The Humane Gardener Author to Speak June 1 at Adkins Arboretum

Hailed as “a passionate and well-researched rallying cry” and as “a palatable and beautifully produced message that…gardeners need to hear,” the best-selling book The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife is an eloquent plea for compassion and respect for all species. Join the author, Nancy Lawson, Fri., June 1 at Adkins Arboretum to learn how and why to welcome wildlife to your backyard.

A longtime columnist for All Animals magazine, Lawson is the founder of Humane Gardener, an outreach initiative dedicated to cultivating compassion for all creatures great and small through animal-friendly, environmentally sensitive landscaping methods. Her book fills a unique niche in describing simple principles for both attracting wildlife and peacefully resolving conflicts with the creatures that share our world. Through engaging anecdotes, inspired advice, profiles of gardeners throughout the country, and interviews with scientists and horticulturists, Lawson applies the broader lessons of ecology to our own outdoor spaces.

The talk begins at 1 p.m. and is $15 for Arboretum members, $20 for non-members. Advance registration is appreciated at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

ShoreRivers and St. Michaels Students Complete Environmental Action Project

Working with ShoreRivers’ environmental education program, Students for Streams, St. Michaels Middle High School biology students have successfully completed an environmental action project that improves both their school campus and local water quality. They investigated local water quality in the Miles River, assessed nearby land use, and identified both positive and negative environmental factors on their school property. During their assessment of the grounds, students focused on an eroding storm drain behind the elementary school, noting how sediment entering the drain negatively impacted water clarity in the nearby river. Students proposed correcting the erosion by stabilizing the slope leading to the drain and planting native species in the drainage area.

Students sitting next to the finished drain project with Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett (left side front row in hat).

After presenting their ideas to both ShoreRivers and Talbot County Public Works, students successfully created an implementation plan. Talbot County donated time and equipment, and students implemented the plan on April 24. Chesapeake Bay Trust funded the project.

On May 2, Students had the opportunity to share the success of their program at the Howard County Conservancy’s Environmental Summit in Annapolis, where they presented their work, data they collected in partnership with ShoreRivers, and final project outcomes. Elected officials and schools from across Maryland attended. Delegate Johnny Mautz was impressed with the students’ work done in his district, and noted that it was a “great project.”

Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett has been working with these students since the beginning of the school year. “This student action project is a success not only for improving water quality, but also for engaging students, instilling in them a sense of ownership of their environment and a better understanding of environmental best practices. This hands-on environmental education is an example to students of how their actions can have a real-life impact.”

Pictured L-R: Ashley Henckel, Jane Whitelock (teacher), Delegate Johnny Mautz, Eddie Robinson, Winfield Devaric, Lexie Jordan, Nathan Simpkins, Isaiah Holliday

Teacher Jane Whitelock described the experience. “As a classroom teacher, I am grateful to our community partners for making this project possible. Their support allowed the students to be empowered to take on a project of this magnitude and discover that they could indeed make a difference in their community. I can’t express how proud I am of the hard work our students put into making the storm drain restoration project a success.”

ShoreRivers will work with Talbot County, Dorchester County, and Queen Anne’s County Public Schools in the coming school year to continue implementing environmental education programming that highlights stewardship practices. For more information on Students for Streams, please contact Elle Bassett at 443.385.0511 or ebassett@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.

shorerivers.org

ShoreRivers Hosts First Annual State of the Chester, Wye, and Eastern Bay

ShoreRivers will host its first annual State of the Rivers presentation focusing on the Chester and Wye Rivers and Eastern Bay on Wednesday, May 16 at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), located at 600 Discovery Lane in Grasonville. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30pm for a reception with beer, wine and light fare. Mingle with representatives and learn about other local organizations, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, CBEC, Kent Island Beach Clean Up, Corsica River Conservancy, Gunston School, and Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society. The formal presentation will begin at 6:00pm. Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett, and other ShoreRivers staff will present the 2017 Chester River and Midshore Report Cards and discuss the latest water quality trends.

