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

West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

Description of my blog
Jun 06

Riverkeeper Report: Summer 2013

Posted by Chris in Untagged 

by Chris Trumbauer

Summer is here. Our Honeydipper pumpout boat is patrolling the rivers, our water quality monitoring teams are sampling weekly, and a myriad of sailboats, pleasure craft, commercial watermen, and kayaks can once again be seen daily on the West and Rhode Rivers. It’s a beautiful scene.

As we progress from Spring to Summer, there are always strange weather days – days which seem too hot or too cold for that time of year. Critiquing the weather is an age-old Maryland tradition.  However, recent extreme weather, both locally and around the world, have brought discussions of climate change back to the forefront.

Scientists have now announced that we have passed a critical milestone: a concentration of 400ppm of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – an amount never before recorded in human history. The chief sources of CO2 from human activity are burning fossil fuels for electricity (coal, oil) and transportation (gasoline, diesel). High levels of CO2 help trap heat in the atmosphere, and are blamed for rising worldwide temperatures. Scientists warn us that our climate is changing. Why is this bad?

A changing climate will affect our natural resources. Already, in many areas of the Chesapeake Bay, underwater grasses are dying off because of the higher water temperatures. More extreme weather events can mean more stormwater pollution entering our waterways, as heavy storms cause flooding and stream erosion. Our oceans and waterways are becoming more acidic, which affects the natural ecosystem.

Other effects will be seen – and felt. Wildfires are predicted to increase, animal migratory patterns will change, droughts will be more frequent, and even pollen levels will go up.

However, perhaps the most significant potential threat to the West and Rhode River watersheds is sea level rise. Warming temperatures mean accelerated melting of the polar ice caps, resulting in more liquid water in our oceans. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that after very little change in 2,000 years, sea level rose seven inches in the 20th Century, and is projected to rise as much as two feet during this century. Much of the coastal area in the West and Rhode River watersheds could be flooded if this occurs.

If you think climate change and sea level rise is just banter for environmentalists and college students, think again. Insurers are raising their rates (looked at your flood insurance lately?) and a recent report in the New York Times explains how insurance companies are extremely concerned about climate change but are doing very little to address the problem.

What about us? Will we bury our head in the sand and hope that the harbingers are wrong and that the predictions are overstated? Or will we include climate change in our strategic decisions regarding how we protect, conserve, and restore our natural resources? I love the West and Rhode Rivers and I want them to continue to be among the most beautiful places on the Chesapeake Bay. There are things we can and must do to reduce emissions and "greenhouse gasses." It’s time to take the threat of climate change seriously. Burying your head in the sand usually doesn’t work, especially when the tide starts coming in.

Jun 06

Conservation Corps'ner: Summer 2013

Posted by Chris in Untagged 

by Will Saffell

The Chesapeake Bay is known for its diverse and productive fisheries. Crabs, oysters, rockfish, and menhaden are among the highest profile species in the region. Various media have covered the issues associated with these fisheries.  These fisheries are regulated, and closely watched, and receive attention when issues arise, such as low catch rates or escalating prices. There is however a less conspicuous fishery in the Chesapeake.

snapping turtleMany people are unaware that the harvesting of snapping turtles is actively occurring in the waters of the Chesapeake. This is somewhat surprising given the length of the fishery's existence. Archeological evidence suggests the harvest of Snapping Turtles in the Chesapeake region dates as far back as 1000 BC, and it continues to be an in-demand food item throughout the world.  While the popularity of turtle based dishes has fallen throughout the United States, it is still a commodity in many countries, most notably China. This international demand makes up a significant portion of sales and is a driving source behind the Chesapeake’s harvest.

Unlike other fisheries in the Chesapeake, the harvest of snapping turtles has not been the subject of heavy regulation and few limits have historically existed. As a result, watermen were more limited by the market than by official regulation. This allowed for a largely unmonitored industry that had little information available to determine how harvesting was impacting wild populations. Nonetheless, some areas did have unofficial size limits. Distributors and butcher shops that bought the turtles from watermen often would not want to purchase turtles any smaller than 8’’ or 9’’ because of the minimal amount of meat that they could get off of one turtle. Thus the market basically created a self-managing size limit in areas with such particular distributors. However, the size of 8’’ does not necessarily reflect any meaningful value from a sustainable harvest standpoint. When setting restriction on size and catch limits, they should be based on scientific data to ensure that the regulations have biological significance. 

