WC Environmental Science Students Embark on Collaborative Groundwater Study

Most people think of sea level rise as something visible, but in Rebecca Fox’s field methods in environmental science class at Washington College, students have begun long-term research into an invisible potential effect—saltwater intrusion into agricultural fields on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. And, they’re collaborating with students from the University of Maryland, learning what it’s like to work with fellow researchers who aren’t even in the same county, let alone on the same campus.

Fox, assistant professor of environmental science and studies, came up with the idea with her friend and collaborator Kate Tully, assistant professor of agroecology at UMD’s Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture. To jump-start the project, the pair applied for and received funding through MADE CLEAR, which is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Project.

Fox used her portion ($5,000) to establish a permanent research station on a farm on the lower Chester River, where she and students installed eight groundwater wells equipped with instruments that can gather a variety of data about the groundwater.

“The data loggers collect information every 15 minutes to half an hour, data on groundwater temperature, how high the groundwater is, and the salinity of the groundwater,” Fox says. “We’re hoping we can use this data that will be collected over the next five to ten years to monitor whether saltwater is intruding into the farm fields. The goal is to bring our classes together every fall to the farm to do this research project and to look at the data… And we’ll have this long-term dataset so we can do some analyses, and there’s no reason we can’t use it for research and publish it.”

Ben Nelson ’18, an environmental science major and biology minor, was among the WC students who worked on the project last fall.

“We can look at the data and see what is going on over time, because that’s what is important,” he says. “Looking at things short-term is great, but we have to look at the bigger picture, and this research opportunity allows us to see what’s going to occur over time. We’re going to have to mitigate these issues or adapt to these changes.”

Last fall, the two groups of students met once at the site, where they spoke with the landowner about changes he has seen already, and examined how the groundwater wells work. Though looking at the same data, the classes are approaching the research from slightly different perspectives. The UMD agroecology students are focused on agriculture and food production, but also on soil health and the entire agricultural system, while the WC students, with their focus in environmental science, are thinking more broadly and about other aspects than just traditional agriculture.

“The intention is to get the students together, get them to talk, get them to look at this data, and then at the end of the class we have them come up with a plan to produce collaborative podcasts,” Fox says. “Half the podcast team was at College Park, half the team was here, and they had to figure out how to put a podcast together from different locations. So much science is collaborative, and you aren’t always in the same location as the people you’re working with. The hope was that the students would get this experience of remote collaboration and see how different it is when you have to cooperate remotely, and how clearly you have to communicate.”

Nelson says this real-world collaboration was one of the trickiest but most valuable parts of the project.

“These are people who are over an hour away, and this is when we rely on technology to communicate. And that was good practice,” he says. “It really made you plan and consider others… In the beginning when we first started communications with them we were a little bit hesitant on both ends…. But as we progressed through the project I think we realized the only way we were going to get this done is to learn and adapt.

“We could interact with people of different backgrounds and further expand our collaborative skills,” he says. “This will definitely be helpful in the workplace, because you don’t just work with the same five people every day.”

In the upcoming year, the WC students will also have the opportunity to travel to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, where Tully’s side of the research is examining how different cover crops can sequester carbon dioxide.

“For that lab, instead of coming here and looking at saltwater intrusion, we’re going to look at the ability of cover crops to mitigate climate change,” Fox says. “They have all of these long- term experimental plots where they’re trying different types of cover crops, and so it’s very much more an agricultural perspective, but it’s looking at how we can diversify our crops to maybe make a difference in terms of how much carbon dioxide we’re putting into the atmosphere.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Maryland Governor Hogan Proclaims 2018 the Year of the Bird

Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed 2018 as the Year of the Bird in Maryland. The declaration celebrates native and migratory birds making their way through Maryland, as well as the Free State’s remarkable landscapes and water resources that support them.

“Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic birds in the world – from the majestic Great Blue Heron on the Chesapeake Bay to our state bird, the Baltimore Oriole,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “The Year of the Bird is an opportunity for Maryland citizens and tourists alike to celebrate the educational and recreational role of birds that live and migrate through our state, as well as a great reminder of the importance of conserving our natural resources. I want to thank the National Audubon Society for their efforts to protect birds and their habitats in Maryland and beyond.”

