Runners, Take Your Mark!

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Photo courtesy of Swim Bike Run Photography.


This November, 25,000 people from across the country will participate in an historic event—the third annual Across the Bay 10K Chesapeake Bay Bridge Run!

Scheduled for November 6, the run begins on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and finishes with a post-race celebration on Kent Island. Most of the course—4.35 miles—will be on the bridge itself overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The dual-span bridge doesn't allow pedestrian traffic at any other time of the year, so this is a unique opportunity—and the view is amazing!

You can be part of the fun and support CBF! As an official charity partner we have a supply of charity bibs available for $150. This purchase guarantees entry into the race and provides a donation towards CBF's work to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Click here to purchase your charity bib today!

For more information about the event, visit the official race website at bridgerace.com.

Thanks for your support–we hope to see you there!

—Melanie McCarty
CBF 's Donor Communications Manager

 


A Park Manager Looks Back on 27 Clean the Bay Days

59093_1590688095987_7547821_nIn the spring of 1989, 16-year-old Cameron Swain went on an outing with her family in Hampton Roads to pick up trash on a beach. As a teenager, she didn't realize that the small informal cleanup would become the first ever Clean the Bay Day, now going stronger than ever as it enters its 28th year. 

Swain has watched the event grow from its grassroots infancy in the late 1980s and early 1990s to a longtime Virginia tradition that mobilizes thousands across the Commonwealth to beautify their local waterways.

In recent years, Clean the Bay Day has attracted 6,000 to 8,000 volunteers at sites stretching from coastal Virginia to Richmond, Charlottesville, the Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. In just three hours participants often pick up well over 100,000 pounds of trash.

Just as she has for nearly 20 years, on the first Saturday of June Swain will lead her own Clean the Bay Day site at False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach, where she is the assistant park manager. At False Cape, a few dozen people usually come out to clean the six miles of beach, often picking up between 500 and 1,000 pounds of trash in one morning.

"You get the same volunteers year after year. Now they are bringing their children," Swain says, recalling toddlers at the first cleanup who now come out as adults. "You see these people evolve and grow."

11066783_10153821018615943_1759498088508493681_nOver the years, participants have recovered all sorts of trash from the park's beach. "Now that I've been doing it so many years, nothing really surprises me," she says, listing everything from computer screens and light bulbs to tires and bathing suits. "You name it, it's probably washed up on the beach at one time."

When you consider the sheer number of people who participate, it is amazing how one morning's effort transforms hundreds of miles of beaches, parks, rivers, and streams. The massive collaborative effort across Virginia every Clean the Bay Day is "heartwarming," Swain says. "Even if it's the only time they do it this year, that makes a real difference," she says.

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Be a part of the Virginia tradition! Sign up for this year's Clean the Bay Day.

 


Photo of the Week: This Is What It's All About

IMG_5169[I took this] on Smith Island on Wednesday, April 20. Myself and another William H. Farquhar Middle School teacher took a group of our students on one of CBF's overnight education experiences

I chose [this photo] because this is what the trip is all about. Students were able to take a moment to not just enjoy the gorgeous sunset that night, but also be able to do it while enjoying the Bay itself. The students loved every moment of this experience and this was just one of their many highlights.

—Matthew Green

Ensure that Matthew, his students, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

 


Farmer Spotlight: Gravel Springs Farms

AThe story of Gravel Springs Farms is of a driven young couple—Paul and Emma Sorenson—who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. 

When Paul and Emma met it was clear that they shared a passion for the outdoors, an appreciation for the land, and a strong desire to help others. With more than a half million acres of farmland in Maryland owned by people over the age of 69, the Sorensons are among a minority of young farmers. But the future of farming is dependent on these younger generations.

In 2013, the Sorensons dove into the agricultural field by purchasing Emma's family's 150-acre farm. Today they own and operate 10 acres of vegetable production while one additional acre flourishes in cut flowers. The couple had never thought of farming as a career option but their desire to connect people to the land led them down the road.

