ShoreRivers seeks an Agricultural Specialist

ShoreRivers seeks an Agricultural Specialist to act as the primary liaison with the farming community in our efforts to achieve healthy waterways across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The ideal candidate will be committed to environmental conservation and have significant
experience in agricultural practices and with the farming community on the Eastern Shore.

This is a full-time position that will be based primarily in our Chestertown, MD, office. Salary range is $45,000-$60,000 and commensurate with experience; competitive benefits package. To apply, send cover letter and resume to Isabel Hardesty, Regional Director, Chester and Sassafras: ihardesty@shorerivers.org.

Op-Ed: Hydraulic Dredging for Clams on the Rise as is the Damage by Jeff Horstman

Hydraulic dredging for clams in our rivers is on the rise. Many of us have witnessed the damage this practice causes.

Clamming licenses in Maryland have sharply increased over the past few years, from just eight in 2013 to over 30 in 2016, perhaps signifying a modest comeback of the soft-shell clam and reflecting the increasing popularity of clams as crabbing bait. Similar to oysters, clams are a vital filter feeder and key component in the ecological food chain. Historically, the clam population has been decimated by overharvesting and disease, and, without a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) management plan, is now at risk of another serious population downturn. Today’s clam populations mirror those of oysters, resting at only about 1 percent of historic levels.

The practice of harvesting clams with a hydraulic dredge is akin to underwater strip mining. High velocity jets of water strip away the river bottom, leaving trenches that can be two feet deep and three feet wide, while a mechanical conveyor belt attached to a long metal arm churns through the newly cut river bottom collecting clams. This action causes major damage to the river floor and irreversible damage to submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, ripping up their roots and leaving large sediment pollution plumes in its wake.

According to multiple studies, hydraulic dredging is catastrophic to SAV beds and the sediment kills oyster spat in surrounding areas. While there are regulations aimed at prohibiting hydraulic dredging in SAV beds, some dredging is allowed in and near oyster sanctuaries. Additionally, it is getting much more difficult to determine where SAV beds are located as they continually change and many large SAV beds are frequently not mapped at all, leaving them vulnerable to this destructive practice.

Hydraulic clam harvesting currently is allowed year-round and the practice is increasing without any assessment of the growing environmental damage it’s causing. Day after day, these hydraulic machines scour, scrape and gouge the river bottoms, producing thousands of pounds of sediment pollution. We think it’s time to develop a clear management plan for this valuable species, taking into consideration clam populations, their immense value to the ecosystem, the residual damage of hydraulic harvest, and the views of all stakeholders. Clams, today, represent a tiny portion of the Bay’s seafood harvest. As the demand for clams increases, we should answer some important questions before clam dredging grows into an even larger problem.

Our rivers are already listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as impaired for sediment pollution, among other pollutants.

Our rivers are virtually choking from sediment. So, the first question we might ask is: Should we continue to allow hydraulic dredging in impaired rivers when we know it causes catastrophic SAV damage and creates large areas of sediment pollution capable of killing oyster spat and all the underwater life it chokes out? The second question might become: Are there better ways to protect and manage our natural resources, to benefit all stakeholders, while insuring a healthy and sustainable clam population?

Our rivers belong to all of us. The current hydraulic harvesting practices hurt more of us than they help.

Jeff Horstman is executive director of ShoreRivers, Inc.

The Art of the Merge with ShoreRivers Jeff Horstman

While it could be said that the proverbial writing was on the wall for some time, the Sassafras, Chester River and Mid-Shore Riverkeepers, and their affiliated organizations, were getting a pretty clear message over the last three years from their major institutional funders that these three, very similar enterprises must consider consolidation for the best possible mission delivery.

As a result of this welcomed nudge, representatives of each group began to meet eighteen months ago to discuss the logistics of this somewhat complicated merging of functions and governance. But inevitably the most exciting part was when these organizations could start to see the raw power that could be achieved by the change. Not only regarding protecting their beloved river sheds but also have a far greater presence in Annapolis and the halls of Congress to pursue their advocacy work.

It fell on Jeff Horstman, the current director of the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper Conservancy, to manage the process which ultimately led to the creation of ShoreRivers.  And he will become its executive director at the beginning of the new year.

