Bay Ecosystem: Relationships Before Reason with Peter Forbes

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s annual planning conference has a reputation of “shaking it up” every year with the inclusion of sometimes radical points of view on ecosystem protection with a full range of political and social perspectives, and this year was no different.

Peter Forbes, with such important credentials as having a long career in the land conservation movement, an award winning nature photographer, the author of four books, and since 2001, the owner of a working berry and sheep breed stock farm in Northern Vermont is one those with a unique point of view. As a keynote speaker for the ESLC’s 18th meeting on Kent Island. Peter may hold conventional views of the state of our environment and the threats of global warming, his thoughts of finding solutions are not your typical policy or political prescriptions.

In fact, Peter’s first weapon in the battle to confront the world’s climate challenges is as simple as forming lasting relationships with those who may disagree on what needs to be done. Everything else, according to Peter, is secondary to the need and the importance of finding common ground and purpose with those who work the land.

In his Spy interview, Peter talks frankly about this enormous gap in conservation thinking and how it can be the real solution to moving forward.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy please go here

 

Pickering Creek Announces Late Fall Programs for the Public

Pickering Creek’s four miles of trails are open to the public dawn to dusk every day.  In addition to wandering on your own the Center invites the community to join us at one of our upcoming programs, they are a great opportunities to get outside this fall.

A student at the Center looking at a skink he captured on his woods walk.

Introduction to Bird Language will be held on Saturday, November 4 from 9:00 – 11:00am. Participants will discover the language of birds and listen in on what they tell us about the world around us during this fun morning at the Center’s newest tract, Peterson Woods at Pickering Creek Audubon Center. You will sharpen your observation skills and uncover the keys to understanding unique patterns of behavior common to birds through guided instruction and outdoor activities. You’ll see birds and the world we share with them in a whole new way. The program requires no experience in bird watching and is for adults. More bird fun is offered the following week with Hoot and Holler Owl Prowl on Friday, November 10 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Take a break from the crowds in town and use your senses to discover nightlife on an evening hike at Pickering Creek! Participants will listen for Barred Owls calling, “Whoooo cooks for youuu,” identify the rambunctious hoots of the Great Horned Owl, and awe at the whinnies coming from our smallest, the Eastern Screech Owl.  Adults and families with children are welcome as we search out Owls at the Center.

Pickering offers a pre Thanksgiving exploration for our youngest friends with their parents and grandparents at Tiny Tots:  Totally Turkeys! on Thursday, November 16, 2017 from 10:00 – 11:00am. Bring your 3 to 5 year old to Pickering Creek for a morning of turkey tales, gobbling, outdoor exploration, and a craft.  We’ll start with a fall-theme turkey story before adventuring outside in search of turkey habitat.  Your tiny turkey will leave with a fun and creative turkey craft.

The season’s final offering is an opportunity to get outside, volunteer and make your community nature center even better.  At the Fall Cleanup on Saturday, December 9 from 9:00 am-12:00 pm you are invited to join Center staff for the last Saturday Service Day at Pickering Creek Audubon Center of the year. We will be painting inside our garden classroom during this down time between the fall and spring school field trip season.  We’ll also be clearing the leaves from the waterfront picnic area and making adjustments to the trails. Join us for a hearty morning of activity then stay for potluck lunch. If you’d like to sign up to attend a program at the Center please call 410 822 4903, reservations are strongly recommended as programs do sell out.

Outstanding Day of Exploration at Horn Point Laboratory’s Open House

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) welcomed over 650 guests to their annual Open House Saturday, October 14.  Free and open to the public, people of all ages explored over 15 hands on exhibits with Horn Point faculty and graduate students giving visitors the opportunity to experience science in real world situations.  The theme for this year’s event was “Bay Strong: Fighting for a clean environment.” A scavenger hunt introduced kids and parents alike to the “super heroes” of the Chesapeake Bay – oysters, marshes, plankton, and sturgeon,and shared how these heroes help make the Chesapeake Bay a healthier place for all of us.  Children received a free t-shirt for completing the scavenger hunt.

Kids rolled up their sleeves to forage in the Oyster Hatchery’s touch tank, finding baby horseshoe crabs, fish, eels, and crabs among the grasses.  The sturgeon exhibit gave visitors the opportunity to observe these prehistoric fish close up and compare other marine life of the Bay to these prehistoric giants growing up to 14 feet in length.