Governor Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio delivered the proclamation to more than 200 guests at Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s “Annual Tour, Toast and Taste” fundraiser. Held at Lombardy Estate in Easton, MD, this event helps raise funds for Audubon’s efforts to further environmental education for school-aged students.

Photo: Audubon’s Dr. David Curson, David O’Neill, Governors Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Audubon’s Mark Scallion, Jaime Bunting and Southern Maryland Audubon Society’s Mike Callahan with a Red-tailed Hawk with Governor Hogan’s Year of the Bird Proclamation.

Audubon is proud to work with a host of state and federal agencies on important bird area protection, environmental literacy and sea level rise adaptation, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland State Department of Education on Governor Hogan’s Project Green Classrooms.

Maryland is home to 42 Important Bird Areas, more than 400 observed species and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which serves as an important breeding and stopover area for millions of migratory birds each year. The Governor’s declaration recognizes that Maryland’s natural resources provide important habitat for birds.

People around the world are celebrating 2018 as Year of the Bird to mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), one of the oldest wildlife protection laws in the United States. In honor of this milestone, National Geographic, Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, and dozens of other partners around the world joined forces to celebrate 2018 as the Year of the Bird.

“Year of the Bird is an easy way people can take small everyday actions to help birds along their journeys,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO for National Audubon Society. “Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay provides wintering grounds for approximately one-third of the Atlantic coast’s migratory population, including iconic waterfowl species like the Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal for centuries. We’d like to thank Governor Hogan for declaring 2018 as Year of the Bird and recognizing the importance of birds and the places we share.”

Many conservation organizations, agencies, businesses and academics have been instrumental in protecting birds and the places they need in Maryland. In celebrating 2018 as the Year of the Bird, there is great appreciation for the efforts of many organizations, including local Audubon chapters and centers, the Maryland Ornithological Society, the Department of Natural Resources, waterfowl associations and duck clubs, and many others.

To learn more about Year of the Bird, visit: https://www.audubon.org/yearofthebird.

About Audubon:

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using, science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more and how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

ShoreRivers Honored with Prestigious Environmental Award

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters announced this week that it would honor ShoreRivers this year with its prestigious John V. Kabler Memorial Award, presented annually to Maryland’s most outstanding environmental leaders and organizations.

Past recipients have included such noteworthy environmental champions as Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, former Maryland Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, former Maryland Governor Harry R. Hughes, and former Maryland DNR Secretary John Griffin.

ShoreRivers protects and restores the waterways of the Eastern Shore and the living resources they support. The organization was formed January 1, 2018, from the merger of three river-protection organizations, and now serves Delmarva from Cecilton to Cambridge, representing rivers and watersheds draining to the Chesapeake Bay.

Photo: Front row, L-R: Elle Bassett, Jeff Horstman, Tim Trumbauer, Suzanne Sullivan, Tim Junkin, Kristin Junkin, Matt Pluta; Back row, L-R: Kristan Droter, Isabel Hardesty, Laura Wood, Tim Rosen, Ann Frock, Kim Righi, Emily Harris, Emmett Duke, and Rebecca Murphy.

“As ShoreRivers, we are a powerful voice for clean water with a dedicated team of staff, board members, and volunteers,” said ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman. “We are having a greater regional impact in advocacy, restoration, and education. We are honored and thankful for the recognition the Kabler Memorial Award brings to our work for healthier waterways and for all the great work the Maryland League of Conservation does for the environment.”

ShoreRivers employs 18 professionals including four Riverkeepers, scientists, educators, policy advocates, lawyers,and restoration specialists who work from offices in Easton, Chestertown, and Georgetown, Maryland. Its work is supported by over 3,500 community members and families and engages over 1,000 students and volunteers each year. The organization works at every level including policy and legislative advocacy, regulatory enforcement, agricultural outreach and restoration, education, oyster repopulation, and community engagement to improve our rivers.

The award ceremony will take place Tuesday, October 9 at the Westin Annapolis, located at 100 Westgate Circle, beginning with cocktails at 6pm, followed by dinner and program at 7pm. For program details or to sign up as a sponsor, contact Karen Polet Doory at kdoory@mdlcv.org or 202-281-8780.

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.

