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

E-mail Print PDF

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.

E-mail Print PDF

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.
E-mail Print PDF

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.

E-mail Print PDF

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.

E-mail Print PDF

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.



E-mail Print PDF

Anne Arundel could see early bay cleanup results close to home

By E.B Fergurson III, The Capital

July 25, 2014

By E.B. Furgurson

Erik Michelsen stands next to one of the county’s streambed restoration projects at Wilelinor outside Annapolis.

A lead scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation told the Capital Gazette editorial board this week that major projects will reduce stormwater runoff into local streams and creeks within a few years.

The results will be far faster than the longer lag times associated with other bay cleanup efforts, said Beth McGee, CBF’s senior scientist for water quality.

McGee said Anne Arundel should see more benefits than other counties because stormwater accounts for a high percentage of the pollution the county is charged with cleaning up under the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement and the federally imposed bay “pollution diet.”

“Urban runoff is a big piece of the pollution pie,” she said. The county is “... well served by getting going on it.”

McGee and CBF spokesman Tom Zolper said they are more hopeful about bay restoration because efforts have been energized by legislation and the federal standards.

Anne Arundel’s stormwater effort could have relatively immediate effects in individual streams and waterways, McGee said.

She said results should come sooner than efforts to curb agricultural pollution.

“With agriculture you are dealing with groundwater,” McGee said. She said it takes time for polluted water to seep through the ground before making its way to waterways. Some does run off on the surface, but much of it is in the soil.

“The pollution we see on the Eastern Shore is from 10 years ago,” McGee said. “But in urban areas we could see a more direct impact from reducing stormwater flow.”

Stormwater flow is slowed once restoration work is done in a creek watershed through culvert replacements, stormwater pond conversions or major stream bed restoration, she said. Less sediment moves downstream and and there could be lower levels of nutrients in the water.

“You should see water quality improvement within a couple of years,” McGee said.

County Watershed Protection and Restoration Program Director Erik Michelsen agreed.

“The benefits we are seeing after unstable outfalls and erosion are remedied — there is an almost immediate reduction of those pollutants,” Michelsen said.

He said there has been evidence of “biological bounce-back,” with small fish moving into the systems, more waterfowl and amphibian activity, and a return of plant communities.

E-mail Print PDF

First Riverfest a Huge Success

blessing2More than 500 members of the community gathered at Discovery Village on June 14 for the first annual Riverfest. The was a huge success, thanks to the many sponsors, partners and volunteers, plus all the musicians, exhibitors and watermen who spent the afternoon celebrating the beautiful environment and heritage of the rivers and the rural landscape of Southern Anne Arundel County.

The West/Rhode Riverkeeper produced the event in partnership with the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce. It was funded by a grant from the Four Rivers Heritage Area and a major sponsorship from The Brick Companies, with additional support from Discovery Village, Smith Brothers, the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Chesapeake Yacht Club, Zancan Press, Medart Galleries, Real Chill Heating and Air Conditioning, Catherine’s Draperies & Boat Canvas, Hartge Yacht Harbor, Folklore Society of Greater Washington, Reilly Benefits, Bay Area Disposal, Anne Arundel County Recycling, WNAV and Christopher’s Fine Foods.

Lighthouse Limousines generously donated the use of a shuttle to satellite parking provided by the Shady Side Elementary School and the Shady Side Community Center.  The parking lots were managed by the South Anne Arundel County to benefit their “Bountiful Backpacks” program to feed disadvantaged children in the community.

CFB1Annapolis Community Boating provided free kayak rides to more than 100 kids and their parents, and a number of environmental groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Oyster Restoration Program (left), had interactive projects to help kids learn about the environmental issues impacting the rivers.

blessing1The Anne Arundel County Watermen’s Association revived the traditional “Blessing of the Fleet,” with about a dozen watermen parading their workboats under an arc of water as the Rev. Dr. Patricia Sebring, the new pastor at the Galesville United Methodist Church, blessed them for a safe season of harvest on the water.

For a photo blog by Rob Marshall of Marshall 3rd Photography, follow this link to South River Source.

