Nestled squarely in the middle of a shipping terminal, a construction material company, a highway and the Patapsco River, the Masonville Cove Education Campus is a hidden gem in industrial southern Baltimore. Once the site of an illicit dump, Masonville Cove has been transformed into a place for residents to connect with nature thanks to almost a decade of restoration work funded by the Maryland Port Authority (MPA), a state agency whose goals are closely aligned with the stewardship of Maryland’s natural resources and well-being of neighboring communities.
Masonville Cove’s once-neglected waterfront is now home to more than 50 acres of conserved land, including wetlands, trails and a bird sanctuary. In the southwestern part of the property, the deceptively large “near zero, net energy” education center is powered in part by solar and geothermal energy. It contains a gathering room on its first floor, two classroom laboratories in the basement and a winding mural depicting the Port of Baltimore on the staircase between the two.
It’s a cool Wednesday morning in late March, and a bus full of students pulls up outside of the campus’ environmental center. These fourth-graders from Federal Hill Preparatory School are participating in the last day of the School Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Project (SLURRP) with Living Classrooms Foundation, which works to inspire young people through hands-on education and job training. SLURRP was originally funded by NOAA, whose grant program supports the Chesapeake Bay Program’s commitment to give every student in the region a meaningful watershed educational experience. Today’s trip was provided at no cost to the school, with support from MPA.
As part of SLURRP, Living Classrooms instructors have been visiting the students at Federal Hill one Friday a month for the past five month, teaching them about water quality issues, stormwater runoff, watersheds and much more, focusing on the Baltimore area. Today’s field trip to Masonville Cove is the capstone event of the fourth-graders’ SLURRP education.
In the morning, the gathering room was full of fourth-graders, but they were quickly split into two groups for activities. One group went to the laboratories to play trash-sorting games while learning about plastics in waterways, and the other headed outside to collect water data on the Patapsco River.
It’s a cool day, but clear and comfortable—great for outside learning. As the water quality group heads over to the river, they cross over a stormwater outflow pipe, and Living Classrooms instructor Michelle Koehler stops the kids. “Every time [our staff] come[s] out to classrooms, we talk about runoff and runoff pollution,” she says. “It just so happens that in this neighborhood where Masonville Cove is, any storm drain empties out right here,” she explains, gesturing toward the water flowing out from under their feet.
Koehler continues walking with the kids towards the Patapsco, where they collect a bucket of water from the river and measure its temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen levels, trying out scientific testing kits and tools like refractometers.
In the afternoon, the kids again spent time both outside and inside. In the laboratory, students used microscopes to identify types of plankton in samples from the river. Outside, students used iPads to observe and document evidence of animals in the area, searching for signs such as prints, fur and feathers.
For the students, this field trip may mark the end of five months of learning about the Chesapeake Bay—but it’s far from the end of their learning about the watershed and the roles they play within it. Multiple students said that their favorite part of the day was testing water. “I like to see how the scientists work,” said Abigail Bayard, while another student, Alex Dixon, commented that he wants to go home and test the water in his house. After instructors brought out a diamondback terrapin for them to observe, Henry Lentz, watching calmly but intently, remarked, “I’ve never seen a turtle that close.” From turtles to tracks, Living Classrooms brought the Chesapeake Bay watershed to life.
To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Flickr page.
Text by Joan Smedinghoff
Photos and captions by Will Parson
From restoring forests, wetlands and streambanks to reducing pollution from urban, suburban and agricultural lands, 44 environmental projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received $11.5 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.
Twenty-four projects will be funded by the Small Watershed Grants Program, which supports on-the-ground restoration, conservation and community engagement. Twenty more will be funded by the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which finances the reduction of nutrient and sediment pollution in rivers, streams and the Bay. The 44 projects will leverage more than $22.2 million in matching funds to improve the health of the watershed.
