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Bay Blog: what you can do


40+ Earth Day events to protect and celebrate the Chesapeake Bay watershed

On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated. Groups fighting for the protection of wilderness lands, endangered species, regulation of pesticides, polluting power plants, raw sewage, and toxic dump sites discovered they shared the common goal of protecting our planet. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other planet-changing environmental laws soon followed.

Forty-two years later, Earth Day is recognized with a variety of activities, including volunteers that pick up trash from their local streams, artists that sell crafts made from recycled materials to benefit environmental organizations, and river float trips that allow residents to appreciate their local natural resources.

Read our list below to find more than 40 Earth Day events across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Also, be sure to check in with your local watershed group to find out what activities it has planned for this month.

volunteers planting garden

Various locations

Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup
Various dates, times and locations
The nation's largest annual community improvement program brings the power of 3.8 million volunteers and participants to create local change. Activities include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and conducting educational programs and litter-free events.

Project Clean Stream
Saturday, April 14, 2012, multiple times and locations
Project Clean Stream is an annual stream and shoreline cleanup coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Project Clean Stream engages more than 5,000 volunteers at hundreds of cleanup sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash from our region’s streams and forests.

Clean Up Your Corner
Sunday, April 22, 2012, for one hour, location of your choice
Clean Up Your Corner is a grassroots event asking everyone around the world to donate one hour of their time on Earth Day 2012 (April 22) to clean up their area of the world.  This can be accomplished through simply picking up and properly disposing trash on the street or recycling/repurposing tossed items that can be recycled or repurposed.

D.C. metro region

Rock Creek Conservancy’s 4th Annual EXTREME Rock Creek Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 2012, various times and locations
Come join thousands of volunteers in the largest cleanup event of the year at one of multiple sites along Rock Creek.

Potomac Conservancy’s Potomac River Watershed Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 9am - 12pm, Cabin John, Md., Fletcher’s Cove, D.C., Theodore Roosevelt Island, D.C.
Join the Potomac Conservancy for the 24th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup! Help do your part to keep your community clean at this annual cleanup organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Since 1989, more than 60,000 volunteers have pulled more than 3 million tons of trash from the watershed's streams, rivers and bays.

Little Falls Watershed Alliance’s Trash Free Little Falls
Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:30am – 12pm, four locations
Every year, LFWA joins forces with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to help clean the entire Potomac River watershed.  Hundreds of pounds of trash will be pulled out of the river and its tributaries. Also, participate in the annual Garlic Mustard Challenge, where volunteers remove this invasive plant from local parks. Last year, volunteers pulled more 1,000 pounds of garlic mustard out of the ground!

Neighbors of Northwest Branch Earth Day Cleanup
Saturday, April 21, 2012, various times, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Md.
Celebrate Earth Day 2012 by helping to clean up the Anacostia River’s Northwest Branch. Wherever you live in the Northwest Branch watershed, there's a cleanup site near you. Please be sure to bring water and wear appropriate clothes to protect from sun, thorns and insects, and wear shoes that can get muddy. Gloves and bags will be provided.

Anacostia Watershed Society: Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, multiple locations, cleanup: 9am - 12pm, celebration: 12pm – 2pm
Join the Anacostia Watershed Society and other local organizations to clean up the Anacostia River and its tributaries in honor of Earth Day. Last year, more than 2,000 volunteers helped us remove more than 42 tons of trash from the river! There are nearly 40 sites to choose from in Washington, D.C., and in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland!

Friends of Sligo Creek Spring “Sweep the Creek”
Saturday, April 21, 2012 9am – 11am and Sunday, April 22, 1pm – 3pm, Montgomery County, Md.
Do you enjoy walking in the shade by Sligo Creek? Or chatting with a friend on a bench while listening to the creek's rustling sounds? These are just a few of the reasons to keep Sligo Creek clean. Come out and join your neighbors in helping enhance the natural beauty of the creek! Gloves and bags provided.

City of Alexandria Earth Day 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am – 2 pm, Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria, Va.
This year's theme is Eco-City Alexandria! The event will include green building learning sessions, educational exhibits, demonstrations, hands-on activities for children, a tree sale, and the second annual Trashion Fashion Show. The City of Alexandria will also host another Tree Sale, offering variety of trees to the public at great prices.

Friends of Dyke Marsh Earth Day Raptor Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am, Belle Haven Picnic Area, Alexandria, Va.
You can "visit with" raptors like owls and hawks on April 21 when FODM, the National Park Service and the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia sponsor a raptor demonstration on April 21 at the Belle Haven picnic area near the bike path. The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will bring live raptors for close-up encounters.

The National Zoo’s Earth Day Party for the Planet
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 11am – 3pm, National Zoo
Come to the National Zoo for a free public event to celebrate Earth Day and the Zoo's commitment to green practices. Activities include eco-crafts, conservation-related games, music and more.

Earth Day on the National Mall
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 12pm - 7pm, National Mall
The centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of environmentally conscious people from all walks of life and all parts of the country will be joined by civic leaders and celebrities for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement.

Clean Water Network's Float-In Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 3:30pm – 7pm, 1st and Potomac Avenue SE
Join people from across the region and country to protect Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River and all of our country’s waters for the First Annual Float-In Earth Day. The "Float-In" marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of our nation’s landmark environmental laws. Bring your boats, canoes, kayaks, rafts, yachts and even bathtubs (if they can float!) to Diamond Teague Park. Entertainment will include musical performances, boat tours of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and a screening of a new documentary on the water crisis, Last Call to the Oasis.

Clean Fairfax Council and County of Fairfax Earth and Arbor Day Celebration
Saturday, April 28, 2012, Fairfax, Va.
For more than 10 years, Clean Fairfax Council and the County of Fairfax have organized Earth Day/Arbor Day. Even though it rained last year, it was a terrific event for participants and visitors. The agenda for 2012 includes a community service stream cleanup, urban forestry workshops, Arbor Day tree planting, environmental education and games for kids, and more! And – it’s all free!


Project Clean Stream with Spa Creek Conservancy
Saturday, April 14, 2012, Chesapeake Children's Museum, Annapolis, Md.
Help the Spa Creek Conservancy clean up the shoreline at the Children's Museum in Annapolis.

Rain Garden Installations and an Earth Day Celebration
Friday, April 20, 2012, 10am – 3pm, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Annapolis, Md.
Volunteers will plant two rain gardens located along the DNR parking lot.  All are invited to get their hands dirty and join in for a fun, festive Earth Day celebration!  Rain date: Monday, April 23, 10 am - 3 pm.

TreeBaltimore Earth Day Planting
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am – 12pm, Frederick Douglass High School, Baltimore, Md.
Blue Water Baltimore will host its big spring tree planting on Saturday, April 21, and is looking for plenty of volunteers to help restore Baltimore’s tree canopy! Groups and families welcome. All gloves, tools and training will be provided. Volunteers should wear clothes and shoes they don’t mind getting dirty and bring a refillable water bottle. Afterwards, take a stroll down to EcoFest at Druid Hill Park and enjoy the day!

Gunpowder Valley Conservancy's Earth Day Tree Planting
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am – 1pm, Loch Raven Reservoir
Join the conservancy as it plants trees in the Gunpowder Valley on Saturday, April 21.

Savage River Watershed Association's Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10am – 12pm, New Germany State Park
Native plant enthusiasts will answer your questions about native plants, conservation landscaping and backyard wildlife habitat practices. A variety of native plants (grasses, sedges, wildflowers, shrubs and trees) will be available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit the SRWA.

Eastern Shore (Maryland and Virginia)

Easton's "Illumination: Found Art Show"
Month of April, Talbot County Visual Arts Center, Easton, Md.
In keeping with Earth Day, the Talbot County Visual Arts Center will celebrate the works of regional found object artists as a part of the "Illumination: Found Art Show.” These artists have taken ordinary objects such as hardware, industrial tubing and household items – many cast off and destined for the landfill – to create one-of-a-kind works of art.