Paul explains that while they "didn't know how to farm, Future Harvest CASA (Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture) allowed us to learn from each other, we jumped in head first, attending field days and programs." The programs and field days Paul attended were offered at the Beginning Farmer Training Program, which allows members to maintain a job and/or start their own farm enterprise while completing the program. Participants learn through hands-on field work as well as workshops and conferences about building and growing a successful farm. The program teaches beginner farmers about the basics of crop production, business management, and marketing. As new farmers, the resources offered by Future Harvest CASA were an integral part of the farm's success. 

The Sorensons have an eye towards becoming sustainable, and while they are not 100 percent self-sufficient, they are as sustainable as they can be as a growing operation. They create their own compost and are constantly doing things to mitigate the impact of their farm on the environment. In the fall of 2014, less than a year after purchasing the farm, they connected with CBF's Watershed Restoration Scientist Rob Schnabel to create a 2,026-tree, 10-acre forest buffer on their land. With the help of more than 100 volunteers, the Sorensons were able to plant four acres of trees that fall and an additional six acres the following spring.

In addition to expanding their flower and vegetable operations, the Sorensons hope to one day expand  their operation by converting the conventional crop fields to permanent pasture for 100 percent grass-fed animal production. Paul is a member of the CBF's Maryland Grazers Network, a grazing mentorship program. Although he has only been farming for a few years, he actively encourages others to recognize that there are outlets other than farmers' markets to sell produce. "Not everyone can market," he says explaining that most farmers markets are saturated. Instead he encourages farmers new and old to look into outlets like selling wholesale or to institutions, as well as having aspects of customer interaction such as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). They have done some institutional and restaurant sales and they are in the process of setting up sweet potatoe sales to the local school system. Frederick County Public Schools are looking to source things like sweet potatoes and squash from Gravel Springs which will be available when school is in session. By providing fresh local produce to area schools, Paul hopes to serve as an example to other farmers who can tap into an expanding market while continuing to educate the public of all ages on the benefits of local foods.

"Local sustainably produced food is important. We have found that we and our CSA members have a better experience knowing where their food comes from . . . customers trust what I tell them and so I do what I say I am doing."

Gravel Springs Farms offers small and large produce shares that go for 21 weeks. In addition to produce, one can also purchase grass-based and pasture-raised meats from a partner farm. Once one purchases a meat or produce share, Gravel Springs offers add-ons such as apples, peaches, eggs, and cut flowers. Be sure to sign up today—May 1 is the last day to register!

—Kellie Rogers; Photo courtesy of Paul Sorenson


This Week in the Watershed

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Trees and underwater grasses are indispensable in the fight for clean water. Photos by Justin Black/iLCP (left), and Jay Fleming (right).

Today we want to take a moment to celebrate some unsung heroes of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While we love blue crabs, oysters, and ospreys, there are other species that deserve our love. This week, underwater grasses are getting the recognition they deserve as a survey found that grasses are at their highest total in three decades. Underwater grasses are not only a strong indicator of water quality, they also help prevent erosion, absorb excess nutrients, trap suspended sediment, and provide critical habitat to critters in the Bay, including the beloved blue crab.

In addition to this good news, we can't forget today is Arbor Day. Trees are crucial to the overall health of the watershed—they slow down runoff and the erosion of soil, absorb pollutants to our rivers and the Bay, and help alleviate flooding through stabilizing the soil. Trees and forests also provide habitat for wildlife and help to cool stream temperatures.

Trees and underwater grasses are two of the best natural tools we have to filter pollution and help clean up our rivers and streams. In the fight for clean water, they are truly indispensable. Indeed, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint relies on these natural tools to alleviate pollution. So raise a glass (of clean water!) today and celebrate trees and underwater grasses as unsung heroes of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

This Week in the Watershed: Soaring Grasses, Trucking Fish, and Transformed Surfaces