In Maryland, for instance, the Parks & People Foundation will work to improve water quality and public access along Baltimore City’s Gywnns Falls. In Pennsylvania, the Lancaster Farmland Trust will implement 20 agricultural “best management practices” on four farms bordering Mill Creek. And in West Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle Planning and Development Council will transform a previous commercial site into a nursery that grows native plants for use in local green infrastructure projects.
Officials and guests announced the awards this morning at the Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, where a 2014 Stewardship Fund grant is supporting improvements in managing stormwater runoff.
Four partnerships in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will receive more than $150,000 through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, which supports the restoration of urban rivers, wetlands and stream banks across the United States.
In the District of Columbia, the Earth Conservation Corps will join with several other partners to restore portions of the Anacostia River and to connect communities with hands-on urban birds programming.
In Baltimore, Outward Bound Baltimore will protect the city’s urban birds by restoring habitat, reducing collision hazards for birds and creating awareness of migratory species that travel through the city. The Living Classrooms Foundation at Masonville Cove will work with the Hispanic Access Foundation to engage local Hispanic church congregations in conservation activities focused around urban watershed issues and the Monarch butterfly.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation, Trash Free Maryland and other partners will trawl the surface of the Chesapeake Bay for samples of microplastics, to better understand and educate others about the level of plastic pollution in local waters.
Each of these projects will help support work toward achieving the goals of the recent Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, in particular those outcomes related to citizen stewardship, diversity and toxic contaminants.
The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program began in 1999 as a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Association of Counties and the Wildlife Habitat Council. In addition to the four projects inside the Bay watershed, the program will fund 60 projects in 28 other states.
Nine projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed will receive $24.3 million in funding over the next two years as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Four of the nine projects were funded through the Bay watershed’s designation as a critical conservation area—a region with significant agricultural production that faces concerns of water quality and quantity. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is one of eight critical conservation areas located throughout the country. Totaling $19 million in funding, the four multi-state projects focus on watershed-wide restoration, ranging from restoring wetlands and forest buffers to rewarding dairy and livestock producers who implement practices that limit runoff from their farms.
The remaining five projects—localized state and county conservation initiatives in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—will receive a total of $5.3 million in state-level RCPP funding.
The RCPP was established as part of the Agricultural Act of 2014—better known as the Farm Bill—and replaced regional conservation programs that were founded under previous Farm Bills, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI). Under this new program, qualified organizations, or “partners,” can propose projects that implement a variety of conservation practices on privately-owned farmland and forested areas.
Nationally, the 115 selected projects will receive an estimated total of $372.5 million in funding. A majority of available funds were allocated to state and national projects, while 35 percent went to projects in critical conservation areas. Nearly 70 percent of all funded projects address either water quality or availability, with the remaining projects addressing additional concerns such as wildlife protection, energy use and soil quality.
A complete list of funded projects is available on the NRCS website.
From the restoration of marshes, wetlands and forest buffers to the installation of urban, suburban and agricultural pollution-reducing practices, 45 environmental projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received $9.8 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.
Twenty-seven projects will be funded by the Small Watershed Grants Program, which supports on-the-ground restoration, conservation and community engagement. Eighteen more will be funded by the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which finances the reduction of nutrient and sediment pollution in rivers and streams. The 45 projects will leverage more than $19.6 million in matching funds to improve the health of the watershed.
In Maryland, for instance, Civic Works will design and install rain gardens with community organizations, nonprofits and small businesses in Baltimore City. In Washington, D.C., the District Department of the Environment will retrofit seven drainage areas around a parking lot with low impact development techniques to slow down, cool off and clean up polluted stormwater. And in Pennsylvania, the Stroud Water Research Center will implement more than 120 “best management practices” on more than 15 farms.
Officials and guests announced the awards this morning at the Town Hall in Ashland, Virginia, where a grant will support improved stormwater management at the headquarters of the Ashland Police Department.
From the restoration of tidal wetlands to the greening of a town cemetery, 40 environmental projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received more than $9 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.