Easton's Clean Stream Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 9am – 12pm, Easton, Md.
Join Pickering Creek Audubon Center and the town of Easton to beautify Easton’s Rails to Trails trail. Volunteer a few hours to help make the community and its streams cleaner and safer.

Earth Day Beginners Bird Walk
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am – 12pm
Come celebrate Earth Day at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on a beginners bird walk. This program is run by the friendly, expert birders of the Kent County Bird Club. It is geared for beginners but birders of all experience levels are welcome to attend.

Pickering Creek Environmental Center's Earth Day Work Day
Saturday, April 21, 9am – 12pm, Easton, Md.
Celebrate the earth with Pickering Creek! Get your work gloves out and join staff for Earth Day Work Day. Volunteers will tackle a number of projects including invasive plant removal, trail clearing, gardening and more.  The day will wrap up with a picnic lunch from Easton's new Chipotle restaurant. Pickering Creek will provide lunch and tools for the day. Just bring a water bottle and a friend!

Mutt Strut & Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am – 1pm, downtown Chestertown, Md.
Festivities begin in Fountain Park with the Farmer's Market, live music and dog walk registration. The walk itself starts at 10:00, winding through the historic district before ending at the county courthouse. Near the Episcopal Church and the old cannon, Memorial Row will transform into a pedestrian street fair with funnel cake, fish fry, hamburgers and hot dogs by Rose Green, crafters, eco-exhibitors, recycling displays and collections. Pet tricks and canine competitions that include a high jump, doggie limbo, musical sit, waggiest tail, longest tail, shortest tail, smallest dog, tallest dog, best slobber, look-alike and costume contest will take place on the Courthouse Lawn.

Salisbury Zoo's Earth Day Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am –  4pm, Salisbury, Md.
The Salisbury Zoo will hold its annual Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 10:00am until 4:00pm. This event is free to the public and promotes an appreciation for nature and an understanding of our environment. There will be fun for all ages, including educational activities, zookeeper talks, demonstrations, food and exhibits from more than 20 earth-friendly organizations!

New Roots Youth Garden Earth Day Celebration and Blessing of the Worms
April 22, 2012, Cape Charles, Va.
The New Roots Youth Garden initiative provides experiences that help local youth develop personal growth through hard work, patience and the rewards of gardening. Youth gain environmental awareness by exploring the inter-connected relationships among living and non-living things, as well as healthy lifestyles by eating what they grow and engaging in physical activity.

Earth Day Celebration & Clean-Up at Pocomoke River State Park
April 22 –  23, 2012, 3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill, Md.
Come out and do your part for Earth Day! Help clean up the park and afterwards enjoy a live animal program featuring some of Maryland's most common birds of prey and reptiles. Meet at the Shad Landing Marina Area.


Occoquan River Clean Up Day
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 9am – 12pm, Five locations in northern Va.
Come meet your neighbors and other citizen-based organizations to help clean up the Occoquan River. Bring your boat/kayak/canoe if you own one. Refreshments will be provided.

Earth Day on the Rappahannock
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 11am – 3pm, Old Mill Park, Fredericksburg, Va.
Come celebrate the Earth!  Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation is collaborating with the Virginia Cooperative Extension — Stafford, Master Gardeners and the Rappahannock Group of the Sierra Club for festivities in honor of Earth Day. Activities include live music, great food, guided walks, and dozens of vendors and exhibitors.  There will be lots of hands-on activities for adults and children alike! Rain date is April 21st.

Earth Day Celebration in Old Town Manassas
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am – 3pm, Harris Pavilion
It’s an Old Town with a “green” attitude when Historic Manassas Inc. hosts this spring cleaning day, which includes exhibitors from nonprofit and civic organizations providing recycling and environmental information. The Manassas Trash and Recycling Department will be coordinating a “shred it” truck for residents to securely dispose of personal documents for free. At the Pavilion, several organizations will accept various items that are usually sent to the landfill, such as gently used clothing and household items, eye glasses and hearing aids. The Manassas Art Guild will be featuring its “eARTH” exhibit with artists working in several mediums and displaying their work relating to themes of recycling, natural materials and the environment.

Fauquier County's Earthfest 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 6pm, C. M. Crockett Park
This event will showcase live music from popular local and high school bands. Featured will be an eclectic mix of punk, funk, alternative rock and other music styles. Fun for all ages! Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. In the event of inclement weather, the rain date will be April 22.

Family Fun Day on Smith Creek with Friends of North Fork of Shenandoah River
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 3pm, Bill Gallucci’s Farm, 7677 Smith Creek Road New Market, Va.
Tour a water-friendly farm, see fish and wildlife, learn how to fish, hunt for river bugs, learn how to compost, help make a rain barrel, and learn how to keep your well during these exciting, hands-on activities!

Richmond Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 7pm, Old Manchester at Hull Street and East 1st, Richmond
Join Richmond residents for this Earth Day festival and an earth-friendly 5K.

Fauquier County's Acts of Green Earth Day e-Waste Recycling and Workshops
Sunday, April 22, 2012, various times, Warrenton Community Center
Learn how to keep your planet clean, healthy and happy. Fauquier County’s workshops are designed to educate, enlighten and encourage people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds to adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyles. Pre-registration required for workshops. Workshops include recycling, rain barrels and e-materials recycling.

Loudoun Family Festival and Earth Day
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012, 11am – 4pm, 42920 Broadlands Boulevard, Ashburn
The mission of EarthDay@Loudoun is to promote and celebrate environmental stewardship among county residents and businesses. This is accomplished through entertainment, exhibits, workshops and activities that engage and inspire the entire community, especially the next generation of environmental stewards. The event also creates an opportunity for local environmental organization(s) to connect with Loudouners.

The Great American Cleanup
April 27 – 28, 2012, Hampton Roads, Va.
Grab your work gloves and get ready, Hampton Roads! The Great American Cleanup is coming to a community near you! Through the partnership of askHRgreen.org and Keep Virginia Beautiful, Hampton Roads has been selected as one of 10 national locations for Keep America Beautiful’s 2012 Great American Cleanup National Action Days. The Great American Cleanup is the largest grassroots community involvement program in the United States. The launch of the Hampton Roads cleanup events on April 27-28 will involve hundreds of volunteers transforming local parks, waterways and recreational areas into cleaner, greener environments.


Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance Earth Day Tree Planting Event
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 9am – 12pm, Conestoga Country Club, Lancaster
Watershed group members will team up with local volunteers to plant hundreds of trees along the banks of the Little Conestoga Creek on the country club grounds.  Volunteers are asked to dress for planting conditions: gloves, boots, and long pants and sleeves.

Wildwood Park Earth Day Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 10am – 1pm, Wildwood Park's Olewine Nature Center, Harrisburg
You are invited to help clean up Wildwood Park’s lake, streams and trails. Volunteers will plant trees, spearhead litter pick-ups and remove invasive plants throughout the park. As Earth Day and Arbor Day approach, this event is a great opportunity to give something back. Dress for the weather. Snack, tools, and work gloves will be provided.

ZooAmerica Party for the Planet
Saturday, April 21 –22, 2012, ZooAmerica, Hershey
Join ZooAmerica in celebrating our planet!  Learn about plant and animal conservation and how you can help maintain the beauty of the earth. Enjoy fun activities and animal demonstrations, and learn helpful tips from ZooAmerica naturalists and volunteers.

Watershed Cleanup 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8am – 12pm, various locations in Centre County
Each year, ClearWater Conservancy recognizes Earth Day by organizing a Watershed Cleanup Day to eliminate illegal waste plaguing Centre County’s watersheds. Since 1997, the group has removed and properly disposed of 2,787 tons of trash from the Spring Creek, Bald Eagle Creek, Beech Creek, Penns Creek and Little Fishing Creek watersheds. A picnic for volunteers will follow at noon at Spring Creek Park in State College.

Earth Day Removal of Invasive Plant Species with the Sierra Club
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am, Neffsville, Pa.
Please join the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania as we commemorate Earth Day by removing invasive plant species from beautiful Landis Woods Park in the Neffsville area, just off Route 501. No prior experience is necessary.

