MRC Partners with the Town of Greensboro on Tree Initiative

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and the Town of Greensboro have formed a partnership to develop and implement the Greensboro Tree Initiative. Freezing fall temperatures could not stop MRC and over 20 volunteers from planting 32 native trees on public land in the Town of Greensboro on Saturday, November 11th. Tree species included willow oak, eastern redbud, and river birch. The Town of Greensboro is located in Caroline County on the north bank of the Choptank River, and is designated by the state of Maryland as a Sustainable Community. The Town of Greensboro is committed to increasing public tree canopy in order to improve local water quality, mitigate flooding, and beautify the town while providing native habitat. For more information about the tree initiative, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

A spring planting will be held in April, coinciding with Arbor Day. To volunteer for the spring planting, please contact Suzanne@midshorriverkeeper.org.

MRC owes the Town of Greensboro Department of Public Works a huge thank you for their collaboration and site preparations, as well as project funder, Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Winging It at Pickering Creek Audubon Center

Participants in the recent Introduction to Bird Language public program at Pickering Creek Audubon Center were treated to a unique outdoor experience at the Center’s new Peterson Woods at Pickering Creek Audubon Center. The Introduction to Bird Language public program was a fun way to enjoy outdoors for diverse group of people ranging from very experienced bird watchers to others who simply enjoyed wildlife and spending time outside.  All eyes and binoculars zoomed in on the creek response to lively chattering as a bird flew by. “There goes a kingfisher!” someone excitedly called out.  These visitors at Peterson Woods were enjoying a day outdoors, not just looking for birds, but listening and learning how to interpret what the birds were saying through their sounds and behaviors.

Intro to bird Language participants scanning for birds over the creek.

Jon Young of BirdLanguage.org says, “The calls, postures, and other behaviors of birds convey much information to those who understand their patterns. The attentive, trained observer can deduce through bird language the location of predators and other forces on the landscape.

The reaction of birds and animals also speaks volumes about the awareness and behavior of the observer. In this way, birds become a barometer for one’s own awareness of the landscape, both inner and outer.”

One of the goals of the program was to help participants sharpen their perception beyond the everyday things they might ordinarily notice.  Participants spent time tuning into birds and other nature sounds.  After many minutes of concentrated listening, several were surprised at the variety of things they heard– from the splashing of fish in the nearby creek, to the rat-ta-tat drumming of woodpeckers in the distance, to the dim drone of a plane high overhead, and the tiny scraping of leaves scattering across a concrete patio in a gentle breeze.  They listened to and practiced identifying different types of bird sounds-calls, alarms, songs- then applied their new knowledge and heightened awareness listening for birds on a woodland walk.  “ I think that’s an alarm. I’ve heard that bird in my yard before ” noted one person.  They also observed the interactions of birds at a feeder and discovered common patterns behavior birds display when people or potential predators disturb them.

The highlight of the morning included having bluejays call back during a bird observation activity to human crow calls. Everyone left the program eager to try out their new skills observing birds more closely at their homes.

Peter Yungbluth and Dave Bent listening at bird calls being played on ipad by Jaime Bunting.

Introduction to Bird Language kicked off several bird-centered public programs geared to people of all ages and bird watching skill levels as well as a wide range of interests in the outdoors planned through this spring at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

Adults new to the bird watching can come out for the Beginner Bird Basics program on Saturday February 10, 10:00am to 12:00pm.  Join Pickering Creek staff and knowledgeable birders for a fun and engaging morning honing your birding skills at Peterson Woods.

Birders of all ages and abilities are invited to participate in Great Backyard Bird Count at Pickering Creek on Saturday, February 17 from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Several birding groups will be lead by experienced birders who will count and tally species we find along the Centers trails during this annual nationwide winter census of birds.

Enjoy a unique evening birding experience during the Flight of the Timberdoodle program on Tuesday, March 13 from 7:00 to 8:30pm.  Look for the male woodcocks as they call and perform a dazzling display in Pickering Creek’s warm season grass meadows.

Gather up some gardening ideas in time for spring during the Planting for Birds program on Saturday, April 14, 10:00am to 12:00pm.  Find out how you can invite feathered friends to your yard with plants that provide birds with what they need.

