Hunting guide Sean Fritzges stands in a pit blind surrounded by Canada goose decoys in Jarrettsville, Md., on Feb. 8, 2020. Fritzges was leading a group of families for Maryland DNR's youth waterfowl hunt day. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
by Will Parson
December 31, 2020
While bringing you stories from across the Chesapeake region, our photographers spend most of their time outside, reporting from farms, trails and watermen’s boats. In that sense, 2020 was no different than any other year. But the outdoors took on new significance during the rise of the coronavirus pandemic and the urgent call for social justice reform. As indoor activities were cancelled and the future became more uncertain, green spaces provided a respite for many people.
The outdoors eased our anxieties while offering a safe place to eat, play and visit with friends and family. They provided a gathering place to voice thoughts and concerns. And they showed us that it is more important than ever to ensure our green spaces become increasingly inclusive and welcoming to all.
Many of the stories we told in 2020 were about a range of groups responding creatively to new health risks, businesses adapting to new realities and the diverse communities that make the Chesapeake watershed so wonderful. In this year-end selection of photos, we wanted to share the many ways people were still able to get outside and draw on the Chesapeake and its watershed as a resource, for both work, play and renewal.
We hope you enjoy the look!
Jasmine Brown, right, explains to her mother, Twanjuri Brown, how a dead tulip poplar may be home to owls or other birds at Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md., on Feb. 27, 2020. The mother and daughter were attending the Taking Nature Black conference, hosted by Audubon Naturalist Society and covering topics such as creating healthy communities, fostering green jobs and combating climate change while incorporating principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Shaun Miller, left, and Chris Walstrum of Maryland Department of Natural Resources count and measure blue crabs and collect data on mortality during the winter dredge survey in the Nanticoke River on March 9, 2020. According to the latest Blue Crab Advisory Report, based on the dredge survey, there are roughly 405 million blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. Although this is a 31% decrease from 2019, blue crab populations vary naturally and the overall blue crab population is not depleted or overfished. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Sam Droege, a USGS biologist who leads USGS' Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, watches the white blooms of a callery pear tree for bee activity at a former sand mine in Odenton, Md., on March 27, 2020. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
An eastern gray squirrel feasts on red maple seeds at Truxtun Park in Annapolis on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. In spring, squirrels will also feed on the buds of several species of tree. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Brandon Williams, right, hikes with his family past the Patapsco River as it flows past the former site of Bloede Dam in Howard County, Md., on May 2, 2020. "We were looking for it," Williams said, disoriented by missing dam, removed in 2019. Bloede had been a deadly hazard for visitors and an impediment to migrating fish. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Sudlersville Meat Locker stays busy while their orders have almost doubled since the coronavirus quarantine began, in Sudlersville, Md., on May 11, 2020. The small meat processor's products have appeared in 11 new produce markets since the start of the pandemic. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Toni Lopes of Dylan's Oyster Cellar disinfects chairs outside the restaurant in Baltimore on May 30, 2020. Lopes said she cleans surfaces every 15-30 minutes, in keeping with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
David Willis of Suitland, Md., poses for a portrait while fishing on the Patuxent River in Lower Marlboro, Md., on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Small fish jump from the water of Graham Creek in Lower Marlboro, Md., on June 2, 2020. A paddle launch added to an existing fishing pier in Lower Marlboro in 2019 has made the creek easier to reach for visitors in kayaks and canoes. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Carlos Ramos, originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, fishes with his son Kendry while a storm approaches the Chesapeake Bay at Terrapin Nature Park in Queen Anne’s County, Md. on June 5, 2020. