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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: October 2012

Oct
11
2012

From the Field: Building rain gardens with youth in Howard County, Md.

When Marcus Moody hears the term “rain garden,” he will smile. Not because those colorful patches of flood-tolerant plants capture stormwater and allow it to gradually sink into the ground, but because he survived seven weeks of planting 27 rain gardens in Howard County, Md., during the hottest summer on record.

For Marcus and the 29 other 16 to 25-year-olds that participated in the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth program this summer, also known as READY, rain gardens are no longer an intangible concept or an idea to read about in guides to “going green.” Instead, rain gardens are dirty, wet and empowering endeavors that prove that a group of focused youth can make visible, lasting change. And in most cases, rain gardens are a lot of fun to create.

“We all became friends,” said Moody. “The actual experience of … getting to know new people and working in teams with different personalities—that was great.”

From the Field: Building rain gardens with youth in Howard County, Md. from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

READY’s participants included graduate students, fashion design majors and high school seniors looking to fund their college careers. The program provided them with a resume-building career experience, a few extra dollars and a new network of friends.

Working with people from different backgrounds toward a common goal made the summer experience stand out for Afua Boateng, who moved to Maryland from Ghana six years ago.

"Sometimes I find myself thinking about things that I feel like no one in my age group thinks about, because [in Ghana] we are trained to grow up faster. Learning to work with people that have the same interest and that are willing to work together to save something we should all care about—I really love that,” Boateng said.

READY program participants pose next to a finished rain garden

Image courtesy READY/Facebook

READY was conceived with two goals in mind: first, to provide jobs for young people. Second, to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff entering the Chesapeake Bay.

Stormwater runoff, or rainfall that picks up pollutants as it flows across paved roads, parking lots, lawns and golf courses, is the fastest growing source of pollution into the Bay. But rain gardens and other so-called best management practices can reduce the flow of stormwater into creeks, streams and rivers.

For Amanda Tritinger, building rain gardens brought her studies about stormwater to life.

"I studied hydrology and hydraulics as a course in school, but the theoretical doesn't stick with me at all and I don't really get it,” Tritinger said. “Seeing all this stuff hands-on was so valuable for me.”

Image courtesy READY/Facebook

READY is the brain child of People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), a coalition of faith-based organizations in Howard County, Md. READY is funded through a grant from the Howard County government administered by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Like any program in its inaugural year, the leaders behind READY have learned lessons for next summer, with a number of suggestions coming from the participants themselves.

For Nabil Morad, who is enrolled in the Environmental Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, working in an environment where his feedback was valued was highly encouraging. It was also the last thing he expected from a program with the words "developing youth" in its title.

"I was a little worried we were going to be treated like kindergarteners," Nabil said. "But this feels like it's an actual job."

After working in an industry where his age and experience meant his suggestions were not welcome, Nabil said that READY's willingness to listen to its participants is refreshing.

“Here, respect travels both ways in the system. I could make a suggestion to [program manager] Don [Tsusaki], and if the day comes, he'll put it into action,” Nabil added. “Everybody here is developing toward the same goal together, which is really nice.”

That goal—curbing stormwater pollution—will become more attainable if READY continues in Howard County, and if similar programs are established elsewhere in the Bay watershed.

"We have a waiting list of people who want rain gardens for next year," said PATH administrator Guy Moody. "That's a good problem to have."

Image courtesy READY/Facebook

How do rain gardens help the Chesapeake Bay?

When rainfall hits impervious surfaces like sidewalks, roofs or driveways, or when it falls onto grass lawns, it is not absorbed into the ground. Instead, it runs off into a storm drain, collecting fertilizer, pesticides, pet waste, litter and other pollutants on its way.

Rain gardens are shallow depressions planted with sedges, rushes and other flood-tolerant vegetation that capture rainfall and allow it to soak slowly into the ground.

To learn how to install a rain garden on your property, visit Anne Arundel County’s Rainscaping page.

Caitlin Finnerty's avatar
About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.



Oct
11
2012

Report recommends use of multiple models to simulate conditions in Bay’s shallow waters

An advisory committee of scientific experts has released a report recommending that Chesapeake Bay Program partners use multiple models to simulate conditions in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the report, improving shallow water simulations of dissolved oxygen and water clarity could improve the Chesapeake Bay Program’s understanding of the impacts that on-land conservation practices can have on the living resources found in shallow, tidal waters.

