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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West/Rhode Riverkeeper transform eroding pasture into forest buffer; plans new living shoreline project to protect Rhode River


Southern Middle School sixth graders (from left) Samantha Havanki, Kaylee O’Brien and Julia Markham were among more than 100 students planting 200 trees at YMCA Camp Letts last week, with the help of Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker, State Senator John Astle, Joe Ports, Restoration Coordinator for West/Rhode Riverkeeper, and Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

State Senator John Astle (District 30), Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker (District 7) and Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, participated as 100 sixth graders from Southern Middle School planted more than 200 trees at YMCA Camp Letts in Edgewater last week. The students’ wet and muddy efforts completed the transformation of four acres of eroding horse pasture into a forested buffer protecting the Rhode River from polluted stormwater runoff.

“We didn’t just plant trees today,” said Jeff Holland, the West and Rhode Riverkeeper, “we planted a hundred new stewards for our rivers and the Bay.”


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Riverkeeper Report: September 2014

One Creek at a Time

amyjoejeffwhalerI saw the last osprey before she took off for South America the other day, right on cue. The first one I saw this year was on March 10, at the “2RR” marker at the mouth of the Rhode River. That was also my first official boat ride on the Riverkeeper’s Whaler.  I’ve learned a lot about these waterways over these past seasons – seen them bound back from torrential downpours, watched the tide ebb with the north wind to reveal a grassless bottom, met a waterman whose livelihood depends on clean and healthy water, and whose work growing oysters is helping the cause. 

I’ve worked with our crews of citizen scientists who are out there every week, no matter what the weather, testing the water quality in 29 sites year after year. I’ve gotten wet and muddy with kids planting trees. I’ve met with community leaders concerned about bacteria shutting down their beaches. Along with other volunteers, I got poison ivy digging trash out of the woods along Tenthouse Creek in Galesville. I even know how to work the pump-out boat! 

Most of all, I’ve had the blessing to work with a great staff in our Program Manager, Amy Colhoun, Restoration Coordinator Joe Ports, and our Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer, Sam Hartman. Sam wrapped up his duties with us in August, and now he’s setting out to launch a career in the environmental world. We know he’ll be doing great things out there.

The year so far has been filled with elation and sadness. We lost Alice Murray just a few weeks ago, and we join the community in sharing our condolences with her family and many friends. I was happy to have met with her in August, just as the construction crews were completing the new living shoreline that will be protecting her beautiful home on Popham Creek for generations to come. 

But the good news is that we just received another grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, this one for 650 feet of living shoreline at Camp Letts. This will protect the bank at the mouth of Bear Neck Creek from further erosion. We’ll be starting that project this winter.

As the seasons change, I’m ever more grateful to be part of this organization that’s so dedicated to one goal: making the West and Rhode Rivers safe for fishing, swimming and wildlife, one creek at a time.

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Stream Team Plants Trees at Shady Side Elementary School

streamteamgroupLast week, two dozen students from Southern and Broadneck High Schools’ “Stream Team” helped all 64 fifth graders at Shady Side Elementary School plant 75 trees on the school grounds.

Jeff Holland, the Riverkeeper for the West and Rhode Rivers, and Joe Ports, the organization’s Restoration Coordinator, talked to the students about how the newly planted trees will abate polluting runoff to improve the water quality in the local waterways. 

Funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the “Stream Team” is made of up students in the AACPS Signature Magnet Program. 

Through service learning, student leaders from Southern and Broadneck High Schools are planting of 2,265 native trees in the Magothy River, Severn River, West River and North Herring Bay watersheds at eight schools and other sites. 

A primary goal of this student-driven initiative is to promote environmental stewardship through community action. At each native tree planting event the “Stream Team” enlists the help of AACPS student volunteers in grades K-12.

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Restoration Update: September 2014

We've had a successful summer and we look forward to continuing our work to protect our rivers this autumn and winter.  Here is what we've been up to for the past month:

125 Feet of Living Shoreline Created in Bear Neck Creek

Overhill LSThanks to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and a very dedicated homeowner, 125 linear feet of living shoreline has been created along the Rhode River.  This newly constructed marsh will work to filter the water and protect the property and home from erosion.  This is an attractive alternative to rip rap revetments and bulkheads and can be used at any property throughout our rivers.  If you would like to discuss methods of protecting your waterfront property using living shorelines, call Restoration Coordinator Joe Ports at 410-867-7171 or email him at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.  

