This Week in the Watershed

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Fishing is just one of many recreational opportunities afforded to us by clean water. Photo by Krista Schyler/iLCP.

From the long, hot, muggy days, to the out of office messages from colleagues on vacation, to the barbecues and lawn games, there's no doubt that summer is here. With the warm weather comes ample opportunity to get out on the water, enjoying the Bay and its rivers and streams. Indeed, the Chesapeake Bay region rivals anywhere in the country when it comes to outdoor activities and gorgeous landscapes.

To enjoy this national treasure, however, the water needs to be clean. Environmentally-friendly actions taken by individuals on a broad scale can make a huge difference. If only everyone could avoid the environmental pet peeves of CBF's Pennsylvania staff! Great work is also taking place in the streets of Baltimore, where inspiring community leaders are working to clean the streets of trash that eventually washes into the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

Ultimately, however, the best hope for clean water throughout the Bay and its rivers and streams, is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. And if the Blueprint is fully implemented, it will provide an additional $1 billion a year in economic value from recreational activities throughout the Bay region. The fun we have on the water and the beauty we experience will continue to inspire us in our work to see the Blueprint implemented and #SaveTheBay.

This Week in the Watershed: A Historic Trail, Pet Peeves, and Trashy Streets

  • The Anacostia Watershed Society released a report that the Anacostia River is still extremely degraded. (Bay Journal)
  • Virginia students learned outside, embarking on a trip with CBF's education program. (Free Lance Star—VA)
  • Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director, writes on the environmental pet peeves of CBF's Pennsylvania staff. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • CBF's Brock Environmental Center was nominated as a finalist for World Architecture News' Sustainable Buildings Award. (World Architecture News)
  • A couple recently completed a nine-month, 6,900-mile journey, including a trip up the Rappahannock River, viewing the beautiful Fones Cliffs. (WVTF—VA)
  • Check out this fun Q&A on all things Chesapeake Bay. (Washingtonian—D.C.)
  • Community efforts are in full swing to reduce the level of trash on the streets of Baltimore, which eventually washes into the Inner Harbor. (Bay Journal)
  • Two Maryland watermen received lifetime bans following a large poaching scheme of striped bass, also known as rockfish. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is celebrating its 10th anniversary. (Bay Journal)
  • Cambria County in central Pennsylvania became the latest county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 26th county in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (Tribune Democrat—PA) Bonus: CBF Press Release

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 8, 15, 22, 29

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs—plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important—and tasty—inhabitants. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Underwater Beauty

I like to think of wild celery as an underwater plant fit for the Disney princess Ariel. Its Kelly Green color, smooth and straight blades, and undulating motion are inherent in the picture-perfect world of Disney—and in clean rivers and streams.

This beauty and unmissable ecological value drives hundreds of Virginians each year to grow wild celery at home, January through June, and then plant the vegetation at restoration sites in the late spring and summer. These grasses or Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) have a slew of benefits: They serve as habitat and food source for critters, reduce wave action to prevent erosion and protect shorelines, filter pollutants and sediment out of the water column, and oxygenate our waterways. Unfortunately, algal blooms and sediment block sunlight—reducing total acreage of grasses to roughly only 20 percent of historic levels.

That's where CBF's Grasses for the Masses program comes in! The process, while rewarding for growers and the underwater critters that depend on them, is an equally heartbreaking occasion akin to sending your 18-year-old off to college. The grasses, once planted, must go off into the world and survive on their own.

This year, 279 volunteers from all walks of life participated in our Grasses for the Masses program, devoting nearly a half of their year to growing 40,000 grass seeds and planting them across roughly 30 square meters in Virginia rivers! We are only more encouraged by the recent news of the rebounding of grasses, which are up by 20 percent across the Bay. Programs like these along with pollution-reduction efforts are working. 

No matter how long I've been a part of this critical program, its the passion and commitment of our volunteers to restoring underwater grasses and clean, healthy Chesapeake waters that never ceases to amaze me. Take a look at the photos below to see their extraordinary work in action, and make sure to join us next year!