And if you are bit disappointed that you missed an opportunity to understand what birds are chattering about in your backyard, you is still another chance to find out this spring when Pickering Creek Audubon Center holds a second Introduction to Bird Language on Tuesday, May 1 from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

Riverkeeper Pumpout Boat Tops Last Year’s “Pump Don’t Dump” Season

Vessel operator Jim Freeman

In spring 2016, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), with funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the Clean Vessel Act administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, purchased a 22’ Pump Kleen® pumpout boat for the Miles and Wye Rivers. For the past two years, the pumpout boat operated from May to October.In its 2016 season, the boat pumped over 8,500 gallons of waste from almost 350 boats. During the 2017 season, MRC continued its partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels and extended the pumpout season through October, including CBMM’s OysterFest. In its 2017 season, the boat increased its statistics by almost 50%, pumping over 12,000 gallons of waste from over 400 boats.

The pumpout boat operates in partnership with CBMM, where the boat is based. CBMM donates free dockage, storage and use of their land-based pump out station to offload the waste from the pumpout boat. The sewage waste removed from boats goes directly to the recently updated St. Michaels Wastewater Treatment Plant that provides high quality treatment.

MRC’s pumpout boat is the first of its kind on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The mobile pumpout facility significantly reduces nutrient pollution and harmful bacteria introduced by recreational boaters. The vessel allows boats to conveniently and properly dispose of waste rather than discharging it into our waterways. This service is greatly needed since there are no pumpout services on the Wye River and very few on the Miles. Because these services are limited, existing pumpout stations are often very crowded, and boaters are discouraged by long wait times or unable to reach land-based pumpout facilities.

“We are once again very proud to have had the opportunity to partner with Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy on this now annual initiative,” says CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “CBMM is committed to helping protect the Chesapeake Bay, both environmentally and historically, and the pumpout boat is a great tool in this respect.”

“We are thrilled with the increased results of our second season,” says MRC Executive Director and Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Jeff Horstman. “We want to thank the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for all their help and support. The pumpout boat has a direct and measurable impact on clean water, which contributes to our mission to protect and restore our rivers. Additionally, this fun little boat, expertly operated by Jim Freeman, has been one of our best public outreach tools, educating people who use the river the most on how much our rivers need help.”

For more information, please contact Jeff Horstman at 443.385.0511 or jeff@midshoreriverkeeper.org.

Midshore Riverkeepers Host Creation Care Workshop November 30

St. Luke’s congregation in Cambridge planting native trees in St. Luke’s second environmental stewardship project.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), in partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, will host a one-hour “Creation Care” workshop to bring together the faith community and the environmental community. The workshop, which is part of MRC’s Stewards for Streams Faith Initiative, will be held on Thursday, November 30 from 5:30-6:30pm at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center, located at 114 S. Washington Street in Easton.

Faith organizations and dedicated individuals of any denomination are encouraged to attend. Through this workshop, MRC will offer three free ways that the faith community can engage their congregations in environmental stewardship and education. MRC and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake have already collaborated with 10 churches to install rain gardens and native trees that beautify the church grounds while reducing pollution and benefiting the local environment. MRC and Interfaith Partners can provide a menu of options that go beyond in-the-ground projects, including youth trips and service learning, adult education programs, and advocacy.

“Faith organizations are pillars in our community that can stand as examples of environmental stewardship,” says Suzanne Sullivan, MRC’s Stewards for Streams coordinator. “They have an audience of dedicated individuals and families who can help spread environmental messages and actions.”

Participating congregations include: Grace Lutheran, Presbyterian Church, and St. Mark’s in Easton, and St. Luke United Methodist and Waugh Chapel in Cambridge, as well as Greater New Hope Baptist in Preston. To RSVP for this event, email Suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy Offers glassybaby Candles for Holiday Giving

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), along with Waterkeepers Chesapeake, has formed a partnership that brings the West and East Coasts together in support of a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. In glassybaby hot shops in Seattle and Berkeley, more than 80 glassblowers handcraft molten glass into unique and functional votive candles and drinking glasses in a dazzling array of colors. In addition to creating beautiful products, glassybaby reports that it “actively supports causes that help people, animals and our planet heal.” To date, glassybaby has given over $7 million to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations.

A gaggle of shimmering Chesapeake glassybaby votive candles.

MRC is one of 19 Riverkeeper organizations that make up Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of independent programs working to make the waters of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays swimmable and fishable. MRC is part of this alliance that monitors and cares for all the rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay, a watershed that covers six states.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake and glassybaby have joined forces to launch a beautiful new votive candle called Chesapeake, glassybaby’s first product for the Chesapeake Bay region. The Chesapeake votive captures the colors and clarity that are the essence of the Bay. Under glassybaby’s power of giving program, 10% of the price of each Chesapeake glassybaby will be donated to Waterkeepers Chesapeake to help support their work from New York to Virginia.