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Workers operating under the H-2B visa program pick crabs at Russell Hall Seafood in Fishing Creek, Md., on June 15, 2020. Russell Hall is one of only two out of the five picking houses on Hoopers Island that were awarded visas for workers this year. Mark Phillips, son of Russell Hall owner Harry Phillips, says “it doesn’t just hurt his business, but the whole community,” as watermen have fewer places to offload their catch. “We’ve had job fairs everywhere, Baltimore to Washington, [but] people just aren’t going to do it,” Phillips said. “If I had to run this business and rely on Americans, I’d sell it today.” (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Adria Gunter of Hyattsville, Md., catches blue crabs in Tilghman Island, Md., on June 19, 2020. “If I could sell an organ and buy a house out here I would,” said Gunter, who visits Maryland’s Eastern Shore often for the area’s beauty. After a late afternoon of crabbing, Gunter intended to head home and enjoy her catch with her cats (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Hector Rene Modueño, left, and Edgar Riber, transfer menhaden from a pound net into Captain Boo Polly’s boat near the shore of St. Mary’s County on June 27, 2020. Polly said the price of menhaden is down this season, which he attributes to the economic constraints from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Sam Droege holds a firefly caught in his backyard in Upper Marlboro, Md., on July 2, 2020. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
With a line of cars extending into the street, Ronaldo Urrutia, an ecoLatinos volunteer and a senior at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md., holds a bag of donated food to be distributed to drivers at his school on July 17, 2020. The mission of ecoLatinos, which focuses on environmental justice and activism, adapted to protect families against the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies visit fall phlox blooming in the Pollinator Park at Kellys Run Nature Preserve in Holtwood, Pa., on July 25, 2020. The preserve is permanently protected by Lancaster Conservancy, which has turned an abandoned community park into mixed meadow habitat for pollinators and wildlife. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
John Tyler, 64, and his grandson, Levi Somers, 8, stand for a portrait in Tyler’s crab shanty on Smith Island. Tyler said that working conditions for watermen are becoming impossible, with few alternatives. “I’m 64 years old, what the hell am I going to do,” Tyler said. If the watermen profession dies, “there’s a lot of knowledge that’s going to die with it.” (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Scott Budden of Orchard Point Oysters cleans a cage at his oyster lease on Kent Island in Stevensville, Md., on Aug. 17, 2020. "We've had to, because of the restaurant issues, pivot to doing a lot of retail," Budden said. "That started back in April, I believe. We still are selling to restaurants and wholesalers, it's just a lot less than before and we try to make up the difference with retail. Some weeks we do and some weeks we don't." (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
After sunset, a family stops to take in the scene below them on the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk in Woodbridge, Va., on Sept. 20, 2020. The boardwalk opened in 2019 and offers a 0.75-mile walk across acres of wetlands. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A herd of elk grazes below fall foliage at Sinnemahoning State Park in Cameron County, Pa., on Oct. 7, 2020. The number of elk has grown in Pennsylvania, with similar reintroduction efforts happening in other eastern states. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
The Chenango River flows past downtown Binghamton, N.Y., on Oct. 8, 2020. Large storms in 2006 and 2011 led to many property owners in the city to participate in a buyout program to improve the city's resilience to flooding. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Rivers Smoker, 11, examines her work placing a net over a newly planted tree at Wittel Farm in Elizabethtown, Pa., on Oct. 10, 2020. “It’s life-giving when you come here,” said Christina Smoker, Rivers’ mother. “It’s just one of those places that feels like a respite.” A tree planting at the farm, led by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, included several native species of trees that will provide edible crops, such as elderberry, persimmon and sugar maple. Owned by the Lutheran Camping Corporation of Central Pennsylvania, the farm relies on volunteers to grow several acres of produce that is donated locally. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Jason Wenton, left, narrowly misses catching a trout with mentors Carl Stokes, center, and Ardill Keeler at Patriots Cove in Noxen, Pa., on Nov. 7, 2011. Owned by U.S. Army veteran Jeff Swire, Patriots Cove restored a section of Beaver Run as a fly-fishing refuge for other veterans and first responders seeking relief from physical and mental issues and a transition to life after military service. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
About Will Parson - Will produces digital stories for the Chesapeake Bay Program. He studied ecology and evolution at University of California, San Diego. He reported on water and the environment as a graduate student at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, and worked at newspapers in New England before landing in Maryland.