Friday, February 27, 2009

Environmental Volunteers Plant Thousands of Beach Grasses

Scores of educators and students from across the state attending the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Conference in Ocean City will brave cold winds next Sunday morning to plant 2,500 American beach grasses in Assateaque State Park.

The native beach grass culms, donated by the Sussex County Department of Corrections, will help stabilize and restore the fragile sand dune habitats of this treasured barrier island which further protect inland properties from the ravages of strong winds, waves and flooding during storm events.

When: Sunday, March 1, 2009
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Where: Assateague State Park - Day Use Parking Lot
Participants will carpool to the planting site.

Who: Maryland Association of Outdoor and Environmental Education
members and their families;
Federal/State Agencies, non-profit Educational Organizations;
Teachers, students and environmental educators from across Maryland

The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) seeks to develop a Maryland citizenry that understands and is engaged in responsible environmental behavior and stewardship through the promotion of excellence in environmental education by training and supporting Maryland educators. The MAEOE Conference is the largest statewide conference of its kind in North America. More information is available at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Assateague Coastal Trust Spring Fling Extravaganza

This year the Assateague Coastal Trust Annual Dinner and Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, March 7 in Ocean City, at the Golden Sands Club Condominium, 109th Street & Coastal Highway. Everyone is welcome, even if you are not an ACT member.

The guest speaker this year is David Andrews, who will talk about sustainable agriculture: a return to conventional farming, keeping our rural areas economically viable while environmentally healthy. He is Senior Representative for Food and Water Watch in Washington, D.C., spent 30 years in sustainable agricultural development work and was Executive Director for 13 years at the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. He is a Brother in the Catholic Church and has been a consultant for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., and at the Vatican, on globalization and agriculture. Br. Andrews also served on the Pew Charitable Trust Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and wrote the technical report on community impacts for the Commission.

It will be a wonderful evening of camaraderie, musical entertainment by the renowned Stephen Decatur High School Jazz Ensemble, excellent speakers and fine dining. The evening will also feature former U.S. Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest who will speak to our guests about a very exciting coming event.

The Silent Auction table will be packed this year with art, boat tours of the Coastal Bays, birding tours, lunch & kayaking on Ayers Creek, dinner certificates, and even tickets to a show for national stand-up political comedian Lewis Black.

Mark your calendars now for the evening of March 7. Dinner ticket sales and information will be available on the ACT website at

Monday, February 23, 2009

Green Diversity Explored

How to encourage “green” diversity will be the theme of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education at its conference in Ocean City Feb. 27 - March 1, sponsored in part by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

Despite President Barack Obama having just appointed the first ever African American to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, racial diversity in the environmental field is uncommon. MAEOE organizers say this phenomenon is reflected in their annual conference, with only a handful of people of color attending each year.

As part of the North American Association of Environmental Educators, MAEOE will address this issue head on in this year’s conference – Shades of Green: Exploring Diversity in Our Environment.

This nonprofit group’s goals include encouraging, educating, supporting, and inspiring Maryland educators to “build a citizenry that understands and is responsibly engaged in advancing sustainability to address human needs and to conserve the earth's natural resources.” This year’s theme is an important component of that goal.

Maryland boasts the largest state environmental educator’s conference in the nation, with more than 500 participating each year. The state numbers are impressive, but locally only a few staffers from nonprofit groups and government agencies will attend. (As of this writing no Worcester County teachers had registered for the conference, held in the Maryland coastal bays watershed, ironically the most ecologically diverse area in the state.)

In addition to racial diversity, the conference will also address diversity in teaching methods. Great effort was made to invite presenters to share ways to teach about the environment that go beyond the way traditional science has been taught in the classroom.

According to Maryland Coastal Bays Program Education Coordinator Carrie Samis, the MAEOE conference is also a great place for non formal educators such as herself, to share ideas with traditional classroom teachers. This networking provides extensive resources and professional development opportunities. Moreover, it is an opportunity for teachers and environmental educators to work together for the benefit of students – enhancing classroom instruction and, ultimately, improving environmental literacy.

