West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 443-758-7797  ♦  PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764

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Riverkeeper in the news

bge planting-3Published in the Annapolis Capital this week:

Projects aim to reduce sediment entering West, Rhode rivers

By Megan Brockett
mbrockett@capgaznews.com

 

West & Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc. and its partners are set to wrap up two streambed restoration projects this month that should lessen the amount of stormwater pollution entering the two rivers.

This week, contractors will put the finishing touches on a restoration project at Muddy Creek in Harwood, installing native plants there, West/Rhode Riverkeeper Jeff Holland said.

Work on the $118,625 project began in June, with the help of the South River Federation and contributions from Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), Holland said.

Water from the streambed, located on the southeast side of Warthen Drive, had been undercutting a landbank where a BGE pole stood, putting the pole in danger of toppling over and also sending sediment into the Rhode River, Holland said.

The restoration project included building about 300 linear feet of new stream channel and creating a wetland area. Holland said the water can now overflow into the wetlands instead of continuing to gouge out the landscape.

The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, funded the main part of the work.

Later this month, volunteers will help plant at the site of a restoration project in Shady Side's Avalon Shores community.

The work is aimed at addressing a ditch near the Avalon Shore fire station that overflowed during big rains, flooding some of the properties in the community and causing sediment to flow into the West River.

The $81,513 project eliminates about 2,000 square-feet of an unused asphalt parking lot and creates more than 4,200 square-feet of wetland to capture and treat stormwater from nearby impervious surfaces like the fire station parking lot and county roads, Holland said.

The project received funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, Unity Gardens and Patagonia.

 

 

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ABYC to donate new outboard for Giving Tuesday

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button help-with-a-new-outboard

ABYC needs matching donations to provide new outboard for Riverkeeper patrol boat

The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) has joined #GivingTuesday, which is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to kick-off the holiday giving season. The ABYC Foundation is once again partnering with BRP Evinrude to give outboard engines to organizations in need. Upon necessary financial support, the nonprofit organization West & Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc. will receive the outboard for their official patrol boat. The Maryland-based organization is the only nonprofit group whose sole purpose is to protect the West and Rhode Rivers and keep the waters fishable and swimmable.

evinrude 75Jeff Holland, executive director and Riverkeeper, said that last year they were donated an 18-foot center console but today the outboard is beyond repair. The boat was used by a corps of citizen-scientist volunteers who use that boat to monitor water quality at 28 sites around the West and Rhode Rivers every week.

“A new engine will make all the difference for our small organization to get us back out on the water in the spring and for many seasons to come and keep our momentum going in our efforts to make the rivers safe for fishing, boating, and swimming,” said Holland. “The data gathered out on the boat helps to identify problems like stormwater runoff pollution or bacterial outbreaks that can harm kids and dogs swimming in the creeks.”

#GivingTuesday is part of the ABYC Foundation’s end of year campaign. Throughout December ABYC will also seek donations for classroom curriculum development for marine tech schools in need and Spanish translated study guides, opening up workforce development opportunities.    

To learn more and donate visit www.abycinc.org/foundation.

Since 1954, the nonprofit American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) has developed safety standards for boat design, construction, equipage, repair and maintenance. The essential global source of marine industry technical information, ABYC's product safety standards, credentialing, education, training, and other tools help members make boating safer.

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Annual Appeal 2016

We need your help now

We’re at a critical tipping point in the restoration of the West and Rhode Rivers. Our rivers are under constant pressure from pollution and development, but we’re making progress in improving water quality as measured by data gathered by our citizen-scientist volunteers.

We now need your help to keep that momentum going in order to protect your rivers, your investment in your property, your community and your family’s quality of life.

Protecting our rivers requires hard work and commitment. The West & Rhode Riverkeeper is the only organization solely dedicated to doing this work for our local waterways. We receive no operating support from the state or county, and we rely almost entirely on donations to make it possible for us to do this work for you.

