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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Apr 02

Construction of Living Shoreline at YMCA Camp Letts Begins

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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  or 410-867-7171.

Apr 02

Support the Stormwater Program

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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.




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

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 Schuh

Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker: 

Delegate Seth Howard: 

Speaker Mike Busch: 

Senator John Astle: 

Nov 18

Launching Our Tenth Year!

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

We’re launching our 10th year as the only citizen-based environmental organization dedicated solely to protecting your rivers -- the West and Rhode Rivers.



This past year, with your help, we solved the number-one source of sediment pollution on the Rhode River. Hundreds of 6th graders from Southern Middle School planted more than 700 trees at Camp Letts, transforming a muddy horse pasture into a newly forested hillside. We created 625 feet of living shoreline, protecting the river’s edge from erosion and providing habitat for terrapins, horseshoe crabs and other Bay wild life. We’ve worked with our local communities to stabilize their shorelines and monitored the waterways so parents know when it’s safe for their kids to swim and play on their beaches.



In the year ahead, we’ll be creating another 900 feet of living shoreline, restoring a stretch of Muddy Creek, and dramatically expanding public access to our waterways at Franklin Point State Park. All this, in addition to our work to advocate for better environmental policies, enforce environmental law, stage community-building programs like the Ride for the Rivers and the RiverFest, and keep sewage from our rivers by providing pump-out service to recreational boats.



But we can’t do all we do without you. Just as the rivers need the Riverkeeper’s help, the Riverkeeper needs your help. Your financial gift is vital to the success of our efforts.  



We will leverage your tax-deductible contribution up to five times its value in grants from corporations and private foundations, as well as county, state and federal resources.



Every dollar you give means we can do $5 worth of work – planting trees, growing oysters, restoring marshes and streambeds, creating wetlands and living shorelines that will protect the West and Rhode Rivers for generations to come.



I hope we can count on your support as we chart our course for the next year. Please send the enclosed envelope back with a generous gift – or click here to make a secure donation on line.



~ Jeff Holland

West/Rhode Riverkeeper and Executive Director

Apr 08

If you can't beat 'em, EAT 'EM!

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Click Here to listen to the newest song by Jeff Holland. 

Apr 03

Conservation Corps'ner: Spring 2014

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 (Photo Credit Alan Vernon/Flickr)

Now that spring has arrived, Osprey have returned to the Chesapeake Bay area. Ospreys are one of the largest raptors in North American and will migrate thousands of miles to and from central and South America. They are large hawk like creatures that have white and brown patterns on their wings. Ospreys’ bellies and heads are white with a black stripe that runs across their eyes and the back of their necks. Females have a necklace of brown tipped breast feathers.

Ospreys are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Their habitats include marshes, rivers, and open waters. They primarily feed on fish and can grow up 2 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 6 feet. They hunt for food while flying high above the water. Once they have spotted their prey, they will hover in the air beating their wings and then dive in to the water.

While in South America, they will find another osprey and mate for life. Once the winter is over adults will return back to the same nesting areas they were born in. More mature adults will arrive in late February or early march while younger adults arrive later in the season. Females will eventually lay 3 eggs between mid April and late May. The eggs hatch about 40 days later and are fed fish for about 2 months until the fledglings are mature enough to fly. The families will stay together as the fledglings learn to fish and then begin to migrate once they become independent. Juveniles often migrate later in summer near the last week of August.

Ospreys are making a remarkable recovery after the mid twentieth century use of the pesticide DDT that nearly wiped out the population along with many other birds.

Now that spring is approaching, it is a great time to see these amazing creatures. There are many places that osprey can be found in the Anne Arundel County area. Some great locations are Quiet Waters Park, Thomas Point Park, Sandy Point State Park, and even Herrington Harbor. Some good places to spot them in the West/Rhode Watersheds are the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Discovery Village, and Jack Creek Park in Shady Side.

Mar 17

Living Shorelines Funded for $173,000

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

The West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., received two grants totaling $173,120 to fund living shoreline projects protecting more than 600 linear feet along the West and Rhode Rivers. The projects were funded by the Living Shoreline Grant Program, a partnership of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Maryland Department of the Environment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Trust and funding partners received more than $1,000,000 in requests which are competitively reviewed and evaluated by an independent technical review committee.  Of the total amount requested, $516,000 was available in funding during this round of the program.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity that the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the State of Maryland and NOAA have given us to manage these projects,” said Jeff Holland, who started serving as Riverkeeper and Executive Director of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper on January 1. “That we received a full third of this grant round’s funding says a lot about what a great job our Restoration Coordinator, Joe Ports, has been doing on projects just like this all around the two watersheds, along with former Riverkeeper Chris Trumbauer. Joe is a former volunteer with the Trust’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program and has been a vital asset to our restoration work.”

One of the new projects will protect more than 550 feet of shoreline along the Rhode River at YMCA Camp Letts, the other will protect more than 50 feet along the West River at the Chesapeake Yacht Club, Holland explained. “That one, in particular, will replace an existing bulkhead and will serve as a showcase for best management practices that can be adopted by waterfront property owners anywhere,” he said. Living shorelines use native plants, sand and stone to replicate a natural marsh that both prevents erosion and provides habitat for turtles, crabs and other creatures.