Image courtesy Eric Vance/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Half of the projects will be funded by the Small Watershed Grants Program, which supports on-the-ground restoration, conservation and community engagement. Twenty more will be funded by the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which finances the reduction of nutrient and sediment pollution in rivers and streams.
The Anacostia Watershed Society, for instance, will restore more than 10 acres of tidal wetlands along the Anacostia River, improving area flood control and outdoor recreation. The Oyster Recovery Partnership will repopulate at least 40 acres of oyster reefs in Harris Creek, bolstering current restoration work in the Choptank River tributary. And the Town of Bath in West Virginia will bring green infrastructure into a local cemetery, increasing tree canopy and reducing erosion into the Potomac River.
Image courtesy Eric Vance/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The awards were announced this morning at the Earth Conservation Corps Pump House, where a wetland restoration project was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund in 2012.
Learn more about the grant recipients.
From the restoration of streamside forests to the planting of a green roof on an historic District of Columbia house, 41 environmental projects from across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received $9.22 million in grant funding.
The restoration and outreach initiatives will restore vital habitats and reduce the amount of runoff entering local waterways, leading to cleaner water across the region.
Funding for the projects was awarded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund. Half of the projects will be funded by the Small Watersheds Grants Program, which funds on-the-ground restoration, conservation and community engagement. Twenty-one more will be funded by the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program, which funds the reduction of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment in local waterways.
Trout Unlimited, for instance, will restore stream banks and wetlands on 11 western Maryland farms, reducing agricultural runoff and benefiting brook trout. The Nature Conservancy will improve water quality and brook trout habitat in central and southern Pennsylvania, planting riparian buffers, restoring wetlands and establishing forest habitat. And the high-profile William Penn House in Washington, D.C., will install a green roof on top of the historic building, which will capture and treat almost all of the stormwater on-site.
In all, this year's projects will engage 9,000 volunteers; restore 176 miles of streamside forests and 158 acres of wetlands; and establish 170,000 square feet of green roofs and rain gardens.
"These innovative projects ... are an illustration of the incredible commitment people have to restoring our rivers and streams. With NFWF's invaluable support, these projects will make a difference, supporting progress toward a Bay that is increasingly healthy and resilient," said Jeff Corbin, Environmental Protection Agency Senior Advisor for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River.
For a full list of grant recipients, visit the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund website.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will provide $4 million in grants to local governments to help reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.
The Local Government Green Infrastructure Initiative will create grants of up to $750,000 to support local governments as they implement the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, a “pollution diet” that sets limits on the amount of harmful nutrients and sediment that can enter the Bay.
The grants will support the design and implementation of projects that use green infrastructure – such as road maintenance programs and flood plain management – to produce measureable improvements in the health of local waterways. Through the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee, local government representatives can share best practices and evolving strategies to achieve water quality goals.
The EPA will select localities that represent the diverse characteristics of local governments throughout the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, including rural counties, predominantly agricultural communities, rapidly growing suburban localities, small cities and major urban municipalities.
NFWF will administer the grants through its Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund. Since 2000, the fund has provided $68.9 million in grants for more than 700 projects throughout the Bay watershed.
For more information about this and other grant opportunities, visit NFWF’s website.
The Chesapeake Bay Trust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Maryland will award more than $400,000 to cities and towns throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed through the newly expanded Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant initiative.
The Green Streets grants will help communities that want to accelerate greening efforts to improve livability, economic vitality, and protection of local waterways and natural areas. Projects selected will improve watershed protection and stormwater management through low-impact development practices, renewable energy use and green job creation.
“Green streets and green infrastructure are investments that create jobs and save money while also providing multiple environmental and quality of life benefits,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said.
Grant assistance of up to $35,000 is available for infrastructure project planning and design. Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded for implementation and construction.
Last year, 10 cities and towns in Maryland were awarded grants to fund the planning and design of green infrastructure projects. This year, the program is providing double the overall funding.
The Green Streets grant program is open to local governments and non-profit organizations in urban and suburban areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
For more information about the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program, visit the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s website. The deadline to submit proposals is March 9, 2012.
