When I moved to Annapolis last August, I wanted to be located near water and close to where I work at the Bay Program’s Eastport office. I moved into an apartment adjacent to Truxtun Park on Spa Creek. I enjoy kayaking, and the park has a boat ramp. In pretty short order, I met several people from the Spa Creek Conservancy, a local volunteer group working to restore and protect the creek. The Conservancy may be small in numbers, but it is huge in heart and enthusiasm.
(Image courtesy Spa Creek Conservancy)
On Saturday, April 14, I had the opportunity to join with other Conservancy members in a Project Clean Stream cleanup. When we assembled at the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, we were joined by a troop of Daisy Scouts out for a day of learning about the environment. They were as energetic as a swarm of bumble bees buzzing around a patch of wildflowers.
Along with the water, coffee, donuts, gloves and plastic bags at the volunteer sign-in table, we also set up a great aerial photo of the Spa Creek watershed that showed our location and all the areas that drain into the creek. The world looks a lot different from that vantage point. It was interesting to see how much of the area was covered by roads, rooftops and parking lots. These hard surfaces prevent rainwater from soaking into the soil to recharge streams and groundwater supplies.
During the cleanup, there was evidence everywhere of our consumer-based economy: plastic bottles, aluminum cans, fast food wrappers, plastic shopping bags, certain unmentionables, and even an occasional tire or two. As Aldo Leopold, a noted naturalist and conservationist once said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Those words are perhaps even more meaningful now than when he first spoke them more than 70 years ago.
What I’ve witnessed working with the incredible members of the Spa Creek Conservancy, the Watershed Stewards Academy, the South River Federation and other local, civic-minded environmental groups throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a strong desire to re-establish that sense of community where we live, work, play and pray – to think about how nature functions and why we need to find ways to live in harmony with it. We get lost in our own sense of self-importance as we travel at 60 miles per hour (or more) trying to get from one place to another. Often, we don’t allow ourselves to spend a few hours a week seeking to understand nature. To paraphrase another great thinker, “We don't value what we don't know; we don't protect what we don't value."
The Spa Creek cleanup was a good way to reconnect with nature and see firsthand how, perhaps unintentionally or unconsciously, we abuse it. Once we understand that, we will all be motivated to do something about it.
Nicholas DiPasquale has been chosen as the new director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
DiPasquale served as secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control from 1999-2002. He also served as deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and as director of the Brandywine Conservancy’s Environmental Management Center.
Most recently, DiPasquale served as a senior consultant with Duffield Associates in Wilmington, Del., providing services and advice regarding regulatory issues, permitting and ecological restoration.
“Restoring our nation’s largest estuary presents an enormous challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity,” DiPasquale said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with the states, local governments and all stakeholders in protecting the Bay, as well as local waterways throughout the watershed.”
DiPasquale graduated from the state University of New York and Washington University in St. Louis. He begins his position with the Chesapeake Bay Program in August.
“Nick has the leadership skills, experience and commitment we need to build on our progress in restoring and protecting one of our great natural treasures.” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin in making the announcement. “His expertise will serve us and our partners well as we accelerate efforts to safeguard the Chesapeake Bay and its living resources.”