Green Living Fair
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am– 1:30pm, HACC's Midtown Center
On April 21, the day before Earth Day, there will be a green living fair at HACC’s Midtown Center. Many different companies throughout the region will exhibit their green or sustainable services.

Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am –2pm, Main Street, Mechanicsburg
Come one and all to the Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival! Festival activities will include live music, exhibitors, kids world and more! Join us for a fun-filled day caring for our planet.

Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance Spring Cleanup Event
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9am – 11am, Mummau Park & Logan Park (Route 772), Manheim
Join members of the Chiques Creek group for this annual spring cleaning event.  Volunteers will clean up Rife Run, which flows through both parks, planting trees, and removing invasive tree and shrub species from the parks.  Volunteers should dress for outdoor working conditions with long pants and long sleeves, work gloves and boots.

Did we miss an Earth Day event happening near you? Let us know about it in the comments! 

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.


Seven ways to save the Chesapeake Bay in 2012

The tradition of making New Year's resolutions has existed since the ancient Babylonians. Each year, we challenge ourselves to improve some aspect of ourselves or our lives.

This year, we asked our Twitter followers how they will resolve to help the Chesapeake Bay in 2012. As individuals, we can do lots of things to protect the Bay and its rivers; not just for our own benefit, but for the good of everybody.

Here’s a list of eight great New Year’s resolutions that folks just like you are committing to in 2012!

1. Schedule and attend regular cleanups along your local stream or river

Volunteers at cleanup

(Image courtesy Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay/Flickr)

As the oldest of five siblings, my parents always made me clean up messes that I didn't make. When I was a kid, I argued that "this isn't fair." Perhaps this is the most difficult thing about trash pickups – it doesn't seem fair to clean up after other people when you weren't the one who did it. But as an adult, I realize that carelessly discarded trash all ends up in the same place: our waterways, where it damages ecosystems, harms wildlife and destroys the natural beauty of our region.

Stream cleanups are something we can participate in a few Saturday mornings a year. Volunteering for, or even organizing, regular cleanups in your neighborhood can bring your community together and make it more beautiful for everybody! To find a cleanup near you, contact your local watershed organization.

2. Replace paved driveways and sidewalks with permeable pavers

Sidewalks and driveways are typically paved, “impervious” surfaces that do not allow rainwater to soak into the ground. Instead, it runs off, picking up pollutants such as oil, fertilizer and dog waste on its way to the nearest stream or storm drain.

permeable pavers

(Image courtesy reallyboring/Flickr)

Permeable surfaces, such as pavers, allow stormwater to slowly soak into the ground, reducing flooding and polluted runoff. Check with your local landscaping company; most offer porous paver options.

3. Use natural cleaning products

Remember, cleaning products go down the drain, too, eventually ending up in our streams and rivers. Of the 17,000 petroleum-based chemicals cleaners available for home use, only 30 percent have been tested for their effects on human health and the environment. Choosing a naturally based cleaner will lessen any potential risks to your health and our waterways. You can even make your own cleaning products (which would also help you achieve resolution #7!).

4. Use less

pile of trash bags

(Image courtesy scarlatti2004/Flickr)

If you paid attention to your neighborhood's curbside during the holiday season, you likely noticed a surprising amount of trash. (An extra million tons of waste is generated each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the United States.) Sure, it's great to recycle all those boxes and bags, but recycling still takes energy and money. Why not consume less to begin with?

Here are some great tips to get you started. If you're really serious, check out these funky zero-waste toolkits for your home, religious organization, classroom or workplace.

5. Ride your bike more and use your car less

Fuel costs are soaring, you're weighed down by too many holiday treats, and you actually have to go back to work. Instead of hopping in your car, uncover that old Cannondale in the garage and get riding! Bike riding saves money and helps prevent pollution from vehicle exhaust from entering the Bay and its rivers.


(Image courtesy gzahnd/Flickr)

In some parts of the Bay region, like Baltimore and Washington, it may actually be quicker and more enjoyable to bike ride than to sit in traffic each day. In Washington, D.C., there’s even a Bikestation, where you can lock your bike and shower before heading into the office.

6. Teach our children how they can live compatibly with nature

While they may be able to tell the difference between an iPod and an iPad, most children don't know how to identify the plants and animals in their own backyard. Growing up in a world of hand-held virtual realities, it’s no surprise that the younger generation has lost touch with the great outdoors.

child with flower

(Image courtesy seemakk/Flickr)

Since Richard Louv's revolutionary book, Last Child in the Woods, concluded that children have developed social and physical health abnormalities as a result of "nature deficient disorder," a multitude of groups have formed to get kids outdoors. Join a nature play group near you to share your creative, kid-friendly outdoor adventures!

7. Get out there! Explore the Bay and its rivers

kayaker by marsh

Why would you try to save something you didn’t care about it? From New York to West Virginia, there are thousands of opportunities to get outside and enjoy your piece of the Bay. Check out the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network for parks and natural areas near you. For water warriors, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Historic Trail will introduce you to historic and beautiful scenes only accessible via kayak, paddleboat or sailboat. Kids and adults alike enjoy geocaching, a fancy word for a treasure hunt using a GPS.

So, what’s your New Year’s resolution for the Bay? Tell us about it in the comments!

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.


Dog poop happens: Learn how to deal with it!

Walking my two high-spirited Boykin Spaniels, Rosebud and Daisy, has special meaning to me. I have become the self-appointed advocate for picking up pet waste in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Many call me the “queen of poop” (with a chuckle); it’s a title of distinction, as far as I’m concerned!  But you might wonder how I earned that title and why I think it is a good thing? (My parents certainly do!)

I encourage everybody to walk with their four-legged friends. It’s good for both your health and your dog’s. Many popular routes in Anne Arundel County now have pet waste stations to encourage you to pick up your dog’s poop. Picking up pet waste is critical to achieving a healthy Chesapeake Bay.  Pet waste can be carried by rainwater and groundwater to the Chesapeake Bay, where it becomes harmful pollution.

I developed an interactive web site called Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Pet Walks, which maps the locations of pet waste stations in the area. You can even visit the website from your mobile device while you’re out walking your dog to find the nearest pet waste station.

If you know of a pet waste station that isn’t included on the map, or if you’d like to learn how to set up a pet waste program in your community, please contact me at winterstime@aol.com.

Meanwhile, please take a walk with your dog today. And remember: POOP HAPPENS…Deal with it!

Julie Winters's avatar
About Julie Winters - Julie Winters works with the Environmental Protection Agency at the Chesapeake Bay Program. She is also an Anne Arundel County Master Watershed Steward. Through her role with this program, Julie helps raise awareness about the importance of picking up pet waste and helps promote pet waste stations throughout the county.


Online guide helps homeowners choose Chesapeake Bay native plants

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have launched the Native Plant Center, an online guide to help homeowners identify and choose plants that are native to the Chesapeake Bay region.

Users to the website, www.nativeplantcenter.net, can search for native plants by name, plant type, sun exposure, soil texture and moisture. Users can even find native plants with the same characteristics as some of their favorite non-native plants. The website also includes a geo-locator feature to identify plants suited to a user’s specific location.

Planting native plants is an important part of restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Residents who replace their typical backyard landscaping with native plants use less fertilizer and pesticides, provide critical habitat for pollinators, and reduce polluted runoff to storm drains.

The portal uses the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s native plant database, associated with the publication Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

To learn more about native plants, visit www.nativeplantcenter.net.


Eight things environmentalists do to help the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Program’s staff is on a mission to restore the Bay and its rivers. Whether they work on water quality, education or oysters, everyone here is dedicated to helping the Chesapeake. But do they keep the Bay in mind when they aren’t behind their desk?

A few months ago, we sent our staff a quick survey asking them about the types of positive activities they do for the Bay when they’re not at work. Some results were typical, while others were very interesting! The following eight activities were the most popular:

1. Recycle

Is anyone surprised that recycling ranked as the number one thing Bay Program staff do to help the Bay? Recycling is one of the easiest things you can do for the environment.