This is a new location and the final in a series of five ShoreRivers State of the Rivers events conducted in April and May, unveiling the results of extensive water quality monitoring. Other presentations took place in St. Michaels, Cambridge, Chestertown, and Cecilton, detailing water quality results forthe Miles, Wye, Choptank, Chester, and Sassafras Rivers. If you weren’t able to attend any of the previous four presentations, the May 16 event will be the last chance to attend this year’s events.

The data for the Chester River Report Card and the Midshore Report Card was collected by a combination of experienced ShoreRivers water quality scientists and dedicated volunteer teams of Midshore Creek watchers and Chester Testers citizen-scientists. In addition to learning about tested parameters and grades, attendees will also gain insight on ways to lessen their yard’s impact on our rivers through the River-Friendly Yards campaign and Marylander’s Grow Oyster program.

ShoreRivers is a newly-formed entity resulting from the recent merger of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association into a unified 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. For more information about ShoreRivers, please visit shorerivers.org.

For more information about the May 16th State of the Rivers event, please contact Elle Bassett at 443.385.0511 or ebassett@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.

shorerivers.org

Tour the Shore: ShoreRivers’ Guided Kayak Paddles

Photo by Suzanne Sullivan

ShoreRivers is taking to the water and invites you to join our annual Tour the Shore guided kayak series on our local rivers. ShoreRivers is an environmental nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. Tour the Shore introduces residents and visitors to our local rivers, while sharing our mission of cleaner water for all.This year’s paddle theme is Serene, as we paddle quiet creeks and rivers across the mid and upper Shore region. Choose one or more from the list below.

Date: May 18
Time: 10 am – 1 pm
Location: Hillsboro Landing, Tuckahoe Creek
Paddle Tuckahoe Creek while everything is lush and green and the air is cool. A very relaxing trip, Tuckahoe Creek meanders quietly through shady forest and is the perfect location to pack a fishing rod.

Date: June 22
Time: 2 pm – 4 pm
Location: Cambridge Creek Heritage Paddle
See downtown Cambridge from a water view as we paddle into Cambridge Creek, at the heart of the city. Paddle guide Brian Roche of Choptank Heritage Trail will take us past the Choptank River Lighthouse, JM Clayton Seafood Company, and to the head of the creek, the site for the proposed Cannery Park.

Date: July 27
Time: 6 pm – 9:30 pm
Location: Turners Creek, Kennedyville
Paddle the serene Sassafras River as the sun sets and the full moon rises! Gather on the sandy shores for a BYO picnic dinner ahead of time.

Date: August 17
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Location: Wye Island paddle and hike
A summer favorite, paddle the shores of Wye Island and hop out of the boat for lunch and a walk through one of the Eastern Shore’s old growth forests. Stay cool under trees as old as 300 hundred years as you hike the Schoolhouse Trail back to the boats.

Date: September 28
Time: 10 am – 1 pm
Location: Morgan Creek, Chestertown
Morgan Creek is a gentle paddle off of the Chester River that takes you past marsh lined farm fields and wooded shores. Borrow a pair of ShoreRivers’ binoculars to help spot bald eagles and wading birds.

Paddlers can bring their own kayaks or rent ShoreRivers’ kayaks. Reservations are limited, so contact Suzanne at 443,385.0511 or ssullivan@shorerivers.org to reserve your spot. Tours are $30 for non-members, $20 for members, and kayak rentals are an additional $30 per person.

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.

shorerivers.org

Environmental Concern Holds 18th Annual Spring Native Plant Sale

More and more homeowners are planting rain gardens, butterfly gardens and stormwater management gardens. Home gardeners are reaping the benefits by reconnecting with nature and bringing the practice of planting native into their own backyards.

The 18th Annual Spring Plant Sale at Environmental Concern’s Campus in St. Michaels is the perfect place to get inspired, and to pick up native plants grown in EC’s nursery. This year’s sale takes place on Mother’s Day weekend, Friday, May 11th and Saturday, May 12th   from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Garden lovers will find new species, and the popular favorites that have made this event an annual tradition for Eastern Shore gardeners for nearly 2 decades. Growing more than 100 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants for over 46 years, Environmental Concern hosts one of the largest native plant sales on the Eastern Shore.

