Waves lapped against the shore, an osprey flew overhead, warm sand squished between my toes, and all I thought was, “This is home.” The sights, the sounds, the smells -- they made me wonder what it was like for our terrapins to experience these things for the first time.
At Kent Narrows, the place their mother laid their eggs, we released our brood back into the wild. Our tender loving care allowed our three terrapins to grow five times larger than terps of a comparable age in the wild. They truly have a head start on life thanks to the Terrapin Institute’s program
Secchi was the first to be released. I set him down in the soft white sand and he took off instinctively towards the breaking waves. Without hesitation he swam through the cove and out into open water. After swimming about 10 yards he popped his little head out of the water and looked back at us standing on the shore. It was almost as if he was saying goodbye.
Skipjack was the next to go. Liana set this little lady down a few feet from the water. Skipjack swaggered her way into the waves. She swam in the cove for a few minutes before making her way through the breaking waves and into open water.
Finally it was Runoff’s turn. I sent her down in the sand, and she just sat there looking up at me. After some encouragement and a nudge in the right direction her feet finally hit the waters of the Chesapeake and she beelined it out of the cove.
We all stood on the beach, watching our little babies all grown up and out on their own. We scanned the water for their little heads popping out here and there looking back at us. It was goodbye for the last time.
Being a part of this program and raising our brood will have a positive impact on this beautiful species and the Chesapeake Bay. These terrapins made me recognize all the connections between the land, the water, the people and the critters that call the bay their home.
I left that morning feeling I was a part of something much greater than myself; I had made a true Chesapeake connection.
It was a Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m., and already it was in the mid-70s and humid. After getting lost, I arrived at the Magothy River Day and Watershed Clean Up, an event organized by the Magothy River Association (MRA) to celebrate John Smith’s discovery of the Magothy River on June 12th more than 400 years ago.
Once I arrived -- 15 minutes late -- the 25+ volunteers that had gathered at Chelsea Beach in Pasadena, Maryland, were already working hard and craving the water cooler and ice that I was in charge of bringing. The enthusiastic, hard-working (and sweaty!) volunteers, who ranged in age from 7 to 70, were helping to clean up Indian River Creek, which was riddled with hundreds of tires and other debris from more than 25 years of neglect. The creek was at the bottom of a steep ravine, and rolling huge truck tires up the hill was a muddy and sweaty challenge for many of us (including me!!!!). But over the next couple of hours we managed to nearly fill two 20-foot-long dumpsters with old tires, rims, rusty lawnmowers, water heaters (???) and other “junk.”
MRA President Paul Sparado was there and working as hard as anyone. But the real organizers for the day were Juliet Page and Tom Hampton of the MRA Stormwater Committee, of which I am a member. Along with other members of the committee, they worked with Anne Arundel County to identify sites along the Magothy River in need of clean-up and restoration. These before and after photos show what a difference this small band of people made that morning and the value of citizens and government working together to achieve a common goal.
I just recently joined the Chesapeake Bay Program Office as its deputy director after more 20 years of working for the EPA in Washington, D.C. Not only has my carbon footprint become smaller, but my professional and personal worlds have become one. I have done volunteer work for many years with MRA, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Earth Conservation Corps, and now Bay-related work is my everyday job, too. But I am only one of the nearly 17 million people who live in the Bay watershed. It will take efforts from each and every one of us to restore the Bay we all know and love.
President Obama and his family of five (remember, his mother-in-law lives with him!) are among the newest residents of the Bay watershed, and it did not take him long to embrace his new home and recognize the Bay as a national treasure by issuing an Executive Order. It charges the EPA to lead a renewed federal effort to restore the Bay by working with its state and local partners and others throughout the watershed. But it is important to remember that the government can’t do it all. The MRA cleanup and its volunteers are a prime example of that. So lets each do our part…one by one….it’s a new day for the Bay!
The District of Columbia Council has unanimously approved a bill that will help clean up the Anacostia River by placing a fee on disposable bags.
The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 will charge a 5-cent fee on disposable paper and plastic carryout bags at grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, food vendors and other shops in the city. Most of the money collected will go towards a newly created Anacostia River Cleanup Fund, which will target environmental cleanup, reclamation and restoration efforts on the Anacostia River.
“This landmark law brings the District of Columbia to the forefront of addressing pollution caused by disposable bags and takes much-needed action to clean the Anacostia River,” said D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, sponsor of the bill and chair of the Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee.
According to a recent report by the D.C. Department of the Environment, plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and Styrofoam make up 85 percent of the trash in the Anacostia River, a tributary of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. In the river’s tributaries, such as Watts Branch, nearly 50 percent of the trash is plastic bags.
The report stated that placing a small fee on disposable bags could eliminate up to 21 percent of the trash in the Anacostia and 47 percent of the trash in its tributaries.
The legislation also creates a new Anacostia River vehicle license plate and an income tax donation option. Proceeds from both will go to the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund.
For more information about the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 and the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund, visit trashfreeanacostia.com.
What You Can Do: Reduce the Amount of Plastic Bags You Use and Reduce Plastic Trash in the Anacostia River, the Chesapeake Bay and Your Local Waterways
Learn about more ways you can help the Bay.
At his 22nd annual Patuxent River Wade-in on June 14, former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler saw his white sneakers through 25.5 inches of water -- similar to last year’s measurement of 26 inches but still far from the 60-plus inches Fowler could see his sneakers through during his childhood.
Fowler proclaimed “a new day” for the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay due to recent commitments by the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the federal government to strengthen cleanup efforts. He told the crowd of nearly 200 people who came to Broomes Island, Md., for the wade-in not to focus on the river’s poor water quality.
“Today is a day that we want to cleanse that from our thinking and think of this as a new beginning, a time when we will not forfeit our optimism or relent our determination to make this river better,” Fowler said. “We will not stop until this Patuxent River glistens again.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley echoed Fowler’s sentiments, encouraging those gathered to help the river and the Bay get better for future generations.
“We need to get our hearts out of the dead zone and our hands and feet into the rivers, where we know we can make a difference,” O’Malley said.
Fowler hosts a wade-in on the second Sunday of June each year to draw attention to the muddy, polluted waters of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay. He speaks of the days of his youth when he could wade up to his shoulders in his beloved Patuxent and still see the river's bottom, teeming with crabs and fish swimming among the grasses and oyster shells.
Since Fowler's first wade-in, other wade-ins have sprung up on creeks and rivers across Maryland and become popular springtime community events.
The annual Patuxent wade-in will have its own “new beginning” next year, when it will move from its usual Broomes Island location to Jefferson Patterson Park, its new permanent location.