Summer Butterflies and Migrating Monarchs at Pickering Creek

Visit Pickering Creek Audubon Center this August and September for three excellent opportunities to learn about local butterflies! On Saturday, August 12 from 10:30AM to 12:30 PM, butterfly experts Theresa Murray and Frank Boyle are returning for a second year to lead a “Spectacular Summer Butterflies” talk and walk. Theresa Murray has been learning about butterflies and their life cycles over the past 20 years. She currently maintains gardens with nectar plants and host plants for several butterflies including monarchs. Frank Boyle is a naturalist and butterfly specialist from Rohrersville, MD. He leads several NABA (North American Butterfly Association) annual 4th of July butterfly counts in Maryland and the mountains of Virginia. He has been chasing and gardening for butterflies for 23 years. A short presentation about the most common butterflies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will kick off the program. The group will then walk along Pickering Creek’s meadow trails to look for various species and the native plants that attract them. Participants will Learn about identifying features of these exquisite insects and observe the beautiful blooming plants that bring them in.

Participants in Pickering Creek’s Monarch Watch Tagging program try to carefully catch butterflies sipping nectar on wetland plants.

On September 13th and 20th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM, Pickering Creek naturalists will lead two Monarch Tagging events during the butterflies’ fall migration. Each year, monarchs migrate from their breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. This year the University of Kansas’s Monarch Watch predicts high numbers of monarchs migrating south. Participating in their nationwide citizen science tagging program is a great way to learn about this charismatic local animal and contribute to scientific research on its population, challenges and resiliency. Both tagging events at Pickering Creek will include a short program on the lifecycle and migration of monarchs and how climate change is affecting them followed by an excursion into the wetland meadows where monarchs will be sipping nectar as they fuel up for their journey south! No experience is necessary.

Register for these programs by calling 410-822-4903 or emailing Mary Helen Gillen at mgillen@audubon.org.

Living Oyster Bed Created at CBMM

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., now has its own living oyster bed, thanks to a generous donation from a local oyster farm dedicated to building a sustainable oyster population in the Miles River.

Mudgies Oyster Farm donated the oysters and labor to CBMM to help build a foundation for a living bed at CBMM’s Waterman’s Wharf. On July 20, Greg Kemp Jr., third generation waterman; Billy Adams, multi-generation waterman and board member of Talbot Seafood Heritage Association; and Stuart Dawson, farm manager of Mudgies Oyster Farm LLC, laid green shell foundations in the waters off Waterman’s Wharf. Tred Avon Treats supplied shells, TSHA supplied the labor, while Mudgies supplied the oyster seed and spat on shell.

Stuart Dawson, Greg Kemp, and Billy Adams recently donated oysters and labor to help CBMM build a foundation for a living oyster bed next to its Waterman’s Wharf exhibition.

“We enjoyed seeing this project get started, and look forward to the living bed growing oysters to help the Bay as well as educate the public,” Dawson said.

“CBMM is excited to be collaborating with local organizations to educate our guests with living exhibitions,” said CBMM Director of Education & Associate Curator Kate Livie. “Oysters are a large part of the Bay’s history, as well as the history of CBMM, and creating this living oyster bed adds authenticity to a fun and educational experience.”

Waterman’s Wharf is a re-created crabber’s shanty where CBMM guests can try their hand at many of the seafood harvesting activities of a Chesapeake Bay waterman. Outside the shanty are Chesapeake Bay workboats—the Hooper Island draketail Martha, the Pot Pie Jackson skiff, the 1912 tugboat Delaware, and Volunteer, a replica Smith Island crab scraper.

The living oyster bed is completed just in time for the 8th annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day, which takes place on August 13, and features a spirited boat docking contest, steamed crabs, live music, and more. The fundraising event is organized by CBMM in cooperation with the Talbot Watermen Association, with proceeds benefiting both organizations. For tickets and more detailed event information, visit cbmm.org. To learn more about Mudgies Oyster Farm, visit mudgiesoysterfarm.com.

CBEC Launches STEM Program

Hanna Spongberg, ROVER instructor, assists Wye River Upper Schools students who are launching a ROVER for a water monitoring mission.

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) in a cooperative agreement with NASA added a cutting-edge STEM educational program to its educational endeavors.  This program is designed for Middle and High School students.

The program consists of environmental sampling techniques using NASA  approved equipment and associated technology.  Students will learn types of equipment and computer-related devices for sampling the local atmosphere and water.  The students will collect, interpret, and record data for use by scientists, institutions, agencies and general citizenry.  The local data will be downloaded to the GLOBE website (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment- GLOBE.gov) and be available for researchers world-wide.

