ESLC Awarded Preservation Grant for Smokestack Repair at Phillips Packing House

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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) was recently awarded a $25,000 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from The Bartus Trew Providence Preservation Fund. These grant funds will be used to help stabilize and repair the building’s iconic smokestacks.

Cross Street Partners, in partnership with Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) will repurpose the 60,000 SF historic Phillips Packing House Building F as The Packing House – an active, mixed-use development designed to support the emerging industries related to the Eastern Shore’s famed farming and fisheries. The Packing House will house a synergistic mix of tech and creative entrepreneurs, food production and food related retail/eateries as well as a 2-story, light-filled open atrium space for continuous public programs and private events.

The Packing House will serve as a connection between the growing downtown revitalization in Cambridge and the well-traveled Route 50—Ocean Gateway to Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia beaches. The commercialization, research, production, and active retail uses will support local employment and inform nutrition and public health programming on the Eastern Shore.

Redeveloping this historically significant building as an entrepreneurial engine for the Cambridge community in a manner that celebrates Cambridge’s unique heritage preserves the legacy of the Phillips Packing Company. It is the last remaining factory from the Phillips Company’s empire of vegetable and food packing businesses, which once employed thousands of people in Cambridge. The company closed in the 1960’s, and the building has been deteriorating for decades.

“Organizations like ESLC help to ensure that communities and towns all across America retain their unique sense of place,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are honored to provide a grant to ESLC, which will use the funds to help preserve an important piece of our shared national heritage.”

Grants from the National Trust Preservation Funds have provided over $15 million since 2003. These matching grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the country to support wide-ranging activities including consultant services for rehabilitating buildings, technical assistance for tourism that promotes historic resources, and the development of materials for education and outreach campaigns.

For more information about The Packing House, please visit www.thepackinghousecambridge.com.

Second Annual Oysters and Wine on the Eastern Shore Jan. 27

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Maryland-farmed oysters, wine, champagne, and beer—what more do you need to satisfy the soul on a late January afternoon?

You can have them all and Smith Island cake too at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s second annual Oysters and Wine on the Eastern Shore. The event takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 27 at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton. Tickets are $35 and advance registration is required because the event is expected to sell out.

This year’s event will feature oysters from three Maryland oyster farms—Chestertown’s Orchard Point Oyster Company, Tilghman’s Fisherman’s Daughter Oysters, and Toddville’s Honga Oyster Company.

All three businesses are part of the state’s burgeoning oyster farming industry. The industry grew from a nascent start in Maryland less than a decade ago when upstart operations produced about 4,000 bushels of farmed oysters in 2012. That number has since ballooned to more than 64,000 bushels from oyster farms in 2016, according to the latest annual harvest data released by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Oyster farming presents an alternative model to Maryland’s long tradition of watermen scouring for wild oysters from the Chesapeake Bay’s public bottom. Watermen with farming businesses lease acres of the Bay bottom from the state to plant and grow their oysters. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation believes expanding the model can reduce harvest pressure on the state’s dwindling native oyster population and help it recover.

Since 1999, the oyster population in Maryland’s portion of the Bay has declined from about 600 million oysters to the current population of 300 million, according to the state’s new oyster stock assessment released in November. Wild oyster harvests continue to significantly outpace harvests from aquaculture operations—for example, about 224,000 bushels were harvested from public bottom in 2016, nearly four times the amount from oyster farms.

The January 27 event will celebrate locally farmed oysters by pairing them with a variety of wines, champagne, and local craft beer. There will also be hors d’oeuvres and live music. Oyster farmers and scientists will be on hand to answer attendees’ questions. The Eastern Shore Conservation Center is at 114 South Washington St. in Easton.

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Hilary Gibson at hgibson@cbf.org. Additional information about Oysters and Wine on the Shore can be found at the event’s website.

Boy Scout Takes on Oyster Restoration for Cleaner Choptank River

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Boy Scout Josh Newmier with Dr. Tony Calabro

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce another successful community outreach partnership. ShoreRivers teamed up with Josh Newmier, a high school student and member of Boy Scout Troop 190, to recruit oyster gardeners on the Choptank River and encourage more restaurants to recycle oyster shells. In the fall, Newmier approached ShoreRivers about an Eagle Scout project that would be meaningful and improve our local environment. After discussing the important role that oysters play by filtering water in rivers, and learning about the major challenges that the current oyster population faces, Josh decided to be a part of restoring the Choptank’s oyster population.

