Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolve to Recycle in 2009

Recycling may not be on your mind right now, but it's a great way to help save our bays. Here's a few tips to help you get started:
  • Buy products made from renewable or recycled materials, such as recycled paper or motor oil. Every 115 pounds of recycled paper saves one tree.
  • Purchase products that are recycled and products that can be recycled. Buy fewer products and purchase quality goods that will last longer.
  • Avoid throwaway cups, plates, utensils, napkins, and dishcloths. Using 1,000 throwaway plastic teaspoons consumes over 10 times more energy and natural resources than making one stainless steel teaspoon and washing it 1,000 times.
  • Donate unwanted items to charity and shop at antique, salvation army, or any store selling second-hand items. Don’t throw them out. In turn, purchase items at yard sales, antique, thrift and consignment stores, and pawn shops.
  • Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, glass and plastic to help preserve natural resources. Newspapers are recycled for insulation, folders, and more newspapers. Glass is recycled for new jars and bottles; aluminum for more aluminum. Plastics dumped in landfills take 200-400 years to decompose.

If you don't have curbside recycling in your town, here is a partial list of places to drop your recyclables:

  • Whaleyville Park - Whaleyville Road & Shepards Crossing Road
  • Bishopville Park -Route 367 and Bishopville Road
  • Ocean Pines - Adjacent to South gate Fire House
  • Wal-Mart - Ocean Gateway Berlin
  • Public Landing - Route 365 and Public Landing Road
  • Pocomoke City Transfer Station - Byrd Road
  • Snow Hill Transfer Station - Holly Road
  • Berlin Transfer Station - Flower Street

Monday, December 29, 2008

Transform a Negative into a Positive

Another new year is about to start, perhaps the perfect time for new beginnings, for taking something negative and turning it into a positive. Just such a project is in the works that will restore land that was damaged and then neglected. When completed, the site will have a new purpose; providing habitat for forest dwelling birds, as well as a site to teach youngsters about trees, wetlands, vegetation and wildlife.

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program Showell Restoration project will restore about 88 acres off of Pitts Rd. in Bishopville. The area is bordered by drainage ditches, including Middle Branch to the north, a tributary of Shingle Landing Prong in the St Martin River – the most degraded waterway in the coastal bay system.
Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary was originally assigned the wetland restoration project after Perdue Farms provided the property as well as $150,000 as part of an agreement with state environmental regulators to settle a water pollution enforcement case. However, in 2007 the Maryland Attorney General's environmental crimes unit discovered that Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary had not preformed restoration at the site. The project was then turned over to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
Plans for the site were determined after discussions with the National Resource Conservation Service, with the primary goal to restore wetlands. A secondary goal is to use the property for low impact environmental education and service learning opportunities. With that in mind, the land will be a habitat restoration site all year long, but during the spring and fall for about a three to four week period the MCBP will use the area for teaching opportunities.
The fallow areas in the northern section will be restored to a forest area that will be contiguous with the rest of the site. The southern portion will be maintained as open meadow to enhance habitat diversity to the site. Two shallow, 3-acre ponds are planned for the site. The shoreline along Middle Branch will remain vegetated. The wooded areas – including about 40 acres of mature red and white oaks, loblolly pine, American beach, sweet gum and American holly – will be unaltered except for cleared trails that will provide access to the interior of the property. Plans also include a 20 x 30 pavilion with six picnic tables.

Among many other objectives, the MCBP is dedicated to restoring habitat in the coastal bays. Ensuring a healthy habitat is vital since it is the natural environment in which organisms live. Habitat loss can lead to the decline of a species.

In 2009 and beyond, the MCBP will continue to work toward protecting our natural resources, which are so vitally important to our ecological, economic and cultural future. The MCBP staff hopes that everyone will have a safe, happy, successful and environmentally-healthy new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

R.I.P. Henry Kollein, Jr.

On Nov. 30, 2008 the Maryland Coastal Bays lost a true friend and advocate with the death of Henry Koellein, Jr.

Henry was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 2, 1926. Beginning in 1943, when he enlisted in the Marine Corps, Henry dedicated his life to fighting for people’s rights and all that he believed in, including the environment, the Chesapeake Bay, and our own Atlantic Coastal Bays.

