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.

 


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!


Six Ways to Celebrate the Last Gasp of Summer

SeanPelan_Kidswithnets_695There are only a few weeks left to soak up every last inch of summer, and we're here to help you do just that . . . Chesapeake style. While opportunities are endless when talking summer on the Bay, we know that unfortunate thing called "time" can be limiting. That's why we've compiled this quick list of last-minute summer musts:  

  1. Call it vanity, call it confidence, call it your love for the Bay . . . we want to see your #BaySelfie! Send us a selfie next time you're out enjoying these final summer days on the Bay and its rivers.
  2. Work on your tan while shaking shell at our Oyster Restoration Center, or talking clean water restoration at our booth at Norfolk's RIVERFest, or planting shrubs and wetland grasses along the Patuxent River. We don't care how, just get outside with us! Sign up to volunteer.
  3. There's still time to pick up that book you've been meaning to finish. Or if you're looking for a good Labor Day weekend read, check out this list of recs from notable CBFers.
  4. A particularly steamy day on the Bay? Take a break under the shade of a tree and watch Will Baker's inspiring TEDxTalk from your phone about the three little words that changed his life (and maybe yours, too).
  5. OK, this one you can (and should) do all throughout the year. Commit to saving the Bay and its rivers and streams by signing our Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint pledge. It's our best chance for a healthy Bay, economy, and quality of life. 
  6. Find a dock on the Bay or a cool bank along a river. Sit down, lean back, breathe in, stare out. 

Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media


Photo of the Week: Clean the Bay Day Is Almost Here!

253266_10150996484505943_1945850502_nBoy Scout Council Pack 414 from Williamsburg and Farm Fresh team coordinator Thomas Mott unearth a giant fishnet on Clean the Bay Day a few years ago. Photo by Andrea Moran.

Every June, roughly 6,000 dedicated volunteers from across Virginia join us in removing more than 135,000 pounds of trash from 500 miles of our rivers, streams, and Bay. Clean the Bay Day, a Virginia tradition 27 years in the making, is one of the largest volunteer clean-up efforts in Virginia. 

And just like the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the science-based federal/state plan to Save the Bayit represents a coming together of municipalities, businesses, and individuals who care about the health of our waters, our economy, our way of life. It's inspiring to see so many committed to the clean water cause across the Commonwealth.  

So why don't you join us this year and be a part of this extraordinary day.

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media


Running to Save the Bay!

DSC_0077Photos by Jeff Rogge/CBF Staff.  

Nearly 15,000 people ran across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 9, a stream of fit humanity in colorful tech attire arching over the Bay flowing beneath. All deserve praise for participating in the 10k, but one runner in particular, one speck of color out in front of that stream, deserves special mention.

On Saturday, cross country star Shreya Nalubola ran the final race of her illustrious high school career on what has been described as the toughest course in the state. The meet was the Maryland Girls State Cross Country Championship at Hereford High School. She came in third.

Rather than sleep in on Sunday, however, Shreya pulled herself out of bed, and ran the Across the Bay 10k Chesapeake Bay Bridge Race. No easy course itself, the bridge features a two-mile incline. Shreya came in first place in her age group, and 11th overall of 9,662 women runners!

DSC_0084Shreya, a senior at Centennial High School in Howard County, didn't do the Bridge Race just for more exercise, or the spectacular view. She is a student advocate for the Chesapeake Bay. She wanted to do her part to promote the national treasure and to underscore its endangered health.

"In sixth grade, I attended a field trip with my classmates to the Chesapeake Bay, where we were able to experience and study it in-depth. The field trip made an impact on my young mind as we fished for crabs and oysters, convincing me of the importance of preserving the health of our ecosystem," Shreya said.

This past spring Shreya also spent time on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's skipjack Stanley Norman where she learned more about the human impact to the Bay's health. She decided to join CBF's Student Wave Leadership program.

Two other students chose to run in Sunday's race across the iconic bridge from Annapolis to Kent Island as part of their commitment to advocacy. Charlotte Waldman and Garrett Weintrob, both 10th graders at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., help support CBF's Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD, among many other activities.  

"I hope that events such as the Across the Bay 10k will continue to raise awareness about the problems that affect the watershed, including pollution, agricultural development, and deforestation. In the future, perhaps changes can be made and efforts can be put into reducing pollution and restoring forest buffers in order to better support and protect the Chesapeake," Shreya said.

Thanks Shreya, Charlotte, and Garrett! The future of the Bay is in your hands—and running shoes. 

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Maryland Communications Coordinator


Junior Girl Scouts Defend Bay Cleanup!

  

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CBF President Will Baker speaking with the Girl Scouts of Troop 10324.

Melek is ten-years-old. She wears binoculars around her neck throughout much of the summer and is fascinated by her neighbors. They are: a fox family, egrets, a bald eagle, herons, and ospreys, to name just a few.