The students will collect atmospheric data on CBEC property by following guidelines in the  AEROKAT program.  The AEROKAT program involves flying kites outfitted with data collecting technologies and cameras.  They will capture and process their own data about near-surface rates of temperature, pressure, relative humidity and remote sensing.  They will be exposed to the ‘world of digital literacy’ through use of the equipment and data collection.  This skill set will benefit students in both academic and work experiences.

The ROVER program is associated with local water monitoring.  The ROVER is a remotely operated aquatic platform to measure and analyze data, such as oxygen levels, temperature, nutrients, and pH of water.  Students will operate the Rover on local waterways and collect data for downloading to the GLOBE website.

Students will learn how to interpret the data and determine local atmospheric and water conditions, identify potential problems and solutions under the guidance of CBEC staff and NASA resource partners.  Students will have the opportunity to work with professionals in the field.

Field trips to CBEC will give students the opportunity for hands-on experience with the AEROKATS and ROVERS and meet STEM requirements.  All activities are NGSS aligned and incorporate STEM education using real-world settings.  For more information go to bayrestoration.org/AREN and see what activities are available or contact jwink@bayrestoration.org.

Easton Utilities enters Phase III of Sustainability Campus

To continue moving toward resource conservation and protecting the environment, Easton Utilities is pleased to announce the third phase of the Easton Sustainability Campus with the installment of a two megawatt photo voltaic solar array. The solar component of the overall project is being partially funded by a $3 million grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). “The investment by MDE will enable Easton Utilities to create a unique facility highlighting Easton and Maryland as leading innovators in sustainability and the use of renewable energy,” said Hugh E. Grunden, President and CEO of Easton Utilities. “It is a perfect example of state and local governments working together to protect our environment and serve our community.”

The addition of a solar array to the current renewable energy sources located at the Enhanced Nutrient Removal Wastewater Treatment Facility brings significant benefits to Easton Utilities customers, as well as the Easton community. Utilizing alternative forms of energy helps offset costs allowing Easton Utilities to generate locally instead of purchasing energy off the grid. “With new standards for Maryland energy companies, we are required to provide a significant percentage of our overall portfolio from renewable energy sources annually,” said John J. Horner, VP of Operations for Easton Utilities.

The solar array portion of the project allows everyone to benefit from shared renewable energy and alleviates a national issue on a local level. Regardless of housing situation, location and whether one is a homeowner or renter, anyone can participate without any incurred costs. “The Sustainability Campus is a significant step to demonstrate Easton Utilities commitment to environmental stewardship in our community benefiting all citizens,” stated Grunden.

Prior to the solar array installment, Easton Utilities recently completed the installation of a generator to convert methane gas from the Mid-Shore Regional Landfill to electricity. It is notable, by capturing methane gas and converting it a fuel source, Easton Utilities is removing this greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. Methane gas is estimated to have a global warming impact 25 times greater than CO2.

Co-located at the ENR Wastewater Treatment Facility, these projects create a system of multiple, diverse, renewable energy sources within our own community. And there is more on the horizon – Easton Utilities is currently collecting wind data to determine the feasibility of adding a wind turbine to the Campus. The possibility of incorporating battery storage is also being considered.

Easton Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit utility and telecommunications company operating the Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Wastewater, Cable Television, and Internet services for the Town of Easton and portions of the surrounding area. Please visit www.eastonutilities.com or call 410-822-6110 to learn more.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s Ride for Clean Rivers

On Sunday, September 17, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will hold the 13th Annual Ride for Clean Rivers at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Maryland. MRC is excited to partner with Chesapeake College for the third year in a row to bring this cycling event to the Midshore region. Chesapeake College aligns with MRC’s mission by being proactive in campus environmental initiatives, including wind and solar power, native grass plantings, car charging stations, and stormwater projects being implemented in partnership with MRC.

Team MRC (L-R) Tim Rosen, Matt Pluta, Elle O’Brien, Suzanne Sullivan, Jeff Horstman, Ann Frock, Elizabeth Brown, Beth Horstman, Dana Diefenbach, Keitasha Royal, Kristin Junkin, Tim Junkin, and Sarah Boynton. Photo © Tony J Photography

Riders can enjoy Maryland’s scenic Eastern Shore along three routes—62 miles (metric century), 35 miles, and 20 miles. Routes follow the flat, picturesque backroads of Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Talbot Counties, with rest stops exploring Tuckahoe State Park, Tuckahoe Creek, and the banks of the Choptank River. All routes start and finish at Chesapeake College, and have rest stops and SAG (support and gear) support. There will be morning snacks and coffee at the registration tables, and an outdoor barbeque and live music when riders return to campus. Registration includes food, drinks, barbeque, and event tee-shirt.