  • Thanks to efforts from Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 passed with bipartisan support from the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This legislation will provide important tools and resources for states and municipalities to achieve pollution-reduction goals under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Additionally, it provides crucial support for oyster restoration efforts. (CBF Statement)
  • A Chesapeake Bay Program survey found a 21 percent increase in underwater grasses—the highest total in three decades. (Baltimore Sun—MD) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • With the creation of the dams, fish have been unable to complete their migration upriver to spawn. This week however, an agreement was reached to provide fish lifts and trucking of migratory shad and river herring on the Conowingo Dam. (Bay Journal)
  • We received good news a couple weeks ago that a winter survey found the blue crab population is up 35 percent, but scientists remind us the species has not fully recovered. (Smithsonian Insider)
  • While it is encouraging to see pollution reduction from agricultural runoff reforms and upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, there is still much room for improvement. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
  • We love this public-private partnership to transform impervious surfaces to green spaces in Washington, D.C. (Bay Journal)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

April 30

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for our Spring Open House at Clagett Farm! Members and the general public are invited to join us for farm tours, hayrides, and to meet our new baby calves and lambs! The event is free and open to all. Click here for more information!

May 1

  • Richmond, VA: Come on out for a Speakers Bureau training with CBF! With far more requests for speakers than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speakers Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on clean water issues and ready to share our message, or just enjoy public speaking and would like to get trained, we welcome your commitment to this important and high-profile program. Join us to learn the facts and skills to share our mission to Save the Bay with local groups and organizations. We simply cannot do it alone! Click here to learn more and register!

May 3

  • Annapolis, MD: Join CBF for our spring "Save the Bay Breakfast" to learn about some simple things you can do to "Save the Bay at home," and to dive deeper into Bay-friendly landscaping and gardening with the smart, helpful experts from the Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners' "Bay-Wise" program team. Click here to register!

May 6

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay— join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells by shaking off the dirt and debris so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. RSVP to Dan Johannes at DJohannes@cbf.org. Click here for more information!

May 12 and 19

  • Annapolis, MD: Join CBF for an upcoming trip aboard the CBF skipjack the Stanley Norman. While aboard, you'll be invited to help hoist the sails or simply enjoy the view! You will leave with a better understanding of oysters and their role in keeping the Bay clean as well as what CBF is doing to restore the oyster stocks in order to Save the Bay. Click here to register! (Note: these are the only two dates that have not been sold out!)

May 14

  • Baltimore, MD: For nearly two years, CBF has been working on renovating a vacant lot in West Baltimore into a green space. Join us as we put on the finishing touches and celebrate! The morning will include final planting of perennials followed by an opening ceremony. Everyone is welcome to join the fun and help finish the planting, be inspired by our community leaders, and eat some hotdogs, potato salad, strawberries, and watermelon. Click here to register!

May 15

  • Norfolk, VA: The Blue Planet Forum is an annual, free environmental lecture series held in Hampton Roads. Its mission is to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. In the next installment of this very popular series, the audience will be treated to presentations by an expert panel on the topic: Water, Water Everywhere: exploring how water inspires and influences us. The event is free, but space is limited so registration is strongly encouraged. Click here to register!

May 16

  • Baltimore, MD: Cruise the Inner Harbor aboard CBF's 46-foot workboat the Snow Goose as we explore the complex and fascinating relationship between the urban environment and the Bay's natural ecosystem. CBF staff will demonstrate the importance of this port as an economic lifeline for the state of Maryland and help participants appreciate the life cycles and needs of the thousands of birds, fish, crabs, oysters, and other organisms which share these waters. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


"Clean Water Counts" Is the Message at CBF Reception in York County

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Those who attended the reception shared their thoughts and ideas about how to address the 350 miles of York County rivers and streams that are polluted. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Concern for clean water in York County was at high tide when legislators, business leaders, and other guests gathered at the John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville for a reception sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) Pennsylvania office. The restaurant on Front Street was the ideal setting for the event; its outdoor patio overlooking the lower Susquehanna River.

"It was wonderful to see such a large and diverse group of citizens and leaders gathered to talk about why clean water counts," said Harry Campbell, CBF executive director in Pennsylvania and emcee for the evening.

Since last summer, CBF has been conducting its "Clean Water Counts: York" campaign in York County, to raise awareness of local water quality issues and solutions, and to motivate residents to take action to reduce water pollution.

