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

West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

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Feb 24
2016

Scouts clean up Franklin Point State Park

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

Many thanks to the 13 Scouts and eight adult Scout Leaders from Troop 422, Annapolis, MD, who swept through the woods at Franklin Point State Park in Shady Side on Saturday to clean the trash from proposed hiking trails. In three hours, they removed every trace of trash and junk deposited in the trail areas over at least three decades.  Although bagging trash and dragging tires out of bogs isn't normally thought of as an inspiring activity, the Troop's organization, leadership and enthusiasm for the task, in addition to producing an outstanding result, was an inspiration.

The Scouts collected about 20 full “yard trash” bags of garbage (mainly glass and plastic containers), several pieces of scrap metal, some scrap wood  and about ten tires.   After the cleanup was complete, they took some time at the canoe launch site for a “Philmont” style lunch and a “Leave no Trace” training session. West & Rhode Riverkeeper volunteer Mike Shay provided a brief history of the park.

Join us for the park's "Season Opener" on Sunday, March 20, as part of the Maryland Day festivities. 

Jul 24
2015

Franklin Point State Park to open

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

fpsp-aerialTo move forward with the great news reported in the Capital's recent series, "Shifting Tides," I'm happy to tell you about the West and Rhode Riverkeeper's new partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to dramatically expand Anne Arundel County's access to our waterways. 

Franklin Point State Park was saved from development by a group of gallant citizens nearly 20 years ago. But because of budget and staff capacity constraints, it’s been locked behind a gate ever since. This 477-acre tract is an astonishing jewel – pristine tidal marsh opening up onto the Chesapeake Bay on the Shady Side peninsula, forest and marshes teeming with more than 100 species of birds, from the American bald eagle to the endangered black rail – a birder’s paradise.

And for paddlers, a soft kayak, stand-up paddleboard and canoe launch will provide access to Deep Creek and a winding channel through the marsh to the open Chesapeake Bay. Eventually, miles of trails will provide opportunities for exploration by boot and bike.

This Saturday, dozens of volunteers will be there to clean up the site of what will become a passive day use area. Access will be through a system used successfully at nearby Jack Creek Park – another area the Riverkeeper was instrumental in opening to the public. You’ll call or log on to a web site to get the current combination to the padlock on the gate and let yourself in and out.

With the urging and guidance of the Anne Arundel Water Access Committee, the the Riverkeeper organization signed on as the de facto “Friends of Franklin Point State Park.” With the Riverkeeper’s support established, the DNR, under the leadership of Steve McCoy, head ranger at Sandy Point State Park, has been proactive in demolishing old structures on the site and cutting brush to make room for parking and people.

Riverkeeper volunteer rangers will provide regular patrols to monitor the park against litter and other unwelcome activities. We’ll also conduct programs and events to introduce the public the park’s natural assets.

We’ve been proactive in meeting with neighbors and hearing their concerns. As one nearby long-time resident said, “We welcome visitors – but when you open an area to use, you also open it to abuse.” Riverkeeper volunteers will serve as the park’s eyes and ears, while the Natural Resources Police will provide effective enforcement. Our goal is to open this astonishing new recreational opportunity to the citizens of Anne Arundel County with a minimal negative impact on the quality of life of our neighbors.

Members of that same citizens group that won that battle against developers 20 years ago are still active as Riverkeeper volunteers. They’re seeing their vision coming true, thanks to this new partnership between DNR and the West and Rhode Riverkeeper.

I’m proud to have served as a catalyst for this new project, and as an avid bird-watcher, fisherman and paddler, I can’t wait to launch one of the vessels in my large fleet of small boats and explore this pristine site. I hope to see you out there.

The park will open in August, as soon as the Park Service has ironed out the entry system. Meanwhile, if you’d like to join our stalwart band of volunteers, or if you’d like a personally conducted tour – call me at 410-867-7171 or write me at jeff@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.

You can make a secure donation on line by clicking here.

See you out there! 

-- Jeff Holland, West & Rhode Riverkeeper

Apr 02
2015

Construction of Living Shoreline at YMCA Camp Letts Begins

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

LettslsAfter a year of grant writing, design work, and permitting the living shoreline at YMCA Camp Letts is finally going to construction!  This project will protect the camp's southern most point, which contains a number of their cabins and their main field.  Once all the work is completed the currently eroding shoreline will become 960 linear feet of living shoreline creating over 16,000 square feet of newly created tidal marsh.  The living shoreline will address the points that eroding most rapidly and increase the stability of the 1200 feet of waterfront in that area.