The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for environmental education grants to be released in 2012.
Schools, colleges, universities, county conservation districts, non-profit organizations, municipalities and businesses are eligible to apply for the grants, which will provide a maximum of $7,500 per applicant.
The grants provide funding to create or develop projects to support a variety of environmental topics, including watershed management, water conservation, acid mine drainage, brownfields redevelopment and Chesapeake Bay restoration.
Last April, the Department of Environmental Protection awarded 102 grants totaling more than $538,000 to groups in support of environmental education programs across the state. Since the program’s inception, the department has awarded more than $7 million in grants.
Apply online at DEP’s website or call the Environmental Education and Information Center at (717) 772-1828. The deadline to apply is December 16.
The Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have awarded $10.9 million in grants to 55 environmental projects in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Collectively, the projects will preserve 3,729 acres of land, restore 32 miles of forest buffers and stream banks, and install runoff-reducing practices on 2,878 acres.
The funding was awarded through the Small Watershed Grants Program and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program. Both are part of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.
The Small Watershed Grants Program provides grants to organizations and municipal governments that are working to improve the condition of their local watershed through on-the-ground restoration, habitat conservation and community engagement. The program, funded by a combination of public agencies and private support, awarded $2.8 million to 37 projects. Grant recipients provided an additional $4.4 million in matching funds.
This year’s Small Watershed Grant projects are expected to involve 8,645 volunteers and engage 2,228 landowners in conservation and restoration practices. Many recipients will reduce polluted runoff through techniques such as rain gardens, as well as through outreach and marketing initiatives that promote sustainable landscaping practices.
Recipients of this year’s Small Watershed Grants include:
The Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program provides grants to innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate nutrient and sediment pollution into local waterways and the Bay. The program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, awarded $8.2 million to 19 projects. Grant recipients provided an additional $11.7 million in matching funds. This year’s projects are expected to prevent 600,000 tons of sediment, two million pounds of nitrogen and 700,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Bay.
Recipients of this year’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants include:
Through these grants, diverse agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are able to pool resources with corporate sponsors like Altria, Wal-Mart and FedEx to increase the impact any one of them could have alone, according to Tom Kelsch, vice president of conservation programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Since 2000, the Small Watershed Grants Program has provided more than $29 million to support 663 projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These projects have leveraged close to $95 million in local matching funds for a total investment of more than $125 million toward on-the-ground restoration.
Since 2007, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program has provided $26.8 million to 54 projects that reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
For more information, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has received $650,760 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement progressive management practices for drainage systems on the Eastern Shore.
The funding, awarded through a Conservation Innovation Grant, will help the state meet its Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals. The state will use the funding to use the most advanced technology available to protect the Bay and help reduce pollution while meeting modern drainage needs.
“There are 820 miles of public ditches on the Eastern Shore that were originally designed to manage agricultural drainage,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Today, those ditches also support storm water drainage from urban town centers, state highways, and commercial and residential development. As a result, many of these ditches are very seriously stressed.”
Most of the Eastern Shore’s ditches were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s in Caroline, Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties. Collectively, they drain 220,000 acres of land.
Over the past ten years, MDA has worked with the University of Maryland to develop technologies and management recommendations that reduce pollution and improve drainage ditch function. Using the NRCS grant, Maryland will identify and target the most stressed ditch systems. It will them implement management practices to reduce runoff and improve water quality, including water control structures, phosphorous absorbing materials, weed wiper technology, and algal turf scrubber technology.
Visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website to learn more about the funding and the project.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will receive nearly $850,000 through a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help Chesapeake Bay watershed farmers convert manure to energy.
The grant will be used to help farmers in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia convert excess manure to energy to generate income. The project will also improve the Bay’s health by reducing land application of manure. Efforts will be concentrated in four of the region’s “phosphorus hot spots” – areas with high concentrations of phosphorus in the soil.