Visitors to the Open House were able to

  • Build a healthy marsh and learned who are our best partners to protect our shorelines.
  • Create and tag a bag of oyster shells to follow through the restoration projects.
  • Match up a DNA sequence to microscopic creatures important to the food chain.
  • Touch a sturgeon whose ancestors date to the Jurassic period
  • Create changing landscapes in a digital sand box to mimic different shorelines and model weather’s impact with laser imaging.
  • Take a “cell-fie” with the plankton that improves water quality.
  • Play a video game to learn what and how the balance of sediment to sea life is achieved.
  • Model the effects of sea level rise, increasing temperatures, and surge impacts on Baltimore Harbor and regional cities in 2050 and beyond.

“This is the best day of the year for the community to learn about the science of the Bay. Everyone at the lab is on deck to explain their research with activities and displays that make it easy to understand,” said Horn Point Laboratory Director Mike Roman.

From the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, HPL scientists engage in world-renowned research in oceanography, water quality, restoration of sea grasses, marshes and shellfish, and expertise in ecosystem modeling.

The open house is an annual event geared to all ages.

For more information, visit contact Carin Starr at cstarr@umces.edu, 410-221-8408.

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

Waterfowl Chesapeake Challenges Community to Matching Campaign

Waterfowl Chesapeake (WC) is excited to launch its first Community in Conservation Match Challenge and announce the three 2017 Community In Conservation award recipients, who are receiving $7,500 from this small grant program.

WC’s support is “seed funding” to give these initiatives a jump- start toward the monies they need. To get them fully funded and show the region’s love for waterfowl, the WC is challenging the community – and the thousands of Festival visitors – with a matching campaign now through Nov. 13. Every dollar raised will go directly to these initiatives, increasing each organization’s capacity to get the job done.

The Match Campaign, with a goal of raising an additional $7,500, reconnects communities with conservation as well as raises funds. WC is asking its stakeholders, supporters and people in our communities to ‘match’ its dollars by dropping a “green feather” or two for community-based waterfowl conservation.

“We are so excited to focus on supporting several kinds of projects, all which have an impact on waterfowl and their habitats. And doing so for organizations in our Delmarva communities,” says Margaret Enloe, Executive Director. “We like to think it’s one of our unique ways of connecting people and financial resources with environmental needs.”

The Match Campaign also highlights the Festival’s legacy of supporting our beloved birds and their habitats – wetlands, marshes, underwater grass beds and woodlands – all which make our region unique. As long as there have been available funds, Waterfowl Festival has given something back to the ducks, geese and swans for its entire 47-year history.

Contributions can be made online at www.waterfowlchesapeake.org/matchchallenge2017 or Festival visitors may drop a few “green feathers” in any of the blue “Wood Duck Donation Boxes” around Easton now

CFF Preview: Tom Horton and the Rising Sea Levels of Dorchester County

The Chesapeake Film Festival has gone out of their way this year to emphasize the important theme of conservation, and has consequently assembled a first rate collection of the most current documentaries on climate change, sea level rising, and other global warming issues to screen in the last weekend in October in Talbot County.

Ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to short films on forestry and the fishing, the festival’s curatorial hand has carefully vetted out the the very best in international filmmaking, but it is suspected that the film that will have the most impact locally is case study of rising sea levels in Dorchester County.

The local dream team of filmmaker Sandy Cannon-Brown, photographer David Harp, and environmental author Tom Horton, who were responsible two years ago for the popular Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, a documentary inspired by William W. Warner’s classic book on of the Chesapeake Bay, have now reunited to tell the sobering tale of the disappearing landscape of Dorchester and the possible for the thirteen other Counties.

The Spy caught up with High Tide in Dorchester writer and narrator Tom Horton a week ago at Bullitt House to talk about the film and its mission to send an important warning to the entire Chesapeake Bay region.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Film Festival please go here

Midshore Riverkeepers Moves to Eastern Shore Conservation Center

Pictured in this under-construction photo, are MRC staff members (left to right) Jake LeGates, Kristin Junkin, Jeff Horstman, Tim Junkin, Suzanne Sullivan, Matt Pluta, Elle O’Brien, Ann Frock, and Timothy Rosen.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) is pleased to announce that it has moved into the Eastern Shore Conservation Center complex. MRC’s new address is 114 South Washington Street, Suite 301, Easton, Maryland, 21601.