One of the most common reasons why people don’t recycle is because their location does not offer recycling services. If you’re having trouble finding recycling services in your, enter your area code at Earth911 for a listing of drop-off locations near you.

2. Use little or no fertilizer on their lawn

You know you work with environmentalists when fertilizer use ranks near the top of the list! The average person may not realize that yard runoff containing fertilizer can be harmful to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Fertilizer is full of nutrients, which fuel the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching bay grasses and rob the water of oxygen.

To learn more about Bay-friendly fertilizer use, visit Chesapeake Club.

3. Compost

A little more than half of respondents said they composted at home on a regular basis. Composting is a great way to save time, money and the Bay! When you compost things like kitchen scraps and leaves, you are not only creating your own free fertilizer, but you are reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Old composters used to require a pitchfork to turn over the pile, but these have been replaced with easy-to-use bins with hand cranks.

To help you get started with composting, visit How to Compost.

4. Have a Bay license plate

If you live in or have driven through Maryland, you have probably noticed the iconic blue Chesapeake Bay license plate. What many people don’t know is that the proceeds from this “vanity plate” go to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a non-profit that conducts restoration, education and community engagement activities throughout the Bay watershed. To date, the Trust has planted 220,648 native plants and trees, restored 65 acres of wetlands, oyster reefs and streamside buffers, and engaged 86,717 students.

If you live in Maryland, buying a Bay plate is one of the easiest things you can do to help the Chesapeake Bay. Visit the Bay Plate website to learn more.

5. Volunteer for restoration projects at least once a year

All the funding in the world for restoration projects will not help if there is no one to do the work! There are an overwhelming amount of opportunities to get involved with environmental organizations in our region. From planting trees to removing invasive species to building oyster reefs, there are activities for every interest. Volunteering is also a great way to get your kids outside and help them appreciate nature.

If you are interested in getting your family involved, the Baltimore Aquarium offers regular restoration events. You can also contact your local watershed organization for more information about opportunities near you.

6. Have a rain garden or a rain barrel

Rain barrels and rain gardens are important because they collect water from roofs, yards and paved surfaces that would otherwise flow into storm drains. Rain gardens and rain barrels are so important that some counties actually offer funding and tax breaks for implementing them. Check with your city environmental office to see if your area has a program.

To learn more about rain barrels and rain gardens, visit Rainscaping.org.

7. Pick up after their pets

It is common misconception that it’s safe to leave pet waste on the ground because some consider it a “natural fertilizer.” However, pet waste actually contains harmful nutrients and bacteria that can run off into local waterways. Some areas can be closed off to swimmers in summertime due to high bacteria levels from pet waste. Dog waste should be thrown away, flushed or put in a pet waste composter.

For more information about pet waste pollution, visit the Stormwater Center Pollution Prevention website.

8. Carpool to work

People tend not to carpool because they do not know if anyone else who works with them lives nearby. People also enjoy the freedom of being able to come and go as they please without having to worry about altering their schedule because of another carpool rider. However, carpooling can actually save you time and money. You will spend less on gas and vehicle maintenance, and you can take advantage of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

The best solution is to create a way for colleagues who are interested in carpooling to list where they live. Put it in a well-traveled place, such as a kitchen, front desk or break room.

After seeing what the “average environmentalist” does for the Chesapeake Bay, do you think you do the same? Or more? What activities do you do that help the Chesapeake?

Kristen Foringer's avatar
About Kristen Foringer - Need some text


10 Chesapeake Bay native plants to plant in your yard this spring

The birds are chirping, the sun is starting to feel warm on your face, and those afternoon thunderstorms are rolling in. It’s officially spring in the Chesapeake Bay region, which means it’s time to get outside and plant!

If you’ve been looking for a way to help the Chesapeake Bay, planting native plants in your yard is a great way to make a difference. Native plants are adapted to our region's environment, so they need less watering and no fertilizer – which saves you money. Less work, less cost and helpful to the Bay? Sounds great to us!

Here are ten native plants we recommend you plant in your yard this year!

1. Eastern Purple Coneflower

Coneflower (or Echinacea) is a popular, long-lasting perennial that grows 2-5 feet tall. Its bright lavender flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and other beneficial wildlife. Coneflower is also known for its herbal remedies as an immune system booster.

2. Sweetbay Magnolia

Sweetbay magnolia is a slender tree or shrub with pale gray bark. It is native to all the Chesapeake Bay states, except West Virginia. It usually grows 12-20 feet tall, but occasionally reaches 50 feet in the southern part of its range. When in bloom, the plant’s fragrant magnolia flowers open in the morning and close in the evening.

3. Scarlet Beebalm

Scarlet beebalm is a popular perennial with tufts of scarlet-red flowers. The 3-foot stems are lined with large, oval, dark green leaves that have a minty aroma. Scarlet beebalm will attract hummingbirds to your garden.

4. Red Maple

This popular, beautiful shade tree tree grows 40-60 ft. in cultivation, occasionally reaching 100-120 ft. in the wild. Red maple is named for its brilliant red autumn leaves. It has the greatest north-south distribution of any East Coast tree species.

5. Flowering Dogwood

Considered one of the most spectacular native, flowering trees, flowering dogwood is a 20-40 foot, single- or multi-trunked tree with white or pink spring blooms. Its fruit is known to attract birds and deer.

6. Eastern Redbud

The eastern redbud is a 15-30 foot tree with a purplish or maroon trunk and a wide, umbrella-like crown. Its tight, pink flower clusters bloom before its leaves grow, offering a showy spring display.

7. Dense Blazing Star

Blazing star has long spikes of dense, feathery white or purple flowers that bloom from the top down. Birds, bees and butterflies will be frequent visitors to your garden if you plant these beautiful native flowers.

8. Common Boneset

Boneset’s tiny, white flowers are arranged in fuzzy clusters atop 3-6 foot stems. Early herb doctors thought this plant helped set broken bones. Its leaves were wrapped with bandages around splints.

9. New York Ironweed

New York ironweed is a tall perennial, growing 5-8 feet in height. Its clumps of striking, deep reddish-purple flowers attract butterflies.

10. Cardinal Flower

This perennial grows 2-4 feet tall and has showy, red flowers. Although relatively common, cardinal flower is scarce in some areas due to over-picking. Because most insects have difficulty navigating the plant’s long, tubular flowers, cardinal flower depends on hummingbirds for pollination.

For more information about native plants in our area, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s special Plants of Chesapeake Bay collection. This database contains hundreds of native plants and a link to a BayScaping guide that will help you use native plants in a Bay-friendly garden.

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21 Earth Day Events around the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Once a year a holiday comes around that is all about giving back and celebrating what we have been given. Trees are often an integral part of this celebration, which involves families coming together to celebrate and volunteer. It is Earth Day, of course! (What were you thinking it was?)

Earth Day began in 1970 as a nationwide rally for the environment. Since then it has evolved into a day of education and service. Local and national organizations around the country hold events and celebrations. Attending an Earth Day event is the perfect way to get your family outdoors and learn what you can do to help the environment.

Here are 21 Earth Day celebrations happening this month around the Chesapeake Bay watershed.


Anacostia Tree Planting
April 16, Riverdale

Help plant 200 native trees and shrubs along the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River with the Maryland-National Capital Parkand Planning Commission and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. This is a great opportunity for students to gain community service credit hours while helping the environment. Get some exercise and learn about the Anacostia River at the same time.

Green Week
April 16-23, Baltimore

Baltimore Green Week (BGWeek), now in its eighth year, is a week-long series of educational workshops, lectures and events. During BGWeek, members of the public can learn about, voice their concerns and take action on issues such as climate change, sustainable food and agriculture, water conservation and home efficiency. BGWeek kicks off with the EcoFest, an outdoor festival with music, yoga classes, bike rides and more than 100 local, sustainable vendors and exhibitors.

Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Baltimore

The Banneker Park & Museum’s Earth Day Celebration is sure to be filled with environmental fun! Activities will include arts and crafts, guided nature hikes, a planting workshop, climate change lecture and presentation, astronomy presentation by a NASA scientist, Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society presentation, and a composting display and Q&A session with a Baltimore County Master Gardener.

Earth Day at the Salisbury Zoo
April 23, Salisbury

Come and celebrate Mother Earth during the Salisbury Zoo’s annual Earth Day celebration! The event will feature more than 20 earth-friendly exhibitors that will teach attendees how to help the environment. There will be green demonstrations on the Zoo stage, recycled craft activities, educational activities, zookeeper talks, food and more!

Pacers' Third Annual Earth Day 5K
April 30, Silver Spring

Want to help the Chesapeake Bay while also getting your morning workout? Register for the Pacers’ Third Annual Earth Day 5K! Proceeds from the race go to the Nature Conservancy’s Bay restoration work. Last year, the event sold out. Each of the 1,200 runners who participated helped seed the Chesapeake with 5 million baby oysters (called “spat”), a critical part of restoring the Bay. Don’t feel like running? No problem! You can still make an online donation.

Earth Day at the Izaak Walton League
May 7, Gaithersburg

The Izaak Walton League will host a free Earth Day Celebration for people of all ages. Participate in a rain garden planting, build a nest box, talk with Master Gardeners, or hike along a new environmental education trail. Students will have the opportunity to receive their Student Service Learning hours. The first 100 attendees will also receive a free tree seedling!


Earth Day Staunton
April 16, Staunton

What better way to spend Earth Day than educating yourself about environmental issues in your community! If you live in the Staunton area, take the whole family to the 5th Annual Earth Day Staunton event. Earth-friendly organizations like Wild Virginia and the Virginia Native Plant Society will host interactive educational booths, while kids can take part in activities like face painting, live music and a 3-D “Planet Earth” art demonstration. Get an up-close look at some live native wildlife from the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and then learn how you can protect these animals. There will also be a native plant sale with Master Gardeners on hand to answer questions.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Chantilly

Celebrate Earth Day by getting dirty! Volunteer to plant native trees and shrubs during the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Earth Day Celebration. You can also help prevent erosion in the park by mulching and repairing park trails. End the celebration by recycling your household materials into new items.

Earth Day Festival
April 23, Richmond

More than 5,000 people attended last year’s Earth Day Festival in Richmond, and you can be one of them this year! Enjoy local food and music while participating in environmental workshops, speaking with local vendors and helping your kids learn about the environment.

Alexandria Earth Day
April 30, Alexandria

Come to Ben Brenman Park on April 30 to celebrate Earth Day with a Trashion Fashion Show! To raise awareness about the importance of recycling, local residents and students were asked to design an outfit made of recycled items. The event will also include exhibits from the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and more!

Run for the River
April 30, Louisa

Join the second annual Run for the River and enjoy beautiful, historic farm views while helping to protect the South Anna River. The race will feature both 5K and 10K routes along gravel roads through the pastoral Green Springs National Historic Landmark District. Stick around after the race for an environmental fair, where you can learn some simple ways to protect the river and the Chesapeake Bay.

Earth Day 2011 Mount Trashmore Park
May 1, Virginia Beach

Help make our world a healthier place by discovering and exploring ways to green your lifestyle at this Virginia Beach Earth Day event. Enjoy live music, delicious food and fun children’s activities at this former landfill-turned-beautiful park. Bring your old computers, hard drives and waste paper to be recycled safely and confidentially, and pick up a rain barrel or composter!

Washington, D.C.

American University Earth Week 2011: Green Campus, Green Communities
April 18-22

Join the students and faculty of American University for EarthWeek 2011. Each day of the week has a different theme, such as transportation, food and water, and a day of service. All of the week’s activities lead up to an Earth Day celebration on the 22nd! The public is invited to participate in all activities, from tree plantings to workshops.

National Zoo Earth Day Celebration
April 22

Celebrate Earth Day at the National Zoo! The event will feature crafts made from recycled materials and information about the Zoo’s sustainable practices. Be sure to bring old electronics like cell phones, batteries and accessories, which will be recycled to help raise money for the Zoo’s environmental activities!


The Great American Cleanup of PA
Various dates and locations

The Great American Cleanup of PA provides listings of restoration events throughout Pennsylvania to help citizens get involved in their local community. Events are organized by county. The Great American Cleanup of PA website lists many events ranging from tree plantings to roadside trash pickups. Celebrate Earth Day by picking an event that suits you in your area!

Earth Day 2011 at Penn State University (Harrisburg Campus)
April 21, Harrisburg

Come to Penn State Harrisburg’s annual Earth Day Event and tree planting for activities such as tie dying, container gardening and a mechanical bull! The event will also feature food, music, presentations on environmental issues and more.  

Earth Day 2011
May 1, Reading

Come to Riverfront Park for a fun, day-long event dedicated to learning about the health and wellness of people and the earth. Enjoy music from local bands while stopping by eco booths and participating in workshops. Local eateries will serve food while your kids participate in free Earth Day-related activities!

West Virginia

2011 Art and Earth Celebration
April 16, Martinsburg

Bring the whole family to War Memorial Park on April 16 for a day full of fun and environmental education. There will be free Earth Day activities for kids including a recycled costume contest. Fill your free recyclable shopping bag with crafts from local artists while you enjoy music by local bands.

Panhandle Earth Day Celebration
April 23, Shepherdstown

The 3rd Annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration will be held at Morgan's Grove Park, just outside of Shepherdstown. This family-friendly, community-oriented event will include music, art, crafts, food, kids’ activities, demonstrations, environmental and conservation groups, activists, vendors, a farmers market and more!


DSWA Earth Day Festival
April 16, Felton

The Delaware Solid Waste Authority's annual Earth Day Festival is the largest such celebration in southern Delaware. The event will feature fun and exciting "EcoStations" complete with hands-on displays that teach visitors about soil, forestry and wildlife issues. There will also be crafts and games for the children daring enough to venture through "Trash Can Dan's EcoWorld."

New York

Earth Fest 2011
April 30, Binghamton

Earth Fest 2011 will be held at MacArthur Park and School in Binghamton. Sponsored by Earth Day Southern Tier, Earth Fest is one of the longest-running continuous Earth Day celebrations in the nation.

Still looking for an Earth Day event in your area? Visit the Earth Day Network. And if you know of an upcoming Earth Day event that we haven't listed here, let us know about it in the comments!


Five ways you might be hurting the Chesapeake Bay - without even knowing it

Many residents of the Chesapeake Bay region know that what they do on land has a direct effect on the Bay's health. But what lots of people don't know is that some of their everyday actions are actually major contributors of pollution.

The good news is that small changes in your daily activities can make a big difference. Consider the amount of people who live in our region. If each of the nearly 17 million Chesapeake Bay watershed residents changed one of the behaviors listed below, imagine how much it could help the Bay's health!

Here are five ways you may be hurting the Chesapeake Bay, and not even know it.

1. Over-fertilizing your lawn

There is an unspoken competition in almost every neighborhood to have the best yard on the block. Everyone wants to hear their neighbors say, "Your flowers look so beautiful!" or ask, "How did your get your grass so green?" People often use large amounts of fertilizer and pest control products to get these results, ignoring the instructions provided on the packaging.

Excess fertilizer doesn't make your lawn extra green. It just gets washed off the grass during rain storms. This polluted runoff makes its way to the nearest storm drain, and then into your local creek or river, which eventually empties into the Bay. Fertilizer and pest control products contribute to "dead zones" that form in the Bay each summer: large areas of the Bay where fish, crabs and other life are unable to exist.

To reduce your yard's impact, limit fertilizing your yard to the fall months, when fewer rain storms allow fertilizer to stay on your lawn. Also, carefully follow product instructions so you don't apply more fertilizer than you need. Finally, pick plants that are native to your area; they require little to no fertilizer or pest control.

For more tips, check out the Plant More Plants campaign.