Living shorelines serve as a more natural way to stop eroding banks while also providing habitat for marsh dwelling birds, fish, and crabs.  Most living shorelines consist of building several large stone breakwaters, backfilling with sand and planting native marsh grasses and shrubs in the newly placed sand.  The stone breakwaters break up initial wave energy and then the marsh grasses and gradual grade of the sand disipate the remaining energy.  The shoreline at YMCA Camp Letts is being built in a very cost effective way that takes into account the direction of waves to minimize the amount of stone (the expensive component) and maximizes the amount of sand and marsh that is created.  Other materials such as coir logs and oyster shells can be used to build living shorelines but they were not a suitable option for the amount of wave energy at this site.

Construction should be completed by mid to late May.  The marsh grasses and additional trees to increase the forested buffer along the shore will be planted by students from a local middle school.  The students will also plant underwater grasses (SAV) that they've been growing in their classroom along the newly created shoreline.

This project is made possible thanks to grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Like us on Facebook to follow the construction of the shoreline.  Feel free to contact Restoration Coordinator, Joe Ports, to discuss this project and living shorelines to protect your property at joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org or 410-867-7171.

Apr 02
2015

Support the Stormwater Program

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

We need you today- we are fighting two bills in the County Council that would repeal polluted runoff fees that are currently being used for restoration to keep pollution out of our waterways!

 

The County Council will hold hearings and potentially vote on these bills on Monday, April 6, 2015.

 

Show your support for Anne Arundel’s Watershed Protection and Restoration Program by:

  • Contacting your County Councilman and telling him to vote” NO” on Bill 16-5 and 17-5. For contact information http://www.aacounty.org/CountyCouncil/index.cfm
  • Come to County Council meeting at 7 p.m. April 6th at the Arundel Center. If you wish to speak, sign up at 6:30 p.m.
  • These dedicated fees are currently used to finance $70 to $80 million in bonds annually that the County needs in the short term to carry out projects that will meet the federally mandated deadlines for the stormwater permit and the 2025 pollution limits.
  • Since the County is currently at its debt limit, the financing of equivalent bonds would not be possible without endangering the County’s credit rating. Thus with General Fund substitution there would be a $60 million shortfall in what’s needed immediately to fix the polluted runoff problem.
  • Meeting polluted runoff obligations through the General Fund would require County residents to give up projects critical to their quality of life—schools, libraries, roads and other capital improvements.
  • $62.5 million in projects were initiated in FY 14 that will generate an estimated 130 jobs for local residents; severe cuts or elimination of these dollars will kill these jobs and stop the progress being made on reducing pollution. Keeping the polluted runoff fees is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

For more information on these bills and the program click here to read the Open Letter to County Executive Steve Schuh from the Anne Arundel Chapter of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and local watershed groups, including West/Rhode Riverkeeper.

 

Dear County Executive Schuh:

 

We who are dedicated to cleaning up our polluted waterways are extremely disappointed and dismayed by your recent submission of Bill 16-5 to repeal the stormwater management fees that support the Watershed Protection and Restoration program. This bill, and your public statement that you would sign Bill 17-5 to end fees in July, thus dismantling the program and stopping ongoing projects, is a clear reversal of your previous commitments to address polluted stormwater runoff, the largest and fastest growing source of pollution to our waterways.

 

Your pledge to replace the $21.4 million scheduled to be collected in polluted runoff fees from General Fund sources appears misleading to us for the following reasons:

 

So we call on County Executive Schuh to explain to his constituents, many of whom voted for him because of his commitment to environmental issues, how he will continue the current level of funding for the Watershed Protection and Restoration program if polluted runoff fees are eliminated. Our ability to have swimmable, fishable waterways and our children’s legacy depend on it.

 

Signed,

 

Anne Arundel Chapter, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Advocates for Herring Bay 
Anne Arundel Group, Sierra Club
Blue Water Baltimore
Magothy River Association

Restore Rock Creek
Severn River Association

Severn Riverkeeper Program
South River Federation

West/Rhode Riverkeeper

Mar 18
2015

Support the Stormwater Fee

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

The Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee is a local solution to local problems. Rain falls on our highways, streets, parking lots, driveways and roofs, and when we don’t slow it down, cool it off and let it soak into the ground, it fouls our rivers and creeks with sediment, bacteria and pollution. 

 

We have 200,000 more people living in Anne Arundel County than we did 50 years ago – that’s up 64 percent, which means that many more highways, roads, parking lots – and roofs. And that much more runoff dumping that much more pollution into our waterways. 