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust works with hundreds of committed grantees like West/Rhode Riverkeeper who are out in the field every day working to improve their communities and local rivers and streams,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “We are so pleased to award these funds and we look forward to the implementation of these projects that will benefit the public and our natural resources.”

The Riverkeeper serves as the eyes, ears and voice for the West and Rhode Rivers. West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., is a non-profit organization based in Shady Side and dedicated to working with local communities to promote restoration, advocate for better environmental policy and enforce environmental law. Founded in 2005, the organization is governed by a Board of Directors that comprises 10 community leaders, just some of the many volunteers who contribute energy and expertise to projects like monitoring water quality, planting trees and aquatic vegetation, and cleaning up trash. The organization works closely with the 18 other independent Waterkeeper groups in the Chesapeake area, and it’s a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international movement with nearly 200 membership organizations worldwide.

Mar 17

Restoration Update: Spring 2014

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

Phase 2 at YMCA Camp Letts has been planted!

We've been working with our partners at YMCA Camp Letts, Anne Arundel County's Soil Conservation District and Arlington Echo to stabilize the horse pasture at the camp and treat run off flowing off the fields.  On April 1st students from Southern Middle School were lead by the stellar staff at Arlington Echo to plant native trees on over 2 acres of currently eroding land.  In May contractors will install a new Horse Heavy Use Area to ensure the remaining paddock areas do not continue to erode.  The newly planted trees will stabilize the soil and filter some of the runoff from the new heavy use area.  The remaining runoff will enter the constructed wetland and be treated to ensure that all water entering the Rhode River is as clean as possible.  Then this fall more students from local schools will visit the camp and plant the remaining 2 acres of pasture.

This project could not be possible without grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and cost share assistance from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. 

Two New Living Shorelines Coming to the West and Rhode Rivers this Spring!

img 0217The shores of the West and Rhode Rivers will have two new living shorelines gracing the landscape this spring.  .  Popham Creek in the West River and Bear Neck Creek in the Rhode River will soon have over 600 linear feet of bank stabilized by these projects!  The projects will increase the amount of marsh within our rivers which will filter water and provide habitat for juvenile crabs and terrapins.  Keep an eye out for pictures and more details in future blogs!

These projects are possible thanks to grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and some very dedicated homeowners.

The stream restoration project in Harwood is moving along as planned.

We've met with BGE and gotten their final approval to finalize the design for our stream restoration project in their transmission line right-of-way.  We'll be submitting the project for permits and construction should begin by early next year.  This may seem to be a long time away but this is a crucial step in the right direction.  We're excited to see the project move forward and look forward to continue to work with BGE and Maryland DNR to ensure the project gets completed effectively.

Avalon Shores to get a stormwater makeover.

We've started working with our engineer to design a stream restoration/ stormwater retrofit project in Avalon Shores.  The engineer has surveyed the site and is compiling the data so that we can find the most effective way to reduce pollution flowing from the surrounding roads and neighborhood.  We are also looking forward to working with members of the community to increase best management practices on individual properties.

Oysters have had a rough winter but they should cheer up this spring.mgo 2013

It's been a rough winter for us but hopefully your oysters are still happy in their underwater homes.  Oysters can survive being frozen solid underwater but can not tolerate freezing air.  However, ice in the rivers could have cut the ropes holding up your oyster cages.  If this happened be sure to try and retrieve the cages from the bottom so that the oysters don't get smothered in bottom sediment.

Keep an eye out for details on oyster collection this June so that the oysters can be placed on their sanctuary. We are also looking to grow the program next year, so be sure to let your neighbors know about the program so they can get their own oysters.

Rain Barrels are a great addition to any home!

Time to reconnect your rain barrels to capture the spring rains.

If you don't have a rain barrel you can make one or buy one from Arlington Echo.



Mar 13

Advocacy 2014

Posted by Joe in Untagged 

With all of your efforts to reduce your impact on the rivers and all of Joe’s restoration projects, we still won’t reach our goal until we reduce the impact of contaminated runoff from our homes, roads, offices and commercial land uses. That is the point of the storm water restoration fund adopted by the County Council last year. The fund is now in place. We are all paying our share into the fund and a group at the AA County Department of Public Works, lead by former South River Federation Executive Director Erik Michelsen, is already putting the money to work restoring streams and decades old sediment ponds.

The West/Rhode Riverkeeper joins the Clean Water, Healthy Families coalition in thanking state legislative leaders for their work defending Maryland's 2012 law that reduces polluted runoff to help clean up local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. In this year's General Assembly session, 20 different bills were introduced to repeal or weaken the stormwater law, and none of them were passed. 

While no legislation advanced to modify the stormwater law, legislators did make a last-minute change to the state budget for next year, which will enable Frederick and Carroll counties to finance their stormwater obligations through other designated revenue sources, rather than a fee on hard surfaces. These counties are still under the same requirements to reduce polluted runoff.   