The funding was provided through the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants, a program that invests millions in innovative conservation technologies that address natural resources issues.
"The grants will help to spur creativity and problem solving to benefit conservation-minded farmers and ranchers," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov for more information about the recipients of the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants.
Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee is accepting applications for nearly $308,000 in grant funding for Chesapeake Bay-related education and restoration activities. The funding is from sales of Virginia’s “Friend of the Chesapeake” license plates.
Last year, 58 grantees received approximately $312,000 in funding. Since 1996, the state has awarded nearly $6 million.
Two types of project proposals will be accepted: projects that increase public awareness about Chesapeake Bay restoration, and action-oriented projects that help restore and conserve the Bay.
The deadline for submitting a proposal for the 2012 grant is October 1, 2011. Grants will be awarded in May-June 2012.
For more information, visit the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee’s website.
Ten Maryland communities have been awarded a total of more than $230,000 to design “green streets” that will reduce polluted stormwater runoff to the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers while creating green jobs in urban areas.
Baltimore City, Bladensburg, Capitol Heights, College Park, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, Edmonston, Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, University Park each received grants of $25,000-$35,000 to plan and design “green streets” in their communities.
A “green street” is a street that:
Communities can save $27 for every $1 invested in green infrastructure, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Green Streets-Green Jobs Initiative grants are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. For more information, visit the Trust's website.
Thirty-four environmental projects in all six Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia have been awarded more than $3.4 million to help reduce pollution to local streams, creeks and rivers and the Bay.
The funding for the projects was awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations and local governments working to improve the condition of their local watershed.
The 2010 grant recipients will develop conservation plans in both urban and rural settings, preserve valuable natural lands and implement on-the-ground and in-the-water restoration practices throughout the Bay watershed. Many of the projects will use social media campaigns to fully engage their local community in restoration and conservation efforts.
“Clean water is important to every community, so it’s vital that these projects will occur in all six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the District of Columbia,” said Shawn Garvin, regional administrator for U.S. EPA Region 3.
Some examples of the types of projects funded include:
Large-scale installations of rain gardens and rain barrels
Stormwater retrofits and green building designs at schools and urban buildings
An “Extreme Stream Makeover” restoration project
A social and educational outreach program to educate citizens about conservation easements
Efforts to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from farms into local streams
The 2010 Small Watershed Grants were announced at Dundalk Veterans Park near Baltimore, Md. The announcement event highlighted the “Trees for Neighborhoods” initiative led by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management. Baltimore County is using its $50,000 grant to educate homeowners about the benefits of planting trees as a way to reduce polluted runoff.
“From planting more trees in urban areas to improving wildlife habitat and minimizing stormwater runoff, these grants result in partnerships that help restore and protect the Bay,” said Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Since 2000, more than $27 million in Small Watershed Grants has supported 626 projects around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These projects have leveraged close to $90 million in local matching funds for a total on-the-ground restoration investment of more than $115 million.
The Small Watershed Grants program is funded primarily by the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program with additional support in 2010 from the U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the District of Columbia Department of the Environment, Altria and FedEx. The grants are administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
”This program is an example of a truly effective public-private partnership that delivers funding to high-impact, on-the-ground restoration projects in communities throughout the region,” said Amanda Bassow, acting director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Eastern Partnership Office.
Visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake for more information about the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program and a full list of this year’s grant recipients.
Eleven innovative environmental projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed will reduce an estimated 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen, 51,000 pounds of phosphorus and 20,000 pounds of sediment from entering the Bay and its local waterways with $5.8 million in grants through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Program.
The Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Program, part of the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, provides up to $1 million to innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local streams, creeks, rivers and the Bay.
Collectively, the 11 projects exemplify creative and effective ways to build partnerships, bridge communities, advance technology and implement innovative practices such as green infrastructure and agricultural conservation — all of which are necessary to reducing polluted runoff from cities, suburbs and farmland.
The 11 projects are:
The grants are funded by the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Grant awardees provided an additional $10 million in matching funds.