2. Not picking up after your pets (even in your own backyard)

The one thing that most dog owners can agree on is how much they dislike picking up after their pets. Although most people hold their noses and pick up the waste, some give a few glances around them to see if anyone is watching and keep on walking. They may not know the harm they are doing to their local waterway and the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to the risk of people stepping in the ignored waste (yuck!), another issue is that pet waste contains harmful nutrients, bacteria (like salmonella) and parasites (like roundworms). Just like fertilizer, runoff can pickup these harmful pollutants and send them straight into storm drains and local streams. Bacteria from pet waste can collect in water bodies, potentially causing infections and bacterial diseases in the people and animals that swim there. Who wants to eat a fish or crab that has been swimming in fecal matter?

Pet waste should be thrown away, flushed, or put in a pet waste composter. Do your part and pick up after your pet. It stinks, but we all need to do it for a clean Bay.

3. Washing your car

Spring is just around the corner, which means it is time to wash off all the salt and grime your car picked up during the harsh winter months. I bet many of you will think, "What a beautiful spring day. "I'm going to wash my car in the driveway." Think again! Washing your car the old-fashioned way, with a hose and bucket, can actually be very harmful to the environment.

Homeowners use an average of 116 gallons of water to clean their cars, while commercial carwashes use about 60 percent less. Additionally, you may think you are simply removing dirt and bird droppings, but motor oil, exhaust residue, heavy metals from rust and other possibly toxic substances will come off in your car wash. All of this, plus the soap you are using, will flow untreated down your street or driveway into the storm drain.

One way to reduce your impact and still have a clean car is to take it to a professional car wash. There, water is reused several times before it is sent to a treatment plant to be cleaned.

You can still wash you car at home, too. If you do, make sure to use a biodegradable, phosphate-free detergent. Also, wash your car on gravel or grass instead of on pavement. This gives water a chance to be absorbed and naturally filtered through the soil. And be sure to empty your wash bucket into a sink or toilet.

For more information on washing your car the Bay-friendly way, check out this pamphlet from the Environmental Protection Agency.

4. Using plastic bags

Remember when you used to be asked, "Paper or plastic?" at the grocery store? Well, we have a third option for you: reusable! Plastic bags are a huge source of trash pollution in the Chesapeake Bay's local rivers and streams. Most bags are used only once to carry purchases from one location to another, and then they are thrown away.

Not only is plastic bag trash unsightly, but the bags can harm animals who try to eat them or get trapped inside of them. And even if you throw them away, plastic bags can take 1,000 years to break down in the environment.

A number of cities and states have passed or are considering fees for plastic bag use. The most well-know is the District of Columbia, which launched its Skip the Bag, Save the River campaign to help clean up the Anacostia River. Maryland may create a similar law that would charge residents for each plastic bag they use.

So why not be ahead of the curve and start using reusable bags? They come in all sizes and colors. Many can even fold down to fit in a purse or glove compartment, making it easy for you to stash them away for your next trip to the store.

If you forget your reusable bags and have to use plastic, make sure you recycle your bags. Most local grocery stores have plastic bag recycling stations, as well as reusable bags for sale.

5. Driving too much

People have been told many reasons why they need to reduce the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. "You will get more exercise if you walk." "It will save you money on gas." But what about saving the Chesapeake Bay?

Pollution from air accounts for nearly one-third of the nitrogen pollution in the Bay, and vehicles are a large part of that. Like anything else released into the air, exhaust pollution will eventually come back down to the ground. Exhaust from cars also produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. When these toxic chemicals make their way into the water, they attach to sediment particles and can harm oysters, plankton and some species of fish. PAHs are thought cause cancerous tumors in catfish and other bottom-dwelling fish. Learn more about chemical contaminants here.

So help the health of animals and humans living in our region by driving less. Carpool to work, use public transportation or combine shopping trips.

For more ways to help, read our How To's and Tips page.

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Seven Chesapeake Bay Blogs You Should Read

Blogs have transformed the way people share information. Through blogs, we can instantly share everything from news to photographs to recipes. And since blogs tend to focus on a specific topic, they create a “one-stop-shop” for readers looking for certain types of information. Blogs also allow different perspectives to add their voices to an issue. This makes it interesting to read different blogs on the same topic.

There’s a good chance you came here to the BayBlog to learn about species that live in the Bay, places to visit around the region, and a wide variety of other Bay information. You can learn a lot from reading this blog, but you shouldn’t stop here!

For everything Chesapeake Bay, here are seven other great blogs you should follow. We know we’ve missed some, so feel free to add your favorite Chesapeake Bay blog in the comments!

1. Bay Backpack Blog

Bay Backpack is the first comprehensive online database of Chesapeake Bay lesson plans, field trips, grants and trainings for teachers. The website makes it easy for educators to incorporate Chesapeake Bay-themed lessons into subjects they already teach, including math, English, science and social studies.

For educators and non-educators alike, the Bay Backpack blog is a great source of ideas for how to introduce children to the environment. The blog also contains tips and resources from teachers around the country. The Bay Backpack blog is an essential resource for any teacher who wants to keep up to date on developments in the environmental education field in the Chesapeake region. 

2. B'More Green

Maintained by Baltimore Sun reporters, B’More Green is a great blog to read for the latest Maryland environmental news. Although it highlights many environmental topics in the Baltimore area, much of the blog content is dedicated to issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and its local tributaries. Recent articles have touched on topics such as offshore wind turbines, oyster populations, the Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet” and population growth int he Bay watershed.

3. IAN/EcoCheck Blog

Looking for a more science-focused blog? The University ofMaryland Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network is a group of scientists who not only study environmental problems, but aim to solve them. The IAN/EcoCheck blog covers a variety of environmental issues, but many posts focus on the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists working to solve Bay health issues have written entries discussing topics such as ecological forecasting, oyster aquaculture and tidal water monitoring.

4. Bay Journal Blog

The Bay Journal is a free monthly publication with in-depth articles about issues and events related to the Chesapeake Bay. Want your information more quickly than that? Then follow the Bay Journal’s blog, where staff regularly post current news highlights. The Bay Journal blog includes many entries that focus on what state and federal agencies are doing to restore the Bay.

5. Bay Daily

Bay Daily, written by staff with the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is a great blog to follow for information on many hot Chesapeake Bay topics. Many of the blog entries expose underlying issues and topics you often can’t find in traditional media sources. Bay Daily also highlights volunteer opportunities and ways you can help the Bay.

6. Chesapeake Trips and Tips

If you are interested in getting out and exploring all the history and natural beauty the Chesapeake Bay has to offer, Chesapeake Trips and Tips is for you. Posts let you in on interesting places that are a bit off the beaten path and exciting events that are good for the whole family.

7. Chesapeake Bay Action Plan

Interested in learning everything there is to know about state and federal Chesapeake Bay legislation? Then the Chesapeake Bay Action Plan blog is for you. Written by scientists and policymakers, blog posts highlight laws and regulations on a variety of Bay issues. Follow this blog to keep up with the Bay region’s ever-changing political atmosphere and get a variety of opinions on current laws and regulations.

Is there a Chesapeake Bay-related blog you enjoy reading that isn’t listed here? Let us know in the comments!

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Keywords: what you can do

Practice what you preach

When I was about to set a resolution for this year, I couldn't help but think of my accomplishments and my stumbles of the past year. Whether it be career goals, or cutting it back on the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (those things are awesome).

Unfortunately, this blog is not featured on Martha Stewart Living, so I'll avoid the food and instead talk about my accountability as someone who works for an environmental organization.

I've always been an advocate of believing in everything you do. To be honest, about a year and a half ago, I had no idea what a watershed was or even what the Chesapeake Bay was. Yes, that last statement is sadly true.

The thing is, I think a lot of people are in the same position that I was. Good people who want to help, but they just don't know what to do.

A lot of the things I was doing every day were having a negative impact on the environment and the Chesapeake Bay, but I didn't think to correct my actions.