This past year, support from our contributing members helped us protect our rivers by:

  • completing a stream restoration project on Muddy Creek that will keep sediment pollution from entering the Rhode River;
  • designing a stormwater treatment project at Holly Hill Harbor that will stop pollution in Bear Neck Creek;
  • creating a wetland to reduce flooding in properties in the Avalon Shores community and prevent pollution from entering the West River;
  • fighting illegal development near the Franklin Manor community in Churchton in partnership with SACReD and CBF. The pro-bono work by our attorneys to defend the Critical Areas laws in this case is worth more than $100,000 so far. Failure to win this case will open up shorelines around the Bay to other developers;
  • working with DNR and Anne Arundel County to expand public access to the water at Franklin Point State Park and Discovery Village in Shady Side.
  • all the while advocating for better environmental policies, helping to enforce environmental law, staging community-building programs, and keeping sewage from our rivers by providing pump-out service to recreational boats. 

We need your help now to continue our work to make our rivers fishable, crab-able and paddle-able. Please click here to make a secure donation on line. Thank you for your support!

Your Riverkeeper,

jeff-1

Jeff Hollanddonate-push-button

 

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Oyster spat pick-up postponed to Oct. 4

The pick-up slated for this evening for those participating in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program has been postponed to Tuesday, Oct. 4, 5 - 7 p.m.

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Turtle Run hearings continue

Turtle Run Development

Summary of Initial Hearings before Board of Appeals

September 7 – 8, 2016

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals held hearings on the Turtle Run appeal on September 7 and 8.  The first day was primarily concerned with argument on motions filed by both sides.  The Snyder applicants filed a motion to dismiss all of the appellants for lack of standing. 

SACReD (South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development) and the West Rhode Riverkeeper filed three motions to vacate the County Office of Planning and Zonging’s conditional approval of the Sketch Plan and to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  The three motions were based upon: 

  1. OPZ’s failure to complete the statutorily required procedures for lot reconfiguration/consolidation under COMAR 27.01.02.08;
  2. OPZ and the Board of Appeals lack jurisdictional authority to override the MD state statute that limits development in the RCA (Resource Conservation Area) to only 1 house per 20 acres; and
  3. OPZ and the Board lack jurisdictional authority under the County’s existing critical area program to transfer development rights from parcels with non-critical area land onto non-contiguous parcels in the RCA. 

Snyder and the County opposed the motions on grounds that they were not jurisdictional, but raise issues that should be decided by the Board after hearing evidence.  The Board considered the motions to dismiss overnight and decided at the beginning of the next session to deny them.

The second day was devoted primarily to taking evidence regarding standing of the appellants.  Half way through the session, the Board Chairman directed the Board counsel to call the role of listed appellants and to identify those who were present in the hearing room. 

In the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appeal, CBF was present and CBF’s three individual appellants (Lauretta Duke, Beth McGee and Ann Wearmouth) were also present.  According to my notes, the following were present for the SACReD appeal:  SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper, Tracy Knight, Natalie Robert, Mike Heffernan, John Wyss, Mike Shay, VK Holzendorf, Dick Worth, and Robert Passemante.  Snyder has conceded that Mr. Passemante has standing.

                 The Board also addressed the issue of who could participate during the hearing in questioning witnesses and arguing points of law.  The Chairman ruled that only attorneys who are members of the Maryland bar can so participate.  Despite the language in the Board’s rules, the Chairman stated that authorized representatives of CBF and West Rhode Riverkeeper (John Wyss) who are not members of the Maryland bar can participate by offering evidence and testifying, but cannot examine witnesses.

                 Evidence was taken on CBF’s standing.  Snyder and the County opposed CBF standing.  However, after hearing initial testimony, one of the Board members (Mr. Devlin) moved that, based on that testimony, he was convinced that CBF had standing.  There was a discussion by the Board members and a vote was taken.  The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of CBF having standing.  The Chairman was the one vote against.  Thus, the 5 members of the Board rejected the efforts by Snyder’s counsel and County counsel to throw out the case on the procedural standing technicality. 