 

The stormwater fee goes directly to fund projects that treat this runoff. It can’t be used for any other purpose. Some of the funds are being administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust by way of highly competitive grants to organizations like the West and Rhode Riverkeeper. 

 

We’re hoping to secure about $100,000 to create new wetlands beside the Avalon Shores fire station. This project will protect properties in Avalon Shores by keeping sediment and pollution from the West River, and it’s the first step in many needed to address flooding issues on the Shady Side peninsula.  It's shovel-ready! 

 

With the stormwater fee program supporting projects like this here and all across the county, we now have the rare opportunity to give our grandchildren the gift of clean waterways – teeming with underwater grasses, fish, crabs and oysters – the way they were in our grandparents’ time.

 

Send a message to our legislators and tell them you support the stormwater fee. We’ve got a viable program in place – let’s give it a chance to prove its worth. It’s the best way to meet our obligation to future generations: fishable, swimmable rivers and creeks.

 

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuhsschuh@aacounty.org

Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker: jerry.walker@aacounty.org

Delegate Seth Howard: seth.howard@house.state.md.us

Speaker Mike Busch: michael.busch@house.state.md.us

Senator John Astle: john.astle@senate.state.md.us

Nov 18
2014

Launching Our Tenth Year!

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

We’re launching our 10th year as the only citizen-based environmental organization dedicated solely to protecting your rivers -- the West and Rhode Rivers.

 

 

This past year, with your help, we solved the number-one source of sediment pollution on the Rhode River. Hundreds of 6th graders from Southern Middle School planted more than 700 trees at Camp Letts, transforming a muddy horse pasture into a newly forested hillside. We created 625 feet of living shoreline, protecting the river’s edge from erosion and providing habitat for terrapins, horseshoe crabs and other Bay wild life. We’ve worked with our local communities to stabilize their shorelines and monitored the waterways so parents know when it’s safe for their kids to swim and play on their beaches.

 

 

In the year ahead, we’ll be creating another 900 feet of living shoreline, restoring a stretch of Muddy Creek, and dramatically expanding public access to our waterways at Franklin Point State Park. All this, in addition to our work to advocate for better environmental policies, enforce environmental law, stage community-building programs like the Ride for the Rivers and the RiverFest, and keep sewage from our rivers by providing pump-out service to recreational boats.

 

 

But we can’t do all we do without you. Just as the rivers need the Riverkeeper’s help, the Riverkeeper needs your help. Your financial gift is vital to the success of our efforts.  

 

 

We will leverage your tax-deductible contribution up to five times its value in grants from corporations and private foundations, as well as county, state and federal resources.

 

 

Every dollar you give means we can do $5 worth of work – planting trees, growing oysters, restoring marshes and streambeds, creating wetlands and living shorelines that will protect the West and Rhode Rivers for generations to come.

 

 

I hope we can count on your support as we chart our course for the next year. Please send the enclosed envelope back with a generous gift – or click here to make a secure donation on line.

 

 

~ Jeff Holland

West/Rhode Riverkeeper and Executive Director

Apr 08
2014

If you can't beat 'em, EAT 'EM!

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

Click Here to listen to the newest song by Jeff Holland. 

Apr 08
2014

A Riverkeeper looks at 100

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

After 100 days on the job, I can honestly say that I have never been more excited in my life. Every day I'm awash with the beauty of these rivers -- the eagles, geese, osprey, diving ducks -- there are even bluebirds that hang around outside my office window just in case I'm ever tempted to succumb to glumness. 
 
But most of all, I continue to be more and more amazed as this astonishing opportunity I've inherited from Chris Trumbauer. I get to see his projects and visions come to life through this organization's volunteers, board of directors and most of all, the dedicated staff who make miracles happen every day. 
 
Just this past week, I got wet, cold and muddy along with 300 sixth graders from Southern Middle School, planting 300 trees on two acres of hillside to create a forest buffer between the Camp Letts horse pasture and the banks of the Rhode River. 
 
Thanks to the hard work of our Restoration Coordinator Joe Ports, our Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer Sam Hartman, and our Program Coordinator Amy Colhoun, we partnered with the crew of Camp Letts and Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center to create not just a new forest, but also 300 new stewards of the Bay. 
 
Take a look at this slide show and see the mud on these hands and faces and the look of joy in these eyes. These same eyes will see a Bay that's swimmable and fishable, with water clean and clear enough to count the crabs and oysters thriving on the grassy bottoms of the Rhode and West Rivers. These kids are the true riverkeepers. I just enjoy the privilege of working with them, with this great team and with all the many partners who so whole-heartedly support our collective mission.
 