About 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Henry for the first time in Ocean City, at what was then Mulligan’s restaurant. It was the first meeting of what would become the Atlantic Coast Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association.

As with everything Henry ever did, he ran the meeting with passion and enthusiasm. After an interesting discussion of what the association was all about and the need to establish a local chapter for the Ocean City area, Henry asked for volunteers for chapter officers.

As with most organizations, there wasn’t a stampede of volunteers. So Henry, being Henry, volunteered to be President for the first year. Having already been a member of the MSSA for about 15 years, in a chapter on the western shore, I had been pushing for a local chapter for some time. So, with no other volunteers, I said I would be Vice President for the first year.
Thirteen years later, Henry was still President, and I was still Vice President. The volunteer stampede still had not started!

Henry was a man with many favorite sayings. One of his favorites was, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, Henry was our squeaky wheel, just as he was the squeaky wheel for every organization or club that he was associated with. As the original founder and continued voice of the Atlantic Coast Chapter, Henry was well known in and around the halls of the Maryland General Assembly, as he lobbied hard for the interests of the recreational fisherman until the day he left us.

Two years ago, Henry needed to give more time to his family due to some very tragic circumstances. He stepped down as President, and asked me to take his place. I knew I could never fill his shoes, but agreed to because I knew it was important to him. Even with this, the next two years Henry continued as Senior Vice President, our representative on the State Board of Directors, and our lobbyist in Annapolis.

Henry had a little problem hearing in last few years, but we never had a problem hearing Henry! The more passionate Henry became when speaking, the louder he got, a microphone he did not need. He loved flounder fishing to the extent I once heard him say, "I never met a flounder I didn’t like.” I don’t know if there are flounder in heaven, but if not, I can assure you that Henry has already started a committee to find out why not.

Henry will be missed by his family, his friends, the MSSA, and by the Coastal Bays. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been able to have called Henry my friend.

Dave Walter
Past President
Atlantic Coast Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfishermen’s Association.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Berlin Woman Finds Gardening with Kids a Winning Combination

It may seem like an odd time to think about gardening as the temperature drops and the leaves disappear from the trees. Not for Berlin resident Vanoka Morris-Smith. She lives and breathes gardening. It’s been her greatest love since she was a young girl.

Just about the only thing she enjoys more than an afternoon elbow deep in soil is sharing her passion with children. One could say that transforming computer, cell phone and television addicted youngsters into “little growers” is what makes Morris-Smith bloom.

The seed to inspire youngsters was planted in her mind eight years ago after glimpsing a young African-American girl on the cover of an old gardening magazine. That little girl with a fistful of basil and mismatched earrings showed such joy that Morris-Smith knew she had to reach out to children.

Her thinking isn’t novel – children (and adults) spend too much time indoors and they are losing touch with nature. Often called Nature Deficit Disorder, the phenomenon is detrimental to us all. No one is looking at the leaves, she says. People can't tell the difference between an oak leaf and a ginkgo leaf.
She would do her part to change that.
Within a short time she was volunteering at a school in Philadelphia where she often visits a close relative. Morris-Smith’s gardening passion and desire to influence young minds proved to be a winning combination.

She and her little growers have won several gardening awards over the years. In 2007 transformed a run-down lot of leveled houses into an environmental learning center for a Philadelphia elementary school. It was one of three first-place winners for best school and children's garden and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's 33rd Annual City Gardens contest. That same year she was named an Exceptional Mentor by the same group. In 2007 she took herself back to school and master gardener so she would “know the answers when the children asked the questions.”

A postage orchard with Hale peaches in her Berlin yard is possibly her next project and she hopes to become involved with local children. She’s often seen in town wearing her “horticulture hat”, the one adorned with a big sunflower. The hat is a reminder of the giant sunflowers – as big as car tires – grown by some of her protégés.

Organic gardening using heirloom seeds and plants is her specialty. To qualify as heirloom, a plant must come from a seed family that has been grown in a garden for at least 50 years. Often, the seeds have been handed down from generation to generation over hundreds of years. It is this element that is perhaps most important to her.
Sure, organic gardening is good for the environment. The exercise has helped her lose weight and better manage rheumatoid arthritis. But for Morris-Smith, gardening is a link to the past, present and future all at once. This, she says, makes it good for the soul too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Upward Bound and the MCBP a Success

MCBP Education Coordinator Carrie Samis is pleased to report that the first 12 Upward Bound sessions were a success.