Watermen who harvest snapping turtle were aware that there was little information on how populations were being effected, and had concerns if current practices were sustainable. In turn, the Snapping Turtle Workgroup was formed in 2007. It consists of watermen, seafood dealers, MD DNR (Fisheries Service, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Resources Police), scientists from Towson University and University of Maryland, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society, aquaculturists, Nuisance Wildlife Control Operations, Maryland Trappers Association, and Conservation International/UCN. One of the first actions the Workgroup took was to set a precautionary 9’’ minimum size limit on snapping turtles. This size limit was based on observations waterman made, but they realized more data was needed to make a meaningful size limit. 

To determine a biologically meaningful size limit, Patrick Cain and Richard Seigel of Towson University gathered size structure data by measuring turtles from butcher shops and accompanied watermen while trapping.  They compared data from harvested vs. unharvested populations and determined that a size limit of 11’’ curved carapace (top shell) length would be needed to protect 50% of female turtles. Based on this study, the Workgroup made recommendations to increase the previous size limit. These recommendations were soon put into law and marked as one of the largest advances in protecting this natural resource.  This is noteworthy, as it was made under the industry's own initiative, and not imposed from an outside force. Watermen realized that they would reduce their future catch and decided to sacrifice short term profit margins for long term benefits.

The Workgroup has taken great steps to make the harvest of snapping turtles in Maryland more sustainable, however there is an inherit concern with harvesting wild turtle populations. Unlike other species that mature quickly and reproduce in great numbers (i.e., crabs and oysters), turtles have a reproductive strategy that is rooted in longevity. Turtles express delayed maturity in which it takes an individual well over a decade to become capable of reproducing. On top of this, egg clutches are small and nests are often subject to predation, thereby further reducing the number of young per year. Therefore a majority of offspring do not survive to reproductive age. In addition, time it takes an individual to replace itself is remarkably long - not to mention the time it would take for a population to grow. These characteristics led to a population that is heavily reliant on adults and those nearing maturity, which also happen to be the most desired individuals for harvesting.

The reproductive strategies of turtles led to another major question that needs to be answered: what percent of the population needs to be protected in order to ensure its sustainability?  Unfortunately, such a study may not exist.  Time will tell if the current regulations will be enough to create a sustainable harvest. However, if  it turns out that more stringent regulations are needed, the people who work in snapping turtle trade seem willing to take the  necessary actions to ensure the long term survival of the industry . The watermen involved in making these regulations deserve recognition for their initiative and ability to be proactive in a world where management of natural resources seems to be persistently retroactive. 

More information on the Snapping Turtle Workgroup and current Regulations can be found at: http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/turtle/meeting.asp

Jun 06

Southern Middle Buffers Lerch Creek

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by Joe Ports

On a warm and clear morning in late April, 50 seventh grade students from Southern Middle School planted roughly 280 trees and shrubs in Galesville Park.  The goal of the planting was to improve the forested buffer along Lerch Creek.   Forested buffers are the last line of defense for our waterways and work to filter polluted runoff before it enters out rivers and Bay.  Prior to the planting, the area was just mowed turf grass that cost money to maintain and allowed polluted stormwater to flow directly into the creek.  Now over the coming years the area will evolve into a forest that will provide fantastic habitat and require no maintenance.

As part of this planting project, Restoration Coordinator Joe Ports went into the student’s classroom before the planting and gave a presentation on the importance of forested buffers and how they improve our watershed.  Once the students were armed with the knowledge of why they were planting, they were eager to get outside and get the trees in the ground.  They were also excited to learn that some of the species of tree they were planting produced edible fruits, like Paw Paws, Persimmons, and Hazelnuts. Not only do these fruiting trees provide treats for park visitors, but are also an important food source for wildlife.

