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

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Feb 24

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

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 .

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

See you out there! 

-- Jeff Holland, West & Rhode Riverkeeper

Apr 08

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.