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: 410-867-7171  ♦  4800 Atwell Rd, #6, Shady Side, MD 20764

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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 .  

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 .

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 .  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 .


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-  
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  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 .

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  if you can volunteer some time and energy.



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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.

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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. 


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