In addition to the plant sale, EC will host workshops that will inspire and educate customers. “Milkweeds for Monarchs” will be held from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. each day. Participants will learn about the Monarch butterfly, and the dependence of the Monarch caterpillars on native milkweed for survival. Recommendations for plant selection and habitat creation techniques will encourage even first time gardeners to dig in, and get wet and muddy – and don’t forget to shop for the perfect Mother’s day plant. Our experts will be on hand to help you with your plant selection.

There will be a large selection of flowering herbaceous perennials and hardy shrubs. Highlights include colorful red columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) with red and yellow showy, drooping, bell-like flowers, and the Joe pye weed (Eupatorium dubium) which is very attractive to beneficial pollinators. Additional offerings include the Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor), and the Northern sea oat (Chasmanthium latifolium), known for its interesting flat foliage and unique seed heads.

Visit Environmental Concern’s Nursery in historic St. Michaels at 201 Boundary Lane. Watch for signs along St. Michaels Road. For more information, call 410-745-9620.

Environmental Concern is a 501(c)3 public not-for-profit organization. All proceeds from the plant sale will help fund EC’s mission to improve water quality and enhance native habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Mrs. Anna Howie will Join Talbot Schools Curriculum Team

Talbot County Public Schools has announced that Mrs. Anna Howie will join the curriculum team as Supervisor of Career and Technology Education Programs effective July 1, 2018.  Mrs. Howie will replace Mrs. Pamela Clay, who will retire at the end of June after a long and distinguished career with Talbot County Public Schools. In addition, Mrs. Howie will be providing coaching support to middle school math teachers to improve student achievement.

“Career and Technology Education truly makes a difference for our students and their future,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “This is why it was so important to me to find someone who can continue to lead our programs with not only expertise but also a passion for student success.  I am looking forward to Mrs. Anna Howie joining our team in this very important role.  Her experience in mathematics will be an additional asset in supporting teaching and learning.”

Mrs. Howie earned a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering (BIE) degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999.  She holds an Advanced Professional Certificate in Mathematics for grades 7-12 and Middle School Mathematics (grades 4-9), and is certified as Administrator I.   She earned a Masters in Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix in 2014.

Howie currently serves as Supervisor of Mathematics and Accountability for Dorchester County Public Schools, where she has worked since 2002.   She began her career teaching middle school science, social studies, mathematics and physical education.  She has also served as Instructional Mathematics Coach, Assistant Human Resources Administrator, and Local Accountability Coordinator. Other professional development includes attending the Women in Education Leadership Conference and the Aspiring Principals Institute.

Mrs. Howie comes from a line of educators who have served Talbot County. Her grandfather, Willis Scott, Sr. taught Industrial Arts at Moton High School and her mother, Peggy Scott-Rice was an English teacher at Easton Middle School. She lives in Easton with her husband, Kirk Howie, principal of Easton High School, and their children Jaylen, KJ, and Teagan.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recognizes Volunteers at Blackwater Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized Blackwater NWR volunteers at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner held on April 26, 2018 at the Elks Lodge #1272 in Cambridge.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognized volunteers of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) last Thursday evening in celebration of the outstanding contributions they have made to Blackwater NWR during 2017. Volunteers assist in all aspects of the refuge, from staffing the Visitor Center seven days a week, maintaining the butterfly garden, and assisting with environmental education and outreach events, to carpentry projects, nest box monitoring, facility and trail maintenance, bird surveys, boundary posting, and more. During 2017, 198 volunteers contributed 9,747 hours of their time to the refuge.

Every year, Blackwater NWR honors and distinguishes a volunteer for their exemplary performance throughout the year. This year, Beverly Middleton of East New Market received the 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award for her dedicated service to the refuge. Ms. Middleton staffs the front desk in the Visitor Center every week, assists with outreach events throughout the year, and photographs refuge habitats and wildlife for use on various refuge social media sites and other publications. Ms. Middleton has donated over 1,600 hours of volunteer service to the refuge since 2014.