“Growing up on the Eastern Shore and hearing about the abundance of oysters 50 to 100 years ago as compared to now, motivated me to choose a project related to oyster restoration,” Newmier recounts.

Wasting no time, he began identifying and educating property owners and boat slip renters about the benefits of oyster gardening. As a result, 23 new oyster gardeners, including the J.M. Clayton Company, joined the Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) program. These new growers are currently growing over 12,000 baby oysters (spat) that will be transplanted to sanctuaries in spring 2019.

But the Boy Scout didn’t stop there! Knowing how important oyster shells are to restoration, while so many of them are discarded, Newmier recruited local restaurants to recycle their oyster shells. Every week, Newmier and his fellow scouts collect residual shells from participating restaurants—including Talbot Country Club, Snappers, Portside, Canvasback, and Jimmy & Sooks—and take them to shell recycling stations at Easton Point and Horn Point in Cambridge. From there, the shells go to the hatchery where they become substrate for spat used by the next season’s oyster gardeners. In a win-win scenario, Newmier has received a State of Maryland DNR Shell Recycling Collector certificate, which allows him to submit reports that qualify businesses to claim tax credits for recycling oyster shell.

“I think the first step in the oyster restoration process is awareness,” Newmier says. “Hopefully by engaging the community, we will help advance the process to recovery.”

Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta oversaw the project. “It’s great to see young people taking initiative like this. According to a recently released oyster stock assessment, there has been a 50% reduction in the Chesapeake oyster population since 1999. If we’re serious about cleaning up the Choptank, it’s going to take concerted efforts from every level.”

For more information about ShoreRivers’ Marylander’s Grow Oysters program, contact Rebecca Murphy at rmurphy@shorerivers.org or 443.385.0511.

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

Maryland General Assembly Recognizes 2018 as Year of the Bird

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The Maryland General Assembly has presented Audubon with an official citation recognizing 2018 as the Year of the Bird in Maryland. The declaration celebrates native and migratory birds making their way through Maryland annually and the state’s many creeks, rivers, ponds, woods, meadows and wetlands that support them.  The citation was delivered by Delegate Johnny Mautz on December 3rd with the Center’s full staff and board of trustees in attendance. “As 2018 draws to a close the General Assembly’s citation reminds us again how integral birds are in Maryland’s landscape.  We are honored to have the Maryland General Assembly and Delegate Mautz recognize the importance of birds in our local landscape and recognizes 2018 as the Year of the Bird”, said Mark Scallion, Director of Pickering Creek Audubon Center.  “We are also proud of Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s role as an anchor of bird habitat in Talbot County and an important place for people, especially school aged students, to learn about birds, habitat and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Audubon works with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland State Department of Education on Governor Hogan’s Project Green Classrooms as well as with a host of local, state and federal agencies on important bird area protection, environmental literacy and sea level rise adaptation.

Delegate Johnny Mautz, Pickering Creek Board President Cheryl Tritt, President Elect Dirck Bartlett and Director Mark Scallion with the Year of the Bird Citation.

Home to 42 Important Bird Areas and more than 400 observed species, the citation recognizes that Maryland and the Eastern Shore’s natural resources provide important habitat for birds. Within Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay watershed serves as an important breeding and stopover area for millions of migratory birds each year.

People around the world are celebrating 2018 as Year of the Bird. This year marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the oldest wildlife protection laws in the United States. In honor of this milestone, National Geographic, Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, and dozens of other partners around the world joined forces to celebrate 2018 as the Year of the Bird.

“Year of the Bird is an easy way people can take small everyday actions to help birds along their journeys,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO for National Audubon Society. “Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay provides wintering grounds for approximately one-third of the Atlantic coast’s migratory population including iconic waterfowl species like the Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal for centuries.”