The 70 people who attended the reception came together to talk about the successes and challenges of addressing the 350 miles of York County rivers and streams that are polluted by agricultural and urban/suburban runoff.

At the reception, CBF President Will Baker commended partnerships within the county, and hailed York County as a proven leader in conservation. He noted that York County was the first county to adopt the "Clean Water Counts" resolution, and lauded efforts to clean up Codorus Creek, work by the conservation district, and the planning commission's progress in managing polluted runoff.

Wrightsville teenager Brynn Kelly explained why, to her, clean water is a big deal. She grew up near the river and became excited about clean water after a trip to CBF's Merrill Center. The high school senior at Lancaster Catholic High School has spoken publicly about the value of reducing pollution, and wrote a letter to Governor Tom Wolf urging him to clean up Pennsylvania's waterways. Kelly also serves as president of CBF's Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council.   

York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell offered insight as to how the board views and plans to address clean water challenges. She reminded the gathering that streams aren't bound by municipal boundaries, and that the commission is working to help municipalities collaborate on ways to reduce pollution.

Growing Greener Coalition Executive Director Andrew Heath said his group is looking for "champions" in the state House and Senate who would be willing to put together a Growing Greener III proposal that calls for revenue to pay for conservation efforts. He said Growing Greener funds would be spent primarily on improving water quality in Pennsylvania.

Heath also highlighted the "Clean Water Counts" statewide campaign that urges county commissioners to pass resolutions encouraging leaders in Harrisburg to make improving water quality a priority. He said 16 counties have passed resolutions and efforts will be renewed next month to enlist the remaining counties.

State Representative Stan Saylor offered one of the highlights of the evening in announcing that the York County delegation will introduce a House resolution to declare May as "Clean Water Counts Month." Rep. Saylor said the resolution is intended to outline the importance of clean water and the number of streams that need to be cleaned up in Pennsylvania.

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CBF President Will Baker, center, spends a moment at the York County reception, with state representatives Kristin Hill, left, and Stan Saylor, right. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Roughly 19,000 miles of river and streams in Pennsylvania are polluted.

Other York County legislators in attendance were state representatives Keith Gillespie, and Kristin Hill.

Conversations about clean water took place throughout the two-hour reception.

A group of teachers met with CBF education staff to discuss strategy and messaging. "We discussed how CBF can be the storyteller for the incredible students that teachers bring on our programs every day," said CBF Education Outreach Coordinator Allyson Ladley Gibson.

"We want to tell the story about that student who has trouble participates in class, but comes alive when you ask them to help untie the canoes, paddle the boat themselves, find macroinvertebrates that will tell us about water quality, and be responsible for their own team that day," she added. "That student may start a whole new path because of the day with CBF and go on to find new passions, a certain type of education, and a career."

Staff members from "Heroes on the Water," attended the reception to show their support for clean water efforts. The veterans support group provided equipment and guidance at CBF's "Veterans on the Susquehanna" event in Wrightsville last summer.

CBF President Will Baker also told those at the reception that, "Clean water is unifier in a time when so much divides us."

The message was made clear by those who attended—clean water counts in York County and across the Commonwealth.

— B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator


This Week in the Watershed

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Fishing on a pristine day is just one recreational opportunity afforded to us by a healthy environment. Photo by Krista Schyler/iLCP.

Happy Earth Day! As we have said many times, we believe that every day ought to be Earth Day. This spring tradition reminds us of the amazing benefits we all receive from a healthy environment. In the Chesapeake Bay, these include plentiful recreational opportunities, prodigious economic benefits, and undeniable cultural contributions. The true spirit of Earth Day, however, is found in its origins as the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

In 1970, despite America experiencing environmental crises around the country, environmentalism was widely regarded as a fringe movement. Speaking of the reason for Earth Day, Nelson said, "The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy...and finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda." Nelson's efforts made an indelible impact, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established eight months after the first Earth Day.