I would leave lights on, keep the water running, buy bottled water, buy processed foods, use plastic cups for every drink, fertilize my lawn; I even drive a Silverado, for goodness sake. The point is, I wasn't doing any of these things while dancing around my house yelling, "Who cares about the Bay!?" I was simply neglecting all the information that is out there that can easily make you take a step back and re-evaluate your lifestyle choices.

I certainly feel as though there are a lot of people like me that still need to be reached. People who would respond to watching a movie like Food Inc. or would cut back on their use of plastic if they had to collect their garbage for a month and see how much they go through.

My new years resolution could be to continue to grow as an environmental steward, but I think I will take it a step further. This year, I would like to keep a more open mind about all of my actions and to continue learning as much as I can about how these actions affect me, others, and the environment around me.

What's your new years resolution for the environment?

Happy New Year,


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About Matt Rath - Matt was the multimedia specialist for the Bay Program.

Keywords: what you can do

Question of the Week: What can I do at my waterfront home to help keep the water clean?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Helen, who just bought a waterfront house in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wants to do her part to keep the water as clean as possible: I would like to do what I can – plant the right things, don’t plant the wrong things, etc. What can I do that entails my labor rather than money?

People are often at a loss, especially in difficult economic times, about what they can do to to help the Bay -- and not break the bank at the same time. While there are some environmental options that are costly, there are many actions you can take every day that will make a positive difference to your local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

Helen mentioned that she already cleans debris out of the creek with a net, but that there appears to be an oily film near the “shore.” Removing trash and debris from the ground and water is simple and something that anyone can do. By cleaning up your surroundings, you can save litter from flowing into the Bay via stormwater runoff.

As far as the “oily film” Helen mentioned, this may be caused by runoff from the land, which carries chemicals and contaminants into the water. One great way to prevent this from happening is by planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses along the water’s edge. Plants added to the edge of your property act as a natural buffer to slow and absorb polluted runoff before it can flow into the creek. If you're concerned about interrupting your waterfront view, just plant low grasses and shrubs, which will have the same pollution-absorbing benefits as tall trees.

Check out last week’s Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area? for links and information to help you figure out the best native plants to use and where you can purchase them.

Other simple things to do on your waterfront property include picking up your pet's waste, using fertilizer and pesticides sparingly (or not at all), and using electric-powered lawn mowers and tools as opposed to gas-powered ones. Each of these are simple ways to limit the amount of pollution and nutrients that enter your creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, remember to share your efforts with neighbors, family and friends so they, too, can learn what they can do to make a difference.

Visit the Bay Program's website for more things you can do to help the Bay in your backyard. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot to do a lot. Every little step you can take to do your part can make a difference!


Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Claudia: “This past winter, a tall Japanese pine on [our bay property] uprooted and fell over in one of the storms. I would like to plant some small trees and bushes [to replace it]. What are the best to plant in this area?” 

It’s a great idea to learn about plants that are native to our area before taking on a new landscaping project. Native plants are acclimated to the climate, soil and pests in our area. This usually means they require little to no fertilizer and pesticides. Native species also provide better habitat for wildlife such as bees, birds and butterflies, encouraging a healthy ecosystem.

An excellent resource to learn about native plants in our area is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s guide to Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This document includes a wealth of information about Chesapeake natives.

You can search by type of plant, including:

  • Ferns
  • Grasses and grasslike plants
  • Herbaceous plants (wildflowers)
  • Herbaceous emergents (for wetlands)
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
  • Vines

Once you choose a type of plant, you can select an individual plant by its scientific name for more information, including height, flowering months, fruiting months, soil and light requirements, what wildlife it attracts and other details. For example, switchgrass grows 3-6 feet in clay, loam or sand, and has flowers July through October. It provides food for sparrows and is effective at controlling erosion. All of this information is vital to successful planning and maintaining your native landscape. 

You can also search plants that have special purposes, including plants that are good for:

  • Coastal dunes
  • Saltwater or brackish water marshes
  • Freshwater wetlands
  • Bogs or bog gardens
  • Dry meadows
  • Wet meadows
  • Forest or woodlands
  • Slopes
  • Evergreens
  • Groundcover
  • Spring and fall color
  • Deer resistant plants

This section is helpful if you are trying to reproduce the natural habitats that plants are used to and to prevent excessive runoff and erosion.

Once you have determined what plants you want to plant, check out one of the following websites to find nurseries that sell native plants:

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!


Question of the Week: Where can I get a free rain barrel?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.

Recently, we’ve had several people ask us about rain barrels. They all want to know: “Where can I get a rain barrel for free? How can I make a rain barrel?” Quite often around this time of year, watershed organizations sponsor events with rain barrel giveaways or sales. After searching, we couldn’t find any resources for free rain barrels in the Bay watershed right now, but you may want to check with your local watershed group for more resources near where you live. It is possible that there are rain barrel giveaways going on that we don't know about! Rain barrel sales, however, are much easier to find. Ready-made rain barrels can be purchased from many different places. A few that are listed on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website include:

There are plenty of other places to find rain barrels, including smaller, local companies, like Rain Barrels of Annapolis, for example. Search on the Internet or ask around to find out where you can get a rain barrel in your area. As an alternative to spending the money on a pre-made rain barrel, you can opt to build your own for a fairly low price. Maryland DNR estimates that it costs about $15 to build a rain barrel using the following materials:

  • One 55-gallon drum
  • 3 1/2ft vinyl hose (3/4" DD x 5/8" ID)
  • One 4" diameter atrium grate
  • One ½" PVC male adapter (will be attached to bottom of rain barrel)
  • One 3" vinyl gutter elbow
  • Waterproof sealant (i.e. plumbers goop, silicone sealant, or PVC cement)
  • One 3/4" x ½" PVC male adapter (will be attached to end of hose and readily adapted to fit standard garden hose)
  • Teflon tape

Installing a rain barrel is great for the environment and the Bay because it diverts stormwater from storm drains, reducing polluted runoff from making its way into your local river and eventually the Bay. For more information about rain barrels and how to make them, visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/ed/rainbarrel.html Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!


Show Us (and Your State's Leaders) How You're Helping the Bay in the Bay Program's First-Ever "Local Action Video Showcase"

Are you doing your part to help your local river, stream, or the Chesapeake Bay in your community? Is your local watershed group, school group, community or municipality restoring a shoreline, replacing a parking lot with porous pavement, planting rain gardens, holding cleanups or doing other restoration work to protect your local waterways? Show the Chesapeake Bay Program in our first-ever Local Action Video Showcase!

Grab your camera and send us a short video that shows what you’re doing in your community to help your local waterway or the Chesapeake Bay. We’ll use all the video submissions to create a collective video that highlights all the local work being done throughout the Bay watershed – from New York to Virginia, West Virginia to Delaware – to restore and protect the Bay and its many streams, creeks and rivers.

The collective video will be shown to representatives and elected officials from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed – including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – during the annual Chesapeake Executive Council meeting on June 3. The Chesapeake Executive Council includes Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Additionally, submitted videos will be included in a feature on the Chesapeake Bay Program's website in early June about local restoration work throughout the Bay watershed.

What you need to do:

Film a short (5 minutes or less) video showing how you or your group is helping the Bay or your local stream or river. We’re especially interested in examples of local action in urban areas, but videos of restoration and protection work from all types of communities will be accepted!

Make sure to begin your video by:

  1. Introducing yourself and letting us know where you are located,
  2. Telling us the name of the local waterway you’re working to protect.

Then show us examples of what you’re doing in your community. Have fun with this part – do something interesting or creative.

Here’s some other tips to help guide the creation of your video:

  • Make sure to get shots of people interacting with the environment
  • Feel free to interview active participants
  • Don’t include any background music – we’ll add that in for the collaborative video
  • You don’t need a fancy camera to make your video – a point-and-shoot camera or other small handheld video camera will do fine.

Check out this sample video for more ideas on what to include in your video:

Send a DVD of your video by May 14, 2010 to:

Chesapeake Bay Program
Local Action Video Showcase
410 Severn Avenue, Suite 109
Annapolis, Md. 21403

We can’t wait to see your videos!