The Spy felt it was a good time to sit down with Jeff and talk about how the process, as well as the delicacy and sensitivity needed as these three very different cultures with very similar goals, become a new nucleus.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the new ShoreRivers please go here

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.

ShoreRivers: The Shore’s Uncompromising Voice for Clean Rivers by Jeff Horstman and Isabel Junkin Hardesty

 

The Eastern Shore’s rivers weave through farmland, forests, marshes and towns on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. Each river is unique, with its own character, but they share in common the fish, crabs, waterfowl and people that depend on them.

Much as these individual rivers ultimately come together as part of the Bay, three great Eastern Shore conservation organizations are uniting. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association are merging into a single nonprofit, ShoreRivers, Inc., to serve as a leading voice for healthy waterways on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Through science-based advocacy, restoration and education, ShoreRivers will protect and restore Eastern Shore waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. We will work collaboratively with our communities, yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Our three legacy organizations each have a deep history of working collaboratively to improve the health of the waters in our communities, and that mission will continue. By joining together, we become more than just the sum of our parts – we will be one committed voice with more influence on policy, more capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects that directly reduce pollution.

We will need that influence to tackle the major issues affecting our environment. ShoreRivers will now be a statewide leader on conservation issues so that when we travel to Annapolis to meet with elected officials or to testify for legislation, we will have the backing of our 3,500 supporters who care about our waters and our Eastern Shore quality of life.

We will also have increased capacity to implement bigger, better projects. That means expanded work with our agricultural partners, broader funding to encourage innovative technologies that reduce pollution, and region-wide restoration projects that capture polluted runoff before it enters our rivers.

From Kennedyville to Kent Island, from Cambridge to Crumpton, ShoreRivers staff, partners and volunteers will work together across the Eastern Shore. You’ll see us out on the rivers and creeks as well as in farm fields and forests. Our leadership, staff and board of directors are comprised of members of the three legacy organizations.

The main headquarters for ShoreRivers will be in downtown Easton at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. We will also maintain regional offices in Chestertown and Georgetown, the former offices of the Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association, respectively. And we will heavily rely on watershed advisory boards for each major river to continue our strong local connections.

An important part of our mission is our Waterkeeper program. Waterkeepers are full-time advocates who regularly patrol and monitor their local bodies of water. Including the ShoreRivers merger, there are now 17 Waterkeepers working in the Chesapeake Bay region – 11 in Maryland. Waterkeepers focus on their individual waterbodies, but frequently work together with other “Keepers.” ShoreRivers will have four Riverkeepers: Jeff Horstman is the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper; Emmett Duke is the Sassafras Riverkeeper; Matt Pluta is the Choptank Riverkeeper and Tim Trumbauer is the new Chester Riverkeeper.

Despite encouraging signs of clearer water and more grass beds in recent years, the waterways of the Eastern Shore remain polluted – they are still threatened with excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff. At ShoreRivers, we believe there are real solutions to these threats, and we are committed to developing projects and programs that will improve the health of our waters and keep them robust and beautiful for all of us – now and in the future.

Jeff Horstman is the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Executive Director of ShoreRivers and Isabel Junkin Hardesty is the former Chester Riverkeeper and new Regional Director of ShoreRivers.

 

 

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 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.

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.

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.

Kristan Droter Joins Riverkeepers as Development & Event Coordinator

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) is pleased to announce that Kristan Droter has been hired as Development and Event Coordinator. Droter has a strong background in management, finance, sales and marketing. She graduated from the University of North Carolina with a B.A. in Psychology. Her career, including positions at Smith Barney and Kaplan Test Prep, has taken her to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington, DC, and New Orleans. She has worked with thousands of professionals, students, teachers and doctors from around the world. She led the reopening of Kaplan Test Prep’s New Orleans and Baton Rouge offices after Hurricane Katrina, piecing those centers back together, hiring and training new staff, and directly assisting displaced employees and students.

MRC Executive Director Jeff Horstman says, “We are thrilled to have Kristan onboard as our new development and event coordinator. With her professional background and local roots, I know she will be an asset to our work and our mission.”

Droter says she is thrilled to return to her birthplace on Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore, where she lives with her husband, Steve, their three young sons, and their trusty dog Uli. Contact her at kdroter@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River watersheds. For more information, visit midshoreriverkeeper.org.