—Blair Blanchette, CBF's Virginia Grassroots Coordinator 

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CBF VA Senior Scientist Chris Moore braved Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 to collect grass seeds for the 2016 season. Seeds are located in a vanilla bean-shaped pod attached to the plant by a pig’s tail curly cue. Photo by Chris Moore/CBF Staff.
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After attending one of 10 CBF workshops across Virginia, growers take home their kits, grass seed, and new knowledge of how to grow underwater grasses. Albert Bingenheimer and his daughter prepare the soil/sand mixture for their grasses. Photo courtesy of Albert Bingenheimer.
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Grower Leslie Mead took full advantage of her ping pong table, which was capable of holding the weight of three kits and lamps. Photo courtesy of Leslie Mead.
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CBF's Outreach and Advocacy Manager Ann Jurczyk and Senior Scientist Chris Moore use a pole driver to repair the struts on the Mason Neck State Park grass enclosure that had been damaged during the winter freeze. The PVC struts hold netting that prevents geese from landing and eating the wild celery grass. Photo by Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
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CBF Grassroots Coordinator Blair Blanchette repositions the "Bay Oyster" boat for use in repair of the Mason Neck State Park enclosure as Regional Coordinator Ashley Reams and CBF Staff Scientist Chris Moore look on. Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
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Ready to plant underwater grasses at Mason Neck State Park! Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
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Albemarle County Environmental Studies Academy teacher Adam Mulcahy leads his three students into the water to plant underwater grasses at Mason Neck State Park. Behind Adam’s students, you can see Heroes on the Water preparing for their own event. Needless to say, the fishermen were pleased with the plantings. Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.
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Grower and Arlington Mill High School teacher Sharon Ruggieri shows off her beautiful grass roots. Strong roots are critical to the restoration process. Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
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First-time grower Al Bingenheimer proudly displays his record-setting underwater grasses during a Westover Plantation planting. Not even grey weather could dampen the spirits of this Proud Papa! Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
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After the grass plantings are over, growers clean their equipment to prepare it for next year's use. At this Mason Neck State Park planting on May 14, more than 50 kits were returned and more than 25 square feet of grass planted! Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.
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After the planting is all said and done, the grass restoration plots are left to grow and create seeds to restore the waterway. Turtles like these Eastern Painted Turtles benefit from the food and shelter provided by underwater grasses. Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.

Baltimore by the Numbers

111,000 oysters! 3,000 perennials! 250 paddlers! Read on for all that we've accomplished in Baltimore just in the last month . . . 

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Planting 111,000 water-filtering oysters in Baltimore Harbor sure does get us excited! Photo courtesy of Terry Cummings/CBF Staff.

The water was a thick mahogany brown as we loaded 20,000 juvenile oysters onto CBF's workboat the Snow Goose for a trip to the Fort Carroll oyster sanctuary reef, their soon-to-be permanent home 18 feet below on the Patapsco River bottom just below the Key Bridge. 

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Planting oysters in Baltimore Harbor. Photo courtesy of Terry Cummings/CBF Staff.

The trip was one of six to the reef to plant the oysters, which were grown from tiny baby spat to quarter-sized juveniles in cages hung from docks around Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Two years ago, CBF and the Waterfront Partnership established the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership to bring more notoriety to this most critical bivalve, which is at historic lows, and engage Baltimoreans in raising them. Last year we planted about 80,000 oysters at Fort Carroll. In 2016, 150 oyster gardeners raised 111,000 oysters in 10 locations from Canton to Locust Point. When they grow to adults in two years, those oysters will filter more than 5,500,000 gallons of water a day, helping to improve water quality while creating acres of valuable fish habitat.

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Turning a vacant lot into a community garden in West Baltimore. Photo by Jay Fleming.