Last year, over 400 registered riders of all abilities helped to raise over $55,000. Come out and help reach this year’s goal of 500+ riders. This is a great opportunity to create a bike team with friends, family, bike clubs, or officemates.

Discounted early bird registration ends July 31. Riders may register, raise funds, procure rider sponsors, and win prizes at the event website, rideforcleanrivers.org.

Ride for Clean Rivers supports the work of MRC to protect and restore the Miles, Wye, and Choptank Rivers and Eastern Bay. For more information, visit midshoreriverkeeper.org or contact Sarah at sarah@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors Agency of Record, Bicycling magazine, The Brewer’s Art, Chesapeake College, C-Jam Yacht Sales, Dock Street Foundation, S.E.W. Friel, KELLY Benefit Strategies, Sprout, and Solar Energy Services.

For more information about becoming a sponsor or supporter of Ride for Clean Rivers, contact Sarah at sarah@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443.385.0511.

MRC Breaks Ground on Restoration and Stormwater Projects at Chesapeake College

On June 28, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Chesapeake College jointly hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on the college’s Wye Mills campus. MRC has been leading an effort in collaboration with the college and funding partners to develop a comprehensive initiative to address major stormwater challenges on the campus. A suite of 14 projects will materially improve water quality in the Wye River. The projects include a wetland restoration, bioretention facilities that filter stormwater, and a stream restoration that will reduce erosion and treat pollutants coming off hard surfaces and the agriculture fields surrounding the campus.

Kristin Junkin, director of operations for MRC, led the ceremony by describing the projects and the valuable partnerships with both Chesapeake College and the funders that are supporting the work. These funders include Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Queen Anne’s County. She thanked all of these partners and emphasized the importance and necessity of local leaders taking responsibility for restoring and protecting our rivers and Chesapeake Bay.

Photo: Pictured at the groundbreaking ceremony are (left to right) Rob Gunter (Queens Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Ben Hutzell (Resource Restoration Group), Michael Mulligan (Chesapeake College), Sarah Hilderbrandt (Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources), Steve & Julie Burleson (MRC Advisory Committee), Barbara Viniar (former Chesapeake College president), Jim Moran (Queen Anne’s County Commissioner), Kristin Junkin (MRC Director of Operations), Evan Blessing (Blessings Environmental Concepts), Greg Farley (Chesapeake College), Bill Anderson (MRC Board), Timothy Jones (Chesapeake College), Michael Wiznosky (Queen Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Dr. Clayton Railey (Chesapeake College), Lucie Hughes (Chesapeake College), Chris Oakes and Jess Lister (Environmental Concern), Tim Junkin (MRC founder) and Gus (Tim’s puppy). 

The college’s vice president of finance, Tim Jones,thanked MRC and all of the funder partners, saying,“Chesapeake College’s mission is to educate the residents of our five county region. Not only will these watershed projects allow us to enhance our classroom programs, they will also allow the college to serve as a working model of best practices for all residents on the Eastern Shore. The college is very appreciative of our partners on these projects. It is through partnerships like these that the college has become a nationally recognized leader in sustainability.”

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran applauded the well-organized and thoughtful proposal MRC brought to the county, adding that,“Queen Anne’s County is ready to do our part in cleaning up our waterways. We are delighted to work with MRC and we look forward to more projects down the road.”

The attendees at the ceremony had the unique opportunity to explore with the contractors the keystone project in the group, a Regenerative Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance. This project uses shallow pools to slow down and treat runoff from the college’s hard surfaces and surrounding agricultural fields before the water empties into the headwaters of the Wye East River. Attendees got a behind-the-scenes tour on how these types of projects are engineered and constructed.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust funded MRC’s Wye River Assessment that identified the project opportunities, Queen Anne’s County and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded the design work, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County are funding the construction. All of these projects are scheduled for completion by 2018.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the watersheds of the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River. For more information on these projects, contact Kristin Junkin at kristin@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeepers & Oakland View Farms Win U.S. Sustainability Award

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Oakland View Farms in Ridgely, Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay, were recently awarded the national Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy for their collaboration focused on cleaning up our local waters. The award was given during the annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards in Chicago, Illinois this past June.Timothy Rosen, MRC’s watershed scientist, Matt Pluta, its Choptank Riverkeeper, and Dick and Jan Edward, owners of Oakland View Farms, accepted this prestigious prize.

