! Did you know that worms are a gardener’s best friend? Enjoy a walk to the Funshine Garden, where we will peek into a composting “worm hotel” and dig for worms in the soil. We’ll also sing a “Wiggle and Waggle” song and snack on garden veggies.

Eggs-ellent Adventure
April 16 and 17
Help crack the mystery of the incredible egg! How are eggs formed? How do they hatch? Which animals lay eggs? Young nature detectives will conduct an eggs-periment, peek inside our bluebird boxes and hunt for eggs in the meadow.

Pollywog Adventure
April 23 and 24
No need to feel stuck in a bog! Spring is in full swing, and so are the Arboretum peepers! We’ll stomp our feet to the “Pollywog Wiggle,” make a frog craft and use nets to scoop up tadpoles and other critters in the wetland.

Stream Splashers
April 30 and May 1
Let’s take a walk to a sparkling stream and see what animals live there! If the weather’s warm enough, we’ll dip our toes in the water and race twigs under the bridge.

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.

Maryland Could Be Banned From Dredging Man O’ War Shoal

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State legislation could ban the Maryland Department of Natural Resources from dredging the Chesapeake Bay’s Man O’ War Shoal for shells destined to become homes for new baby oysters elsewhere.

In recent years, the harvest of native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay has fallen to 1 percent of what it was during the 19th century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Since 2004, the state’s Department of Natural Resources has established sanctuary areas of the bay where the harvest of wild oysters is prohibited in order to protect the remaining population.

The proposed legislation—one set that would take effect upon passage and another bill that would commence in June—would prevent the Department of Natural Resources from extracting oyster shells from the historic reef, located in Baltimore County near the mouth of the Patapsco River.

While the Department of Natural Resources and watermen wish to disperse the recovered shell to replenish oyster beds elsewhere in the bay, some lawmakers and opponents of the bill have argued that alternative substances may be a more viable option for restoring their habitat.

Proposed in 2009, the dredging project would use the estimated 5 million bushels of shell that would be recovered from the Man O’ War reef—about 5-5.5 percent of the reef—to create or restore oyster habitat in up to 10 Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

When water temperature reaches a certain level, usually between June and September, oysters will begin to spawn.

The oyster larvae drifting through the water need a solid foundation to attach to in order to grow.

While they usually cling to beds of old oyster shells like those at Man O’ War, in recent years, materials like granite have been tested as an alternative resource, according to Department of Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Bill Anderson.

Though the long-term effects of putting these substances in the bay have been researched, scientists hold conflicting opinions about their harmfulness, Anderson said.

The Department of Natural Resources is opposed to all of the proposed legislation and plans to proceed with their dredging proposal, according to Anderson.

Lawmakers, however, have disagreed on the best course of action for oyster bed restoration.

“The science is getting better and better, and research is getting more clear,” that usage of alternative substrate—material other than oyster shells—could be the solution to restoring the oyster population of the bay, said Delegate Stephen Lafferty, D-Baltimore County, the primary sponsor of the emergency bill.

Delegate Robin L. Grammer Jr., R-Baltimore County, said he is optimistic that the legislation will pass despite the failure of a similar bill last session. The non-emergency version, which Grammer is sponsoring, would go into effect June 1; lawmakers heard testimony on that bill late last month.

Grammer said he doesn’t believe the shell-removal project would be beneficial to the long-term health of the bay. He said the proposed dredging would be “destroying a natural resource as a short-term solution.”

One emergency bill — part of a paired set of twinned legislation — was heard by the Maryland Senate Thursday.

The Department of Natural Resources received a provisional permit May 17 from the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit is pending for final approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works and the Maryland Department of the Environment Tidal Wetlands Division, Lafferty said.

But watermen are hopeful the state will scrape shell from the Man ‘O War Shoal and spread it elsewhere in order to eventually boost the state’s historically declining oyster population , according to Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association.

“We need shells now to enhance our oyster bars and our tributaries,” Brown said.

Brown noted that in Virginia, it takes about 90 days to receive a dredging permit, while this project has taken nearly 10 years to get underway.

Since its inception, the Department of Natural Resources’ Man O’ War Shoal Dredging Project has narrowed the portion of the reef intended to be dredged.

The eastern boundary of the proposed dredging region was tapered in April in order to remove the portion located within the Man O’ War/Gales Lump Sanctuary from the dredging area, Anderson said.

The western third of the reef has also been excluded from the dredging region to avoid disturbing the spat on shell, or freshly attached oyster larvae, that had been placed there in 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2013, according to the project proposal.

By Charlie Youngmann

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