Earth Day should inspire not only feelings of gratitude for the benefits we receive from nature but move us to take action for protecting our environment. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, there are numerous ways to get involved in protecting this true national treasure, and celebrate Earth Day every day. Join us in our work to Save the Bay!

This Week in the Watershed: A Gubernatorial Visit, Learning Outside, and Sick Bass

  • Virginia Governor McAuliffe visited CBF's Brock Environmental Center Thursday, exploring one of the greenest buildings in the world. (Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • The Washington metro region has seen a dramatic rise in the amount of impervious surfaces over the past three decades. (WAMU—DC)
  • CBF got a helping hand from a group of Pennsylvania students who got their hands dirty sorting through tree seedlings for an upcoming planting. (Public Opinion Online)
  • We love this op-ed which effectively discusses the intersection between farmland, sprawling development, and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. (Bay Journal News Service)
  • Pennsylvania students enjoyed learning outside as part of CBF's Susquehanna Watershed Education Program. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • A new report released by the Chesapeake Bay Program reveals that while the Bay states are making progress towards cleanup goals, the region as a whole is far off pace needed to meet the 2017 milestone goals. (Bay Journal)
  • The first-ever Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week will be celebrated June 4-12 throughout the main Bay states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
  • Members of the public, legislators, and interest groups gathered in York County to discuss the importance of clean water in their streams and rivers. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • The case for declaring the lower Susquehanna River impaired is quite compelling when considering the health of the smallmouth bass population. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette—PA)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

April 23

  • Monkton, MD: Help CBF plant 1,200 trees to restore six acres of forest on this new farm. The Little Gunpowder is a natural reproducing trout stream, and the restoration of this farm will help protect this cold water fishery. No tree planting experience is necessary, and all materials and supplies are provided. Families and children are welcome. Click here to register!
  • Church Hill, MD: Come paddle with us on the Blackwater River in Dorchester County, Maryland. Blackwater River is a prime example of a healthy tidal Eastern Shore river, replete with large expanses of tidal marsh and pine forests. The wildlife is dominated by various species of bird life, including nesting bald eagles, ospreys, herons, and ducks. The paddle is comfortable and peaceful, offering up-close views of herons fishing in the shallows and ducks nesting in the many trees along the banks. All canoes and paddling equipment will be provided. Children ages 10 and up are welcome to register, but must be accompanied by an adult. This is a paddle for people of all skill levels. Click here to register!

April 24

  • Annapolis, MD: Check out the 2016 Earth-Water-Faith Festival—a fun, family-friendly, interactive, interfaith celebration of Earth Day. Enjoy live music from Third Sunday Band, The Harmonic Fifth, and The All Children's Chorus of Annapolis, as well as activities including a "Scales and Tales" animal program, an oyster water-filtering display, kids' T-shirt printing, and celebratory readings. Free and open to the public! Click here for more information!

April 28

  • Baltimore, MD: Join CBF at its 3rd Annual Baltimore Members Meeting! With trash ubiquitous in the streets and waters of Baltimore, the focus of this year's meeting is the trash epidemic, its connection to clean water, and some potential solutions. Special guest Julie Lawson, Executive Director of Trash Free Maryland, will talk about current efforts to reduce trash and waste through social marketing, good policy, and more. Food, beverages, and music included. Registration closes Tuesday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. Space is limited, register now!

May 1

  • Richmond, VA: Come on out for a Speakers Bureau training with CBF! With far more requests for speakers than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speakers Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on the issues and ready to share our message, or just enjoy public speaking and would like to get trained, we welcome your commitment to this important and high-profile program. Join us to learn the facts and skills to share our mission to Save the Bay with local groups and organizations. We simply cannot do it alone! Click here to learn more and register!

May 3

  • Annapolis, MD: Join CBF for our spring "Save the Bay Breakfast" to learn about some simple things you can do to "Save the Bay at home," and to dive deeper into Bay-friendly landscaping and gardening with the smart, helpful experts from the Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners' "Bay-Wise" program team. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Going Above and Beyond for Oysters

OFred Millhiser didn't expect to spend retirement hauling oyster shell. However, for the past four years, the former government employee has done just that. A CBF member for many years, upon retirement, Millhiser decided to get more involved. After attending a workshop at CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center (MORC), he soon began growing juvenile oysters from his home dock.