“These projects demonstrate innovative strategies for how we can continue to live, work and play in one of the most densely populated regions of the country, while at the same time minimizing the impact on our downstream neighbors and the thousands of fish and wildlife species that call the Chesapeake Bay their home,” said Tom Kelsch, Director of Conservation Programs of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, visit www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.
Thirty-two environmental restoration and protection projects from across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been awarded more than $2.8 million in grants from the Chesapeake Bay Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help clean up local streams, creeks and rivers that flow to the Bay.
The funding was awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations and local governments working to improve the condition of their local watershed.
The 2009 Small Watershed Grant recipients will develop conservation plans, preserve valuable natural lands and implement on-the-ground restoration practices throughout the Bay's six-state watershed. A sampling of this year's grant recipients includes:
"When considered collectively, these 32 projects will have a tremendous positive impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said Chesapeake Bay Program Director Jeffrey Lape. "This year's projects will restore 620 acres of wetlands, plant 32 rain gardens and 172 acres of streamside forest buffers, and fence off 23 miles of streams to exclude livestock."
Since 2000, the Small Watershed Grants program has provided $23.6 million to support 587 projects. These grants have been used to leverage an additional $68.4 million from other funding sources, resulting in more than $92 million being invested in Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration efforts.
"Federal funding for projects like these will help protect and restore critical aquatic ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay," said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. "One of my top priorities is to improve the health of streams, creeks and rivers that make up the Bay's watershed and that sustain its natural habitat."
The Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funded primarily by the U.S. EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the USDA Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Other funding partners include Perdue Farms and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Additional funding for this year's grants is from community service payments due to a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney General District of Maryland in a case involving the illegal discharge of oil-contaminated bilge.
For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program and a full list of this year's grant recipients, visit the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's website.
Sidney Center is nestled amongst the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in Delaware County, New York. Most may not know it, but this rural community located hundreds of miles from the tidal Chesapeake Bay resides entirely within the Bay’s watershed. Sidney Center lies within the Carrs Creek watershed, a small tributary of the upper Susquehanna River, approximately one hour south of Cooperstown, N.Y.
A very rural area, in recent years this small community has been devastated by catastrophic floods and severe groundwater contamination. “2006 was the worst flood in recent memory,” says Joe Lally, president of the Sidney Center Improvement Group. “Two truck drivers were killed in Carrs Creek when a culvert failed and a portion of Interstate 88 was washed out.” In addition to loss of life, there was destruction of private housing, loss of livestock, and loss of land due to erosion. Most of the community has also been exposed to contaminated groundwater caused by failing septic systems.
Inspired by these issues, Joe, a lifetime resident of the area, and other members of the Community formed the non-profit Sidney Center Improvement Group to address problems in their area. As part of this new effort, the Sidney Center Improvement Group contacted the Chesapeake Bay Program for help dealing with the water resource issues. Joe grabbed the attention of Wink Hastings, who is responsible for assisting local communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.
Wink has been working with the Sidney Center Improvement Group for three years now on addressing land use and water quality issues in the Carrs Creek watershed. In 2008, through funding from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Wink and the Sidney Center Improvement Group arranged for the assistance of Leah Miller and Mat Webber from the Izaak Walton League Save Our Streams Program to train the community in conducting stream corridor assessments and monitoring water quality in Carrs Creek and a branch of the creek known as Willow Brook.
The community conducted the first stream corridor assessment in September 2008. Local citizens chose various segments of Carrs Creek and Willow Brook and assessed conditions in these segments. The group looked for erosion, cows in streams, trash dumping, fish barriers, and other signs of poor land stewardship. This data was then placed into two GIS databases. The first was an ArcGIS database that can be used for writing a watershed management plan. The second was an online database, designed using Bing Maps, that can be easily accessed by the public. Because of these efforts, the group was featured in an article in the January 2009 edition of Outdoor Life.