Community Meeting at Holly Hill Harbor

The Riverkeeper's volunteer crew of citizen scientists monitor water quality from May through October to track the health of the rivers.  One site on their monitoring route that presented consistantly high bacteria levels was located just off the community pier at Holly Hill Harbor in Edgewater (click here for bacteria data). Riverkeeper Jeff Holland and Restoration Coordinator Joe Ports met with homeowners at Holly Hill Harbor to discuss the trend. We had a great discussion over coffee and bagels and we're starting to forge a plan to address the problem and work together to make our rivers safe for swimming, fishing and wildlife. While we were there, we investigated possible restoration projects at several homeowners' properties and in the community spaces. If your homeowners' association would like to meet with the West/Rhode Riverkeeper to discuss issues in your community, call Jeff Holland at 410-867-7171 or email jeff@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.

Oysters are In!

Oyster cageOysters are getting delivered to London Town Community Dock at the south end of Grange Road in Edgewatar at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 24.  The oysters will then be distributed to growers in the coming weeks.  Please click here to see the drop off dates, or paste this link (http://www.southriverfederation.net/index.php/calendar/upcoming-events-2/details/337-oyster-spat-pick-up-dates) into your web browser.  Your oysters will be at the London Town site, so please use those dates.

If you would like to volunteer to work a distribution day, please email Joe at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.  Any help you can offer will be appreciated!

Permits, Permits and Permits

Environmental projects are required to get permits just like any other construction project in the area. West/Rhode Riverkeeper staff are currently working with our engineers and our local, state and federal officials to get permits for 950 linear feet living shoreline at the southern tip of Camp Letts and to complete the stream restoration/wetland creation project in a BGE transmission line right of way in Harwood. WIth permits in hand, these projects will move on to the contruction phase, so stay tuned for more details and pictures showing our progress!


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Wild & Scenic Film Festival to benefit Waterkeepers Chesapeake

Waterkeepers Chesapeake presents the Wild and Scenic Film Festival at the Annapolis Maritime Museum on Thursday, Oct. 2. 


Adam Van Grack, a Waterkeepers Chesapeake board member and president of Potomac Whitewater Racing Center, will be the master of ceremonies for an evening of 12 short films about environmental topics from fracking to rain forest restoration set in such far-off exotic locations as Iraq, South Africa, Patagonia and the Amazon River basin and as nearby as Cove Point on the Chesapeake Bay.


The evening will benefit Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 18 independent Waterkeeper programs, including the West/Rhode Riverkeeper, operating throughout the Chesapeake and Delmarva Coastal Bays Watersheds. Beer, wine and food will be served, and there will be a raffle and a silent auction.


“The Maritime Museum is the perfect setting for an evening of inspirational films. These films highlight important efforts near and far to protect, restore and enjoy our water resources,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “You’ll meet local Waterkeepers, and could win some fun items in our silent auction and raffle.”


Tickets are $15 per person online (order your tickets here) or $20 at the door. The Annapolis Maritime Museum is located a 723 Second Street in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis. There’s plenty of free parking nearby. For directions and more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/WaterkeepersChesapeake, or

www.WaterkeepersChesapeake.org, or email info@waterkeeperschesapeake.org.


What:              Waterkeepers Chesapeake’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival

An inspiring evening of 12 short environmental films

Why:               to benefit Waterkeepers Chesapeake

Where:           Annapolis Maritime Museum

                        723 Second Street

                        Annapolis, MD 21403

Date:               Thursday, October 2

Time:              6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Tickets:           $15 online, $20 at the door


Photo: a scene from Fighting for the Futaleufu a documentary about the Futaleufu Riverkeeper in Patagonia

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Bay dead zone spikes in August

After record improvement in July, low oxygen levels again choke estuary

By E.B. Furgurson III, The Capital

The Chesapeake Bay's depleted oxygen zone, popularly known as the dead zone, has grown from its smallest size in 30 years in July up to the large size originally predicted at the beginning of the season.


And that data was recorded by state Department of Natural Resources scientists more than a week before record rainfall washed untold amounts of nutrients, including millions of gallons of sewage, into the bay.


The early August sampling showed the low oxygen zone was the eighth-worst on record for the time period.

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SUPer Happy Hour August 22nd

Event POSTPONED until Friday August 29th, due to weather.
Join us with our friends at Shady Oaks Marina and West River Paddling & Yoga on Friday, August 29nd at 7pm for a riverside evening to support the West Rhode Riverkeeper. 
You can participate in a Paddle from 7pm – 8pm along the nooks and crannies of the West River and Smith Creek. If you have not tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding, instructor, Andrea Melbourne, will show you the ropes.  Kayaks are also on hand for those who would prefer that method of travel.  
Drinks and snacks at the Tiki Bar on the marina lawn will start at 7pm.  You do not need to paddle to attend.  We can greet the paddlers and enjoy the sunset over the West River.
Paddle Fee: $10/hour  Happy Hour: FREE
Shady Oaks Marina:
846 Shady Oaks Road
West River, Maryland 20778
Please RSVP so that we can reserve your paddle board- amy@westrhoderiverkeeper.org 
You can bring your own paddle or kayak, as well.
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Downeast troubadour to perform in Galesville on September 30

Godon BokGordon Bok, the legendary maritime folklorist and singer/songwriter from Maine, will perform his repertoire of seafaring ballads at the Galesville Memorial Hall on Tuesday, September 30, from 8 to 10 p.m. Admission is $20. Wine, beer and soft drinks will be available for sale. Proceeds benefit the efforts of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper to protect the waterways.