During the past five months, the Steam Plant Building, which sits as a separate brick building just adjacent to the main structure on the Conservation Center’s campus, has undergone major renovations, including the construction of a mezzanine second floor and the addition of numerous glass windows. The renovated historic structure has retained its interior brick walls and high ceilings, but now provides 14 individual working spaces, along with an entrance lobby and storage facilities.

MRC’s director of operations, Kristin Junkin, managed the tenant improvements and build-out. “It is charming, historic space,” she says, “reminiscent of a New York warehouse art studio. And we are all delighted to be a part of the new Eastern Shore Conservation Center.”

MRC moved into the structure on September 28, and extends an invitation to all its members and friends to stop by and enjoy a tour.

For more information about MRC is available at midshoreriverkeeper.org or by calling 443.385.0511.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Join Other Groups in Suit Against EPA

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and six regional and national groups concerned with human health and a clean environment today filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The organizations want federal action to stop 19 out-of-state power plants from harming Marylanders and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Last week the State of Maryland sued the EPA to force the agency to stop air pollution from hurting Marylanders. The lawsuit today supports the state’s decisive step. It also highlights how the same pollutants harming our children are degrading water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers and streams. Fish are having as much trouble breathing as people because of these 19 power plants,” said Jon Mueller, Vice President of Litigation at CBF.

The 19 plants are in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky. All are coal-fired plants. A total of 36 generating units at the plant are targeted by the lawsuit. Their air pollution emissions drift to Maryland and other downwind states. Maryland and other parts of the Chesapeake Bay region are vulnerable to emissions from a vast 570,000 square-mile Chesapeake “airshed” that stretches from North Carolina to Canada and as far west as the Ohio Valley.

One part of the emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx), often turns to ozone in the hot summer months. Ozone, sometimes called smog, makes it difficult for many people to breathe. On 14 days this past summer ozone levels were so high a Code Orange Air Quality Alert was issued for the Baltimore area, meaning the air was unhealthy for seniors, children and others with sensitivities.

NOx, being a form of nitrogen, also harms the Chesapeake and the streams and rivers that feed it. Excess nitrogen fuels algal blooms that result in underwater dead zones where aquatic life can’t breathe.

EPA promised in the regional Bay clean-up plan called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint that it would lower the amount of nitrogen emitted into the atmosphere yet is has refused to respond to Maryland’s petition. If it did respond nitrogen levels would come down.

In fact, if the 19 plants used their pollution controls effectively through the summer they would send about 39,000 fewer tons of NOx to Maryland each summer, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). That reduction would make the air and water significantly healthier in Maryland. Simply turning those technologies on fully, in fact, would bring all of Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area closer to compliance with clean air standards for ozone, according to MDE.
EPA is obligated by law to hold a public hearing and to timely respond to Maryland’s petition. EPA has failed in both respects and has shown no signs of acting. The six environmental and public health groups have no choice but to ask a federal judge to hold EPA accountable.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. It requests EPA act on this interstate air pollution problem. The “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act requires states to ensure that air pollution generated in their home states not harm downwind states.

Participating in the lawsuit are: CBF (lead counsel), Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environmental Integrity Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Adirondack Council.
The State of Maryland filed a similar lawsuit against EPA last week.

Wanted: Landowners on the Upper Shore to Help Reverse Northern Bobwhite Declines by Dan Small

The Natural Lands Project is looking for landowners interested in setting aside marginal cropland to help declining Northern Bobwhites. Since 2015 we have been working throughout Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, in addition to these current efforts we would also like to target two areas that currently have small quail populations. These two areas, one each in Kent and Queen Anne’s, have some existing habitat, but we could have a major positive impact on the quail population by installing additional acres of nesting and brood rearing habitat. In Queen Anne’s we are looking to work with landowners along Lands End Road from Southeast Creek south to the Corsica River and in Kent, farms between Betterton and Still Pond (see accompanying maps).