In the report, experts from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) note that shallow water conditions are the most difficult to simulate, due in large part to interactions between shallow waters, open waters and land.

This report shows that the comparison of data produced by multiple shallow-water simulation tools could increase our confidence in the strategies managers choose to reduce pollution loads into the Bay. Dissolved oxygen and water clarity, in particular, are two water quality criteria that must be met to “delist” the Bay as impaired.

STAC’s findings encourage the Chesapeake Bay Program to set up a pilot alternative or complementary shallow-water models as soon as possible.

Learn more about the use of multiple models in the management of the Bay.



Oct
10
2012

Maryland partners plant more than 600 million oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

Restoration partners in Maryland have put more than 600 million oyster spat into the Chesapeake Bay in the largest targeted restoration effort the watershed has ever seen.

While habitat loss, disease and historic over-harvesting have contributed to a dramatic decline in native oyster populations, the peculiar bivalves that filter water, form aquatic reefs and feed countless watershed residents are critical to the Bay’s environment and economy.

According to a report from the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a portion of the 634 million oyster larvae that partners planted in 2012 went into the Upper Bay, where last year an influx of fresh water from spring rains and late-summer storms led to widespread oyster death.

But most of the “spat on shell”—or young oysters “set” onto large oyster shells—went into Harris Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River that was declared an oyster sanctuary in 2010. There, partners hope to restore 360 acres of oyster reef, constructing new reefs and seeding this habitat with spat; close to one-third of this goal has been planted so far.

To fuel restoration efforts, the Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery produced a record-breaking 880 million spat in 2012, marking the fifth year in a row that spat production has exceeded half a billion. The largest hatchery on the (east coast), the Cambridge, Md., lab produces disease-free oyster larvae for use in research, restoration, education and aquaculture.

Horn Point Laboratory will host an open house on Saturday, October 13.



Oct
10
2012

Watershed Wednesday: Phillips Wharf Environmental Center (Tilghman, Md.)

Kelley Cox knows what it takes to bring fresh seafood to the table—and to keep fisheries thriving in the Chesapeake Bay. Cox is part of a family of watermen that has worked for five generations out of Tilghman Island, Md. When Hurricane Isabelle destroyed 200 feet of their seafood buying dock in 2003, Cox did not want her heritage to be destroyed with it. She envisioned a place where she could preserve her family's legacy while teaching the public to steward the environment and the Bay. Two years later, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center (PWEC) was born. 

Image courtesy PWEC/Facebook

Named after Cox's father, Garland Phillips, owner and operator of Phillips Wharf Seafood, PWEC now hosts educational programs and tours of the Bay. The center also coordinates a tree planting project and oyster growing program for residents of the three-mile long Tilghman Island. A marine biologist by profession but a waterman by blood, Cox makes sure the center’s educational efforts address both Bay ecology and Bay heritage.

The fish mobile is a multi-colored school bus with an environmentally themed mural painted on it.

Image courtesy PWEC/Facebook

Mobile Marine Fun

From preschoolers to third-graders, students can hold horseshoe crabs and diamondback terrapins or play predator, prey and pollution games to better understand how the Bay ecosystem works—all on board a converted school bus better known as the Fishmobile. This traveling marine science center visits schools, summer camps and even birthday parties! Other educational programs at PWEC allow students to race crabs, dress up as a waterman and cruise the Choptank River and the Bay to watch watermen work.

Image courtesy PWEC/Facebook

Grow Oysters

If you have residential or commercial waterfront property or keep your boat in a marina on Tilghman Island, you can volunteer for Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters (TIGO)! Participants place PWEC-provided cages of oyster spat into the water and give them a shake once every week or two. After nine or 10 months, the growing oysters are transported to a sanctuary and replaced with new spat. The program has placed 200 cages in the water, but PWEC won’t stop until every pier on the island is growing spat.

Excursions

Ecology cruises allow participants to see Tilghman Island in a new light—from the water! Excursions for local artists allow participants to paint or draw the island from an evening ride aboard the Express Royale.

Caitlin Finnerty's avatar
About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.



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