The glassybaby candles will be available at Easton’s famous Waterfowl Festival, which takes place November 10-12, 2017. NOTE: Waterkeepers Chesapeake will receive 10% of ALL SALES (not just Chesapeake) made during Waterfowl Festival (November 10-12) and up to 2 weeks afterwards. Use the code “waterfowl” when ordering.

Or purchase your very own Chesapeake glassybaby online at midshoreriverkeeper.org/glassybaby. For more information, contact Kristan Droter at kdroter@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Midshore Riverkeepers Receive Major Grant for Agricultural Conservation

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) was recently awarded a grant of $451,960 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to create a regional program that advances the implementation of conservation drainage practices and tests new agricultural best management practice technologies that have great potential to reduce nutrient and sediment from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

Many local farms were initially drained using a system of drain tiles. Unfortunately, over the decades these structures have deteriorated. MRC will work with agricultural landowners to retrofit old and failing drain tile lines with the latest conservation practices and create a drainage water management plan to maximize the benefits of the new conservation drainage system. These innovations will reduce sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus losses from agricultural land that has drain tile lines. A goal of this program is to accelerate the implementation of the outlet and infield best management practices by incentivizing farmers through offering the replacement of antiquated existing drain tile and surface inlets.

MRC Staff Scientist Tim Rosen installs an updated conservation drainage system at an agricultural site.

This work will create a framework for a conservation drainage program that can be used to justify the funding of a state-run program administered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. In addition, the program will provide a blueprint for other Bay states to adopt their version of a conservation drainage program. This program will help bring Maryland to the forefront in addressing agricultural drainage pollution and help position our farm community to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. MRC’s program will focus on four watersheds—the Choptank, Nanticoke, Pocomoke/Tangier, and Chester—that span eight Maryland counties.

Completion of this grant will result in the installation of eight separate projects that incorporate either a denitrifying bioreactor, saturated buffer, or structure for water control and blind inlets. It is anticipated that 2 denitrifying bioreactors, 2 saturated buffers, and 4 structures for water control will be installed with an estimated 14 blind inlets. In total, this will reduce a total of 3,456 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen per year, 49 pounds of phosphorus per year, and 46,666 pounds of sediment per year.

MRC has obtained commitments from private and state sources to provide a match of $467,980, enabling the organization to devote a total of $919,940 to this important work.

For more information contact MRC Staff Scientist Tim Rosen at 443.385.0511 or trosen@midshoreriverkeeper.org.

Adkins Arboretum’s Enchanted Fairyfest is Oct. 14

Bring your wings and wands for a day of magic at Adkins Arboretum! The Arboretum’s second annual Fairyfest, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 14, celebrates fancy, fantasy and fun in the forest. Follow a trail of fairy houses along enchanted forest paths, and join in a meadow maypole dance. Search for gnomes in the Funshine Garden, craft magical treasures to take home, and wave to the Billy Goats Gruff from atop a hay wagon.

The event includes live entertainment throughout the day in the woodland theatre, shimmering fairy face painting, rainbow bubbles, archery and fairytale games. Unicorn rides provided by Snapdragon Stables and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Kicking off the fun, Master Naturalist Beth Lawton will offer a special Fairy Makers crafting program for ages 12 and up on Fri., Oct. 13. Crafted of felt, silk flowers, wooden beads and seed pods, the tiny acorn fairies made in the workshop will delight fairy lovers of all age. Each participant will create a one-of-a-kind fairy to take home. The workshop is $10 for members and $15 for non-members; spots are limited, and advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org.

Admission to Fairyfest is $10 for adults and children ages 3 and up. Children ages 2 and under are admitted free.

Fairyfest is sponsored in part by Garden Treasures of Easton and Soistman Family Dentistry. For more information, call 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or visit adkinsarboretum.org.

CBF Introduces New Financing Tool to Help Bay Communities Reduce Pollution

Reducing polluted runoff from urban and suburban roads, rooftops, and parking lots is an expensive task. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), in partnership with Quantified Ventures and with support from The Kresge Foundation and other funders, is inviting municipalities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to participate in a pilot project to implement natural solutions that reduce urban/suburban runoff that damages local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The application process opened September 15 and closes October 31.