Tree Planting

Projects like this are vital to the future of our Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.  Projects such as this planting and so many others across the state instill a sense of stewardship in the next generation of Bay residents.  Planting these trees connected the students to the watershed and taught them the value of citizen action to help solve some of the Bay’s most pressing issues.

This planting was funded by the Governor’s Stream Challenge, a grant program aimed at getting students involved in the planting of forested buffers throughout the state.  We extend a huge thank you to Arlington Echo, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of Natural Resources for all their help with this project.


Jun 06

Restoration Update: Summer 2013

Posted by Chris in Untagged 

by Joe Ports

Camp Letts plantingOn April 13, we celebrated the completion of our Camp Letts Restoration project with a volunteer tree planting event. Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee we were about to purchase 9 more species of plants to add over 100 additional trees and shrubs to the project.  The volunteers were joined by "VIPs" Bob Summers, Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, and Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  We are very pleased with the project and look forward to seeing it treat water and evolve through the years.

We've also completed a new Living Shoreline in Bear Neck Creek on the Rhode River.  Working with a private landowner, we received a grant from Chesapeake Bay Trust to fix their rapidly eroding shoreline.  The project installed stone breakwaters and native grasses (Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens).  Keep an eye out when you’re going up the creek past Blue Water Marina and you’ll see it.  We also just received funds for another shoreline up the creek.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) have just completed the first phase of their living shoreline on Cheston Point.  The breakwaters and sand were placed last fall and the native grasses (Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens) were just planted in mid-May.  SERC will continue to seek funds to finish the other phases of the shoreline, with the ultimate goal being to protect the entire point.

The design for our stream restoration project in the Baltimore Gas and Electric transmission line right-of-way (ROW) in Harwood is nearly complete. The plan, by Sustainable Science, LLC, consists of some minor modifications to the stream’s steep bank walls that will allow for storm water to flow out of the channel into a proper floodplain.  Wetlands areas will also be added to slow down and treat water, as well as provide fantastic habitat for wildlife.  The largest feature of the design will be a complete realignment of the stream’s channel at a portion that is quickly eroding a cliff near the base of one of the transmission towers. Thanks to Baltimore Gas and Electric for being such valued partners in this project.

The Redhead underwater grass that we have been growing is ready to be planted. We have been growing these native underwater grasses for the past year and will plant them in the sheltered cove in front of our office (where we can keep an eye on them).  We hope that these new underwater grasses will get established and thrive.

Members of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps and Watershed Stewards Academy joined us Monday June, 3rd to plant about 900 plugs of Spartina patens at Shady Cove natural area.  These plugs will provide great habitat for Bay creatures and their roots will help to hold the sand in the shoreline.

In mid-June, a Wetland Garden will be installed at the Chesapeake Yacht Club in Shady Side. This project will contain a variety of native vegetation and demonstrate the value of Conservation Landscaping to its members. CYC has been seeking ways to increase stewardship of the Bay and reduce its impact. This is just one of several potential projects that were identified at the Club, and we are hoping that is the beginning of other conservational practices that will minimize the Club`s environmental impact. This project is Will Saffell's "Capstone" project for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps.

At Carrie Weedon Science Center, West/Rhode Riverkeeper designed and built a wetland enhancement project that transformed a drainage ditch into 150ft wetland garden. On May 18th, over a dozen volunteers planted over 350 plants and install the garden. The teachers have already begun using it as an educational tool for the Center`s students. It has provides a place for children to interact with wetland species and learn about the value of wetland habitat.

Also at Carrie Weedon, we will be planting a native meadow on the site of the former basketball court. Once complete, the project will provide a beautiful meadow full of native wildflowers and grasses. Students will be able to interact with the meadow and learn about the life that can be found in this habitat type. The Carrie Weedon projects were made possible through McCarthy and Associates and Unity Gardens. McCarthy and Associates has been instrumental in the making of these two projects through lending their expertise, manpower, and equipment.

