ShoreRivers Hosts “State of the Rivers” Series Across the Shore

ShoreRivers is pleased to invite the community to a series of five State of the Rivers presentations during April and May (offered at different locations for the convenience of our public). ShoreRivers will unveil its 2017 Report Cards for the Choptank, Chester, Miles, Wye, and Sassafras Rivers, as well as Eastern Bay, and lead informative discussions about the results. River Report Cards analyze the data from our extensive water quality monitoring during 2017. Admission to each event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Our Report Cards reflect data collected at hundreds of sites by our scientists, Riverkeepers, and dozens of trained volunteers. The presentations will provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the health, trends, and challenges of our local waterways and how the most recent grades compare to those from previous years.Distinguished keynote speakers will enhance the programs. Our Riverkeepers and staff will also discuss new initiatives being undertaken in 2018, including the new RiverWatch real-time water quality online platform.

STATE OF THE RIVERS SERIES . . .

MILES, WYE AND CHOPTANK RIVERS—Saint Michaels
Keynote Speaker: Senator Chris Van Hollen
April 20, 5:00pm
Sponsored by the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Small Boat Shed
213 N. Talbot Street

CHOPTANK RIVER—Cambridge
Keynote Speaker: Jay Lazar, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
April 26, 5:30pm
Robbins Heritage Center, 1003 Greenway Drive

CHESTER RIVER—Chestertown
Keynote Speaker: John Seidel, Director of Center for Environment & Society
April 26, 5:15pm
Washington College, Hynson Lounge, 300 Washington Avenue

SASSAFRAS RIVER—Cecilton
Keynote Speaker: Nick DiPasquale, former EPA Director of Chesapeake Bay Program
May 3, 7:00pm
Cecilton Fire Department, 110 E. Main Street

WYE AND CHESTER RIVERS AND EASTERN BAY—Grasonville
Speakers: Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett and Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer
May 16, 5:30pm
Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 600 Discover Lane

For more information, visit shorerivers.org or contact Eleanor Nelson at 443.385.0511 or eleanor@shorerivers.org.

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Senator Van Hollen to Speak at Inaugural ShoreRivers Event April 20

ShoreRivers will host its annual State of the Midshore Rivers Party on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm. The event takes place at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in Saint Michaels, Maryland and will report on the current state of the Choptank, Miles and Wye Rivers. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond.

This will be the first of five ShoreRivers events in April and May unveiling the results of extensive water quality monitoring. Other presentations will take place in Cambridge, Chestertown, Cecilton, and Grasonville. These events will detail the state of the Choptank, Chester, Sassafras, and Wye Rivers, depending on location. Visit ShoreRivers.org for more information.

ShoreRivers is a newly-formed entity resulting from the recent merger of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association into one region-wide organization. ShoreRivers is now one committed voice for Eastern Shore rivers with greater influence on policy, increased capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects.

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce that Senator Christopher Van Hollen Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the State of the Midshore Rivers Party. Van Hollen is U.S. Senator from Maryland and has worked to pass bipartisan legislation on issues of common concern, including protecting the Chesapeake Bay. He won the general election 60 to 36 percent to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2017. From 2003 to 2017, he held the position of U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district. In the House of Representatives he served as a member of the Democratic leadership and was elected by his colleagues to be the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and protect vital interests like Social Security and Medicare. He serves as Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2018 elections cycle. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center.

“We are thrilled and honored to have Senator Van Hollen, who has been a tough and effective environmental leader for our state and the Chesapeake Bay,” says ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman. “His defense of clean water, his fight for renewable power and his efforts to address and combat climate change make him an ideal keynote speaker for ShoreRivers’ inaugural event.”

ShoreRivers welcomes and encourages the community to join this evening of conversation and informative discussion as it releases its 2017 Midshore Rivers Report Card. The report card reflects data collected at 115 sites by ShoreRivers scientists, Riverkeepers, and more than 50 volunteers in ShoreRivers’ Creekwatcher water quality monitoring program. This is an opportunity for the community to learn about the health and challenges of our local waterways and how the most recent grades compare to previous years. Presentations and interpretations will be given by Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett, Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, and Watershed Scientist Tim Rosen. ShoreRivers staff will also discuss programs being undertaken in 2018, including the new RiverWatch real-time water quality online platform.