“We understand that reducing polluted runoff is often difficult and expensive and we want to make it easier and more effective for communities in the Bay watershed to meet their clean water goals,” said CBF Vice President Kim Coble. “Because some local governments and lenders may be less familiar with implementing natural solutions, these kinds of projects may be seen as riskier and more difficult to finance.”

For the pilot project, CBF is helping municipalities take advantage of a new financial tool pioneered by Quantified Ventures and DC Water called the Environmental Impact Bond (EIB). In 2016, DC Water used an Environmental Impact Bond structure to privately finance and share the risk for implementing natural solutions to manage stormwater runoff into the Potomac River.

The EIB allowed the utility to raise funds from impact investors Goldman Sachs and the Calvert Foundation to finance projects such as permeable pavement and bioswales—which mimic natural processes, may be more cost-effective than traditional “gray” infrastructure, and can provide additional community benefits such as reducing local flooding, improving climate resiliency, and creating local jobs.

“We think the DC Water example shows promise so we are excited to help CBF test this model around the Bay region at no extra cost to our municipal partners,” said Todd Appel of Quantified Ventures. “Polluted runoff is the only major source of pollution that is still increasing, and in some urban and suburban areas is the leading cause of damage to local rivers and streams.”

An Environmental Impact Bond provides up-front capital for environmental projects. In its most basic form, a municipality or municipal entity (such as a municipal utility) issues Environmental Impact Bonds and sells them to private investors to obtain financing to pay the cost of environmental projects.

The municipal issuer is required to pay interest on the bonds and to repay the principal amount of the bonds on scheduled payment dates.

The EIBs follow a Pay for Success model. After an evaluation period, if the project reduces significantly more pollution than expected the investor receives a higher rate of return. If the project reduces significantly less pollution than anticipated the investors will receive a lower rate of return.

“In our pilot program, we will coordinate with up to four local jurisdictions’ financial advisors toward the creation of an Environmental Impact Bond or loan tailored to their community’s financial and environmental needs to implement green infrastructure solutions,” said Coble.

“CBF has been a strong partner with our local government clients in supporting water quality funding, and we applaud CBF’s effort to pilot this idea in diverse localities across the watershed,” said Chris Pomeroy, president of the AquaLaw law firm and counsel to the Virginia and Maryland Municipal Stormwater Associations. For more information, go to www.cbf.org/eib where you can view an earlier recorded webinar about this project, download a brochure, or submit an application.

About the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

With offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia and 15 field centers, CBF leads the way in restoring the Bay and its rivers and streams. For more than 50 years, we have created broad understanding of the Bay’s poor health, engaged public leaders in making commitments to restore the Chesapeake, and fought successfully to create a new approach to cleanup that features real accountability—the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. For more information, visit www.cbf.org.

About Quantified Ventures

Quantified Ventures is a for-profit impact investing firm that helps clients finance specific and measurable environmental, health, and educational outcomes. Founded by Eric Letsinger, a “tri-sector” executive bringing 25+ years of leadership experience, QV pioneered the first ever Environmental Impact Bond with DC Water in 2016. Based in DC, the entrepreneurial team thrives on fresh thinking, measured risk, and strong coffee. For more information, visit www.quantifiedventures.com.

About Kresge

CBF’s Green Infrastructure Environmental Impact Bond project, assisted by Quantified Ventures, is supported in part by a generous grant from The Kresge Foundation. The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.

Pickering Creek’s Harvest Hoedown Celebrates Fall October 8

Pickering Creek celebrates fall on the Eastern Shore at this year’s Harvest Hoedown on Sunday October 8. Harvest Hoedown features music at three locations, unique craftspeople, nature walks, wildlife exhibits, boat rides on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Winnie Estelle and entertaining kids and adult activities as well as food prepared by the Easton Lions Club and new local food vendors. Activities and vendors will be found throughout Pickering Creek. Explore the property with hay wagon rides or take a stroll on the forest trail for a sampling of the Eastern Shore’s natural beauty from wetlands to 100 year-old trees, all highlighted in vibrant fall colors.

Great Family Fun at Harvest Hoedown.

Harvest Hoedown 2017 will feature live music, puppet shows, a family friendly scavenger hunt with prizes and storytellers will give families great entertainment and fun throughout the day.  Milkweed plants and pollinator seed balls will be available for guests who participate in fun activities about monarch butterflies, pollinators and climate. From deep in the vaults of Pickering Creek the Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt Art collection will be on display, featuring the great folk art that has graced the back of each Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt for the last seventeen years.  These works will be on display at the Center’s Welcome Center.  Scheduled events will include not only music on the main stage, but also brief nature talks by area naturalists including topics such as Bird Rescue, Poplar Island, Monarchs, Honey Bees and more.