A few years later, Millhiser became aware of a shortage of oyster shell. Oyster shell is vital to restoration efforts as it provides baby oysters the material needed to settle and begin the maturation process. While making his weekly drive between his home in St. Mary's County and Annapolis, Millhiser noticed Stoney Kingfisher, a popular seafood restaurant. "[They] sell lots of oysters during oyster season, including a Sunday all-you-can-eat oyster menu, so I knew there 20160403_103905were lots of shells," he said.

Millhiser approached the management and soon the restaurant was outfitted with a collection cage and the staff was trained to separate shells for recycling. Millhiser personally offered to pick up the shells from Stoney's and deliver them to MORC. "I have been delivering about 2-3 bushels of shells per week during oyster season since then," he said. 

Thanks to Millhiser, nearly 250 bushels of oyster shell have been diverted from landfills and used in CBF's oyster restoration projects in Maryland and Virginia. "It has been most satisfying to help in a small way with what I think is one of the most important steps to a healthy Chesapeake Bay, namely restoration of native oysters," said Millhiser. 

You never know when a CBF volunteer, such as Fred Millhiser, will be inspired to go above and beyond to make a difference! 

—Melanie McCarty
CBF's Donor Communications Manager

Right now through April 30, The Orvis Company will match any donation made to CBF's oyster restoration dollar for dollar, up to $30,000! Give today and help Save the Bay!


Farmer Spotlight: Birds Eye View Farm

Carole Morrison 1Our featured farmer this month manages a unique operation in Worcester County, Maryland. Carole Morison, co-owner of Birds Eye View Farm in Pocomoke City has spent years speaking out against the big chicken companies who dominate the food industry and the landscape. Morison is best known however for her role in Food, Inc. a documentary where she exposed the conditions of the chickens and the poultry industry after welcoming camera crews inside her poultry houses while under contract with Perdue. Although it took her three years of chicken free houses, she decided to get back into the industry in a far less conventional way.

It all started after marrying her husband Frank in 1986. The couple bought two chicken houses and began to grow birds under contract for Perdue. Not long into their production she began to challenge the conventional agriculture system explaining that Perdue dictated everything from equipment upgrades, to feed additives, to flock size.

In 2006, the directors of Food, Inc. approached Morison, and despite knowing she would lose her contract—a great source of fear for any contract grower—she agreed to participate in the film, believing that consumers deserved to know the truth.

Carole Morrison 2The Morisons received the Perdue Grower of the Year award in 2007, having outperformed every other grower. But just three weeks later, Perdue ended the Morisons contract due to failure to comply with full enclosure of their chicken houses, a costly upgrade that the Morisons knew would create financial problems as well as additional health problems for the chickens. Their chicken houses were emptied in 2008 by the time the eye-opening documentary Food, Inc. first aired.

Soon the film took off, and Morison traveled across the country and around the world talking about her work and why she was so vocal against the chicken industry. In her time spent traveling, Morison connected with farmers and people who shared successes of their alternative farming operations. And so she was inspired to join the chicken world once more.

After transitioning away from a traditional contracted poultry farm, Birds Eye View Farm is now home to a 600-hen, free-range, pastured egg operation where the Morisons are able to control every aspect of their process as they deem fit.

The houses that used to hold 54,000 birds now serve as a shelter and laying area for the 600 hens. Even when the full flock is inside at night, the birds have more than six times the space the meat birds had during the previous years. Birds Eye View Farm was the first on the Delmarva Peninsula to be certified as Animal Welfare Approved, the highest third-party certification standards in the country.

Carole Morrison 4One of the greatest difference in her work is that she now enjoys it—the chickens are happier as well! They like to follow her on walks and enjoy special treats, especially watermelons. The flock is made up of Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, and Delawares, all of which are traditional heritage breeds. Each chicken has access to more than 14 acres of pasture and typically lays an egg every other day. The Morisons strive to produce healthier hens and more nutritious eggs. 