Male Indigo Bunting in a wildflower meadow planted in 2016 by NLP.

People growing up on the Eastern Shore in the 60’s and ‘70s remember well the loud expressive whistle ‘BOB-white’ emanating from around the farm in late spring and lasting throughout the hot summer months. In the cooler months, bird dogs searched for the scent of nearby quail coveys through wooded edges, scrubby briar tangles, hedgerows and bean fields across property boundaries followed closely by their owners. This characteristic bird, the Northern Bobwhite, of Maryland’s agricultural landscape has disappeared from all but a few isolated areas throughout the Shore. Along with the decline in quail populations, we hear fewer grassland birds and see fewer pollinating insects and wildflowers.

There are myriad theories for the drastic decline in grassland biodiversity in such a short period of time and most, if not all, have a grain of truth to them. However, without a doubt the single largest driver of bobwhite decline on the Eastern Shore is habitat loss. Several factors have contributed to habitat loss; there are simply more people living on the shore and as a result we have more developed areas. Additionally, our farms have changed. The acceleration of farming technologies after World War II brought with it larger equipment and increased use of herbicides and pesticides, tools that allowed farmers to till more ground more of the time. This, in turn, led to larger and larger farms and fewer and fewer small fields. Suddenly the ‘back forty’ that was periodically fallow and permanently surrounded by a hedgerow was no longer. Today much of landscape on the Shore is defined by crops, forests, waterways and buffers of exotic cool season grasses—similar to lawns—with little in between.

Map showing target area in Queen Anne’s County, an area where additional habitat would substantially help Northern Bobwhite populations.

But all is not lost. In 2015 Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) partnered with the Chester River Association (CRA) and Tall Timber Research Station, the nation’s leader in bobwhite research and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, to launch the Natural Lands Project (NLP) with a $700,000 award from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Using the remarkable habitat restoration success at CES’s research station on Chino Farms in Queen Anne’s County and CRA’s success at promoting best management practices on local area farms, NLP set out with the goal of creating a balance between cropland and wildlife habitat to improve water quality. NLP promotes and installs native warm season grasses as best management practices that will help reverse bobwhite population declines and reduce excess sedimentation and nutrient runoff in our waterways.

Map showing target area in Kent County, an area of small farms and hedgerows – the addition of nesting habitat would help Northern Bobwhites.

In addition to buffers and fields for bobwhite NLP also installs wetlands in poorly drained areas of marginal farm fields. Wetlands are phenomenal at reducing nutrients and preventing sediment from entering the Bay’s tributaries, with the added benefit of proving critical habitat for over-wintering waterfowl. Following up on the successful launch of NLP in 2015, CES was just recently awarded another round of funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue adding habitat for grassland biodiversity and to help improve the Bay’ water quality – see http://chestertownspy.org/2017/09/24/500k-grant-to-center-for-environment-and-society/

It is important to note that productive farming, vibrant wildlife, and healthy water are not mutually exclusive. By taking marginal cropland out of production and planting a mix of native warm season grasses and wildflowers we are creating areas for bobwhite, other grassland birds, and pollinators to find much needed food, shelter, and breeding sites.

Male Northern Bobwhite on Chino Farms.

On Chino Farms there is a thriving native bobwhite population, in fact, now the largest in Maryland. This is a result of well-managed grasslands and early successional habitat that weave throughout a for-profit conventional agricultural operation. Since 1999 when marginal areas of row crops were converted to native habitat, these grasslands have reduced an estimated 80 lbs phosphorus, 1200 lbs nitrogen and 40,500 lbs of sediment from entering our local waterways annually. Our experience and results on Chino make us confident that habitat is the key missing ingredient for quail to once again to thrive on the Shore. As an Eastern Shore community we now need to work on landscape-level change, installing and managing grasslands and wetlands alongside of our farming priorities.

If you would like to find out more about the project, arrange a farm visit or see/hear quail on Chino Farms contact Dan Small, dsmall2@washcoll.edu or 410-708-4479 or visit www.washcoll.edu/nlp. We are looking forward to working with many more of the Eastern Shore’s best land stewards as NLP grows.

 

Open House at Horn Point Laboratory October 14

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory invites the public to a free Open House on Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located along the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the laboratory is renowned for its study of marine ecosystems.