This year features a number of great returning craftsmen including Matt Redman’s Chesapeake Soaps and Bee George Honey.  Both Matt and George have great interactive displays and are mainstays of our local community. Craftspeople from across the peninsula including Joan Devaney, Damaris ToyWorks, Plein Air Painters, Sisters Clay Art, Birdworx and Wacky Wind Chimes and more will have locally made quality items on sale that make great Christmas gifts and birthday presents while supporting our local economy.

Harvest Hoedown features great music for all ages!  The Harvest Hoedown main stage, framed by Pickering’s historic corncrib, will host toe tapping blues and bluegrass with four acts throughout the day. The kid’s stage is just down the lane right next to Pickering’s beautiful gardens, surrounded by a bevy of fun educational activities led by Audubon Naturalists and budding volunteer leaders.  The musical artists featured frequently perform in their own right, but Pickering puts them all together for a wonderful fall day of music and fun.

Slim Harrison and new Sunnyland Band’s youngest members.

The kid’s stage features a very accomplished act from Western Maryland. First Slim Harrison and the Sunnyland Band return for their sixteenth year.  The best thing about the Sunnyland Band is that it is you!  With over 40,000 members worldwide it may very well be the biggest band around. For over 25 years, Slim has performed at Schools and Festivals, Hoedowns & Throwdowns all over North America and around the world.  He is a “Master Artist” with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and full-time “Artist in Residence” with the Maryland State Arts Council – Artists in Education, Touring Artists Program.

Slim’s solo performance titled: “Exploring the Roots of American Folk Music” teaches children about the many cultures that brought lots of different flavors to the American Musical Gumbo.  Kids are given an opportunity to join the “Sunnyland Band” and play along on spoons, jugs, washboards, skiffleboards, limberjacks, washtub bass, PA Dutch “stumpf-fiddles”, African tambourines, Cajun frattrois,  Native American whammy-diddles, Chinese gaos, Latin maracas, clave`s & quiros.

The main stage kicks off at 11:00 am with local favorites Alan Girard and Meredith Lathbury, followed by Baltimore musician Norm Hogeland. Playing next at Harvest Hoedown on the main stage are Slim Harrison and the Rock Candy Cloggers.

Headlining the main stage is the New and Used Bluegrass band, based on the Eastern Shore with members from across the shore. New and Used Bluegrass features Alan Breeding on banjo, Jim Bieneman on bass fiddle and vocals, Toby Price on mandolin and vocals, Ed Finkner on guitar and vocals and Jon Simmons on fiddle, mandolin and vocals. New and Used Bluegrass performs various flavors of bluegrass music, ranging from the traditional  – like the Stanley Brothers “How Mountain Girls Can Love” to “Eastbound and Down” from the Smokey and the Bandit movie, to “Caravan”, a Duke Ellington tune, as well as assorted banjo and fiddle tunes and songs.  They are well known locally for their excellent bluegrass pickin’.

Harvest Hoedown is generously supported by the following sponsors: Bartlett Griffin and Vermilye, Shore United Bank, Wye Gardens, LLC, Johnson Lumber Company, Colin Walsh & Carolyn Williams, Richard & Beverly Tilghman, Stuart and Melissa Strahl, The Star Democrat, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, Out of the Fire, Kelly Distributing, and Pepsi Cola. Please contact the Center for if you would like to be a sponsor.

Harvest Hoedown means fun for all ages!  Music, hayrides, boat rides, local arts, and great family activities put smiles on every face. Mark your calendar, dig up your overalls, boots and hat and make your way out to Pickering Creek on October 8.  We will be having fun from 11 am- 4 pm.

Environmental Concern’s Nature Preschool

Environmental Concern’s (EC) Nature Preschool programming is designed to focus on enhancing early childhood education with direct and sensory environmental experiences.

Our hands-on lessons foster connections with the natural world and encourage students to become environmental stewards. EC has developed dynamic and innovative programming for early child care providers, pre-schools, home schools to neighborhood groups.

Programs are offered directly on our seven acre waterfront campus or at your center.

For information on the programs please contact EC’s Education Staff by calling (410)-745-9620 or send an email to teachwetlands@wetland.org.