The State of the River Party will be held in CBMM’s Small Boat Shed, where guests can discover the re-created interior of a crab‑picking plant and small, locally-built craft used around the Chesapeake Bay for fishing, oystering, and crabbing. The event will begin at 5:00 pm with fresh farmed oysters on the half shell and a cheese and wine reception. The program will follow at 5:30 pm.

For more information, contact Eleanor Nelson at eleanor@shorerivers.org or phone 443.385.0511.

ShoreRivers Seeks Volunteers for Project Clean Stream April 7

As spring rains fill roadside ditches and flow into streams, they wash trash and debris into our waterways.Project Clean Stream, commencing on Saturday, April 7, will once again address this problem by organizing thousands of volunteers throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. ShoreRivers, partnering with the program’s main sponsor, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is matching volunteers with cleanup sites across the Eastern Shore, including locations in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties.

The Cambridge Main Street Green Team participates in Project Clean Stream. Photo by David Harp.

ShoreRivers seeks additional volunteers to join the largest cleanup event in the Chesapeake Region, and thanks those teams that have already pledged their support: Bill Burton State Park, Busy Beaver’s 4H Club, Cambridge Association of Neighborhoods, Cambridge Multi-Sport, Cambridge Power and Sail Squadron, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (Mr. Roache’s classes), Caroline County Bird Club, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Choptank Heritage, Corsica River Conservancy, The Country School, Dorchester Citizen’s for Planned Growth, Easton High School (Mrs. Rose’s classes), Friends of the Bohemia, Girl Scouts of Easton, Habitat for Humanity Choptank, Kent County Young Professionals, Quota International of Cambridge, Saint Michaels High School (Mrs. Greer’s classes), Saints Peter and Paul High School (Mr. Leve’s classes), Salt and Stream Shoreline Cleanups, ShoreRivers members, Tidy Up Tilghman Island, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton.

Individuals interested in joining a team should visit the Project Clean Stream website at pg-cloud.com/ACB/, or search “Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Project Clean Stream” and click “volunteer.” Businesses, clubs, groups, churches, and other organizations interested in creating their own teams may contact Suzanne Sullivan at ssulivan@shorerivers.org or 443-385-0511.

Riverkeepers Offer Training for New & Returning Creekwatchers

Creekwatcher Mike Bilek recording data while taking water samples on the Wye River.

On Monday, April 2 from 5-7 p.m. at the Talbot County Free Library, ShoreRivers (formerly Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy) will offer information and training for its Midshore Creekwatchers program. ShoreRivers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways that comprise the Chester River, Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, Sassafras River, and Wye River watersheds. Volunteer citizen scientists known as Creekwatchers are an invaluable component of ShoreRivers’ efforts to monitor health and trends in Midshore rivers.

The Creekwatchers water quality monitoring program has grown to over 50 volunteers who test various parameters at approximately 120 sites on nine rivers. These citizen scientists measure salinity, temperature, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. They test for nitrogen, phosphorous, and chlorophyll a concentrations. Data collected by Creekwatchers is used to compile ShoreRivers’ annual Midshore Rivers Report Card, which in turn assists ShoreRivers in grant applications, advocacy, and outreach efforts. The data is also used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies that study river health.

The 2017 Midshore River Report Card will be released at several State of the Rivers presentations in the region as shown below. Refreshments will be served and the events are free and open to the public.

• MILES & WYE RIVERS – April 20, 2018, 5 p.m. at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum,213 N. Talbot Street, Saint Michaels
• CHOPTANK RIVER – April 26, 5:30 p.m. at Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester, Robbins Heritage Center, 1003 Greenway Drive, Cambridge
• WYE & CHESTER RIVERS – May 16, 6 p.m. at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 600 Discovery Lane, Grasonville

Creekwatcher training on April 2 is free and open to the public. A light supper will be served. For more information, visit shorerivers.org or contact Rebecca Murphy at 443.385.0511 or rmurphy@shorerivers.org.

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.

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 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.