The theme for this year’s event is “Bay Strong – fighting for a clean environment.” It features exhibits by the laboratory’s scientists of their investigations in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas along the Atlantic Coast. This year’s theme will introduce our visitors to the super heroes fighting for a healthier Chesapeake Bay. All Community Open House activities are free and open to the public, and children will receive a free t-shirt.

“This is the best day of the year for the community to learn about the science of the Bay. Everyone at the lab is on deck to explain their research with activities and displays that make it easy to understand,” said Horn Point Laboratory Director Mike Roman.
– Build a healthy marsh and learn who are our best partners in this effort.
– See an animation of the travels of oyster larvae as they move from the reef where they spawned to their new, permanent home reef.
– Match up a DNA sequence to microscopic creatures important to the food chain.
– Touch a sturgeon whose ancestors date to the Jurassic period
– Create different shorelines and model weather’s impact with laser imaging over a sand pit.
– Meet and talk to graduate students about their environmental career goals.
– At the children’s activity booth, create animals that live in the water with thumb print art. Play games that teach fun facts about the Bay. Go on a scavenger hunt through the exhibits to learn how the Bay’s super heroes are fighting for a cleaner environment.

The open house is designed to interest all ages and will take place rain or shine. The Horn Point Laboratory campus is located 2020 Horns Point Road on Route 343 outside of Cambridge, Maryland.

For more information, visit  http://www.umces.edu/hpl/openhouse or contact Carin Starr at cstarr@umces.edu, 410-221-8408.

Part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s statewide network of research centers, the Horn Point Laboratory on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has advanced society’s understanding of the world’s estuarine and ocean ecosystems. Horn Point scientists are world-respected for their interdisciplinary programs in oceanography, water quality, restoration of sea grasses, marshes and shellfish, and investigations of sea level rise and storm surge.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
For 90 years, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has led the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories spanning from the Allegheny Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, our scientists analyze changes in rivers and streams, monitor air quality, sample fish populations, and assess the impacts of climate change along our coastal communities. We provide sound scientific 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

Ride for Clean Rivers Tops $60,000

On Sunday, September 18, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) hosted hundreds of cyclists from across the region who converged at Chesapeake College to experience firsthand the Midshore’s natural beauty during the 13th Annual Ride for Clean Rivers.

Close to 400 riders took to the backroads of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, exploring rural countryside, and visiting Tuckahoe State Park, the small town of Queen Anne, and Kingston Landing. It was a day filled with fun, friends, and fitness. MRC would like to thank everyone who cycled, volunteered, sponsored, and cheered throughout the day. With such strong support, MRC raised well over $60,000 toward protecting and restoring Midshore rivers.

MRC staff (L-R) Matt Pluta, Meta Boyd, Rebecca Murphy, Suzanne Sullivan, Elle O’Brien, Jeff Horstman, Ann Frock, and Kristin Junkin.

Thank you to Dock Street Foundation, KELLY Benefit Strategies, Chesapeake College, Agency of Record, Bay Imprint, Bay Pediatric Center, Bike Doctor, Bicycling magazine, Blessings Environmental Concepts, The Brewer’s Art, C-Jam Yacht Sales, Diamondback Bikes, Dr. Computer, S.E.W Friel, The Orthopedic Center, Solar Energy Services, and Sweetwater Brewing for sponsoring this year’s ride. Thank you to rest stop sponsors—Adkins Arboretum, 4-H Chesapeake Bay Club, and Sprout—and the SAG (support and gear) crew that helped keep riders safe and energized. Bike racks were provided by Cambridge Multi-Sport, food was catered by BBQ Joint and Chesapeake College, and the band was Edgemere. And finally, thank you for the support of all riders and rider sponsors. Congratulations to the top fundraisers, Bob Eisinger, Hutch Smith, Debi McKibben, and Tom Fauquier. McKibben was the winner of a Century 2 bike, generously donated by Diamondback.

All proceeds from Ride for Clean Rivers support MRC’s education, restoration, and water quality monitoring programs.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways that comprise the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River watersheds. For more information, visit midshoreriverkeeper.org, email kdroter@midshoreriverkeeper.org, or phone 443.385.0511.