Ten days later, across town, 45 volunteers helped plant 3,000 coneflowers, black-eyed-susans, white aster, and goldenrod on a renovated vacant lot. CBF and 11 partner organizations replaced 10,000 square feet of concrete and asphalt with tons of new topsoil, almost two dozen trees, 50 native shrubs and the 3,000 perennials to help reduce polluted runoff by 242,000 gallons a year. This planting culminated the 18-month project and set the stage for more restoration work by engendering the Westside Collaborative, a partnership to improve neighborhoods and the green infrastructure in West Baltimore.

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Passionate paddlers at the Baltimore Floatilla. Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Downstream from the lot the following weekend, a host of paddlers gathered at Canton Waterfront Park for the 2.5-mile paddle to the Science Center in the Inner Harbor as part of the Waterfront Partnership's  first-ever Baltimore Floatilla. Another 100 paddlers from Tide Point joined the Canton group on its way to meet the infamous Mr. Trash Wheel and start the rally for clean water. Roughly 250 paddlers converged around the solar-powered, floating trash collector (which, by the way, scooped up 238.8 tons of trash last year). Under a bright blue Baltimore sky, participants in the Floatilla shouted "Fix the Pipes," demanding Baltimore City fix its century-old broken and leaky sewage and stormwater systems. To date, millions of dollars have been spent and millions more will be spent within the decade to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the harbor.

CBF recognizes and thanks the hundreds of volunteers and many partner organizations involved in our Baltimore restoration efforts. And we encourage everyone in Baltimore's neighborhoods to help in the restoration of the city and its waters. Together we will restore, plant, and paddle for healthy, clean, and sustainable communities and waterways.

—Terry Cummings, Director of CBF's Baltimore Initiative

Check out more photos and video of the Baltimore Floatilla!

 


Photo of the Week: Pink Sky on Nandua Creek

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Living within walking distance of one of the best sunset viewing spots ever, I get many, many great photos but this recently snapped shot has become a new favorite! After enjoying a cookout at my house with my son and family, we noticed the pink sky and jumped in the golf cart to catch what was left of the sunset. That's my four-year-old grandson playing on the dock while his father gave a neighbor an assist with his jet skis. This beautiful spot is on Nandua Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, on Virginia's gorgeous Eastern Shore.

What do the Bay and its waters mean to me? Oh goodness, what don't they mean?! I've lived on or near such bodies of water since I was 10. Boating, skiing, fishing, crabbing, playing, relaxing. Now I'm teaching grandchildren to play in and around [the Bay and its rivers] and to respect these beautiful bodies of water!

—Leesa Walker

Ensure that Leesa, her grandchildren, 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!

 


This Week in the Watershed

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Agricultural runoff, such as from this farm in York County, PA, is an area where pollution-reduction efforts need acceleration. Photo by John Pavoncello/York Dispatch.

We might sound like a broken record at times, but there's a reason why we're always talking about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Unlike previous Bay cleanup plans, the Blueprint sets two-year, incremental goals, known as milestones, to ensure states are on track to meet their pollution-reduction commitments. The Blueprint goal is to have 60 percent of the pollution-reduction practices in place by 2017 and 100 percent in place by 2025. Last Friday the EPA released their assessment of progress made by the states in their 2014-15 milestones.

While states are making significant progress, cleanup efforts are off track. As CBF President Will Baker states, "The [Bay] region is not on track to meet its 2017 goals, largely as a result of Pennsylvania's failure to reduce nitrogen pollution from agriculture. While we acknowledge that some progress has been made in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has consistently failed to meet its goals, missing the mark in the last three two-year milestone periods."

These milestones provide the opportunity to highlight shortfalls, identify a proper course of action, and accelerate efforts. In this case, all the Bay states, but particularly Pennsylvania, need to focus on reducing agricultural pollution. The work to save the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams never stops. We will continue fighting to save this national treasure and leave a legacy of clean water to our children and future generations. Click here to read CBF's full statement on the EPA milestones assessments.

