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  ♦  jeff@westrhoderiverkeeper.org


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West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

Description of my blog
Feb 12
2018

Commission nixes controversial Critical Area project in south county

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

Commission nixes controversial Critical Area project in south county

Published in the Annapolis Capital, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018

By E.B. Furgurson III

Maryland’s Critical Area Commission has effectively halted a controversial south county waterfront development and ordered Anne Arundel County to correct problems in its program to enforce Critical Area development rules.

The commission voted Wednesday to make the county correct deficiencies in its planning and zoning procedures that allowed the preliminary approval of the previously denied project along Deep Cove Creek in Churchton.

In a letter to the county, the commission also said any approvals granted under the part of the program deemed to be deficient are “null and void.” That seems to include the 2016 conditional approval for the Turtle Run at Deep Cove project.

The project seeks to transfer the building capacity from several parcels around Deep Cove Creek to allow 11 homes on one lot, not connected to the others, in the most protected land of the Critical Area — the Resource Conservation Area, or RCA.

The RCA rules were written in the 1980s to curtail damage to land 1,000 feet from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and say only one house per 20 acres is allowable in the RCA. The lot in question is 40 acres.

Earlier project denials by the county first cited the 1-per-20 rule; then in 2012, it said the plan to transfer development rights was not allowed in the county’s code.

Then in 2016 the county reversed itself.

It approved Turtle Run’s sketch plan after finding an obscure definition of development “site” in the state’s law governing stormwater regulation. That definition allows a group of parcels under the same ownership to transfer density to another parcel.

That approval was immediately appealed by the West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development and several individuals. The case is still being heard after 24 Board of Appeals hearings on the matter. Four more hearings are scheduled next month and potentially more into July

Read more>>>

 

Jan 25
2018

In Memory of Nicholas Schlegel, Jr.

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

Nick SchlegelNicholas George Schlegel, Jr. passed away suddenly at his West River home on January 7th 2018. He was 72 years old. Nick was born in Washington, DC on May 30th, 1945 to Nicholas George Sr. and Elsie (Hartge) Schlegel of Chalk Point. He was a graduate of Southern High School, Class of 1963. Nicholas studied engineering at University of Virginia before joining the family business, Hartge Yacht Yard, from 1965 until his passing. Nicholas married his wife, Nancy (Stewart), on May 30th 1981. Together they raised three sons; Nicholas III (Skipper), Erik, and Max. He is also survived by his sister, Elsie Whitman, brother, Emile (Alex), daughter-in-law Michelle, and two grandchildren, Ryan and Nicole. Nick's life revolved around the water. Growing up on West River, his childhood was spent sailing and racing on the bay with siblings, cousins, and friends. Nicholas would go on to compete in the Newport Bermuda races; racing day and night the length of the Atlantic coast. He would later race Chesapeake 20s at regattas on both sides of the bay with his wife and sons as crew. Later in life, Nick would regularly compete in the Wednesday night races with his sister on M'Luv, the Tartan 27 that once belonged to their parents. Nicholas will have a family service at Christ Church of West River (220 Owensville Rd West River, MD 20778) on January 27th at 2pm. A public Memorial/celebration of life will be held on April 7th at the West River Sailing Club in Galesville at 4:30pm. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the West/Rhode Riverkeeper, PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764, or call Riverkeeper Jeff Holland at 443-758-7797 to make a donation by credit card. Thank you to all who have helped and supported the Schlegel family through this difficult time.

Jan 25
2018

In Memory of Claudia McQueeney

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

mcqueeneyClaudia Elizabeth Skinner McQueeney, 74, of Shady Side, Maryland, passed away in her sleep on December 29, 2017. She was preceded in death by her loving husband, James, of 51 years. She is survived by two sons, Ryan and his wife Jen of Edgewater, MD, and their children, Madison, Molly, and Masey; and Chris and his wife Sara of Edgewater, MD, and their child, Ryley; her sister, Sylvia Davis of Oreland, PA; her brother Hank Skinner and his wife Carol of Alexandria, VA; her sister Linda Barber and her husband Bob of Churchton, MD; and many other relatives and friends. Claudia enjoyed a long career in the marine industry including working at Shipwright Harbor Marina and Galesville Harbor Yacht Yard where she developed enduring friendships with her beloved boatyard customers as well as industry partners. Claudia was called "Oma" by her grandchildren, who were the light of her life. She loved being with family and friends, going out to eat, and traveling. Family and friends are invited to a celebration of life on Saturday January 13th from 2-5pm at Pirates Cove Restaurant in Galesville, MD. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the WestRhode Riverkeeper, Inc. PO Box 172 Shady Side, MD 20764 or call Riverkeeper Jeff Holland at 443-758-7797 to make a contribution by credit card. 

Dec 27
2017

Happy New Year!

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

cheston creekI've just completed my fourth year of service as your Riverkeeper, and I'm filled with hope for another successful year ahead. This will be a year of outreach. We're teaming up with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to engage every one of the homeowners' associations along the Rhode River. We'll be providing educational programs and working with students from Southern High School to build our Marylanders Grow Oysters project. Eventually, we'll be planting oyster spat on three new small demonstration oyster beds we'll be creating on the bottom of the river. 

We'll also be producing a series of summer concerts in local neighborhoods, and of course, we'll be reprising our popular Ride for the Rivers event in September. Each of these events serves as an opportunity to have fun and learn how we can all become better stewards of our rivers.

The good news is that we're making a difference. Our report cards have improved every year, from a "D" when I started to a solid "C" this past season. And we've had schools of dolphins and flocks of pelicans to affirm that we're doing a good job in our quest to make the rivers fishable and swimmable. You can't ask for better referrals!

Please join me this Saturday for a bird walk at Franklin Point State Park, led by my friend, photographer, writer and poet Dotty Holcomb Doherty, and don't miss the concert on January 27 in Galesville. My old pal Janie Meneely and her partner Rob van Sante will be coming over from Yorkshire to share their music of the Bay and Beyond, and my new friends Rich Elmquist and Hugh Cassidy will perform with me to open the concert. Janie and I will share some songs from our Crab Alley days as well. It should be a magical evening!

As always, thank you for your continued support. We can't do all we do without you.

Your Riverkeeper,

 

Jeff

Dec 27
2017

Bird Walk at Franklin Point State Park

Posted by Jeff Holland in Untagged 

dottyBird Walk at Franklin Point State Park

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017

8 - 10 a.m.

 

Join the West & Rhode Riverkeeper this Saturday at Franklin Point State Park for a bird walk with nature photographer and writer Dotty Holcomb Doherty (left). You might have read Dotty's articles on birding and farming in the Bay Weekly and What's Up? Annapolis and Eastern Shore. Dotty will lead a bird walk with the Riverkeeper at Franklin Point State Park on Saturday, December 30, from 8 to 10 a.m.

The park trail runs about a mile and a half along the edge of a salt marsh, through meadows and pine forest, each area providing habitat for a variety of species, from song birds to geese and swans and even American Bald Eagles.

The program is free, but the group size is limited, so reservations are suggested. Reservations can be made by emailing Riverkeeper Jeff Holland at jeff@westrhoderiverkeeper.org or by calling 443-758-7797.

The entrance to Franklin Point State Park is located at the end of Dent Road off of Shady Side Road. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.

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

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