Special recognition was also given to volunteers reaching key milestones in their service to Blackwater NWR. Award pins and certificates were presented to the following volunteers for reaching milestones in the number of years they have volunteered at Blackwater NWR: Leslie Baker, Sue Fischer, Andy Schneider, Heather Scrimshaw and Jed Scrimshaw for five years of service, Lisa Mayo and Chuck Mock for 15 years of service, and Helen Davies and Paul Smail for 20 years of service.

Award pins and certificates were also presented to volunteers reaching milestones in the total number of accumulated hours they have contributed to the refuge since they began. Those recognized include: Linda Chandlee, Ellie Ludvigsen, Janet Mackey, Nick Roetzel, Peter Smithson and George Wilson (50 hours), Lisa Carvallo, Carrie Harper, Ben Hunt, Ron Ketter, Gary Middleton, Katherine Slaughter, and Erica Weick (100 hours), Cathy Beise, Karl McGovern, Ellen Mousin, Maureen Rice, Stan Trice and Elaine Wilson (250 hours), and June Middleton, Jane Sebring, Carol Walker, Edward Walker, and Vicki Zobel (500 hours).

Those volunteers accumulating 1,000 hours or more are listed on the refuge’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque. They include: Lynda Hicken, Mary Horney and Ron Horney (1000 hours), Beverly Middleton (1500 hours), Edward Hessler and Mary Lynch (2000 hours), Dennis Ewell (3500 hours), and Cindy Bech (6500 hours). Each volunteer reaching these set milestones received a special recognition gift for their volunteer efforts.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Celebrates Spring with family-friendly LANDJAM Event

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) proudly invites residents of all ages to its inaugural LANDJAM event – a family-friendly gathering held on the gorgeous and permanently-preserved Leigh Family Farm in Kent County.

LANDJAM will take place on Saturday, May 19th from 1pm to 5pm (rain date: Sunday, May 20th) and will include live bluegrass music from local bands, environmentally-related educational activities and demonstrations, and an assortment of local foods, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for sale.

“This is an opportunity for people to celebrate spring and get outdoors with family and friends and to spend some time on a privately-owned farm that they normally wouldn’t have access to,” says ESLC Communications Manager David Ferraris. “The Leigh Family is extremely generous to open their property to us. We sincerely hope that families will join us on this pristine land for an afternoon full of great music, food, and fun.”

Activities for both children and adults include guided nature walks, farm tours on tractor-pulled people movers, and birding demonstrations. Food and beverages will be provided by Dogfish Head Brewery, Sprout, Barbeque & Beyond, Lockbriar & Daughter Ice Cream, and Crow Vineyard & Winery.

Leigh Family Farm is located in Betterton, MD. The entire family may attend the event for $25 (or $10 for an individual).

Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.eslc.org/events.

Pickering Creek’s Gratitude and Grub a Success!

On April 15th, 85 of Pickering Creek’s loyal supporters gathered in the Center’s rustic long shed for a dinner of thanks for their financial support of the Center’s work in the last twelve months.  Supporters were treated to a pig roast with a delicious assortment of home made sides.   Pickering Alumni Trustees John Trax acquired and roasted the pig with assistance from Alumni Trustee John Bayliss.  Board of Trustees and Alumni Carol Thompson, Tom Sanders, Debbie Geisenkotter, Colin Walsh, Mary and Bill Griffin, Jo Storey, Debra Rich and Cemmy Peterson all contributed homemade sides and desserts.  The crowd enjoyed the acoustic guitar stylings of the magnificent Kentavius Jones.