Graphite Drawings and Watercolors by Lee Boulay D’Zmura at Adkins Arboretum

“Lichen” by Lee D’Zmura

The pure beauty and precision of Lee Boulay D’Zmura’s botanical drawings and watercolors are astonishing. But in her exhibit Wabi Sabi, on view at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center through July 28, this Saint Michaels artist departed from the botanical art tradition of illustrating perfect plant specimens in order to explore the ongoing changes plants experience in their life cycles. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with a reception for the ninth biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational.

Two things happened to inspire this show. D’Zmura found a branch from a box elder tree that had fallen in a storm. Although dying, its crinkled leaves still clung to it, as did its samaras, the winged seedpods often called “helicopters,” so that the branch was both dying and giving life through its seeds.

Shortly afterward, she found herself reading a magazine article about wabi-sabi, the Japanese art aesthetic that recognizes beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The idea of honoring the ever-changing cycle of growth and decay and the dignity of aging with grace resonated strongly for her.

“I have been on the hunt for the dead and dying ever since,” she said.

Before the advent of photography, scientists relied on botanical illustration to accurately record the distinct characteristics of plant species. Trained as a botanical artist at Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration, D’Zmura has been teaching botanical art classes at the Arboretum since 2006 and has become known for her remarkable skill in accurately reproducing every detail of a plant, from the subtlest colors to the finest webbing of its veins. But in this show, she uses her expertise to capture the fascinating beauty and poignancy of individual plants throughout the stages of their lives, including the death and decay of their blossoms and leaves.

In her graphite drawing of the box elder branch, D’Zmura sketched its clusters of samaras and each elaborately complicated curve of its crinkled leaves with lines finer than a single hair. Likewise, she captured the stages of anemone plants at different times of year, from blossoms through dormancy.

As any gardener knows, decaying plant material is an important nutritional source for other plants. In one of four compelling watercolor studies of bark through the seasons, D’Zmura shows a cluster of fragile, frilly gray-green lichen spreading across a decaying log.

“I came across this while hiking with my daughter and grand dogs,” she said. “I loved the contrasting colors and surfaces of the decaying log and lichen.”

D’Zmura’s extraordinary sensitivity to the myriad kinds of nuanced beauty found in plants is a magnet for looking closer and closer at her work to discover all the extraordinary details she was able to find. Studying her unbelievably fine line work and stunning color range has the quietly exhilarating effect of honing the eye to nature itself. It’s an invitation to see our everyday environment with fresh eyes and deeper understanding.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through July 28 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

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.

Horn Point Laboratory’s Ian Morris Scholar in Residence to Give Public Talk

“Gasping for Breath: What is taking the oxygen from our coastal waters?” will be the subject of the special public talk by oceanographer Dr. Katja Fennel, Wednesday, June 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Easton branch of the Talbot County Free Library. Dr. Fennel’s program will shed light on the culprits, challenges, and possible solutions to the serious problem of oxygen deprivation that impacts our Chesapeake Bay in a big way.

Dr. Fennel is the 14th Ian Morris Scholar in Residence, a recognition presented biannually at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory (HPL).  Scholars are selected by the HPL graduate students based on their academic record, field of research and ability to communicate and stimulate scientific excellence in others. During her week in residence, Fennel will give scientific talks to faculty and students, participate in seminars, and share a special public lecture.

Educated in Germany, Dr. Fennel is professor of Oceanography and part of the Marine Environmental Modelling Group at the highly respected Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her work focuses on the use of models as useful tools to advance our understanding of marine ecosystems and the cycling of carbon and other essential elements.

Mike Roman, HPL Director, shared his enthusiasm for Katja and her research, “Our Ian Morris Scholar in Residence program gives our graduate students the opportunity to interact with a world-renowned scientist for a week. This year we are fortunate to host Dr. Katja Fennel from Dalhousie University. Dr. Fennel is an international leader in the use of models to assess the impacts of climate change and land use on the marine environment.Models are increasingly powerful tools for predicting changes in marine environments in response to climate variability and direct human influences.”

The Horn Point Laboratory, has advanced this community and society’s understanding of the world’s estuarine and ocean ecosystems. Horn Point scientists are widely respected for their interdisciplinary programs in oceanography, water quality, restoration of seagrasses, marshes and shellfish, and for expertise in ecosystem modeling. With ongoing research programs spanning from the estuarine waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the open waters of the world’s oceans, Horn Point is a national leader in applying environmental research and discovery to solve society’s most pressing environmental problems.