"First I would tell people to, know your food, know your farmer," says Morison. "I think you will be much more satisfied. Second, make an effort to keep your money in the community and local region. And third develop the local food system by having choices for farmers and choices for consumers."

Today people visit Birds Eye View Farm to watch happy chickens roam and pick through lush green fields. The locals pick up their eggs from the farm while others in Maryland can pick up a dozen from Whole Foods Markets. The success of Birds Eye View Farm is almost as remarkable as the stretch of Morison's advocacy efforts. "I'm not saying that our model is the only way, but I do know that the market is wide open." Morison says she struggles to meet the demand of consumers who want to buy a product that they know is good for their own health, the environment, and their community.

"I started to retire . . . [but it just didn't] happen, so I guess I'm not ready to give up yet." There are some who tell her to consider slowing down, but a woman with this much passion and a genuine drive to connect people to their food is going to be one tough egg to crack.

—Kellie Rogers; Photos courtesy of Carole Morison

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.

 


Filtering through the 2016 Maryland General Assembly

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State legislators only have to take a quick stroll from the Maryland State House in Annapolis before arriving at the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Nikki Davis.

This year's Maryland General Assembly session was as expansive and varied as the Chesapeake watershed itself, covering the land, water, and air of this vast watershed we share.

We couldn't have covered such a sweeping agenda without the unflagging support of our members—thank you to all who advocated for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay right into the last hours of the session!

In the end, filters emerged as a key theme, with some of our most important bills covering the Chesapeake Bay watershed's natural filters for pollution—trees and oysters. These two bills went all the way into the evening hours on sine die (the session's last day):

The Sustainable Oyster Harvest Act (SB937/HB1603) passed in both the Senate and the House in bipartisan votes that reinforced the importance of oysters to clean water and the Chesapeake way of life. It requires the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to provide critical pieces of scientific data still needed to help inform management of Maryland's public oyster fishery. This information is essential to knowing what portion of the Bay's oysters are being harvested each year and whether those rates are sustainable for the population.

We also helped defeat several bills that would set Maryland back in the protection of our oyster population. Learn more about those bills here.

A bill (HB1197) that would have made an exception for specific development projects in Prince George's County to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act's replanting requirements never had a vote in the House Committee, effectively defeating it—proving that sometimes the best legislative action is no action. This bill would have set a bad precedent for others across the state arguing for the same exemption when replanting the trees cut down for development becomes too costly or inconvenient. We will continue to ensure that trees cut down for development will be replanted, renewing their benefits for water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and communities across Maryland.

Our biggest pre-session priority was the Poultry Litter Management Act (PLMA). While the PLMA didn't get beyond committee hearings this year, our work to bring clean water solutions to our Eastern Shore waters is far from over. As a result of the hearings, we achieved important goals in the effort to reduce phosphorus pollution in the Bay and Eastern Shore waterways. Learn more about what we accomplished.

Some of the other bright spots of the session that CBF helped achieve include:

  • The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act passed, and was signed into law by Governor Hogan while the General Assembly was still in session. This bipartisan bill commits Maryland to some of the strongest reductions in greenhouse gases in the nation.
  • The budget was passed by both chambers and includes stable funding for environmental agencies and programs that play key roles in Chesapeake Bay restoration.

We also defeated a raft of bad bills that would have endangered water quality and eroded the integrity of local waterways and the Bay. See here for a more in-depth list of key bills that CBF worked on this session, and how they turned out.

Looking ahead, we expect that our work on natural filters will be a highlight of the year to come, as we continue work to restore and help manage the oyster population to sustainable levels and to protect and replace Maryland's trees. Expect to hear more from us on policies and practices that impact these two important filters in the Chesapeake watershed, both within and outside of the legislative context.

Whew! And now it's done.

Thank you again to all our members who fought to keep clean water and the Bay front and center in the legislature!

—Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director

Take a moment to thank Maryland's legislators for demonstrating a continuing commitment to restoring our local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.