Pictured (L-R) are Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, Jan and Dick Edwards from Oakland View Farms, Watershed Scientist Tim Rosen and Matt Nuckols, emcee for the awards ceremony.

The partnership between MRC and Oakview Farms began in 2010 and culminated in the construction of the first denitrifying bioreactor in Maryland. The partnership reflected another important achievement as it signified a continuing shift in Riverkeeper-farmer relations in the Delmarva region. Previous to this partnership, relations between the environmental and agriculture communities had often been strained. Eschewing traditional contentious paths such as litigation or combative legislation, the parties decided to work cooperatively. The partnership began with the design and installation of the bioreactor, and progressed as the parties began working together on research to quantify nitrogen removal from bioreactors. This led to opportunities for an approved nitrogen removal efficiency in the Chesapeake Bay Model, potential phosphorus removal technologies for slurry (manure wastewater), and a conservation drainage program. As a result of this successful partnership, MRC has been able to successfully collaborate with seven more farmers and has designed, developed, and installed nine more projects, including the first bioreactor in Delaware.

Since its installation in 2013, the initial bioreactor has reduced nitrate concentrations of water being treated through the system by nearly 100 percent, which helps prevent water quality issues like algae blooms.

“Sustainability in agriculture is about partnering with organizations in our area and contributing to bettering our community,” said Richard Edwards, owner of Oakland View Farms. “We’ve seen a lot of great results, which help us stay in business longer. We’re excited about the future of ag and are always looking for new technology that will help us become better, more sustainable farmers down the road.”

“Oakland View Farms’ partnership with Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy to restore and protect the waterways of Maryland’s Eastern Shore serves as a model for others across the country,” said Chad Frahm, senior vice president, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “Their use of woodchip bioreactors to mitigate nitrogen runoff from manure is both practical and effective.”

Each of MRC’s watersheds is approximately 60% agricultural. “It is imperative that we work hand in hand with the agricultural community to bring smart solutions to nonpoint source pollution,” said Rosen. “MRC is proud of our partnership with Oakland View Farms and their willingness to work with us to solve some of the toughest pollution issues in our watersheds.”

For more information, contact Tim Rosen at trosen@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Chesapeake Bay Herb Society to Discuss Tools and Techniques

Chesapeake Bay Herb Society members will discuss their favorite gardening and cooking tools and techniques at their July 13 meeting.

CBHS members include some very experienced cooks and gardeners.  They will share their tips with members and guests.  Everyone should learn something at the meeting.

The society usually meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Christ Church, 111 S. Harrison Street, Easton.  Meetings include an herbal potluck dinner, a short business meeting and a presentation on an herb-related topic.  The theme for the July dinner is herbs associated with the zodiac sign Cancer (sage, aloe, lemon balm, bay, parsley and chives).

CBHS was formed in 2002 to share knowledge of herbs with the local community.  The group maintains the herb garden at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

For more information, call (410) 827-5434 or visit www.ChesapeakeBayHerbSociety.org.

Midshore Riverkeeper Erect Waterfront Signs

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), in partnership with Talbot County, has installed informational waterfront signs at Oak Creek Landing, Bellevue Landing & Marina, and Neavitt Landing. The attractive signs are an outreach tool to help readers understand current threats to clean water and ways to take action to improve local water quality.

Sign(s) and location map.

“Talbot County and the Eastern Shore have some of the most beautiful rivers and waterfront in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” says Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “Because these rivers are such valuable natural resources, we all need to work together to protect and preserve them. These water quality signs are a great way to remind the public about the value of our rivers—socially, economically, and environmentally—while encouraging the reader to take specific actions that make a difference.”

Local vendors produced the signs, with design by Joanne Shipley Graphic Design, printing by Sharper Image, and frames constructed by Warren Woodworks.The project was partially funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust.

For more information, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

MRC and RBC Blue Water Day

On June 15, the Easton branch of RBC Wealth Management and Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) took to Rails to Trails for a morning of beautification. The team picked up 15 bags of trash. The event was in coordination with RBC Wealth Management’s annual Blue Water Day, a time for RBC employees around the globe to come together to protect their local water sources through “Makeovers” such as clean ups, plantings and awareness-raising. Pictured (left to right) are employees, supporters, and furry friends of Easton RBC Wealth Management, (back row) Phil Russell, “Trippe,” Dennis Comey, Megan Gabrielian, Aaron Gabrielian, Kevin Nolan, John Northrop, Alex Fritzsche, Heather Jessee, MRC Development Director Sarah Boynton, (front row) Samantha Jessee, Jennifer Edgell, and Karen Kruse.