The Ian Morris Scholar in Residence is an endowed program to honor the memory of Ian Morris, Director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) from 1981 to 1988.  In his brief tenure, Dr. Morris’ contribution to the successful growth and scientific reputation of UMCES was enormous.  Through the Scholar in Residence program, Ian Morris’ legacy continues to have a positive impact on the next generation of scientists and our local community.

For more information, contact Carin Starr at cstarr@umces.edu or 410-221-8408.

Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape at Adkins Arboretum

The ten artists in Adkins Arboretum’s Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape share a passion for working in nature. Throughout May, they could be found in the Arboretum’s forest and meadows collecting branches, moss, grasses, pinecones and other natural materials and using them to create sculptures.

On view through Sept. 30, this is the ninth biennial Invitational show the Arboretum has hosted since 2002. There will be a reception and a guided sculpture walk on Sat., June 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the reception for Lee D’Zmura’s show in the Visitor’s Center.

“Nature is my studio. Nature is my teacher,” wrote Diane Szczepaniak, an artist from Potomac, Md., whose sculpture “Octagon of Grass, Watching the Grass Grow, Going at the Speed of Nature” is an invitation to slow down and observe and meditate on nature.

“Guardians,” a beehive-shaped sculpture by Towson, Md., artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills.

Szczepaniak installed a low octagon of steel flanked by a simple bench in a mown area beneath tall loblolly pines. The grass inside the octagon will be left to grow and mature throughout the summer, and visitors may come to sit and enjoy the quietude and the slow changes as the sculpture develops.

There’s a sense of play and discovery throughout this show. Both Ben Allanoff of Joshua Tree, Calif., and Baltimore artist Eliezer Sollins came to Adkins with no specific plans for their sculptures. Walking the paths through its forest and meadows, they found places and materials that triggered ideas. Sollins collected fallen branches laden with pinecones and armloads of meadow grass for his sculpture, “Haycone,” while Allanoff balanced long, slim branches and vines in a small grove of trees in “Pick-up Sticks,” a sculpture that visitors can actually enter.

Natural materials are the basis for most of these sculptures, including the swoop of branches framed by a cube (all painted a magical blue) in Washington artist Julia Bloom’s “Forest Cache” and Baltimore artist Marcia Wolfson Ray’s “Tumble,” four rustic boxes made of dried plants angled as if to tumble down into the wetland beside the Visitor’s Center. Using a collection of richly colored and textured materials from the forest and meadow, Susan Benarcik, of Wilmington, Del., employed classic geometry to illustrate a universal natural pattern of growth in her sculpture, “The Golden Ratio in Nature.”

“Modern-Day Fossils,” by Laurel, Md., artist Melissa Burley.

Several of the artists made sculptures exploring their concerns for the well-being of the earth. Melissa Burley, of Laurel, Md., created “Modern-Day Fossils” in which plastic bugs and leaves encased in glittering balls of amber-colored resin stand in for fossilized plants and animals.

Three of the artists created sculptures about the current severe decline in bee populations. Both Elizabeth Miller McCue of Yardley, Penn., and Bridgette Guerzon Mills of Towson, Md., constructed beehive-shaped sculptures made of many small hexagons. An intricate web of glistening wire, McCue’s is a ghostly skeleton of a beehive, long deserted by its denizens. Mills’s mixed-medium hive is more colorful, but while some of its hexagons are empty, others are mirrored so that visitors may see their own faces, implicating our human role in the disappearance of the bees but also suggesting that by promoting healthy ecosystems, we can be the agents of restoring their dwindling populations.

That possibility was the impetus for Ashley Kidner’s “Pollinator Hexagon V,” one of a series of sculptures this Baltimore artist has created in parks and art centers around Maryland. Like his other hexagons, this is a large circular garden filled with hexagonal sections where native pollinator plants are growing. Functioning not only as a work of art, its nine species of flowering plants provide a healthy source of nectar for the Arboretum’s bees.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

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.

Chesapeake Region Unlikely to Meet 2025 Bay Cleanup Goals, Unless it Picks up Pace

The Chesapeake Bay is getting healthier, but its recovery is “fragile” unless state and federal governments pick up the pace of their actions, environmental groups warned Wednesday.