Mar 06

Legislative Update: Spring 2013

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by Chris Trumbauer


The Maryland General Assembly is in session! West/Rhode Riverkeeper is a member of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). Each year, CCE votes on its priority bills in the state legislature (bill numbers are listed in parentheses). This year, we are concentrating on two of the four priorities:

Pesticides Information Act (HB775/SB675)

Smart on Pesticidessmart on pesticidesPesticides pose a serious risk to our health, to the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways, and to homeland security - but Maryland lacks the information we need about some pesticide use and the sales of restricted use pesticides. We need pesticide applicators, as well as sellers of restricted use pesticides, to report the information they are already required to maintain so research scientists and environmental and public health experts will have data they can use to determine if and when pesticides are affecting our health, our waters, and homeland security. This legislation would create a simple and cost-neutral, centralized online pesticide reporting database paid for by a modest fee increase for chemical manufacturers.

Clean Water, Healthy Families

The Bay, a national treasure and regional economic resource, suffers from severely degraded water quality. This campaign is designed build on last session's successes and further Maryland's waterways and the Chesapeake Bay itself down the path of steady improvements in water quality and quality of life for those who live, recreate, and work on and near the Chesapeake. The suite of policies we are pursuing will build on last session's successes by improving the stormwater pollution regulation, ensuring that funding sources are protected and secured, that beneficial regulations on septic systems and manure spreading are enacted, and significantly reduce the number of disposable bags used and entering the waste and litter stream.

The biggest component of this year's package is the Community Cleanup and Greening Act (SB576). We are also monitoring the budget bills and will send out Action Alerts when we need your help!

In addition to the CCE priorities, West/Rhode Riverkeeper is supporting other legislation that will help our Rivers. These include:

The Forest Preservation Act (HB706) - Develops a "no-net-loss" forest policy. We are interested in ensuring that stream restoration projects are not encumbered in this policy, but we support a strong conservation policy with regard to trees and forests.

We are also helping to defend against cuts in the environmental budget - particularly in Program Open Space.

We will post more bills on our website as they become available!

You can look up information about any state legislation on the MLIS website: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/


Mar 06

Take Action Today to Protect Conservation Funding

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Land Conservation and support for our local parks is under a blistering and unexpected new attack.  Contact Senators on the Budget & Taxation Committee today and tell them NO CUTS TO PROGRAM OPEN SPACE. 

Act Now!

The West and Rhode Rivers have benefitted from the investment in Open Space in our area. The Shady Cove Living Shoreline we recently built was done on land preserved by Program Open Space. Many other local areas were SAVED from development with funds from Program Open Space. Now this important program is being threatened. 

The landmark Program Open Space law was enacted over 40 years ago, and has used a fraction of a percent of the transfer tax paid when you sell a home or piece of property to pay for open space, parks and recreation needs, and agricultural preservation. 

Program Open Space is beautiful in its simplicity, keeping pace with state growth and development through its funding formula to protect over 400,000 acres in Maryland, and supporting local and state parks that we all know, enjoy and love.

However, a proposal currently being considered in Annapolis would decimate this extremely popular program.  They want to take $50 million away from the program each year, $25 million of that permanently for an unrelated use.

Unfortunately, it’s not surprising when money is raided from Program Open Space.  In fact, the program is already owed $90 million from previous raids.  However, these cuts have always happened when economic times were tough, and came with promises to repay the fund in future years, or to replace the money with bonds to finance our most urgent needs.

Now, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) wants to ignore the past borrowing, and has suggested that the $90 million owed not be repaid because it would be “inconvenient.”  This represents a cynical violation of the public trust.

The budget as introduced by the Governor is a sensible proposal which honors the obligations to POS, and gradually returns the full funding to land conservation, including past borrowing.  It demonstrates a practical approach to restore support to an extremely popular public program. 

These suggested DLS cuts are crude and unnecessary, support no other discernible public need, and suggest a cavalier disregard for the integrity of the program.  Please contact the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee today, and remind them of the popular support for this extremely important program for Maryland parks and land conservation.

Act Now!

On behalf of the West and Rhode Rivers, thank you for taking action!


Mar 06

Events, Events, and more Events!

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With the coming of Spring comes our "busy season!" Get ready to go outside and get dirty cleaning up the rivers!  This Spring we will have a number of volunteer events to help clean up the West and Rhode Rivers.  To get more details RSVP to Joe Ports at or at 410-867-7171.

