The professionals at Environmental Concern work every day to advance wetland restoration and education in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. One of the many ways they do this is by raising awareness of the importance of wetlands for water quality and natural habitat within the watershed community.
On February 2nd, Environmental Concern (EC) joined more than two thousand Wetlands of International Importance in 171 countries as well as National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Wetland Centers and environmental facilities across the US to celebrate World Wetlands Day.
World Wetlands Day commemorates the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. The Convention on Wetlands is a global treaty supporting the conservation and wise use of wetlands, and the designation of ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ (“Ramsar Sites”). The Sites are recognized for rare and unique habitat, wildlife, and biological diversity. The United States has designated forty-one Ramsar Sites since 1986, covering more than five million acres of wetland habitat.
Photo: Front row – Chris Blizzard, Connor Burton, Chris Oakes, Marcia Pradines (refuge manager), Ashley Roe, Suzanne Pittenger-Slear (EC president); Back row – Lyndsey Pollock, John Sandkuhler, Sam Eisenhower, Joe Miller, Nick Sparacino, Anne Sindermann, Josie Aikey and Gene Slear.
The World Wetland Theme this year is Inseparable: Wetlands, Water and Life, which shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore wetlands.
“We are fortunate to have a Ramsar site here on Maryland’s eastern shore,” said EC president Suzanne Pittenger-Slear. The Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Complex, which includes Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, was designated as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ in 1986. The refuge consists of more than 30,000 acres of tidal marsh, loblolly pine forests, and freshwater wetlands, and serves as an essential stopover for migrating and wintering waterfowl. The Wildlife Drive, which includes access to four trails, is open daily from sunrise to sunset. “The winter season offers amazing views of the vast wetland ecosystems and natural habitats,” said Pittenger-Slear. Learn about the importance of wetlands by planning a family outing to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge this month (check website for hours of operation). World Wetlands Day events continue through the month of February. The US activities are posted here:https://www.worldwetlandsday.org/events.
Each year, Pittenger-Slearcoordinates an annual trip to Blackwater NWRon World Wetlands Day with Refuge Manager, Marcia Pradines. This year, Pradines greeted 15 members of EC’s staff in front of the refuge Visitor’s Center before they started their journey on the four-mile Wildlife Drive. Pradines reported that just after sunrise, the refuge staff counted over twelve thousand snow geese (Chen caerulescens), three white pelicans (Pelecanuserythrorhynchos), and two hundred tundra swans (Cygnus columbiannus). Watching the white pelicans resting along the shoreline on the Blackwater River was an amazing sight. The group also observed two adult eagles in a nest in a loblolly pine tree (Pinustaeda) near the Wildlife Drive. “We were all so excited to see the majestic eagles in their natural habitat,” said Pittenger-Slear. The refuge is the center of the largest density of breeding bald eagles on the east coast, north of Florida.
The trip offered EC staff the opportunity to see firsthand the impact of their work for wetlands. Whether working in the nursery growing thousands of native plants, getting wet and muddy restoring living shorelines, or organizing events to educate the community –they all left the refuge with a heightened awareness of the significance of their work and the understanding that their work serves a broader purpose that goes far beyond the borders of EC’s campus.
For more information about World Wetlands Day, visit: www.worldwetlandsday.org. Free posters and activities are available to download from the site.
Environmental Concern is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1972 to promote public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing nature’s habitat. For the last 49 years, Environmental Concern has been working to restore the Bay…one wetland at a time.