The Board then heard compelling testimony from Lauretta Duke, a local Franklin Manor resident who lives across from the proposed development, regarding her standing and how she will be adversely impacted if 11 houses and 9 paths to the water and 9 piers are built across from her house at Turtle Run.

The Board did not rule on Ms. Duke’s standing, but will consider that issue at the next hearing that is scheduled for October 6.  Unless agreement is reached with Snyder’s counsel, it is likely that the hearing on October 6 will continue to take evidence regarding the standing of the other individuals in the CBF appeal, SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper and the other individuals listed on the SACReD appeal who were present in the hearing room when the Chairman called the role on the second day.  Although there has not yet been a formal ruling, it is likely that the Chairman will move to dismiss all of the listed appellants who were not present at the second hearing session.

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Turtle Run hearings continue

Turtle Run Development

Summary of Initial Hearings before Board of Appeals

September 7 – 8, 2016

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals held hearings on the Turtle Run appeal on September 7 and 8.  The first day was primarily concerned with argument on motions filed by both sides.  The Snyder applicants filed a motion to dismiss all of the appellants for lack of standing. 

SACReD (South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development) and the West Rhode Riverkeeper filed three motions to vacate the County Office of Planning and Zonging’s conditional approval of the Sketch Plan and to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  The three motions were based upon: 

  1. OPZ’s failure to complete the statutorily required procedures for lot reconfiguration/consolidation under COMAR 27.01.02.08;
  2. OPZ and the Board of Appeals lack jurisdictional authority to override the MD state statute that limits development in the RCA (Resource Conservation Area) to only 1 house per 20 acres; and
  3. OPZ and the Board lack jurisdictional authority under the County’s existing critical area program to transfer development rights from parcels with non-critical area land onto non-contiguous parcels in the RCA. 

Snyder and the County opposed the motions on grounds that they were not jurisdictional, but raise issues that should be decided by the Board after hearing evidence.  The Board considered the motions to dismiss overnight and decided at the beginning of the next session to deny them.

The second day was devoted primarily to taking evidence regarding standing of the appellants.  Half way through the session, the Board Chairman directed the Board counsel to call the role of listed appellants and to identify those who were present in the hearing room. 

In the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appeal, CBF was present and CBF’s three individual appellants (Lauretta Duke, Beth McGee and Ann Wearmouth) were also present.  According to my notes, the following were present for the SACReD appeal:  SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper, Tracy Knight, Natalie Robert, Mike Heffernan, John Wyss, Mike Shay, VK Holzendorf, Dick Worth, and Robert Passemante.  Snyder has conceded that Mr. Passemante has standing.

                 The Board also addressed the issue of who could participate during the hearing in questioning witnesses and arguing points of law.  The Chairman ruled that only attorneys who are members of the Maryland bar can so participate.  Despite the language in the Board’s rules, the Chairman stated that authorized representatives of CBF and West Rhode Riverkeeper (John Wyss) who are not members of the Maryland bar can participate by offering evidence and testifying, but cannot examine witnesses.

                 Evidence was taken on CBF’s standing.  Snyder and the County opposed CBF standing.  However, after hearing initial testimony, one of the Board members (Mr. Devlin) moved that, based on that testimony, he was convinced that CBF had standing.  There was a discussion by the Board members and a vote was taken.  The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of CBF having standing.  The Chairman was the one vote against.  Thus, the 5 members of the Board rejected the efforts by Snyder’s counsel and County counsel to throw out the case on the procedural standing technicality. 

The Board then heard compelling testimony from Lauretta Duke, a local Franklin Manor resident who lives across from the proposed development, regarding her standing and how she will be adversely impacted if 11 houses and 9 paths to the water and 9 piers are built across from her house at Turtle Run.