Thanks to MCBP staff, AmeriCorps member Morgan, and the MCC crew for putting the first two sessions together. In October, the students learned about watersheds. In November, they learned about the threat of storms, especially hurricanes, and they assembled family disaster preparedness kits to take home.

The next session will be held Saturday, December 20 from 10 am - 2 pm at the Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center. Assateague National Park Service has planned activities focused on preparations that must be made prior to storm events that may impact the island and it's delicate ecosystem. They will also be discussing the Incident Command System.

On Saturday, January 24 there will be a meeting at UMES from 10 am - 2 pm. The session will be lead by EPA and will include some computer modeling activities. A computer lab on campus will be reserved for the students that day.

The last scheduled session will be held Saturday, February 14 from 10 am - 2pm at the Sarbanes Center. The final session will focus on stories about cleanups after storms and steps communities can take to mitigate future storm damage and also foster a sense of community.

Thanks to Carrie for all her hard work!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great Holiday Gift Idea!

Here's an original gift this season...

The Assateague Alliance Island Alliance is sponsoring eBay auctions for the rights to name new arrivals. Click on for details.

Proceeds from this auction will help the Assateague Island Alliance with ongoing efforts to educate visitors and friends about the Assateague horses.

"The AIA was created to benefit Assateague Island National Seashore by supporting interpretive,educational and scientific programs and assuring stewardship, restoration and preservation of our land,water, living resources and historical sites while balancing high quality resource-compatible recreation."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ocean City Shoreline Restoration Project A Good One

Traditionally, shorelines have been stabilized the hard way, using bulkheads and other methods that do the job but at a significant cost to the environment. As years go by, waves hitting hard barriers can harm submerged shoreline, keep marshes from forming and block the drift of sandy sediment along the shore, causing erosion.

Such is the case at a 600-foot shoreline on the north side of Robin Dr. that houses a lagoon that is a tributary of Isle of Wight Bay. The existing bulkhead there is falling apart, sheeting is rotting away, and soil is leaking into the watershed. The dilapidated structure is no longer functioning as intended and must be replaced.

With the already-received unanimous support of the Ocean City Council, McGean plans to restore the area by replacing the bulkhead with marsh. The project will also include a crabbing peer at the site of an existing boat basin. Restoring the shoreline that houses the 150-foot lagoon may seem like a small endeavor, but it will have significant environmental, recreational and aesthetic benefits.

In fact, the project meets several goals of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. Replacing this hard structure with the soft marsh will protect an existing shoreline while also creating more than half an acre of new tidal wetlands. The crabbing pier will provide increased public access, thereby meeting another goal of enhancing sustainable recreational use.

Still in the conceptual design phase, restoring the shoreline and building the crabbing pier will cost about $130,000. The city has applied to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a shoreline erosion control loan to pay for the construction. While not yet a done deal, DNR representatives have toured the site and indicated it would be eligible for such a loan.

The bulkhead has to go. Removing the unsightly and dysfunctional structure and putting in its place the softer, self protective marsh will reduce erosion, create habitat and improve water quality, while at the same time provide another opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy our coastal bays.

Simply put, this restoration project is just plain smart. McGean and the council should be applauded for recognizing that replacing outdated structures with environmentally sound measures is good for everyone.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Original Greene Turtle MCBP Fundraiser Tonight!

The Original Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille in North Ocean City will hold a fundraiser Monday, Dec. 8th to benefit the Maryland Coastal Bays Program as part of its Funds for Friends program.

The party begins at 4 pm, but the fundraising is an All-Day-Event! For every dollar spent throughout the entire day, open to close, 10 percent will be donated to the MCBP.

This is the second consecutive year that the Greene Turtle North chose the MCBP to be the recipient of Funds for Friends. Maryland Coastal Bays Director Dave Wilson praised the restaurant for its continued support, saying it is “clear that the Greene Turtle organization cares about the health of our bays and our community as a whole.”