Many conservation organizations, agencies, businesses and academics have been instrumental in protecting birds and the places they need in Maryland. In celebrating 2018 as the Year of the Bird, there is great appreciation for the efforts of many organizations, including local Audubon chapters and centers, the Maryland Ornithological Society, the Department of Natural Resources, waterfowl associations and duck clubs, and many others. For more about Year of the Bird visit www.birdyourworld.org.

Contact: Mark Scallion, National Audubon Society, mscallion@audubon.org, 410-822-4903

Mid-Shore Teachers Complete Environmental Literacy Training with Pickering Creek

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For nine weeks, a cohort of mid-shore teachers gathered with staff of Pickering Creek Audubon Center on Wednesday evenings and two Saturdays to immerse themselves in Maryland’s Environmental Literacy (E-Lit) Standards. Established in 2011, Maryland’s Environmental Literacy Standards require all students to participate in multi-disciplinary environmental programs to build students’ understanding of the inextricable links between humans and the natural world. Hailing from Talbot, Kent and Wicomico counties, the eight teachers had experience in a range of grade levels and content disciplines.

Lynn Alemon, a 4th grade teacher at Easton Elementary School releases a newly banded thrush.

Focusing on one standard each week, the teachers were invited to explore environmental concepts by investigating Pickering Creek’s forest, meadow and wetland habitats, modeling activities, and engaging in discussions. These programs were led by Pickering Creek’s knowledgeable staff, which works with Eastern Shore school systems to help them meet Maryland’s Environmental Literacy Standards.  One Wednesday evening, teachers immersed themselves in a restored freshwater wetland by pulling on chest waders and seining in the waters before considering how human activities influence the availability of habitats. Another week teachers canoed on Pickering Creek, taking water quality samples while discussing the influence of the environment on human health. Before colder days set in, the group spent an evening sweeping butterfly nets through the meadows and looking for monarch butterflies and other insects while considering limiting factors on populations, communities and ecosystems.

“This reminds us that we need to be outside, and to be mindful of that with our students,” remarked Charlotte Compton, a first grade teacher at Easton Elementary School. “They need it too.”

Supported through a Chesapeake Bay Trust mini-grant, teachers had an opportunity to earn up to two continuing education credits if they attended both the nine weekday evening sessions as well as two Saturday field trips. On a Saturday in late September, the teachers traveled to Washington College’s Chester River Field Research Station, where they shadowed field ecologist, Maren Gimple, and learned about banding of migratory birds. Teachers watched as Gimple deftly removed Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds and other migratory birds from the station’s mist nets, took measurements of each bird, and attached a small metal bracelet to each bird’s leg. The teachers learned how data collected at the station in Chestertown is used to enhance our understanding of spring and fall seasonal bird migration along the Atlantic Flyway.

Pictured L-R (Top row): Lynn Alemon (Easton Elementary), Hayley Hartman (Pickering Creek), Danielle Devonport (Pickering Creek), Devin Herlihy (Pickering Creek), Donna Simmons (Kent School), Katelin Cep (Chapel District Elementary), Kathy Kelly (Chapel District Elementary), Jaime Bunting (Pickering Creek); (Bottom row) Jaime Eakin (Wicomico Middle), Charlotte Compton (Easton Elementary), Jeff Eutsler (White Marsh Elementary). Not pictured: Julia Berg (Bennet Middle).

In October, teachers spent a Saturday at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge where they heard from Refuge Wildlife Biologist Matt Whitbeck and Director of Science at the Nature Conservancy MD-DC, Dr. Arian Sutton-Grier, to learn about climate change, sea level rise, and the importance of protecting salt marsh habitats for wildlife and preserving the habitat’s ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere. Julia Berg, a Social Studies teacher from James Bennett Middle School in Salisbury reflected, “I was fascinated to learn about blue carbon and the importance of wetlands in mitigating the effects of climate change. The E-Lit Camp has been really eye-opening and is giving me lots of ideas for working with the science teachers in my school.”

In November it was time for the teachers to synthesize what they had learned and develop activities and lessons that incorporate Environmental Literacy Standards. Jeff Eustler, a Physical Education teacher at White Marsh Elementary shared his idea of creating a fast-moving “Environmental Helpers” game during gym class that can emphasize the influence of individual and group actions on the environment. Lynn Aleman, a 4th grade Language Arts teacher at Easton Elementary School thought about how to enhance a current shark-focused reading project to include her students researching cultural and economic influences on the sharks’ populations and habitat. “I am excited to share these lessons and what I have learned with my students, in an effort to better engage them in science content during my reading block,” remarked Aleman.