The Board did not rule on Ms. Duke’s standing, but will consider that issue at the next hearing that is scheduled for October 6.  Unless agreement is reached with Snyder’s counsel, it is likely that the hearing on October 6 will continue to take evidence regarding the standing of the other individuals in the CBF appeal, SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper and the other individuals listed on the SACReD appeal who were present in the hearing room when the Chairman called the role on the second day.  Although there has not yet been a formal ruling, it is likely that the Chairman will move to dismiss all of the listed appellants who were not present at the second hearing session.

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Join the Riverkeeper to save Deep Cove in Churchton from development

Join the Riverkeeper to save Deep Cove in Churchton from development
 

Anne Arundel County has granted conditional approval for Turtle Run at Deep Cove, a project that would locate 11 homes on a 40-acre parcel along Deep Cove Creek where Critical Area rules say there should be only two.

That decision was appealed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development and the West & Rhode Riverkeeper, who contend the project, and the definition the county used to find the project legal, run counter to the intent and letter of the Critical Area law designed to protect lands abutting the state's waterways.

The first Board of Appeals hearing date is tomorrow, Wednesday, September 7, starting at 3:30 pm.  The hearing normally goes for about two hours or so.

The second hearing date is Thursday, September 8, 2016, but this time starting at 5:30 pm.  Again the hearing will likely last for a couple of hours.

The hearings will be held at the County Council Chambers on the First Floor of the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Please attend and show your support to save Deep Cove from development.

(Portions were excerpted from a recent article in the Capital by E.B. Furgurson III)

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ChesaTreks presents Jug Bay Wetlands Ecology by Canoe

jug bay banner

What:              ChesaTreks presents: Jug Bay Wetland Ecology by Canoe

Where:           Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711

When:             Saturday, October 8, 2016

Time:              9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Admission:     $50 per person, including canoe and picnic lunch

Join Jug Bay naturalists on a guided canoe journey on the Patuxent River on Saturday, October. 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The tour is the latest in the West & Rhode Riverkeeper’s adventure series, ChesaTreks, providing a fun on-the-water nature experience followed by a picnic and discussion. An admission fee of $50 per person includes canoe, life jacket and paddle, plus a picnic lunch.

Reservations are required. 

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, operated by Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, consists of 1,700 acres of open water, tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River.

Its network of habitats, including its extensive tidal freshwater wetlands, provides a safe environment to a high diversity of plants, invertebrates, birds, fish, reptiles, and mammal species. The National Audubon Society has designated the Sanctuary as a Nationally Important Bird Area

A rich archaeological history tells the story of Native Americans living at Jug Bay nearly 10,000 years ago. Pig Point, only a mile from the Sanctuary, contains Maryland's oldest archaeological artifacts.

What you need to know:

Age Requirement: 7 and up.  Children under 16 are required to have at least one adult in the canoe.  Two adults per child are recommended for children between 7 and 10.

Duration: 4 hours.  This includes orientation, paddling instructions, one-mile hike to launch site, launching canoes, and paddling, followed by a picnic lunch.  Time on the river is about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Participants arriving later than 15 minutes after the program start time may not be able to participate.  Please be courteous and arrive on time.

Private canoes and kayaks are not permitted.  You may bring your own paddles or Coast Guard approved PFD if you wish.

Be Prepared!  What to Bring:

  • Plenty of drinking water or other liquids.
  • Snack to eat on the water.
  • Sunscreen
  • Broad-brimmed hat
  • Synthetic clothing that dries quickly and shoes that can get wet
  • Optional: binoculars and camera.
  • Remember we will be on the water and personal items may get wet. Canoes can tip over, paddles drip water into the canoes, and feet can get wet when entering or exiting the canoe. We claim no liability for personal items or electronic equipment (cell phones included) that are damaged during the canoe trip.
  • Recommended: Waterproof dry bag to protect expensive electronic items from water.
  • It is an easy one-mile walk to the canoe launch site (River Pier) so you may wish to wear comfortable walking shoes before changing into paddling "wettable" shoes at the launch site.

