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 Report October 2014

jeff helmOur rivers are never more beautiful than they are right now, with the leaves reaching the peak of their autumn color. But now and again, it’s good to get out beyond Curtis Point and connect with the rest of the Bay. Just a week or so ago, I sailed aboard the schooner Mystic Whaler on the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race from Baltimore to Portsmouth.

When you’re sailing by the stars in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Bay, you get time to reflect; you can gain perspective on where our efforts to protect the West and Rhode Rivers fit in to the overall Chesapeake Bay program.

We’ll have the opportunity to do just that at our annual meeting on Friday, November 14, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the main dining hall at Camp Letts. Nick DiPasquale, the head of the Chesapeake Bay Program, will be there to talk about the new Bay agreement, and you’ll see where we play a vital role in the big picture.

We’ll celebrate some of the impressive goals we’ve achieved over the past year – like the reforested horse pasture at Camp Letts – and some of the impactful projects we have lined up for next year – like the restoration of a section of Muddy Creek and a new 900-foot living shoreline along Bear Neck Creek, thanks to a major grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

And we’ll reveal a new partnership with the Department of Natural Resources that will provide an astonishing opportunity to access the water.

Please plan to be there – you’re welcome to bring a pot-luck dish to share, and we’ll have oysters! Send me an email or give me a call to let me know you’re coming. See you there!

Your Riverkeeper

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Thanks to our 2014 Water Quality Volunteers!

aniccamonitoringEvery year West/Rhode Riverkeeper relies on a team of dedicated volunteers to venture out on the rivers once a week (Wednesday mornings) to collect data that we use for our annual report card.  This year we had the pleasure of working with a dedicated team that braved strong winds, rain and cold, with some beautiful sunny days sprinkled in there too, to collect 24 weeks of data.  We will now work with some of the same volunteers over the winter to compile our report card to report back to you about the health of our rivers.

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West/Rhode Riverkeeper Annual Meeting November 14, 2014

jeff lets tree students
West/Rhode Riverkeeper Jeff Holland planting a tree at Camp Letts with Southern Middle School 6thgraders Chloe Wagner of Tracy’s Landing (blue shirt) and Makayla Grevin of Lothian (in glasses).

When:           Friday, November 14, 2104

Time:             6:30 – 8 p.m.


Where:         Main Dining Hall

                    YMCA Camp Letts

                    4009 Camp Letts Road

                    Edgewater, MD 21037


Info:              410-867-7171




Admission:    Free. RSVP. Beer, wine & soft drinks. Please bring a pot luck dish to share  


West/Rhode Riverkeeper Celebrates Year of Restoration Efforts on Nov. 14


Nick DiPasquale, Director, Chesapeake Bay Program Office of Environmental Protection Agency, will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper. The event will take place at YMCA Camp Letts in Edgewater on Friday, November 14, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is free, reservations are requested. Refreshments will be served and guests are welcome to bring a pot-luck dish to share.


Nick DiPasquale 
  (Photo Credit David Harp) 
  Nick DiPasquale, Director
  Chesapeake Bay Program Office, USEPA
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County poised to plunge into bay access with Fort Smallwood boat ramp

Peter Crispino

The Baltimore Sun, 10/24/14

No county in the United States has more shoreline than Anne Arundel, yet few jurisdictions have less public boat access.

County officials will embark on an effort to change that when they break ground Tuesday on a $5 million boat ramp at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena.

"The first step is always the hardest, and so this is the beginning of what I hope will be a much longer and more deliberate effort to get some more water access points established," said County Councilman Chris Trumbauer.

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Program Manager Job Announcement

West/Rhode Riverkeeper seeks a part-time Program Manager. For full job description please Click Here.

West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., (W/RR) is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the West and Rhode Rivers, tidal sub-estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay located about 10 miles south of Annapolis, Maryland. West/Rhode Riverkeeper is one of 18 independent organizations belonging to Waterkeepers Chesapeake and is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance and the River Network.

Title:      Program Manager

  • ·Part time/flexible schedule. (Average 20 hrs./week, occasional evenings & weekends required)
  • ·Pay level: starts at $20/hr., plus modest IRA plan

To apply, please email cover letter and resume no later than November 2, 2014 to:


Subject: Program Manager

No calls or inquiries from recruiting agencies, please.
West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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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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