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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Tags >> DNR
May 31
2012

Fisheries and Water Quality Update

Posted by Chris in water quality , pumpout , honeydipper , fisheries , DNR , crabs

by Chris Trumbauer

Crab Survey Results Are Encouraging

The latest survey results for Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs were announced in April. According to the survey, which was conducted by Maryland DNR, an estimated 764 million crabs spent this winter in the Bay, nearly 66 percent more than last year. Juvenile crabs reached a record high of 587 million, nearly triple last year's 207 million. The previous record of 512 million was set in 1997.

However, there was a decline in the number of spawning-age females from 190 million to 97 million crabs. Nevertheless, the female population remains above the safe threshold level. According to DNR, preliminary estimates of the 2011 female harvest are below the target of 25.5 percent, again confirming that management measures have continued to be effective at constraining the fishery to appropriate levels.

The increase in crabs is encouraging. Certainly, some of the credit can be attributed to the 2008 decision by the Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission to restrict the female crab harvest. This is a demonstration that management actions can and do work – but we must be sure not to bring our fisheries to the brink of collapse before we take action.

In other “crab news,” DNR recently launched a new True Blue labeling and promotion program that will let restaurant-goers know whether their seafood dishes use meat from Maryland blue crabs or less expensive (less tasty) crabmeat from abroad.

water clarityWater Quality Monitoring for 2012 Is Well Under Way

Our volunteer monitoring teams are back out on the water keeping an eye on the health of our rivers. They go out every Wednesday morning to monitor both the West and the Rhode Rivers. Our program records water temperature, salinity, water clarity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. You can view the results in a map-based utility on our website. http://wrr.chesabay.org/. This data is also used each year to create our Report Card for the West and Rhode Rivers.

If you would like to volunteer to participate in this fun and important program, please contact Joe Ports at 410-867-7171 or joe@westrhoderiverkeeper.org.

“Mahogany Tide” invades parts of Anne Arundel

Algae blooms fed by too much nutrient pollution have caused “mahogany tides” in several creeks in northern Anne Arundel County, and also in Spa Creek in Annapolis. The algae species, prorocentrum minimum, is a dark reddish brown color, and large populations of the algae will turn make the water appear that color as well, hence the “mahogany tide” label. While prorocentrum is not harmful to humans, alage blooms can cause fish kills if they consume too much of the oxygen in the water, leaving insufficient oxygen for fish and other aquatic life. Estimates in the north county creeks exceed 100,000 dead fish as a result of these blooms. Fortunately, we have not seen similar condition in the West or the Rhode so far this year. The last major fish kill in our rivers was in the fall of 2008, in Bear Neck Creek.

Honeydipper Is on Patrol

HoneydipperOnce again this year, our pumpout boat is patrolling the West and Rhode Rivers. This program is supported by a Maryland DNR grant and allows us to properly dispose of boat waste. Each year, we collect about 15,000 gallons of waste from marine holding tanks, and discharge it into the sewer system where it gets properly treated. Boat waste is one potential cause of bacteria contamination in our rivers.

Got a holding tank and need a pumpout? Call Cap’n Michael on the Honeydipper at 410-940-3754 or hail “Honeydipper” on VHF 77.

 

May 31
2012

Conservation Corps'ner - Summer 2012

Posted by Chris in SERC , Popham Creek , Living Shoreline , Joe Ports , DNR , Conservation Corps'ner , Cheston Point , CBT

by Joe Ports, Chesapeake Conservation Corps Member

If you have spent some time near the mouths of the West and Rhode Rivers this beautiful spring you may have noticed some barges and boats working on Cheston Point. This is not a new development going in, it’s a living shoreline!  Cheston Point’s living shoreline is being created by a partnership between the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), which owns the land.

 

map

For years, waves from wind and boat traffic have been battering Cheston Point, as you can see by the trees that are falling into the water.  The design of this particular living shoreline will include several rock structures known as breakwaters that will be both above and below water.  [See the design here.] These breakwaters are a series of horseshoe shaped piles of rocks that are meant to do two jobs; break up wave energy and collect sand behind them.  Sand will then be placed behind the breakwaters to create a beach to plant with grasses and shrubs. The breakwaters will defend the shoreline from the wave action, and prevent erosion and allow natural marsh grasses to hold the beach together.

living shorelineThe purpose of this shoreline, as is with many others, is to stabilize the shoreline while providing native habitat for animals.  To create this habitat the beach will be planted with native grasses; Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Spartina patens) in the areas that are above the high tide line and Smooth Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) in the areas that get flooded with the tides. There will also likely be some woody shrubs added such as High Tide Bush (Baccharis halimifolia).

What is currently being done at Cheston Point is just the beginning of a larger project to create living shoreline all along the point.  The first section of the shoreline is expected to be completed in approximately one month and plants will be added 6 months to a year after the conclusion of the work to allow the sand and stone to settle.

The Cheston Point project is an example of what can happen when two very large organizations work together to build a shoreline, however similar projects can be completed by homeowners associations and even private homeowners.  An example of a project being completed by a private homeowner can be found in Popham Creek.  Here the homeowner has a severely eroding shoreline and sought to build her own living shoreline. She received an interest-free loan from Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust for about 25% of the total cost. West/Rhode Riverkeeper is pleased to partner with the homeowner, and is serving as the fiscal agent (to manage the grant).

Converting eroding shoreline or hard, bulkheaded areas to living shorelines can improve water quality and habitat. Living shorelines work to reduce resuspension of sediment by making the wave energy spread throughout a gently sloping shoreline and among all the plants that are growing on it.  This is very different from the use of bulkheads, which sharply reflect wave energy away from them and allow that energy to stir up sediment, reducing the ability of underwater grasses to take hold and grow.

These financial resources are available for everyone to take advantage of and West/Rhode Riverkeeper supports private efforts to improve the shoreline environment.  If living shorelines were widely adopted throughout the Rivers and Chesapeake Bay, fish, crabs and underwater grasses would be a lot healthier and a lot happy.  Lets all start to think what we can do to get the healthy rivers that we deserve.

Resources: 

Here is where you can find some great information on living shorelines in a hand-out created by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. http://www.cbf.org/Document.Doc?id=60

For some ideas of what you could do with your own shoreline check out this decision tree: http://www.ccrm.vims.edu/decisiontree/index.html.  This tree is a great way to think about what you and your neighbors may be able to do with old bulkheads or rip rap to build a more environmentally friendly structure.

To find out how to apply for your own living shoreline project you can look at DNR’s website here: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/ccp/sec/secforms.asp

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