As the halfway point toward the 2025 cleanup deadline approaches, the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation reported that the region is generally on track toward meeting pollution reduction goals for phosphorus and sediment but is far off pace for nitrogen.

The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus create algal blooms that cloud the water and lead to oxygen-starved “dead zones” in the Bay. Nutrients, the Bay’s primary pollutant, enter the Bay and its rivers largely through sewage, fertilizers and animal waste.

Regional Bay cleanup efforts have been under way since the 1980s. They intensified in 2010 when the federal government put the Bay under a Total Maximum Daily Load [TDML], often called a “pollution diet,” that requires state actions to meet federal clean water standards.

Those efforts have spurred improvements in the Bay’s health, but CBF President Will Baker cautioned against too much optimism, noting that Lake Erie was declared recovered decades ago but is now “worse than ever.”

“Unless the states and their federal partners expand their efforts and push harder, the Bay and its rivers and streams may never be saved,” Baker said. He expressed concern that the states and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might back off on their commitments to take all needed cleanup actions by the end of 2025. “CBF, and I imagine others, will use every means available, including possible litigation, to oppose any attempt to delay the deadline,” he said.

The possibility of allowing a delay has been floated behind the scenes, but officials familiar with the conversations say they expect that the state-federal Chesapeake Bay Program will ultimately keep the original deadline.

The Bay Program failed to meet two previous cleanup deadlines, which led the EPA to impose the TMDL as a more enforceable cleanup program that set established pollution limits for each state and river draining into the Bay.

This summer is roughly the halfway point between the 2010 establishment of the TMDL and the 2025 cleanup deadline.

States were supposed to achieve 60 percent of their assigned pollution reduction actions by the end of 2017. But the Bay Foundation, using preliminary computer model estimates from the Bay Program, said the region as a whole has achieved only about 40 percent of its nitrogen goals, though it has met the mark for phosphorus and sediment.

The CBF and Choose Clean Water — a coalition of 240 regional groups working on water issues that jointly released the analysis — credited pollution reductions for recent improvements in the Bay’s health. Underwater grass beds, a key Bay habitat, reached record levels last year, the Bay’s “dead zone” has been shrinking, and the population of important species like oysters and blue crabs have shown encouraging signs.

“We are at a critical point in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. We are seeing some incredible progress,” said Chante Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

But the environmentalists warned that the Bay’s health was still in jeopardy and that pollution reduction efforts among the four jurisdictions it examined — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia — were uneven.

Pennsylvania, which contributes the largest amount of nutrients to the Bay, is far behind in its nitrogen reduction goals, largely because of the nitrogen generated by its large agricultural sector. Pennsylvania accounts for the lion’s share of the regionwide shortfall for nitrogen reduction.

All four jurisdictions met or exceeded their goals for reducing pollution from wastewater treatment plans. Because wastewater accounts for a large portion of the nutrients from Maryland and Virginia, those efforts helped offset shortfalls in controlling runoff from farmland and stormwater in those states.

Because most treatment plants in the region have been upgraded, the majority of pollution reductions in coming years must come from farms and developed lands, where reductions have been harder to achieve.

“As the clock ticks down to 2025, we know the second half is going to be more difficult,” Baker said. Further, he noted, new problems — such the filling of the reservoir at Conowingo Dam, which was once an important trap for nutrients and sediment — are making the cleanup job harder. The region’s changing climate is an added challenge, too, increasing the amount and intensity of rainfall that washes greater amounts of pollutants into the water.

Baker said that efforts were also threatened by the Trump administration, which “regularly releases new plans to undercut clean air and clean water nationwide. Those plans, if implemented, would have adverse impacts on the Bay.” In particular, he expressed concern about multiple efforts to roll back air pollution controls. Air pollution is a significant contributor of nitrogen to the Bay.

The EPA is expected to release its own midpoint analysis of the cleanup in July. It will evaluate the progress of individual states, which could result in actions against those that have fallen behind in their cleanup schedules, either statewide or in particular sectors, such as stormwater or agriculture.

Environmental groups are split over what action the EPA should take, though, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Baker called for the EPA to exercise its “backstop” authority under the TMDL, which allows it to impose sanctions against states that fall behind. Such sanctions could include withholding grant money or exercising more oversight for new discharge permits.