Midway through the evening Director Mark Scallion highlighted the work the Center has accomplished in the past year thanks to our supporter’s generosity as well as programs scheduled for this spring.  Supporters donations helped bring programs with Talbot County Public Schools (TCPS) second grade students who learned about seeds and plants, gaining an understanding of how seeds are dispersed, the plant life cycle and how plants meet human needs.  TCPS seventh grade students learned about the importance of biodiversity to the Chesapeake Bay using scientific tools and methods. First grade students learn about schoolyard habitats at their school as well as the importance of wetlands during a field experience to Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s extensive wetlands.  Contributions also support programs with Dorchester County Public Schools students sixth grade students and teachers participating in the Audubon Conservation Team for Birds program. Audubon Conservation Team for Birds gives students and teachers the skills to improve their schoolyard and community for birds while learning about Chesapeake Bay water quality and bird habitat components.  Each of these experiences gives students real life examples of how science works and connects them to their watershed at the same time.  The support of our donors in the community ensures that these programs happen for every student every year.  If you’d like a personal tour of the Center to learn more about supporting this work contact mark or Susanna Scallion at 410 822 4903.

Pickering Creek reaches Eastern Shore students throughout their academic careers with richly structured outdoor learning experiences to assure them the developmental benefits of frequent interaction with nature. Since establishing a well-reputed hands-on elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools over 18 years ago, in the last 8 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has also added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to its continuum of education, which include student driven habitat restoration projects in the community. Pickering Creek Audubon Center provides environmental education and volunteer opportunities to students and adults of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed to conservation action in their communities.

CBF experiment: a large man-made oyster reef that revives the dead zone

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today began a first-of-its kind experiment in Maryland: build and monitor a giant man-made oyster reef to test whether such reefs can break up dead zones of low oxygen. The project is part of the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance initiative to add 10 billion new oysters to the Chesapeake by 2025.

“We know historic oyster reefs grew up into the water column. They likely looked more like mini Manhattan skylines than the flat oyster beds we think of today. This project will test whether man-made oyster reefs with vertical structure agitate currents and break up dead zones” said CBF Maryland Fisheries Scientist Dr. Allison Colden.

CBF today deployed the first of 240 concrete reef balls at a site above the Rt. 50 Severn River Bridge. The balls are only two-feet tall, but they might offer enough resistance to existing river currents to create turbulence, and increase dissolved oxygen. Traditional oyster reefs would have grown much higher, but those were knocked down over many decades of oyster harvesting.

CBF will monitor the reef through the summer, in partnership with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the Naval Academy.

Research already has demonstrated that oyster reefs with vertical structure create rich habitat for fish and other marine life, and also filter water. This reef project will test whether such reefs offer the additional benefit of breaking up low-oxygen zones where fish and other creatures can’t live.

The site of the project is called Winchester Lump. It is a rise in the river bottom where an historic oyster reef once existed. In the summer oxygen levels plunge at the Lump as they do in many areas around the Bay as algae blooms fed by nutrient pollution die off and rob the water of oxygen. Dr. Andrew Muller of the Oceanography Department of the U.S. Naval Academy, and CBF Senior Naturalist John Page Williams have documented hypoxia at the site. With concrete balls added to the top of the Lump, the reef may achieve enough height to agitate currents, and increase oxygen levels.

The reef balls also were set with an estimated 400,000 baby oysters at CBF’s Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side. CBF has been using the concrete balls for years as an artificial home for oysters. Larvae attach themselves to the concrete much like they would to traditional reefs made of old shell. While mortality is an expected feature of all oyster reefs, other man-made reefs in the Severn River have survived and thrived.

The main difference in this reef project, however, is that sophisticated underwater equipment provided by UMCES will monitor the impact of the 240 balls on currents. CBF also will monitor for dissolved oxygen and other conditions at the reef during the summer when hypoxia, or low oxygen, is typically at its worst. Those results will be compared to monitoring data taken prior to reef construction.

The Chesapeake Oyster Alliance is a broad partnership designed to spark governmental action, public attention, and funding to accelerate ongoing oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. The ambitious goal of this collaborative effort is to add 10 billion new oysters by 2025 in Virginia and Maryland waters.

The Winchester Lump project not only will add potentially 400,000 oysters to the Alliance goal, but could create significant motivation to accelerate oyster restoration in the Chesapeake given the multiple benefits of oyster reefs.