You'll often find Melek on the pier at her grandparent's home in Sparrows Point. It juts out into Jones Creek. Melek caught her first sunfish off that pier when she was 18-months-old with a toy rod. These days she fishes and crabs with her grandfather, who also has taught her to hunt and shoot.

Melek's hands-on experiences on the Bay might partially explain her recent remarkable feat. She helped lead her Girl Scout troop into battle with 21 attorneys general around the country who want to stop the cleanup of the Bay.

Girl Scout Junior Troop 10324 from the Sparrows Point and Dundalk areas of Baltimore County was outraged that the attorney generals from states as far away as Alaska, Kansas, and Texas joined the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute to block the cleanup of the Chesapeake. So the girls decided to write each of the officials a letter of objection.

The girls had worked on various Bay restoration projects since they were Brownies. Like Melek, several of the girls grew up around the water. They believe their Girl Scout Promise compels them to work to preserve their treasured Chesapeake. But they became full-blown Bay advocates when they learned the attorneys general were joining the Farm Bureau's court battle.

Patricia George, Melek's grandmother and the scout troop leader, said people are astonished that these elementary school girls were able to research the whole issue and then took action with virtually no help from adults. The girls spent about 20 hours and four meetings and countless phone calls and e-mails to carefully draft the letters to the 21 attorneys general.

"What people don't understand is how 10-year-olds can do this," George said. 

Girl Scout Clara interjected with an even better question: "If we get it, why don’t these politicians get it?"

The girls' efforts started an "avalanche," George said. Other girls now want to join the troop and the campaign. A steady stream of parents from local elementary schools have called George to ask how they and their children can get involved.

As a token of thanks for the troop's committment to Bay restoration, CBF President Will Baker this week gave each of the girls a framed certificate thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.

"We are just so grateful. You are an inspiration to those of us who work on this every day," Baker said.

Even Maryland Governor O'Malley wrote a letter to the troop: "Thank you for your interest in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I am impressed by your activism and outreach efforts. The involvement of citizens like you is critical to the success of the Bay's restoration."

For Girl Scouts Melek, Megan, Clara, Alyssa, Ariyanna, Kaitlyn, Brianna, and Annabelle, the fight isn't over.

Already Melek has designed a Girl Scouts badge for each member of the troop with the words "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Advocate" and a picture of the Bay, a heron, and blue crab.

As Will Baker said to the girls that sunny Wednesday afternoon, "Don't ever lose your determination to make the world a better place." We couldn't agree more.

—Tom Zolper, CBF Maryland Communications Coordinator

Stand up for the Bay and its rivers and streams like these inspiring Girl Scouts! Sign our petition.


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Every scout received a plaque from CBF President Will Baker.


 

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The badge that Melek designed!

 

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The Girl Scouts got outside with CBF Educator Jocelyn. Here, one of the scouts learns how to seine for critters!
 
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Examining the catch!

 

 

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Learning about oysters and how they help clean the Bay's waters!

 Photos by Jen Wallace, Drew Robinson/CBF Staff.


Shady Side Elementary School Students Take a Stand for the Bay

 

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Shady Side students planting oysters in the West River. Photo courtesy of Shady Side Elementary

The students at Shady Side Elementary School in southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland are no strangers to the Bay and life on the water. The town of Shady Side is located on a peninsula, surrounded on the north and west by the West River and on the east by the Chesapeake. Many students are children of watermen who still crab, oyster, and fish to make a living. The school sits less than a quarter mile from the water—and CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center.

So, last year, when 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel asked their students to "Take a Stand" for a cause, the Bay seemed like the natural choice.

"These students were raised on the water. They're surrounded by it every day and, for many, its health has a direct impact on their lives. The students worked with CBF last year to grow oysters and then planted them in the West River. Meghan Hoffman and the rest of CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration team really got the kids excited about oysters—and showed them that they can make a difference," said Tremel.

The students were so motivated they wrote letters and hand-delivered them to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin urging them to continue funding Bay restoration. But they didn't stop there.

They took it one step further—creating postcards, developing a business plan, and selling the cards to friends, family, and others—to raise money to support the Bay. Their efforts were highly successful. In two years, they've raised nearly $4,000 to help CBF grow and plant more oysters in the Bay!

John Rodenhausen, Maryland Director of Development, was on-hand for this year's check presentation and was able to address the nearly 60 5th graders involved in this project. "As an educator and a fundraiser for CBF, it is moments like this that give me greater confidence that the Chesapeake will be saved, not just in these students' lifetimes, but in mine, too!"

The project has become a staple of the 5th grade experience—and a bit of a competition, too. Weckel explained, "We've already spoken to the incoming class about the project. They're excited and energized by the opportunity to raise more money for CBF than last year's class!"

We all have a role to play in saving the Chesapeake. CBF is grateful to the entire Shady Side Elementary School community, including 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel, as well as their students, for their support, ingenuity, and hard work.