Tree Planting at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - March 9th 9am - 2pm

Spend a beautiful Spring morning planting trees at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center off of Cumberstone Road in Harwood.

(See the map of the site below, call Joe at 443-844-4174 with any problems)

Tree Planting at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - March 13th 9am - 2pm

Spend a beautiful Spring morning planting trees at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center off of Cumberstone Road in Harwood.

(See the map of the site below, call Joe at 443-844-4174 with any problems)

cumberstone map with driving directions

Project Clean Stream at Beverly-Triton Beach project clean stream- April 6th 9am – 12pm

Help us along with the Anne Arundel County Public Water Access Committee clean up piles of garbage from the beautiful Beverly-Triton Park.

Watershed Snapshot - April 13th 8am – 12pm

Help us get a “Snapshot” of the West, Rhode and South River Watersheds.  You will ride around the watersheds and collect water samples from streams and return them to the South River Federation office for the samples to be analyzed.  You’ll need to attend one training in early April.

CEPA annual Forum: "Healthy Bay, Healthy Fisheries?"


Saturday, April 20, 2013 — Schmidt Conference Center, SERC, Edgewater, MD

7:00 PM

Get more information at http://www.cepaonline.org/forums.htm

Water Quality Monitoring Starts – mid-April 

The 2013 water quality-monitoring season will begin on May 1st.  Join our team of volunteers as they go out every Wednesday morning to check on the health of the rivers.


SAV Planting at Discovery Village – Early May

Get ready to get wet planting Redhead grass in the cove in front of Discovery Village.

Mar 06

Riverkeeper Report: Spring 2013

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by Chris Trumbauer

In life, we are all held to some level of accountability. At our jobs, we have certain goals or tasks to fulfill or we won’t get paid. We must pay our mortgage or rent, or we’ll get foreclosed or evicted. We must pay our bills, or a collection agent may show up on our doorstep. Even children are held accountable by their parents – my kids have to do their chores at night if they want their bedtime story.

So it is with our massive effort to restore the health of our public waterways. The rivers, creeks and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay belong to no single person or entity – they belong to us all. Yet whom do we hold accountable when they are allowed to become impaired or even unsafe? We must hold ourselves – and our government – accountable.

The history of the modern Chesapeake Bay restoration movement is filled with well-intentioned but non-binding guidelines, goals, and “deadlines.” Until recently, these goals were largely voluntary. Governors signed Chesapeake Bay Agreements in 1983, 1987, 1992, and in 2000. Not surprisingly, the Bay stubbornly refused to clean itself up as a result of each of these agreements.

But now, something is different. In 2009, the President of the United States issued an Executive Order which called on the federal government to lead a renewed effort to restore and protect the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed. In 2010, the EPA responded by establishing a new protocol – the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, commonly referred to as the Bay “Pollution Diet.” The pollution diet requires states and local governments to reduce the harmful nutrient and sediment pollution entering our waterways, and holds them accountable if they do not.

As I have written before, this framework gives me a case for optimism about the future of the Bay. If we truly do hold ourselves and our government accountable, then we can reverse the trend of continued decline. There are a number of examples that show that management actions can work – if we follow through. In the mid-1980’s Maryland banned phosphorus from detergents, and there was a significant, and nearly immediate drop, in phosphorus pollution in Bay waters. In the 1990’s, when the rockfish population was in dire trouble, the state made a dramatic – and politically unpopular – decision to close the fishery, and the population came back and is stabilized. New harvest limits on blue crabs have also resulted in a positive response in the crab population.

Passing new laws or regulations is not enough, though. We must enforce them and track their implementation and results. In this modern digital age, data is more important than ever. BayStat is one example of government tracking progress (or lack thereof), and our West and Rhode Rivers Report Card is another. One of our top advocacy efforts during the current General Assembly session is the Pesticides Information Act. This bill would require a centralized reporting database to track commercial use of pesticides, so that public health officials and researchers could get the data they need to determine if pesticides are harming us or our waterways. We are also working on a number of public water access issues to allow our residents opportunity to get out on the very waterways that we are all paying to protect.

