Roger Rohrer holds an earthworm found below wheat planted with no-till methods on the farm he owns jointly with his two sons in Strasburg, Pa., on April 28, 2021. “To me it’s a sign of healthy soil," Rohrer said. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
by Will Parson
December 29, 2021
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continuing to make its mark on the region, the past year presented challenges and silver linings. We saw people continuing to find solace in the outdoors as mask mandates carried into their second year. We saw science and restoration efforts adapt to public health measures, with professionals and volunteers working hard to pick up the pace.
In 2021, we watched a Chesapeake icon, retired Maryland senator Bernie Fowler, hold his final Patuxent River wade-in event before passing away this December at the age of 97. But we also watched students and young people being inspired to take up the cause of environmental protection—at school, at tree plantings, at farms, and all across the region. And amid all the pandemic disruptions, Chesapeake wildlife made its regular march through the seasons, providing human spectators the reassurance of watching natural forces at work.
We hope you enjoy our look at the people, plants and animals that called the Chesapeake Bay watershed home in 2021!
Cameron Bane, right, helps his father Joe Bane release a load of native brook trout and brown trout along a restored section of Piney Run as it flows through their family's property in Purcellville, Va., on Jan. 8, 2021. Bane, who operates Loudoun Mitigation Bank, LLC., has led a restoration effort on nearly one mile of Piney Run, on property that has been in his family for generations and that is conserved through the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Jim Barnhart, left, and his father Craig Barnhart wait to haul bushels of aquaculture oysters to a nearby Mill Hill Sanctuary using their deadrise workboat Sentimental Lady in Chester, Md., on Jan. 21, 2021. A program in partnership with the Nature Conservancy allowed roughly 20 Maryland oyster growers to sell surplus oysters for use in conservation at three oyster sanctuaries. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Members of the Natural History Society of Maryland's Fossil Club walk along Driftwood Beach in search of fossils from the St. Marys Formation in Calvert County, Md., on Jan. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jake Solyst/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Sophie Stern, left, of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay leads a water quality monitoring training session for Bowie State University students, including sophomore Ines Kenhoung, along Horsepen Branch, a tributary of the Patuxent River, in Bowie, Md., on Feb. 6, 2021. Stern led the training as part of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative, which serves to connect volunteer monitoring groups across the region to better understand the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Preserve manager Joe Villari holds a spotted salamander found at a restored vernal pool at Bull Run Mountains Preserve on March 2, 2021. The 2,500-acre preserve, located in Fauquier and Prince William counties, is owned and managed by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and protects a range of important habitats as well as pre-Civil War African American cultural sites. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A Carolina chickadee calls from a budding tree along the bank of the Pocomoke River in Snow Hill, Md., on March 26, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Military veterans Monica Newman, left, and Joel Fudge plant onions at the Arcadia Farm in Alexandria, Va., on March 31, 2021. The two were studying and working full-time as part of Arcadia's nine-month Veteran Farm Fellowship Program. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A lone American coot patrols the rainy shoreline of the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Va., on March 31, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A northern flicker excavates a nesting cavity on a box elder tree at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A cyclist travels through Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A sweat bee visits golden ragwort blooming in a conservation landscape in Annapolis, Md., on April 20, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Alewife, a species of river herring, spawn in a tributary of the Susquehanna River at Susquehanna State Park in Harford County, Md., on April 28, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A Brood X periodic cicada is seen in Annapolis, Md., on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Bella May, 5, plays in a fountain at a small water park in Marvin Gaye Park on Friday, June 4, 2021 in Ward 7 of Washington, D.C. "The park is an outlet," Rita May, Bella's mom, said. "It's the only thing close to our apartment [where] we can just hang out." (Photo by Ethan Weston/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Melissa Yearick of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition visits a restored wetland at Mabel P. & Paul T. Goethchius Wetland Preserve in Caroline, N.Y., on June 12, 2021. Having once been considered for development as a residential subdivision, the 80-acre preserve is now permanently protected, and is owned and managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The Upper Susquehanna Coalition partnered on the effort to acquire some of the land, which is within the headwaters of the West Branch Owego Creek and open to the public for activities like hiking and cross-country skiing. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Maryland delegate Rachel James, former Maryland delegate Sue Kullen, Mona Monsma, Sen. Bernie Fowler and Cody Fowler wade into the Patuxent River on Sunday, June 13, 2021 at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. It was the 34th annual wade-in led by former Sen. Fowler who grew up near the Patuxent River during the great depression. “When the banks [went] bust, that's really tough,” Sen. Fowler said. “But the thing that kept me going was the fact that the river was abundantly loaded with all kinds of products.” (Photo by Ethan Weston/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Dennis Chestnut stands for a portrait along Watts Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia River, in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 2021. Chestnut was instrumental in the renaming of Watts Branch Park to Marvin Gaye Park. Chestnut has devoted much of his life to promotion of Ward 7's history and upkeep. "It's about being committed to the place where you live," Chestnut said.