This Week in the Watershed: Milestones, Stinky Sea Lettuce, and A Susquehanna Paddle

  • A fish spill on Virginia's Eastern Shore left approximately 2,000 bushels of dead and dying menhaden washing up on shore. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • On the shores of Kent Island, rotting sea lettuce is leaving a noxious odor to the chagrin of many residents. (Kent Island Bay Times—MD)
  • Efforts to reduce excess nutrients through stormwater controls are also providing the additional benefit of removing toxic pollutants from local waterways. (Bay Journal)
  • Some Pennsylvanians are concerned over the use of biosolidsfertilizer from treated human sewage. (Altoona Mirror—PA)
  • Baltimore is behind on its plans to reduce polluted runoff by eliminating impermeable surfaces and creating new wetlands. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • A group of media members was invited for a paddle on the Susquehanna River, experiencing it's beauty and learning about the challenges it faces. (Lebanon Daily News—PA)
  • The EPA released their assessment of progress by Bay states in their 2014-15 milestones. The findings reveal there is much work to be done, especially in Pennsylvania. (AP) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • Numbers for blue crabs are up this year, but how does that impact the watermen who depend on them? (Washington Post—D.C.)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

Throughout June

June 25

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series wraps up with The XPD's. One of the best bands in the D.C. area, the XPD's are back and ready to groove to Motown, R&B, and funk tunes that will have you on your feet! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 26

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for a day at Clagett Farm for educational presentations, a tour of the farm, a service project, and a showcase of foods produced on the sustainable farm. Attendees will assist in the filling and planting of elevated garden beds designed for easier accessibility to individuals with a limited range of motion. Click here to learn more and register!

June 30, July 8, and July 15

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


The Importance of Clean Water to Herd Health

Nordstrom April 2016On his first week on the job as a veterinarian back in 1993, Scott Nordstrom treated a case that would stick with him the rest of his life. Shockingly, half of a herd of cattle he examined had died. It turned out that they had been struck by Bovine Viral Disease (BVD), a fatal condition transmitted from the intestines of one animal to the mouth of another.

So Nordstrom set about finding out how they got the disease. The next week, he was called to a farm just upstream with another case of BVD. He traced the source of the outbreak to that operation. "The stream carried the pathogens downstream, spreading it from one farm to the next," according to Nordstrom.

Since then, he's found time and again that as long as cattle are allowed into waterways they are at risk of catching diseases from farms upstream. "The biosecurity program for your cattle herd is no better than the worst farm upstream," says Nordstrom, who is Director of Cattle Technical Services for an animal health company. "If there is a disease outbreak in the herd upstream or even if they are just carriers of infectious organisms and they defecate in the stream, your animals are at risk if they drink from that stream."

Nordstrom travels all over the country to test vaccines for his animal health company. "In the large operations I have been on, they would never, ever, consider having their animals exposed to a stream or any other body of water," he says. "It's just too risky—for both livestock and people."

"Clearly, at least 50 percent of all cattle diseases in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are transmitted through the fecal-oral pathway," stresses Nordstrom. "Several of the big diseases in cattle are carried by water. These include BVD, E.coli, salmonella, leptospirosis, and mastitis." Symptoms of these diseases include fever, lethargy, dehydration, abortion, and death.

Vaccinating animals is a first line of defense against many diseases. But Nordstrom stresses that "the second line of defense is to fence livestock out of potentially infected waters."

There are many programs that include funding and technical assistance to help producers fence waterways and provide alternative sources of water for drinking. Nordstrom participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program on his own farm. "We did it for herd health reasons and, besides, I feel good that the water leaving our farm is not going to infect animals downstream," he says.

—Bobby Whitescarver  
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

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

 


Photo of the Week: No Better Place on Earth Than Here

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Sunset on the Great Wicomico River, just after witnessing a large pod of dolphins playing near Reedville. An awesome day from start to finish.