Each of the 10 jurisdictions required to have stormwater programs in place has federal clean water permit obligations to reduce polluted runoff. Local governments will use the revenue from the stormwater programs to fund much needed on-the-ground projects that capture polluted runoff, repair failing infrastructure and restore damaged streams.

Polluted runoff makes waterways unsafe for swimming, threatens Maryland seafood and causes localized flooding and property damage.


Mar 13

Spring 2014 Events

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Volunteer Events

SERC BiodiversiTREE Volunteer Monitoring - April 15 to May 31st (with more help needed in beginning of project)

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) is looking for volunteers to help us track and monitor trees for our experimental BiodiversiTREE forest. Last year, volunteers helped us plant over 24,000 trees to create an experimental forest that will be followed and studied for the next 100 years. Now, we need help tracking, maintaining, and monitoring our forest. Come spend some time outside and be part of our 100 year experiment to better understand forest biodiversity! 


Time: Volunteers can serve for one or more days throughout the duration of the project and the time is flexible.  Volunteers are needed for weekdays (preferred) and weekends for half day shifts.


Training: No prior knowledge is required.  Necessary training will be provided.


Requirements: Volunteers will be working outside and activities involve a lot of bending and kneeling.


For more information, or to volunteer, contact Alison Cawood; (443) 482-2271, 

Muddy Creek Road Clean-up - April 26th - 9am - 11am

Meet at the empty parking lot across from Christopher's Fine Foods, south side of Shady Side Road.
5611 W Shady Side Road, Churchton, MD

Join your friends and neighbors to clean up the main road leading into the Shady Side peninsula.  Trash can clog stormwater colverts and eventually make it's way into our beloved West River, where it can harm the river's delicate ecosystem.  Bring water and and gardening gloves to help with this important project.


Project Clean Stream - Hot Sox Field at Wilson Park - May 3rd - 9am - 11am

johny pcs 12862 Galesville Road, Galesville, MD 20765

This historic site has been a dumping ground for years and now it's time to fix the damage that was done in the past.  Join us as we clean up Hot Sox Field at Wilson Park so that we can prevent the trash from entering Tenthouse Creek and the West River. Wear long pants and bring gardening gloves if you have them to restore this historic gem to its past beauty.


Dates to Keep in Mind

Scenic Rivers Land Trust - 9th Annual Walk in the Woods - April 13th - 7am - 4pm (participants welcome anytime before 3pm)

Bacon Ridge Natural Area, Crownsville, MD - Marbury Road/Farm Road entranceBacon Ridge Natural Area includes 900+ acres of preserved of woods, wetlands, streams and a historic cemetery in Crownsville, Maryland. Hikes range from one to four miles on trails marked for this event. Bird and nature guides, as well as tours of the historic cemetery, are available Sunday, April 13th. Enjoy a stroll through the upland woods or take on rugged terrain with adventurous friends in a seemingly endless forested stream valley.  
•Hike on your own on miles of trails marked for this event
•Reserve a place on a guided walk atwww.SRLT.org or call 
•Friendly dogs on leash welcome after 10 am

Free event with donations to support  work in Bacon Ridge greatly appreciated!

Report Card Release - date coming soon!

See how our river's did in 2013 with the release of our 2014 Report Card.  Our report cards are full of information about our rivers and ways that you can help fix them.  You can also participate in a volunteer event on the same day.


Honey Dipper Pumpout Boat Service Starts - April 26th


  Visit our Pumpout Boat page to get more information.


Ride for the Rivers - May 10th - 9am

ride4therivers2014West River Sailing Club - 911 Galesville Road, Galesville, MD 20765
This charity ride will have two routes, a metric century (60 miles) and a 40 mile course.  Both courses will start and finish at the Carrie Weedon Science Center in Galesville.  The courses will cover Southern Anne Arundel County and stretch along the West and Rhode River's and Herring Bay watersheds with two rest stops aong the way.
The rides will begin at 9am at the Carrie Weedon Science Center and finish in the same spot with a BBQ buffet after party starting a noon.
Registration fee is $40.
Includes food, one beverage and event t-shirt contributed by Under Armour.
Mapmyride.com and Under Armour are sponsoring an en-route contest to the first finishers for each course.
Prize packages donated by Under Armour.
For more information and to register Click Here.

Free Community Kayaking Starts - June 5th at 5pm.

Discovery Village - 4800 Atwell Road, Shady Side, MD 20764

Come out for your chance to explore the West River by kayak for FREE!  Visit our Community Kayaking page for more information.

Riverfest - June 14th - 12pm - 6pm

Discovery Village - 4800 Atwell Road, Shady Side, MD 20764

The River Fest will be an eco/heritage event gathering visitors from throughout the region to enjoy an experience of the ecology, heritage and beauty of southern Anne Arundel County. An afternoon of bluegrass music, fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood including a good old-fashioned fish fry, kayak rides, boat tours on the Historic Richard Lee, exhibits of fine maritime art, heritage sites and fun activities for the whole family. 
Anyone interested in exhibiting, volunteering or participating should contact Amy at WRK office, 410-867-7171 or .  
Tickets $10 per adult and $4 per child under 12yrs and FREE under 6 yrs.


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