Directions to Jug Bay from Annapolis (Do NOT follow your GPS!)

1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711
410-741-9330


From West St. at Parole, take Route 2 south 18 miles. At the Lothian "circle" go 3/4 of the way around and stay on Route 2. Go past the fire station, schools and St. James Church (on left) until the next stoplight at Route 258; go right (west) on Rt. 258. Continue on Route 258 for 4.5 miles until this ends near the "Park and Ride" just after crossing over Route 4. At the stop sign, turn onto Wrighton Rd. and continue for 1.5 miles to Sanctuary entrance on LEFT. Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the Wetlands Center.

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Riverkeeper launches new wetlands project in Shady Side

shady side bannerThe West & Rhode Riverkeeper has just launched a project at the Avalon Shores Fire Department in Shady Side to create a new wetland to treat stormwater that runs into the West River and help relieve flooding on Shady Side Road and neighboring properties.

Funded by grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Trust Fund, Patagonia and Unity Gardens, the project will remove 2,000 square feet of an unused asphalt parking lot and create 4,252 square feet of stormwater treatment wetland.  Construction will be complete by the end of August. Volunteers from the Avalon Shores community will help plant the wetlands with native plants in November.

This newly created stormwater treatment wetland will capture and treat stormwater from about acres of adjacent lawn and impervious surface.  This imperious surface consists of county roads, the fire department, and roofs and driveways of nearby residences.  The newly created wetland will be installed next to the existing intermittent stream (a man-made drainage ditch) and will capture some stormwater flows from this ditch.  This will increase the amount of water retained after rain events and slow flows traveling downstream to the adjacent neighborhood.

The project will reduce the total amount of stormwater pollution (nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment) entering South Creek in the West River. It will also reduce stormwater flows that currently flood neighboring properties in the Avalon Shores Community. 

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Explore Franklin Point State Park

Aerial view of parkContact:          Jeff Holland 

What:              Explore Franklin Point State Park

When:             Saturday, July 16

Time:              10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Where:            Franklin Point State Park, Shady Side, MD (see bottom for directions)

Admission:     Free, reservations requested

Food and soft drinks available for purchase at a modest cost

Info: www.westrhoderiverkeeper.org   /  410-867-7171

Riverkeeper to open new interpretive trail at Franklin Point State Park

The West and Rhode Riverkeeper, working in partnership with the Maryland Park Service, will cut the ribbon on a new interpretive hiking trail at Franklin Point State Park in Shady Side at a special event on Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free, but reservations are requested.

“Come and immerse yourself in the natural and cultural history of Southern Anne Arundel County as we unveil a new interpretive hiking trail at the recently opened Franklin Point State Park in Shady Side,” says Angela Trenkle, the Riverkeeper’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer who has researched and designed the interpretive elements of the trail.

“In addition to checking out the new trail,” Trenkle says, “you’ll have the opportunity to engage all five of your senses in the natural and cultural history of the area, including BBQ, fried fish and chicken and all the fixings from the Galesville Community Center, seining demonstrations by scientists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, bird walks with birding experts, and archaeological exhibits from the Lost Towns Project revealing the lives of people living near the site more than 3,000 years ago.”

Franklin Point State Park, a pristine 477-acre tract of salt marsh, fields and forests, was saved from development more than 20 years ago by a group of local citizens, but it was locked behind a gate until the West and Rhode Riverkeeper formed a partnership with the Park Service to provide the volunteers needed to help maintain and monitor the park.

The event is made possible with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

To reserve admission, email Angela Trenkle or call 410-867-7171.

The event will take place at the day use area of Franklin Point State Park. From Annapolis, take Rt. 2 south, turn left on Rt. 214, turn right onto Muddy Creek Road and follow past the intersection of Deale/Churchton Road. Turn left onto Dent Road and follow to the end. Please drive slowly on Dent Road and watch for wildlife, children and dogs. 

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