In addition to raising money for the MCBP, the Greene Turtle will also be accepting new, unwrapped toys or a monetary donation that evening for the U.S. Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots and the Ocean City Police Department’s Toy Drive.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Original Greene Turtle Funds for Friends to Raise Money for MCBP

The Original Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille in North Ocean City will hold a fundraiser Monday, Dec. 8th to benefit the Maryland Coastal Bays Program as part of its Funds for Friends program. They have coincided this event to be same day as their annual locals’ Christmas Holiday Party.

The party begins at 4 pm, but the fundraising is an All-Day-Event! For every dollar spent throughout the entire day, open to close, 10 percent will be donated to the MCBP. The Original Greene Turtle owner Steve Pappas says it’s all part of their goal to be a positive force in the community.

“We enjoy contributing to the community in many areas and feel it is part of our responsibility,” Pappas said. “December 8th is our chance to help out an agency dedicated to preserving our waterways which is vital in our community. Helping raise money for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is a great way to help keep our natural resources healthy.”

Earlier this year the Greene Turtle’s company’s Funds for Friends program was recognized with a Restaurant Neighbor Award by the National Restaurant Association for its fundraising efforts. The award recognizes philanthropic efforts by the foodservice industry that shows “dedication to community outreach”.

The idea behind The Greene Turtle's 'Funds for Friends' program is to team with communities to raise money to support local organizations. The program invites a community group to host an event to raise money for its cause. Since its inception in 2005, Funds for Friends has raised more than $150,000 for organizations in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Delaware.

This is the second consecutive year that the Greene Turtle North chose the MCBP to be the recipient of Funds for Friends. Maryland Coastal Bays Director Dave Wilson praised the restaurant for its continued support, saying it is “clear that the Greene Turtle organization cares about the health of our bays and our community as a whole.”

In addition to raising money for the MCBP, the Greene Turtle will also be accepting new, unwrapped toys or a monetary donation that evening for the U.S. Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots and the Ocean City Police Department’s Toy Drive.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Human Behaviors and Our Ecosystem

As part of an effort to better understand the effects of human uses on the Maryland Coastal Bays watershed, Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE) has teamed with the Coastal Ocean Values Center and the Delmarva Atlantic Watershed Network (DAWN) to take an in-depth look at behaviors that affect the ecosystem.
Called the Human Use Data Project, the goals of the proposed initiative include fostering a community consensus on the desired future condition of the region and envisioning how to promote the watershed as a vacation destination, farming region and residential community, while also protecting and preserving the integrity of the coastal bays.
Certainly, human behavior has played a role in negatively affecting our coastal environment. However, it is also humans who will provide the vision, funding, and know-how to restore and protect the coast and provide a new type of management that will ensure our coastal environment is one in which people and nature collaborate to maximize the societal value of the coast and ocean.
Despite the obvious role people play in shaping the physical and ecological condition of the area, our understanding of how to incorporate human activities into coastal management is still not fully understood. With fishing, maritime shipping, swimming, beachcombing, kite flying and bird watching and scores of other types of human uses, where do we start if we want to collect and analyze good information about human uses for coastal management?
Historically, we have turned to available data to learn what we should attempt to measure for coastal management and asked academia to tell us what analysis we need. As a result, we know a lot about fishing and ports and almost nothing about the local economic impact of nature and ocean tourism, shoreline protection, ecosystem services and recreation. We’ve conducted valuation exercises in places where we don’t even have a baseline of human activity; we’ve created complicated ecosystem services models even when we don’t have local data on ecosystem uses.
There are promising opportunities to collect and analyze information about the way people use Maryland’s coastal ocean ecosystem but we need a broader vision to help determine what data is needed to understand and manage change in the coastal ecosystem, as well as what human uses will be most affected by management. Moreover, we must learn what uses are most likely to benefit or be constrained by better management; and what societal goals can be best met through better coastal management.
DAWN, a Maryland, Delaware and Virginia technology collaboration for coastal conservation, and DLITE, an alliance to encourage nature-based tourism, are both interested in what we learn from the Human Use Data Project. Indeed, the data will be used to improve managing the watershed to maximize economic benefits and minimizing negative resource impacts.
The project is also in-keeping with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and will provide valuable information that will go a long way toward improving the ecosystem based management of the region.

Linwood Pendleton is the Director of the Coastal Ocean Values Center and is Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Research for the Ocean Foundation. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of California at Los Angeles.