I grew up spending weekends in Reedville on the Northern Neck. My memories of crabbing, fishing, and swimming were so wonderful. I bought a cottage on Whays Creek in 2002 to continue the family tradition. We spend every weekend exploring the Chesapeake Bay—kayaking, fishing, and taking photos of sunrises and sunsets! We love the Chespeake Bay and the peace and beauty she provides.

There is no better place on earth than here.

—Sharon Sylvia

Ensure that Sharon 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!


This Week in the Watershed

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Fish kills are one of the terrible consequences of dead zones. Photo by John Surrick/CBF Staff.

For far too long, dead zones have plagued the Chesapeake Bay every summer. This week it was forecast that this summer's dead zone will be average to slightly below average. At first glance, this might appear to be good news. Upon closer inspection however, the status quo is unacceptable. On what planet is it good news for a body of water the size of 2.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools to exist that chokes all life out of it? Work must continue to reduce pollution and restore water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

There are many occasions in the fight for clean water when good news needs to be tempered by the reality that much work is left to be done. Two weeks ago, CBF witnessed amazing water clarity in the Severn River, along with an abundance of underwater grasses and active critters. View these signs of progress in this inspiring video:

Just this week however, an algal bloom popped up in the Severn. The work to save the Bay and it's rivers and streams is extremely delicate in nature. But we can take heart that the Bay is showing signs the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. And now is the time to accelerate our efforts. With the support of thousands of Bay-loving individuals across the Bay region, we will do just that.

This Week in the Watershed: Dead Zone Forecast, A Forgotten Fishery, and Paddler Activists

  • Bacteria loads in three local watersheds of Virginia's York River found high concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria and enterococcus, bacteria which can cause infections in humans. (Daily Press—VA)
  • Students in Hampton Roads are diving head first into the world of oyster restoration. (Daily Press—VA)
  • It's still early in the crab season, but numbers are up so far, boosting the local economy. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • American shad, a largely forgotten fishery, is experiencing a steep drop-off in the number of fish making it to spawning grounds, despite the investment in fish lifts at dams. (Bay Journal)
  • Improvements to wastewater treatment plants are well ahead of schedule, largely due to technological upgrades at treatment plants. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the dead zone on the Bay this year is predicted to be average to slightly smaller than average. (Capital Gazette—MD) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • Residents of Maryland's Eastern Shore are resisting the proliferation of massive chicken houses, which they argue have negative impacts on public health, property values, and the environment. (Daily Times—MD)
  • More than 250 paddlers descended on Baltimore's Inner Harbor demanding clean water. (Bay Journal)
  • Farmer and conservationist Bobby Whitescarver is teaching others how to effectively steward their land. (News Leader—VA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

Throughout June

June 18

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series continues with the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters. The Navy's official chorus will perform pieces ranging from Broadway tunes to sea chanteys and everything in between; top-notch entertainment you won't want to miss! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 24

  • 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. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells 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. Click here to register!

June 25

  • Easton, MD: The fourth-annual outdoor Clean Water Concert Series wraps up with The XPD's. One of the best bands in the D.C. area, the XPD's are back and ready to groove to Motown, R&B, and funk tunes that will have you on your feet! All concerts are free and open to the public. While enjoying the music, be sure to stop by the dozens of environmental and community exhibits, including CBF's, so that you can learn more about the Bay and how you can be a part of the movement to restore it.

June 26

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: Join CBF for a day at Clagett Farm for educational presentations, a tour of the farm, a service project, and a showcase of foods produced on the sustainable farm. Attendees will assist in the filling and planting of elevated garden beds designed for easier accessibility to individuals with a limited range of motion. Click here to learn more and register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


The Best Part

A Day Seeding Four Million Oysters into the Little Choptank River

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Crossing the Bay to plant four million oysters (weighing almost 30 tons) in the Little Choptank River!