We've got some excitement planned for the next 100 days as well. Check out the spring events page and come out with us and pick up trash along Muddy Creek Road or at Hot Sox Field in Galesville, spread some mulch at the Carrie Weedon Center or explore the watersheds by bike on the Ride for the Rivers in May. But certainly bring the family to Discovery Village for the River Fest in June. 
 
There are lots of ways to catch the excitement and see what fun you can have making a big difference for these beautiful rivers we hold so dear. Can't wait to share that with you. 
 
Apr 03
2014

Conservation Corps'ner: Spring 2014

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

 (Photo Credit Alan Vernon/Flickr)

Now that spring has arrived, Osprey have returned to the Chesapeake Bay area. Ospreys are one of the largest raptors in North American and will migrate thousands of miles to and from central and South America. They are large hawk like creatures that have white and brown patterns on their wings. Ospreys’ bellies and heads are white with a black stripe that runs across their eyes and the back of their necks. Females have a necklace of brown tipped breast feathers.

Ospreys are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Their habitats include marshes, rivers, and open waters. They primarily feed on fish and can grow up 2 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 6 feet. They hunt for food while flying high above the water. Once they have spotted their prey, they will hover in the air beating their wings and then dive in to the water.

While in South America, they will find another osprey and mate for life. Once the winter is over adults will return back to the same nesting areas they were born in. More mature adults will arrive in late February or early march while younger adults arrive later in the season. Females will eventually lay 3 eggs between mid April and late May. The eggs hatch about 40 days later and are fed fish for about 2 months until the fledglings are mature enough to fly. The families will stay together as the fledglings learn to fish and then begin to migrate once they become independent. Juveniles often migrate later in summer near the last week of August.

Ospreys are making a remarkable recovery after the mid twentieth century use of the pesticide DDT that nearly wiped out the population along with many other birds.

Now that spring is approaching, it is a great time to see these amazing creatures. There are many places that osprey can be found in the Anne Arundel County area. Some great locations are Quiet Waters Park, Thomas Point Park, Sandy Point State Park, and even Herrington Harbor. Some good places to spot them in the West/Rhode Watersheds are the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Discovery Village, and Jack Creek Park in Shady Side.

Mar 17
2014

Living Shorelines Funded for $173,000

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

The West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., received two grants totaling $173,120 to fund living shoreline projects protecting more than 600 linear feet along the West and Rhode Rivers. The projects were funded by the Living Shoreline Grant Program, a partnership of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Maryland Department of the Environment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Trust and funding partners received more than $1,000,000 in requests which are competitively reviewed and evaluated by an independent technical review committee.  Of the total amount requested, $516,000 was available in funding during this round of the program.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity that the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the State of Maryland and NOAA have given us to manage these projects,” said Jeff Holland, who started serving as Riverkeeper and Executive Director of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper on January 1. “That we received a full third of this grant round’s funding says a lot about what a great job our Restoration Coordinator, Joe Ports, has been doing on projects just like this all around the two watersheds, along with former Riverkeeper Chris Trumbauer. Joe is a former volunteer with the Trust’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program and has been a vital asset to our restoration work.”

One of the new projects will protect more than 550 feet of shoreline along the Rhode River at YMCA Camp Letts, the other will protect more than 50 feet along the West River at the Chesapeake Yacht Club, Holland explained. “That one, in particular, will replace an existing bulkhead and will serve as a showcase for best management practices that can be adopted by waterfront property owners anywhere,” he said. Living shorelines use native plants, sand and stone to replicate a natural marsh that both prevents erosion and provides habitat for turtles, crabs and other creatures.

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust works with hundreds of committed grantees like West/Rhode Riverkeeper who are out in the field every day working to improve their communities and local rivers and streams,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “We are so pleased to award these funds and we look forward to the implementation of these projects that will benefit the public and our natural resources.”

The Riverkeeper serves as the eyes, ears and voice for the West and Rhode Rivers. West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., is a non-profit organization based in Shady Side and dedicated to working with local communities to promote restoration, advocate for better environmental policy and enforce environmental law. Founded in 2005, the organization is governed by a Board of Directors that comprises 10 community leaders, just some of the many volunteers who contribute energy and expertise to projects like monitoring water quality, planting trees and aquatic vegetation, and cleaning up trash. The organization works closely with the 18 other independent Waterkeeper groups in the Chesapeake area, and it’s a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international movement with nearly 200 membership organizations worldwide.

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