On February 2, MidshoreRiverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) Choptank Riverkeeper, Matt Pluta, presented “How the River Impacts You and How You Can Impact the River” at the Oxford Community Center in conjunction with the “Thursdays at OCC” speaker series. MRC 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.
As the Choptank Riverkeeper, Pluta gives voice to the Choptank River and its tributaries. He works on a daily basis through a variety of channels, such as restoration and protection, water quality monitoring, enforcement, and advocacy. He opened the presentation by telling audience members about MRC and explaining Riverkeeper programs. One of the areas where Pluta finds exemplary community support is with MRC’s robust water quality monitoring program. MRC Riverkeepers and professional scientists train, manage, and interact with over 50 citizen scientists called Creek watchers. These citizen scientists are the eyes and ears of Midshore rivers as they conduct water quality tests at over 130 sites from April and through October.
Pluta explained each water quality health indicator—temperature, dissolved oxygen, both surface and bottom, phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll, and salinity, and how these measurements reflect river health. He reflected on the challenges facing Oxford’s Tred Avon River, as well as success stories over the past year, one being the resurgence of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Overall, the Tred Avon River 2016 Water Quality Preview improved in 2016.
Pluta brought the presentation to a close with two words: act locally. He encouraged audience members to plan locally, engage locally, conserve locally, educate locally, and advocate locally, outlining various MRC initiatives that accomplish this, including volunteering as a Creekwatcher, SAV monitor, or Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) partner. Other areas of outreach include agricultural projects, schools, community partnerships, and centers of worship through a new program called Stewards for Streams.
Learn more information about the 2016 Midshore Rivers Report Card by joining MRC on Friday, April 21 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels for the 2016 State of the Rivers Party and Midshore Rivers Report Card Release.
Michael Valliant, executive director of the Oxford Community Center said, “Matt’s talk was relevant and timely to our community. He focused on the Choptank and Tred Avon Rivers, presented the latest data, and gave our audience specific ways they can help. We look forward to more opportunities to partner in the future.”