"There's just something about being on the water . . . you're in a different world." Native Marylander and CBF oyster restoration volunteer Jim Ridgell is standing on the bow of the Patricia Campbell, our oyster restoration vessel, when he says this, staring out at the flat, endless Bay stretched out before us. We're on our way back in after spending the first sunny day in a string of wet weather planting oysters in the Little Choptank River off the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Jim Ridgell, a native Marylander who week after week for the past 10 years has been coming out to our Oyster Restoration Center to volunteer with us.

As a CBF oyster volunteer for close to 10 years, this is hardly Ridgell's first trip. In fact, for roughly a decade now, Ridgell has been coming out to our Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Maryland, to clean shell, load up oysters, or whatever else needs doing. "It's not about the oysters so much," says Ridgell. "It's about helping the Bay—something that's given me so much in my life. It's about giving back to something you love."

And give back he does. On this trip alone, we planted four million oysters (or 27 tons!) onto a 1.9-acre reef we're helping to build with partners as part of a network of reefs in the Little Choptank Sanctuary. By summer's end, we hope to plant roughly 25 million baby oysters across the

Planting
Oysters are moved on a conveyer belt to the bow of the boat where they are spread across the water below.

sanctuary, which will mean incredible things for the Bay. In addition to providing critical habitat for critters like fish and crabs, oyster reefs do much for water quality, with one adult oyster able to filter and clean up to 50 gallons of water a day

Restoring the Bay is intrinsically tied to restoring its native oyster population, and so in 1997, CBF started its oyster restoration program. "The realization by the 1990s that oysters were so critical to the Bay ecosystem and that their numbers were down 99 percent inspired the effort," says CBF's Director of Fisheries and founder of its oyster restoration program Bill Goldsborough. As oyster restoration in the Bay started to take shape in the ’90s, different conservation groups and agencies assumed different roles with CBF focusing on public outreach and engagement through oyster gardening, education, and other programs. "Involving citizens in the work is essential. You're forging a constituency for restoration," says Goldsborough.    

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At the end of the conveyer belt, the oysters go through a spreader that evenly distributes them across the water.

Later, in 2002, the addition of the 60-foot Patricia Campbell vessel "changed our game completely," says Karl Willey, manager of CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Program. With her unique way of planting millions of oysters in less than an hour via a conveyer belt, which connects to a spreader at the bow of the boat that evenly distributes the oysters across a reef, the Patricia Campbell is "one of a kind," says Willey. "There's no other boat quite like it." Now with 250 volunteer oyster gardeners and the Patricia Campbell, we're planting between 26 and 30 million oysters in Maryland waters a year.

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"Patricia Campbell" Captain and Maryland Oyster Restoration Manager Karl Willey at the end of a satisfying day on the water.

There are no words between us as we motor back in at day's end. Silently soaking up the rare appearance of the sun and lulled into a satisfied tired with muddied hands by our side and the comforting hum of the Patricia Campbell's diesel engines. Four million oysters in the water has a way of making you feel utterly and completely gratified. But then again, there's just something about being on the water.

—Text and Photos by Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 

Click here to learn more and to watch a video of the Little Choptank oyster planting.

And sign up to become an oyster volunteer like Jim Ridgell!

 


Photo of the Week: Truly an Awesome Experience

IMG_1204In late May, I met a friend of mine and we decided to go sit on the beach . . . As soon as we saw the water we were in shock. For the past three years I have lived on the Chesapeake Bay right near Breezy Point Marina, and I had never seen so many horseshoe crabs. Even neighbors who have spent 50+ years in the neighborhood had never seen anything like it. There were clumps of two to five horseshoe crabs mating. It was truly an awesome experience.

The Chesapeake Bay is important to me for many reasons. The Bay provides food for families, careers for others, and a great place to live. My boyfriend has been mapping out stormwater sites all over the state of Maryland and that has helped clean up the water. I love being able to go out on a boat and catch a healthy dinner. I love being able to bring friends to my house and let them experience life on the Bay. I absolutely love living on the Chesapeake Bay. 

—Breanne Smith 

Ensure that Breanne 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!

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