Together, we will Save the Bay and its rivers and streams!

Brie Wilson, Donor Communications Manager 

Read more about the Shady Side Elementary School Students' efforts here!


Clean the Bay Day Is Just Around the Corner!

CTBD 2014 color_edited w dateCalling all volunteers for Clean the Bay Day, CBF's annual Virginia volunteer cleanup to remove litter and debris from the Chesapeake Bay watershed!

The June 7 event is among the largest, most successful volunteer events in the state every year, drawing thousands of citizens, students, businesses, and military personnel to help pick up litter along waterways in Hampton Roads, Central and Northern Virginia, the Eastern Shore, and Shenandoah Valley.

If you haven't signed up for this year's event, please do so on our website and sign up to volunteer at a cleanup site near you. It's easy, it's fun, and you can make a difference in the health of the Bay in just three short hours. Bring the whole family, your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Everyone can help improve the health of the Bay!

Last year, some 6,000 volunteers, including elected officials, enlisted men and women, Scout troops, churches, businesses, and thousands of individuals and families, scoured more than 500 miles of shoreline on foot and in boats, picking up more than 135,000 pounds of harmful debris.

The event also raises public awareness about other pollution issues.

"Marine debris remains one of the most visible and pervasive reminders that the Chesapeake Bay is in need of restoration," says Tanner Council, Clean the Bay Day coordinator. "Rainwater running off streets and parking lots washes litter and debris into storm drains and into nearby waterways. When volunteers remove this litter, they're doing a tremendous service to their local communities and the Bay. They also learn there is much more we can all do to be better clean water stewards."

Clean the Bay Day could not be possible without the help of our local government partners and the generous support and participation of Virginia's corporate and business community, including CSX, Northrop Grumman, the Port of VirginiaDixon Hughes Goodman, River Network/Budweiser, Farm Fresh, HelioSage, and our media partners Inside Business, AltDaily, 101.3 2WD, and 94.9 The Point.

They're making a difference. You can, too. Register today for the 26th annual Clean the Bay Day on June 7!

 Chuck Epes, CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations 


Good Things Are Happening!

Across the watershed, from Pennsylvania to Virginia, people are pulling together to restore the Bay and its waters. Through a variety of innovative, collaborative clean water projects, good things are starting to happen! Take a look below at this photo series of some of these successes . . .

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Students from Manchester Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia, develop their own Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint during their Bay studies aboard "Baywatcher," CBF's James River education vessel. Photo by CBF Staff.
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State Representative Todd Rock and Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher joined CBF, the Antietam Watershed Association, and Washington Township to plant 600 seedlings at Antietam Meadows, a community park located in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. CBF, the Antietam Watershed Association, and Washington Township are working to establish an 11-acre streamside forest buffer along the Antietam Creek. Photo by Kelly Donaldson/CBF Staff.
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On Maryland's Eastern Shore is a model for what a small rural community (4,200 people) can do. So far, the town of Centreville and nearby residents have built 350 residential rain gardens to slow down and soak up runoff; protected nearly 5,800 acres of farms and forests from future development; and increased the use of cover crops on farms to more than 5,000 acres a year. Forty homeowners also grow pollution-filtering oysters in more than 220 cages hanging from piers and docks. Photo by CBF Staff.
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CBF, the Harrisburg Community Action Commission, Danzante Urban Arts Center, and the United Way of the Capital Region partnered to educate 25 Lower Dauphin High School students about stormwater, how rain barrels can help alleviate stormwater, and ways that communities can improve their environment and local water quality by implementing green infrastructure projects—like rain barrels. The students then constructed and painted 12 rain barrels to be used in a downtown Harrisburg community. Photo by Kelly Donaldson/CBF Staff.
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Many livestock farms in Maryland are deciding to raise their cows, sheep, and other animals the old fashioned way—on pasture rather than in confined animal operations. The switch helps lower pollution to nearby streams and helps rural counties meet Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint goals for agriculture. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.
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The Town of Ashland, Virginia, recently resurfaced much of its municipal parking lot with thousands of permeable pavers and installed a bio-retention basin to capture stormwater runoff. The project allows runoff to soak into the ground and be filtered naturally rather than run off into nearby Stony Run, a Chesapeake Bay tributary stream. One of several low-impact projects in the town, the "soft" parking lot reduces flooding, lowers nearby air temperatures, protects streams, and captures runoff pollution targeted by the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Photo by Chuck Epes/CBF Staff.


 


Photo of the Week: Saving the Bay One Trash Pick-Up at a Time!

LitterPickUp_ChesapeakeBeach_ByChrisCareyPhoto by Chris Carey.

"I walked a jetty in Chesapeake Beach and picked up all this in 10 minutes. If we all did this once a month imagine the difference we could make. SAVE THE BAY!"

—Chris Carey

Learn about more things you can do to help Save the Bay, and be sure to sign up for this year's 25th Annual Clean the Bay Day!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, 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!