*By submitting a video, you give the Chesapeake Bay Program the right to edit and use your footage in various formats. Any use of copyrighted or third-party material is prohibited and will not be knowingly accepted by the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Keywords: what you can do

Question of the Week: How is the Bay harmed if we don't recycle?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Colleen, who asks: How is the Bay harmed if we don’t recycle?

Reducing our waste by recycling is a huge help to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. We're not just talking about recycling your typical bottles, cans and paper -- you can recycle all kinds of materials: water, food, cooking oil and even electronics, to name just a few.


When you don't recycle, you create much more waste that has to be treated or disposed of in some way. This includes something as simple as water. When it gets dumped into our sewer systems, it requires treatment that uses a lot of energy and money. If too much water goes to wastewater treatment facilities, those facilities will eventually need to be upgraded, which costs even more.


To save water, all you need to do is put a bucket in your shower or sink to catch the water from your faucet while it warms up. You can then use that water in plants, as drinking water for pets, or in regular household cleaning. You can also install a rain barrel in your yard to recycle rainwater that would normally run off your yard into the nearest storm drain.

Putting food down the garbage disposal is another example of creating waste out of something that can be recycled. Instead of letting food and grease get into your septic system or public sewer by putting it down the disposal, try “recycling” it by creating a compost pile. Composting reduces waste in landfills and is useful for fertilizing and enriching gardens

Cooking oil is one thing many people overlook when thinking about recycling. Some people just toss it down the drain, but this can be very hazardous because it can build up in sewer lines over time and cause harmful, expensive bloackages. There are facilities that will accept used cooking oil; find one near you at Earth911.org.

Recycling anything ultimately helps the Chesapeake Bay and the environment as a whole. Recycling cans, bottles, paper and other items reduces the amount of waste that travels to landfills, helping to make those landfills last longer so no new landfills need to be built. And properly disposing of recyclables reduces the amount of trash that can get into our waterways.

If you’re not sure about what can be recycled or where you should take it, you can check Earth911.com to find centers near you.


Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen at the next Question of the Week! Feel free to suggest other questions that will encourage reader discussion as well!


The 12 Days of Helping the Bay

This time of year, everyone’s minds turn to giving and spreading holiday cheer. But how much are you giving back to the environment in the process? Read our tips on the 12 ways to help the Bay during the holidays.

  1. Use reusable flatware and silverware for holiday meals. Disposable plates and forks may seem like a great idea when you think about the time and energy it will save doing dishes. But it’s not the best option for the environment. The less waste you generate, the less trash will end up in our landfills. Instead of using disposable items, use reusable dinnerware and only run your dishwasher when it is full. If you don’t have enough supplies to serve all your guests, encourage them to bring their own!
  2. Don’t dump used cooking oil or grease down your drain. Fats, oils and grease can clog sewer pipes, resulting in costly spills and backups that can harm local waterways. Instead of pouring oils and grease down the drain, pour them into a container and allow them to harden, and then throw the container in the trash. Alternatively, some landfills will accept used cooking oil for recycling; search for facilities in your area at Earth911.org.
  3. Save a shopping bag. While you’re out doing your holiday shopping – whether it’s for gifts or preparations for a holiday feast – be sure to bring your own reusable shopping bags. Many stores will give you a discount for using your own bags (Target, for example, will take 5 cents off your total for each bag you provide) and reusable bags usually hold more items than any plastic store-provided bag would. Save yourself the hassle of juggling loads of disposable bags and help to reduce trash in our landfills and along our roadsides at the same time.
  4. Invest in “green” Christmas lights. Did you know that LED lights use 80 to 90 percent less energy than regular Christmas lights? They also last significantly longer – up to 200,000 hours as compared to the 2,000 hours you get with traditional lights. They may cost a little bit more initially, but the savings in the long run will add up. If you don’t want to make the investment in LED lights, you can simply reduce the amount of time you have your Christmas lights on. Cutting down on your electricity use reduces the amount of energy generated by power plants, which lessens emissions of harmful pollutants that can enter our streams, rivers and the Bay.
  5. Send cards via e-mail. Many people savor the time when they receive handwritten cards delivered to them in the mail. But what happens to all of those cards? Most probably end up in a landfill, though some go to a recycling center. This year, consider sending holiday greetings via e-mail to cut back on the waste you generate. And for the cards you receive? Try recycling them in creative ways: make ornaments for next year or fashion your own gift tags for the future. Cutting back on waste any way you can will help reduce energy, save landfill space and protect our waterways.
  6. Give the Gift of Trees. If you live in Maryland, help the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reach its goal of having 50,000 native trees planted around the state by giving a tree in the name of a loved one. You can order the trees online or through the mail. The recipient will get a certificate notifying them of your gift. Trees are $40 each. If you give 10 trees, you can decide where you would like the grove to be planted. DNR has already registered more than 20,000 trees this year, which will help to reduce erosion and prevent pollution throughout the state.
  7. Buy yourself an energy-efficient gift. If you’ve been holding out on purchasing a new washer or dryer, now might be the time to do it. If you invest in an energy-efficient appliance this time of year, you’ll not only find some great sale prices, but you’ll also save money in the future. Energy Star-rated appliances can save you significant amounts of money on monthly electric and water bills, and you may be eligible for a tax credit. So go ahead and buy yourself that dream appliance! By conserving energy and water, you’ll save quite a bit of green by going green.
  8. Wrap your presents the green way. Think about how much wrapping paper, tissue paper and cardboard goes to waste each year around the holidays. After the presents are ripped open, most of the paper goes in the trash. This year, consider traveling down a greener path. Use recycled wrapping paper, or for a more personal touch, make your own creative wrapping paper out of newspaper and magazines. You can also give a gift in a reusable shopping bag and recycle the remnants of a wonderful day of gift-giving on a shopping trip with family and friends!
  9. Spread the word. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is knowledge. During the holidays and all throughout the year, inform your friends and family about the issues facing the Chesapeake Bay and the ways they can help it. You don’t have to get up on a soapbox and lobby for the cause, but if you can give a party host or hostess a suggestion about how to make their occasion a little more eco-friendly, go for it!
  10. Give to charity. If you’re just not sure what to buy someone, why not make a donation to a charity? Charities are expecting to take a big hit this year due to the state of the economy. Giving to charity is one of the most eco-friendly gift options, since there is no waste created by making a donation in someone’s name. If the charity you choose works toward conservation, you’re making double the impact.
  11. Properly dispose of your old electronics. If you receive a new cell phone, TV, or video game system as a gift this year, make sure you properly dispose of your outdated products. Donating items to charity is always an option, but if you just want to get rid of it, think twice before throwing it out with the rest of your trash. Many electronics contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to fish and humans if they find their way into the Bay or a local waterway. Find a proper electronics recycling facility near you at Earth911.org. Also, some retailers may take trade-ins or have their own electronics recycling programs.
  12. Recycle your Christmas tree. When the holiday season is over and you’re cleaning up the house, make sure to dispose of your Christmas tree the Bay-friendly way. Instead of throwing it out with the trash, take it to be recycled. Christmas trees can often be chipped into mulch, thus reducing the amount of Christmas trees that end up in landfills. Go to Earth911.org to find a Christmas tree recycler near you.

Remember, everything we do as residents of the Bay watershed has an effect on our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Every bit of waste we create, as well as the water and electricity we use, requires energy to treat and creates contaminants that could flow to the Bay via our local streams and creeks.

So while you’re appreciating all the things in your life you have to be thankful for this time of year, make sure you take a minute to reflect on the Bay we so often take advantage of and figure out a way to reduce the footprint you leave behind.

Alicia Pimental's avatar
About Alicia Pimental - Alicia is the Chesapeake Bay Program's online communications manager. She manages the Bay Program's web content and social media channels. Alicia discovered her love for nature and the environment while growing up along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. When she's not at work, Alicia enjoys cooking, traveling, photography and playing with her chocolate lab, Tess.

Keywords: what you can do
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