Information is empowering to our residents - it equips them with the knowledge they need to judge our progress and hold our leaders accountable. Help us help ourselves by making sure we meet our commitments to our public waterways. Report pollution, demand action, and don’t let your guard down. We can restore our waterways if we keep our commitments. The Bay responds when we take action – and monitoring and enforcing those actions are roles that West/Rhode Riverkeeper and other watershed groups are willing to accept.





Mar 06

Conservation Corps'ner: Spring 2013

Posted by Chris in Untagged 

By Will Saffell


Reduction in Menhaden catch limits likely to Pass

Big things are happening for a little species of fish by the name of Menhaden. If you have not heard of these oily little fish, it is about time that you do. Menhaden represent one of the largest fisheries in the region and have been the subject of intense debate. Over harvesting has resulted in populations below 10% of historical levels and an uncertainty for the future of the industry. In an attempt to curb a crash of the fishery, bills that will reduce the harvest limit by 20% are currently working their way into becoming law. These bills are intended to bring the industry into compliance with the Menhaden management plan adopted by the Atlantic Coast Marine Fisheries Commission, and ultimately allow the fishery to rebound from decades of overfishing. Legislation has recently been approved by the Senate, and is awaiting approval from the House. After which, it is expected to be signed by the Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. If these bills are passed, it will be marked as a major success and a hard earned win for environmentalists. If the bills are not, Virginia will likely face harsh sanctions that would have a significant impact on the industry. 


So why so much commotion over such a small fish? Menhaden have been called “the most important fish in the sea.” While the fish itself is not appetizing to us humans, its role in the ecosystem is invaluable. Menhaden are filter feeders, and are a historically abundant fish.  Massive schools of Menhaden feed on phytoplankton (algae) at rates of 4 gallons/minute and do an amazing job of transforming plankton into millions of pounds of fish. Menhaden create a sort of “energy bridge” that links phytoplankton into a form that is edible by larger predators. This is critical, as Menhaden are considered a keystone species due to their role as an important dietary item for several species including rockfish, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, eagles, osprey, pelicans, and loons. Declines in Menhaden have resulted in less food for these predatory species and is believed to be linked to less robust predator populations. 

menhaden chart

A cause for the rapid decline of Menhaden is in part due to technological advances that have increased the fisheries ability to harvest Menhaden. A practice known as purse-seining has been coupled with airplane scouts that work in conjunction to locate and capture large schools of Menhaden. The practice is extremely efficient and results in immensely successful fishing. The long term application of the practice however has given the industry the ability to continuously land large harvests, which further dwindles Menhaden populations. 

Once harvested, the majority of Menhaden go through a practice called “reduction processing” in which they are ground and converted into a variety of products. Menhaden are prized for their high Omega 3 content, and reduction processing allows for the extraction of this desired compound, which is later used in dietary supplements. Reduction processing also allows Menhaden to be used in the making of products ranging from fertilizers, livestock feed pellets, cosmetics, and even lipstick. Menhaden that are not process are used in the fishing industry, as they are a staple bait fish that are used extensively by crabbers, lobsterman, and anglers. Currently, there is only one major industrial harvesting company of Menhaden in the Chesapeake region, Omega Protein Corporation. They are a Texas bases cooperation, with their primary facility located in Virginia. Omega Protein is an extensive operation that is involved in every step of Menhaden harvesting ranging from fishing, processing, to research. The Corporation is a important stakeholder in the proposed legislation due to that a 20% reduction in harvest limits would significantly affect business. 

The proposed bills are not focused on harming industry, but rather aimed to promote the long term sustainability of the Menhaden fishery. By alleviating harvesting pressures, Menhaden populations will be able to recover and ultimately benefit those dependent on this oily fish. Fortunately, these bills will decrease harvesting prior to a population crash and take steps to prevent Menhaden from becoming another example of a collapsed fishery.  This mean a long term bait supply for local watermen here on the West and Rhode Rivers. 





Mar 06

Restoration Update: Spring 2013

Posted by Chris in Untagged 

By Joe Ports

It’s been a busy winter for us out on the West and Rhode Rivers!  Now that its already March its time for us to start gearing up for a busy Spring.