Riverfest II will take place at Discovery Village in Shady Side on Saturday, June 13, 2015. 


E-mail Print PDF

Restoration Update: July 2014

Volunteer Plantings

Volunteers have been braving this summer heat to help plant trees and marsh grasses throughout the watershed.  We’ve partnered with our neighbors at Franklin Manor to help them acquire native marsh grasses from the county and plant them in their community living shoreline.  The marsh grasses are now helping to stabilize the shoreline while filtering out pollutants and providing superb habitat. Volunteers from the community then joined West/Rhode Riverkeeper staff to plant 75 trees and shrubs in an unused area at Shady Side Park. These trees are now filtering pollutants and will stabilize the soil for years to come.  Volunteers from the YMCA in Dundalk also visited the treatment wetland at YMCA Camp Letts to plant trees and shrubs that were destroyed by deer last winter.

YMCA Camp Letts Horse Heavy Use Area Complete!

horseshelterThe Horse Heavy Use Area is now fully installed and being used by YMCA Camp Letts.  This heavy use area can now house 16 horses year round and enabled the camp to retire 4 acres of heavily eroding field.  Two of the four acres are already planted with native trees and the other two are scheduled to be planted by students from Southern Middle School this autumn.  All runoff leaving the heavy use area flows into the treatment wetland that was installed last winter so it can be treated before flowing into the Rhode River.

This project was made possible thanks to grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources as well as the support of Anne Arundel County Soil Conservation District, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Department of Outdoor Education and the landowners, YMCA Camp Letts.  Thank you!

Our Projects are Working!

Monitoring past restoration projects in an important part of our work.  We need to check on projects to ensure that they are stable and doing the jobs that they are supposed to.  We are always delighted to see the critters that move into our projects and use them as their new homes.  While monitoring sites we’ve found some great animals!  At Shady Cove’s living shoreline we found about 20 horseshoe crabs mating and borrowing into the sand to lay their eggs.  These eggs will not only lead to more horseshoe crabs, but they are also an important food source for migrating shorebirds.  We’ll look forward to seeing the circle of life continue!  When visiting the treatment wetland at YMCA Camp Letts we’ve found lots of juvenile Green Tree Frogs hopping through the leaves of the trees and shrubs that we’ve planted on the site.  The surrounding forest is also alive with the sounds of their parents calling.  These are great signs of a healthy ecosystem and shows that our work is making a difference.  This is all possible thanks to the support of our many funders and supporters, that means you, so thank you for allowing us to continue to make our watershed and rivers a better place.

oystersOysters Have Been Planted on a Sanctuary in the South River

Volunteers on the Rhode River have been growing oysters off their docks for the past 9 months as part of the Marylanders Grow Oysters program.  Those oysters have now been planted on a sanctuary in the South River.  We are now seeking waterfront landowners to grow oysters off their docks in the Rhode River. Please contact Joe at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org for more information.

E-mail Print PDF

Riverfest Celebrates South Sounty Rivers

Photo courtesy Ryan Hunter, Capital Staff

Just some of what entices Jeff Holland about the West and Rhode rivers and why he loves his job as riverkeeper. His mission is to make other people feel the same way — and a step is Riverfest.

“We want people to make physical contact with (the rivers) so they want to support it emotionally,” Holland said.

The event is noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Discovery Village in Shady Side and aimed at raising money and awareness for the two south county waterways. It’s not a new concept, but Riverfest is a new event.

E-mail Print PDF

Get Smart on Pesticides

The Smart on Pesticides Campaign is pleased to announce that Governor Martin O’Malley brought Maryland one step closer to much-needed information about pesticide usage by signing House Bill 621 / Senate Bill 700 into law, establishing funding for pesticide reporting.

Though it’s undeniable that pesticides pose risks to public and environmental health – including disease, contaminated waterways and endangered wildlife – the specific effects of these chemicals are still uncertain.

This legislation, which will generate revenue to collect, analyze and report professional pesticide usage, will help researchers determine if and when pesticides are affecting public health and the environment.

Check out this video to learn more about how pesticides may be affecting you, and why scientifically valid data is a priority.


Page 7 of 20