Amid summer heat, people gather for a late afternoon swim in the Patapsco River just off Baltimore National Pike at Patapsco Valley State Park near Ellicott City, Md., on July 5, 2021. Patapsco Valley State Park covers 32 miles of the Patapsco River between Howard and Baltimore counties protecting 16,000 acres and offering over 200 miles of trails that can be used for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. (Photo by Ethan Weston/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A royal tern protects its egg on Fort Wool, near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Hampton, Va., on July 16, 2021. Fort Wool is the home of Virginia's largest nesting seabird colony, the result of an intensive management effort by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to relocate the colony away from construction tied to an expansion of the roadway. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Zaire Reynoso, 5, attempts to catch bugs with help from his mom Qivon Anann at the National Aquarium's Masonville Cove BioBlitz in Baltimore on July 17, 2021. (Photo by Ethan Weston/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Tiger swallowtail butterflies gather on the wet, sunny bank of Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md., on Aug. 2, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A farmer sprays fields in Hagerstown, Md., on Aug. 2, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Mark Lloyd, engineer at the Lancashire No. 15 Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Plant in Barr Township, Pa., poses on a catwalk above iron oxide sludge at the plant on Aug. 4, 2021. The Lancashire No. 15 mine closed in July 1969, and in June 1970 the mine had filled with water to the point that a breakout event sent massive amounts of acid mine drainage into the West Branch Susquehanna River, resulting in a major fish kill and prompting emergency action. The current plant, which opened in 2011, actively pumps water from the Lancashire No. 15 mine, treating roughly six million gallons of water daily to remove rust-colored iron oxide, before discharging the water into the West Branch. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Brianna Dent feels the feathers of a taxidermied barred owl at Turner Station Park on August 11, 2021. The owl was brought by the Patterson Park Audubon Center as a teaching aide for the kids of the Dunbar Brooks Empowerment Camp. Dent was originally afraid to touch the owl but asked for it to be brought back so she could touch it after a few minutes. (Photo by Ethan Weston/Chesapeake Bay Program)
A green heron hunts on a large oyster reef at low tide near the shore of Machicomoco State Park in Gloucester County, Va., on Aug. 16, 2021. The park opened in 2021, with numerous interpretive elements of the park serving to celebrate the rich Indigenous history and cultures of the region. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
The remnants of James Island are seen near Taylors Island, Md., on Aug. 19, 2021. Formerly inhabited, James Island has shrunk over the centuries due to erosion, land subsidence and sea-level rise in the Chesapeake Bay. Now home only to terns, osprey, herons and other wildlife, the island first broke into three sections, but those have since broken up into even smaller fragments. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Port Administration created a plan to restore the shrinking island, starting in 2024. The project will create wildlife habitat using sediment that needs to be dredged anyway by the Port of Baltimore in order to keep shipping channels open. Once spanning over 1,300 acres when it was settled in the early 1660s, James Island will be restored to nearly 2,100 acres. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and Chesapeake Bay Commission chair Rep. David Bulova walk through the campus of the Brock Environmental Center during a meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council in Virginia Beach, Va., on Oct. 1, 2021. During the meeting, the three officials, along with Diana Esher of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed a directive intended to address climate change impacts. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
The Festival del Río Anacostia is held at Waterfront Park in Bladensburg, Md., on Oct. 9, 2021. The festival offered visitors free boat tours on the Anacostia River and free fishing lessons, with poles included. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Jordan Gochenauer of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay inspects rain gardens, rain barrels and other stormwater conservation practices known as green infrastructure as part of the RiverSmart Homes program in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
High tide and windy storm conditions combined to create flooding conditions in downtown Annapolis, Md., on Oct. 29, 2021. The flooding reached levels not seen since Hurricane Isabel in 2003. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Abdullahi Iro, a student at Bowie State University, examines fungi growing on a dead tree during a guided hike held as part of the annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum at Bacon Ridge Natural Area in Crownsville, Md., on Nov. 2, 2021. "I'm definitely coming back here again," Iro said. "This was very relaxing." (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
The Susquehanna River flows into the upper Chesapeake Bay near Havre de Grace, Md., on Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program with aerial support by Southwings)
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.