“We’re proud to present Gordon to Annapolis and Southern Anne Arundel County,” said Riverkeeper Jeff Holland. “We have a strong tie to our maritime traditions on these rivers, and Gordon is one songwriter who really knows his boats.”

Bok’s repertoire consists of a rich trove of ballads of Maine and the Maritimes, songs and dances of the Americas and abroad, stories of boats and sailors, contemporary songs and instrumentals.

He has recorded more than thirty albumssolo and with other musicians, and performs at folk clubs, concert halls and festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Scandinavia. He has appeared in concert with the Paul Winter Consort and has been Garrison Kiellor’s guest on “A Prairie Home Companion.”

In the words of one critic, “If the sea had a voice with which to sing, it would be the voice of Gordon Bok.”

The Galesville Memorial Hall is located at 952 Galesville Road (Main St) in Galesville MD,  20765. Galesville is only 13 miles from Annapolis City Dock, and boasts waterfront restaurants like Pirate’s Cove and Thursday’s for dinner before the concert or refreshments after. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, call the West/Rhode Riverkeeper at 410-867-7171.

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Riverkeeper Report: August 2014

Driving hubcap-deep on Snug Harbor Road on Tuesday evening in a record-breaking deluge of six inches of rain in just a few hours was quite an eye-opener. You could have kayaked down the ditch along Muddy Creek Road. You could have white-watered across the road in the wake of the traffic.

Riverkeeper staff and volunteer crews of citizen scientists were on the water Wednesday and Thursday taking samples. The resulting bacteria counts were off the charts in both the West and Rhode Rivers. This isn’t pollution coming down the Susquehanna; its coming from our own back yards.

Tuesday’s downpour was described as a “200-year” storm, which implies that it will be another 199 years before it happens again; but that’s not the case. Storms are coming more frequently and when they do, they’re coming down harder.  There’s never been a stronger case for why we need to work ever harder to mitigate polluted stormwater runoff.

We’re planning to create new wetlands in the Avalon Shores community park and the nearby Volunteer Fire Department. These projects will serve to divert the flow of stormwater, slow it down, allow the native plants to soak it up and give it time to filter into the soil before it rushes into the river.

We’ll be meeting with the residents of Holly Hill Harbor next Saturday at 9 a.m. at their community pier to see what can be done there on Bear Neck Creek, where we get frequent spikes in the bacteria count.

Do you want to learn more about how your community can get involved? Give me a call on my cell phone at 443-758-7797 or email me at jeff@westrhoderiverkeeper.org and let’s get moving. We don’t have 199 years until the next big storm.

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Restoration Update: August 2014

The West/Rhode Riverkeeper organization has more than a dozen projects various stages of completion, all of which will serve to reduce pollution and improve our waterways. We'll keep you all informed when we make some break-throughs, but here is the big news for August:

Riverkeeper creates 500 feet of new living shorelines

Last month we showed you some pictures of some of our projects working well, producing living shorelines that have attracted breeding horseshoe crabs and frogs (Read: Restoration Update: July 2014).  

This month we were able to add to our collection of completed living shoreline projects.  Thanks to some dedicated homeowners, grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and funds from the Department of Natural Resources, we were able to complete construction of more than 500 linear feet of living shoreline. 

The larger of the two projects was completed on Popham Creek on the West River.  We were able to transform a steep eroding bank into a gradually sloping shoreline that will soon be planted with marsh grasses and native shrubs and trees (right).  

Both homeowners can now look forward to watching horseshoe crabs and terrapins breed in their shoreline, and know that they are helping make the water in front of their properties cleaner while protecting their property from erosion. 

If you’d like to learn how you can create a living shoreline on your waterfront property, just give me a call at 410-867-7171 or email me at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.

Help us help the oyster growers

Thank you to all the residents in the Rhode River who are able to volunteer to grow oysters this year.  Oysters will be dropped off to Edgewater on September 24. When the oysters come WE'LL NEED HELP to deliver them to the stockpile areas and distribute them to growers.  Please contact me at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org if you can volunteer some time and energy.



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