The Late Ed Garbisch and his Legacy of Environmental Concern for Wetland Protection

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The Eastern Shore has had a number of well-known environmental heroes which have spanned generations with the likes of the Gilbert Byron, William Warner, Harry Hughes, Rogers Morton, or more recently, Wayne Gilcrest, but for every one of these very special leaders are dozens of others who may never share this kind of public recognition.

One of those heroes passed away a few years ago.

Dr. Edgar Garblish, who spent half of his childhood on Eastern Shore, returned home in 1971 while on sabbatical from the University of Minnesota and found himself drawn to the remarkable healing properties that wetlands create for habitat along the Chesapeake Bay. In short order, Garblish resigned from his tenured position, moved his family back east to the old family home, and concentrated his efforts to research and develop techniques of marsh construction using native plants.

And by 1972, Garbisch had become founder and president of Environmental Concern in St. Michaels. There, he became one of the earliest proponents of a technique of marsh construction fine-tuned over the years known as “nonstructural shoreline control.” Wetlands were reclaimed or created using native plants, propagated in greenhouses at EC. Planting these many grasses produced a living shoreline to protect against erosion, provide habitat for animals, and also serve as a filtering system to help clean the polluted waters. Such work was and continues to be done by Environmental Concern up and down the east coast.

Before retiring from EC in 2005, Dr. Garbisch shifted his focus toward the educational side of wetland development, creating materials and programs aimed at everyone from professionals to the general public. The creation and preservation of wetlands are now recognized as a vital component of the global ecology. Planting his first marsh grass, Dr. Garbisch never thought his work would be pioneering. He simply thought it was useful and necessary for the world.

The Spy ventured out to St. Michaels to visit the Environmental Concern campus to talk to its current president, Suzanne Pittenger-Slear, about Dr. Garbisch’s legacy and the ongoing impact the organization he founded has had on restoring critical wetlands in every part of the country.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Environmental Concern please go here

About Dave Wheelan

Letters to Editor

  1. We are SO lucky to have Environmental Concern here in St. Michaels! Ann Hymes

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