Environmental literacy in the real world does not exist exclusively in the sciences; rather, it is woven throughout the many content disciplines taught in school and in all areas of our lives. But beyond the academics, the experiential aspect was what stuck for teachers. Jamie Eakin, a 6th grade science teacher from Wicomico Middle School summed it up: “E-Lit Camp is like teaching therapy for me. I get to be a student and feel the joy of learning again.”

Contact: Mary Helen Gillen, National Audubon Society, mgillen@audubon.org, 410-822-4903

Film at Sumner Hall

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The Chestertown Environmental Committee will be screening the film Racing to Extinction on Thursday, December 6 at 7 pm at Sumner Hall.

This film exposes the forces that are leading our planet to its next mass extinction , potentially resulting in the loss on half of all species. A how the unthinkable may occur that creatures that have survived for millions of years may be wiped from the Earth in our lifetime.

Sumner Hall
206 South Queen Street
Chestertown

Waterfowl-Related Education Programs Receive 2018 Funding

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This year Waterfowl Chesapeake has chosen two conservation education programs on Delmarva as the focus of its 2018 Community in Conservation Match Campaign. “We are excited to offer a dollar for dollar match, up to $5,000, for two great ways to connect students with waterfowl issues,” says Executive Director Margaret Enloe. “We raised just over $1200 during Festival weekend through the generous support of artists and Festival guests. If we reach our goal by December 31, our community will help fully fund University of Delaware’s (UD) experiences for grad students and the Ward Museum’s program for Talbot County kindergarteners.”

UD’s field program “Promoting Waterfowl Hunter Education for New Adult Students” is aimed at better connecting today’s graduate students with tomorrow’s careers in Waterfowl Ecology. Many graduate students studying in this field have never had the experience of hunting. Yet these young adults are likely to become the future leaders in environmental resource management, with positions in academia, state agencies or federal service – all of whom must work with landowners and the hunting community. How can they communicate with the hunters and landowners if they have never had the experienced the sport? The program includes certification, education on waterfowl identification, policy, habitat management, value structures associated with hunting, hunting dog training, and cooking wild game. The program ends with a voluntary opportunity to engage in a one-on-one mentored waterfowl hunting experience. Overall, the experience is designed to help them be the best leaders in conservation they can be.

The Ward Museum’s program will offer classroom visits and field trips for Talbot County kindergarten students to experience the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. While this opportunity is already successful in several other Shore counties, it will be a new program for students here. The curriculum supports MD State Department of Education’s Environmental Literacy Standards. It also meets the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) requirement for kindergarteners, which ensures that school children have hands-on, action-based learning experience that engage core concepts of watershed health and environmental impacts. And what better way for local children to understand the natural world than through lessons about our waterfowl!?

Waterfowl Chesapeake’s Community in Conservation Program includes using restricted proceeds from the Waterfowl Festival to offer non-profits and community entities the chance to receive monies for projects and initiatives at the intersection of conservation and community. “While we also support large restoration projects,” explains Enloe, “these small grants are a simple way for us to bring people and local conservation work together.”

Waterfowl Chesapeake hopes that the broad emphasis on “community” will encourage organizations to think creatively about who they can serve and will help generate new ideas to bring people and regional conservation work, research and education together on waterfowl-related issues. The matching campaign each year gives people a way to make a difference locally. “In the event that we exceed our match campaign goal, any additional funds are earmarked for next year’s worthy waterfowl projects.”

Find out more about the program or making a contribution at www.waterfowlchesapeake.org or by calling 410.822.4567.

About us: With a focus on communities, stewardship and the waterfowl-related resources and heritage on Delmarva, Waterfowl Chesapeake: Connects financial resources from the Festival and environmental needs in communities, Serves as a neutral convener for events, forums and discussions leading to solutions, and Engages and educates communities about the benefits of healthy waterfowl populations and habitats.

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.

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.