The group will begin quarterly water quality sampling in 2010. They have mapped out their sample sites and are looking at engaging local schools and colleges to assist with collecting and organizing the data. They are also looking for funding for resources to purchase monitoring supplies. This fall, at the request of the Improvement Group, the Upper Susquehanna Coalition plans to begin restoration of wetlands within the Carrs Creek watershed to help mitigate flooding problems.
While still very far away from the Chesapeake Bay, it is no less important to engage local communities like Sidney Center. Archaic land use practices (e.g. drainage tiles and ditching in crop fields) are highly prevalent in the watershed. Many landowners are losing large segments of land at an alarming rate due to erosion exacerbated by flooding.
“The beauty of a project like this is that the community is able to meet several objectives through a single, coordinated approach. By helping to improve conditions in the watershed, we are helping improve the quality of life for local citizens, and improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Wink says. “Community residents are also learning how to work more effectively with local leaders and institutions; it’s the equivalent of a Civics 101 course.”
With the inevitability of larger, potentially more damaging rainstorms caused by climate change, small watersheds such as Carrs Creek couldexperience higher sedimentation and nutrient loading. However, engaging local communities on how to “hold the line” and maintain healthy conditions in their watershed can help ensure that conditions in the watershed and the Bay are improved and sustained.
The community of Sidney Center still has a long way to go to “fix” the problems in their watershed. Funding is very scarce right now, and they have had difficulty getting noticed by many potential funders. Nevertheless, the group is determined to continue pushing forward to find a solution to their problems. “For the Sidney Center Improvement Group to work on this project, and with help from the Chesapeake Bay Program, we’re not only improving environmental conditions in our watershed but we’re increasing our ability to work as a community,” Joe says. “Thanks to this project, the community has strengthened its relationship with elected officials, Delaware County, and the local school system.
The Sidney Center Improvement Group is made up of an executive board and several workgroups that meet on a monthly basis. The Water Quality workgroup currently meets the third Thursday of every month from 6:30pm-8:00pm in the Sidney Center Library (contact Joe Lally, email@example.com, for more information). The group invites non-profits and government program representatives to come and talk to them about opportunities and partnerships that could help them meet their goals.
Thirty-four organizations from across the Bay watershed have received more than $2.1 million from the Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for projects that will protect 3,400 acres of land, restore approximately 15 miles of streams and plant more than 160 acres of marsh and wetland grasses.
The funding was awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program, which provides grants to organizations and municipal governments working to improve the condition of their local watershed.
The 2008 Small Watershed Grants were announced at Tyler Elementary School in Washington, D.C., which will benefit from a $50,000 grant to install a 13,000-square-foot rain garden on its grounds. The rain garden will filter polluted runoff, integrate watershed education into school studies and provide a model of low-impact development techniques for other urban schools.
Also featured at the event was D.C. Greenworks, which received a $75,000 grant to work with the District Department of the Environment to develop a green roof subsidy and incentive program to increase the number of green roofs in the District of Columbia. The project will develop a green roof toolkit to educate homeowners and businesses about the benefits and financing of green roofs.
At last year’s Executive Council meeting, the District of Columbia agreed to champion green development by promoting the use of green roofs, urban trees and other green infrastructure to reduce polluted runoff. D.C. Department of the Environment Director George Hawkins participated in the grant announcement and spoke of the value of the D.C. projects to the city and health of the Chesapeake Bay and its local waterways.
Other 2008 Small Watershed Grant recipients include:
Since 1998, the Small Watershed Grants program has provided $20.8 million to support 555 projects. These grants have been used to leverage an additional $65.4 million from other funding sources, resulting in more than $86.2 million being invested in watershed restoration efforts.
Local governments and community-based organizations throughout the Bay watershed will have help funding local Chesapeake Bay and river restoration projects, thanks to over $2.6 million in grants provided by the Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Some of the 68 projects funded through the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program this year include:
Together, the recipients of this year's Small Watershed Grants will have a measurable effect on Bay restoration throughout the watershed.