Camp Letts Treatment WetlandCamp LettsAfter 3 years of hard work attaining funding, creating a design and securing permits the treatment wetland at YMCA Camp Letts is finally completed!  This January the contractors, EQR, finished building the wetland and planted 150 native trees and shrubs through the project in mid-February.  Now the project will capture the sediment and nutrient laden stormwater running off the adjacent horse pasture and treat the water before it reaches Sellman Creek in the Rhode River.  We’d like to thank Camp Letts, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District, and the Maryland Department of the Environment for being so helpful throughout the process.

right of wayUtility Right-of-way Stream Restoration in Harwood – Contracted engineering firm, Sustainable Science, has been hard at work surveying and preparing a design for a stream restoration project to take place within a BGE transmission line right-of-way.  Funding for the design has been provided by CBT and a Constellation Eco-star grant. The design will include widening the floodplain to slow down water in large storm events, modifying the channel where it is eroding the banks, and creating some wetlands to treat some of the water passing through the site.  We should have the design completed by the summer and will then be able to start seeking construction funds. This exciting project has the potential to be used as a model for stream restoration in utility right-of-way areas around the region.

Stormwater Management in Avalon Shores – We are preparing to submit a grant to start designing a project that will help reduce some flooding problems while treating stormwater within the Avalon Shores neighborhood in Shady Side.  We are hopeful that we receive funding so we can get to work trying to reduce some of the flooding issues in the neighborhood while also treating the polluted stormwater before it reaches the West River.

Living Shorelines – There has been a great number of residents contacting us with interest in building living shorelines.  We’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with some of these homeowners to acquire grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to help off set some of the costs associated with installing this Bay saving practice.  We currently have two projects that are very close to construction and one project that is in the early phases.  Keep an eye out for these beautiful erosion control practices while riding around the rivers.

Galesville Tree Planting - This winter the Governor started an initiative called the Governors Stream Challenge.  This challenge provided grant funding to organizations that included students in the planting of forested stream buffers.  West/Rhode Riverkeeper applied to the program and received funding to involve students from a local middle school to plant 318 trees and shrubs in Galesville Park along Lerch Creek.

Jacks Creek Park – West/Rhode Riverkeeper recognizes that people need to have a connection to our rivers in order to want to save them.  A critical part of building this connection is having public land for people to visit and enjoy the water.  There are a number of these public properties that are located right on the water but due to the financial constraints faced by state and local governments many properties have been left unutilized.  Though many of these properties are left waiting for better financial times we have been able to form a partnership with the county government and Anne Arundel Water Access Committee to open up a local park in Shady Side called Jacks Creek park.  We will be working with the county to open up the park and provide parking and hiking paths down to the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay.

Jacks Creek

Underwater Grasses – We still have a couple tanks of the underwater grass species called Redhead growing in our basement.  We’ll be ready to plant this around May so get ready to come down to Shady Side and get wet!

Conservation Landscaping – This winter the Chesapeake Yacht Club contacted us with interest in reducing the amount of lawn that they had on their property.  We thought this would be a great opportunity to implement some conservation landscaping practices.  We’ve been giving them some ideas of native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees to plant around their property to create beautiful, low maintenance, native landscaping that benefits wildlife and water quality.

Rhode River Marylanders Grow Oysters Program - Our dedicated oyster growers have been keeping a close eye on their baby oysters, called spat.  By now the spat that I've seen have grown from about a quarter inch long to over half an inch.  The spat will really start growing quick once the water gets warm.  They'll then be ready to be planted on an oyster sanctuary in the South River in June.


Oyster shell is an important resource! Now you can recycle it.  If you buy your oysters from a local waterman see if they'd like the shell back.  If they use aquaculture to harvest their oysters then getting shell can be an expensive part of the aquaculture process. Another option is to leave your shells at a drop off point close to you so that they can be used in restoration work.  Please visit this link to find a drop off point close to you (we have one right outside our office): http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/virginia/oyster-restoration/save-oyster-shell  "

Get ready to go outside and get dirty cleaning up the rivers!  This Spring we will have a number of volunteer events to help clean up the West and Rhode Rivers.  To get more details RSVP to Joe Ports at or at 410-867-7171.