“At the very least, the EPA needs to exert its authority in Pennsylvania while also putting Virginia and Maryland on notice that pollution from urban and rural runoff must be addressed more effectively,” Baker said.

But Coleman said many of the coalition’s members would oppose taking backstop actions against Pennsylvania, especially if they involve withholding funds. “Pennsylvania is so far behind in the cleanup that taking away money at this point would be quite detrimental to the cleanup as a whole,” she said.

She said there were other actions that could help meet goals, including efforts by senators from the region to bring more support for farmers as Congress considers a new Farm Bill.

“There is a golden opportunity as the Farm Bill moves through Congress to increase funding in the Chesapeake region for conservation practices on farmlands,” she said.

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and executive director of Bay Journal Media. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991.

OysterFutures Make Recommendations for Oyster Management in Choptank

After a two-year process to find common ground on ways to improve oyster fishing practices and restoration in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers, the OysterFutures stakeholders reached consensus and submitted their recommendations to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The OysterFutures research program—an experiment in consensus building funded by the National Science Foundation—brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from the oyster industry, environmental groups, other nonprofits, and government agencies to build consensus recommendations on ways to improve the oyster resource in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“The ultimate goal of the OysterFutures stakeholder workgroup was to ensure that oyster fishing and restoration policies are informed by the best available science and share stakeholder stewardship values, resulting in an economically viable, healthy and sustainable oyster fishery and ecosystem in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers,” said OysterFutures project leader Dr. Elizabeth North, a scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

In their package of 29 Consensus Recommendations for improving the oyster resource in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers, the OysterFutures Stakeholders recommended that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

· Enhance enforcement

· Explore a limited entry program

· Allow hand tonging in some sanctuary areas where no restoration efforts are planned, some with rotating harvest

· Increase planting of shell and hatchery-reared spat

· Complete planned restoration efforts

· Help place privately-funded reef balls

· Combine the above options to improve outcomes

· Use the Consensus Solutions process in Maryland

· Develop cost effective strategies for shell and substrate

· Coordinate investments in marketing strategies and business plans

· Consider increasing oyster fishery related fees and taxes

· Promote education, training, and research

OysterFutures stakeholders considered over 100 options in the process of making these recommendations, many of which were informed by the use of a computer simulation model which forecasted the potential outcomes of the recommendations.

“The stakeholders really wanted to explore a wide range of options, and they found many that are likely to result in better outcomes than continuing current policies,” said Dr. Michael Wilberg, the lead model developer on the project and professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The OysterFutures research program was based on testing a new approach for making regulations and policies called Consensus Solutions. This process – which included multiple meetings, a diverse stakeholder workgroup, professional facilitators, and a science team – built the trust among stakeholders needed to achieve the consensus recommendations.

Nine workgroup meetings were held over two years with representative stakeholders from the key interest groups that affect and are affected by the oyster fishery. Through these meetings guided by professional facilitators, the stakeholders produced a collective vision for the future of oysters in this region.

The final report is available here:  https://oysterfutures.wordpress.com/reports/

This project was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Coastal Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program with scientific support from researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Virginia Institute of Marine Science and with professional independent facilitators from Florida State University’s FCRC Consensus Center, who developed the Consensus Solutions process and facilitated the nine OysterFutures work group meetings.


The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Learn the Art of Hoop Dancing June 10 at Adkins Arboretum

Come out of your shell and shimmy! Join a fun afternoon of movement and learning for all skill levels when Adkins Arboretum offers Introduction to Hoop Dancing on Sun., June 10.

Melissa Newman, a Baltimore performance artist who performs as Mina Bear.

Professional performance artist Melissa Newman, who performs as Mina Bear, wowed attendees last fall at the Arboretum’s Magic in the Meadow gala when she performed with hoops, lights and fire. She returns to lead a group lesson that will introduce waist, knee and shoulder/chest hooping along with technical tricks that combine these movements. The workshop will also include intermediate off-body hoop illusions and crowd-pleasing technical moves. Attendees will leave with a new understanding of the art of hula-hoop dance and the basics of a healthy and active hobby.

The workshop begins at 1 p.m. and is $30 for members, $35 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.