Projects will protect or manage approximately 2,600 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat, including wetlands, oyster reefs and underwater grasses.
Grant recipients will plant more than five miles of forest buffers and restore an additional 21 miles of streams that drain into the Bay.
Approximately 10,000 volunteers will participate in the projects, while 47,000 citizens will be educated through outreach materials.
In the past nine years, the Small Watershed Grants Program has provided $17.7 million to support 544 projects throughout the Bay watershed. These grants have been used by recipients to leverage an additional $50.7 million from other funding sources, resulting in over $67 million in support of local community watershed restoration efforts since 1998.
Primary funding for the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program Office. Additional funding partners include the USDA Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At announcement ceremonies in Harrisburg and Annapolis on May 2, ten watershed-based partnerships were awarded grants ranging from of $500,000 to $1 million to help improve the quality of local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.
To help support local organizations restoring the Bay, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust provided $7.7 million to help reduce pollution reaching the Bay from agricultural and suburban lands.
Projects include managing nutrient runoff from manure through precision feeding and identifying markets for manure as fertilizer; integrating farm stewardship with ecosystem restoration activities; and implementing various “low-impact development” and “social marketing” approaches to address urban/suburban stormwater in cost-effective ways.
The ten projects will reduce more than nine million pounds of nitrogen and nearly seven million pounds of phosphorous annually to the Bay. The projects reduce pollution from a range of sources and explore market-based incentives to encourage more widespread implementation of pollution-fighting programs.
Projects focus in four key areas: Crop Management, Manure and Poultry Litter Management, Urban/Suburban Stormwater Management, and Market-Based Incentives.
Environmental Defense will work directly with 350 farmers in the Lower Susquehanna River Basin to improve on-farm nutrient use efficiency, including Plain Sect farmers who may be reluctant to participate in government-sponsored programs.d
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection -- in partnership with Penn State Cooperative Extension, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Capital Area RC&D Council, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council -- will facilitate the conversion of 12,750 acres of cropland to continuous no-till agriculture.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Service Beltsville, the Caroline Soil Conservation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the University of Maryland Extension Service , and Public Drainage Associations, will work with farmers in the Choptank River watershed to increase agricultural BMP implementation to reduce nutrient and sediment loads.
The Upper Susquehanna Coalition will integrate innovative prescribed grazing with riparian preservation and restoration approaches on agricultural land in the Upper Susquehanna River Watershed.
The University of Maryland , working in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Adams County Conservation District, will demonstrate the comprehensive use of three key management strategies to reduce nutrient losses from dairy farms in the Monocacy watershed by as much as 30 to 40 percent.
As an outgrowth of the 2005 Waste Solutions Forum, this diverse partnership – including Virginia Tech, the Virginia Poultry Federation, the Dairy Foundation of Virginia, the Shenandoah RC&D Council, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, to name a few – will demonstrate a comprehensive and innovative approach to managing excess animal manure and poultry litter in the North River Watershed of the Shenandoah Valley.
This project, which is a partnership among the Chesapeake Bay Recovery Partnership, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, seeks to effectively address urban and suburban stormwater runoff in the Corsica River watershed by engaging residents in implementing non structural best management practices.
Using the Paxton Creek Watershed as a model, this project will develop a multi-jurisdictional stormwater management structure spanning several municipalities in the greater Harrisburg area. To test the management structure and address water quality impacts, the initiative also will implement five stormwater demonstration projects that are supported by and funded through public-private partnerships.
A broad-based partnership, including Virginia Tech, West Virginia University , the Frederick-Winchester Service Authority, as well as federal, state and local governments, community groups and business interests, will use proven and innovative best management practices to accelerate nutrient reduction in the Opequon Creek Watershed.
Virginia Tech is partnering with Virginia Commonwealth University and two oyster producers to demonstrate and assess the potential for commercial oyster production to be credited with water quality improvements under Chesapeake Bay water quality trading and offset programs.
Download more information (142 kb) about these projects.