Tour, Toast and Taste Promises Rare Glimpse Inside Lombardy Estate

On June 9th, Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Tour, Toast & Taste will be held at Joe and Missy Walsh’s Lombardy in Unionville. The event will afford guests a rare look inside Lombardy and a great opportunity to socialize and add culinary adventures to their social calendars for the next year. We’ll also be celebrating the Year of the Bird. 2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years.

Just around the corner from the 400-acre wildlife sanctuary and nature education center, in Unionville, Lombardy is a perfect fit for this year’s Tour, Toast and Taste event to benefit the education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center, the Shore’s premiere environmental center connecting people with birds, habitat and the Chesapeake Bay.

There are two noteworthy buildings at Lombardy. The larger, five part house, known as Lombardy, is a beautiful three story, colonial revival structure of the 1930s with a Mt. Vernon porch.  Immediately adjacent is an early nineteenth century, one and a half story, three bay brick house that was constructed around 1830.  Today’s Lombardy was built and inhabited by the great grandfather of Pickering Creek Audubon Center Board of Trustees member Dirck Bartlett. The father of another recent Pickering Trustee, Colin Walsh, also owned it before being purchased by its current owners, Joe and Missy Walsh, who are not related to the previous Walshs. Joe and Missy Walsh have conducted significant renovations to the buildings and made impressive improvements to the outdoor amenities as well.

The oldest existing building on the site, dating from the early nineteenth century.

The evening begins with a leisurely drive down a long, beautiful tree lined drive. Upon arrival, guests tour seven first floor rooms beautifully decorated by Mrs. Walsh.  The rooms feature significant original woodwork and other detail features as well as artwork that has remained with the house over the course of several owners.  Mrs. Walsh has tastefully decorated each of the rooms, retaining the overall flavor of the house while adding many attractive embellishments.  In addition to seeing seven first floor rooms guests will have an opportunity to view both of the second floor wings from the second floor landing.  Several generations of owners will be on hand to share the history of the house as well as how it got to its present state of perfection.

After the house tour guests will adjourn to a pleasantly breezy riverfront tent overlooking the Miles for cocktails, delicious hors d’ouevres, and light entertainment from Justin Ryan. At the sound of the bell, guests will have the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of intriguing dinners, unique events and auction items offered by strong supporters of the community-based education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center. In the spirit of the Year of the Bird this year’s live auction includes a wonderful trip to view migrating Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska, where every March, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River valley in central Nebraska to fuel up before continuing north to their nesting grounds.

The evening concludes with a special presentation of live raptors of Maryland by naturalist and friend of the Center, Mike Callahan.  Callahan is an expert on barn owls and raptors and introduces the public to them through his work with the Southern Maryland Audubon Society and Charles County Public Schools.  Guests will have an opportunity to learn about the birds and see them up close.

A view of the main estate house from the Miles River.

The Tour, Toast & Taste committee consists of a group of loyal Pickering supporters including Jo Storey, Bill Griffin, Tom Sanders, Dave Bent, Cheryl Tritt, Dirck Bartlett, Debra Rich, Carol Thompson, and Colin Walsh. This year’s Tour, Toast & Taste is generously sponsored by the Bill Davenport and Bruce Wiltsie, Out of the Fire Restaurant, Capital Blackbook, William and Mary Griffin, the Tilghman Family, Bartlett, Griffin and Vermilye, Wye Gardens, LLC, the Dock Street Foundation, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the Wilford Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Phil and Charlotte Sechler, Tidewater Physical Therapy, Avon Dixon Insurance, Wye Financial & Trust, Shore United Bank, Shorebancshares, Cheryl Tritt and Phil Walker, Colin Walsh and Carolyn Williams, Courtney and Scott Pastrick, Clay Railey and Don Wooters, the Star Democrat, Rick Scobey and Bruce Ragsdale, Ewing Dietz Fountain and Kaludis, Jo Storey and many more.

For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has provided environmental education opportunities to students of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed and birds to conservation action in their communities.  Since establishing a well-reputed elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools 25 years ago, Audubon has added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to our continuum of education along with community outreach education about our regions unique saltmarshes. Pickering Creek reaches the people of the Eastern Shore throughout their academic careers outdoor learning experiences that encourage them to continue interacting with the outdoors frequently.

Tickets and more information are available online at www.pcacevents.org.  For more information call the Center at 410-822-4903.