Our environment is a resource we must all share, but to have any meaningful change the entire population must be included in the effort. We applaud this organization’s effort to encourage diversity in the environmental field today, which will ultimately benefit us all tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Plant a Tree this Spring

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” This anonymous quote speaks volumes as to why planting a tree today is one of the most important actions we can take to ensure the future health of our natural environment.
Because trees are one of our most important natural resources, protecting water quality, cleaning our air and providing a natural habitat for wildlife, planting a tree is actually an investment in the future health of our land and water.
To encourage residents to plant more trees, state agencies have joined with businesses for Marylanders Grow Trees, an initiative under the Smart, Green and Growing program, designed to encourage citizen involvement with forest restoration. The short term goal is to inspire enough residents to plant 50,000 new trees by 2010, with a long term target of 1 million plantings by 2011. Marylanders can register the trees they plant and calculate their benefits on the state’s website where there is an interactive map, as well as discount coupons and incentives for planting trees this spring.
And there’s more than one way to ensure more trees take root by having a tree planted in the name of a loved one through Tree-Mendous Maryland. This program will arrange for a tree to be planted as a gift and will be placed in the county in which the recipient lives. All trees purchased through Tree-Mendous Maryland are planted on public land throughout the state, within our towns and cities, in parks and schoolyards, and along streams & creeks. Such a gift is not just for the recipient, but it is also a gift to the environment as well as something for future generations to enjoy.
Of course trees beautify our landscape and communities, but they also attract birds, improve air and water quality, act as a noise or privacy barrier, and overall contribute to our quality of life. Trees also control and filter stormwater and reduce soil erosion. Just one large tree can eliminate 5,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year.
Trees can also help us financially. A well planted and maintained landscape with mature trees can increase residential property values up to 25 percent. Good tree cover can actually cut air conditioning costs. In fact, a city lot with 30 percent plant cover provides the equivalent cooling necessary to air condition two small houses 12 hours a day.
There are many practical reasons to plant, but just gazing at a beautiful tree, even in the dead of winter, can simply remind us of the living, magnificent beauty that surrounds us all. As Martin Luther once said, “For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Anita Ferguson, right, outreach director fo the MCBP, spoke to members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City at a meeting last week. Besider her is Kiwanis President, Corky Widerman.

Monday, February 9, 2009


A recent survey of bats conducted and published by researchers from University of Maryland indicate that the loblolly pine-dominated forests at Assateague Island National Seashore provide suitable roosting and foraging habitat mostly for eastern red bats, which concentrate their activity in vegetated areas and at freshwater pools.

The freshwater pools are an important part of the ecosystem at Assateague Island National Seashore that supply bats and other organisms with freshwater on an island surrounded by saltwater.

Although eastern red bats are the predominant bat species at the national park, hoary bats, silver-haired bats and eastern pipistrelles occur there in limited numbers during summer or during spring and autumn migration.

Evidence of bats using Assateague Island National Seashore as a migratory pathway or stopover site may have implications for future offshore wind-energy developments and warrants further investigation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thrift Shop Donates to the MCBP

From left - Helen Wiley of the Church Mouse and Anita Ferguson, Outreach Director for the MCBP.

The Church Mouse Thrift Shop made a donation to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to help us keep the bays healthy. The shop, operated by St. Paul's Episicopal Church in Berlin, also donated money to Habitat for Humanity. MCBP staff and everyone who lives in the coastal bays says thanks!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Community Meeting for Grow Berlin Green Feb. 10

Engaging the public is the first order of business for Grow Berlin Green, a new program designed to help Berlin become a model town for environmental protection by connecting the community to conservation, but the public must be part of the process in order for the program to be a success.

The three-year project will be managed by a coalition of the Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT), Lower Shore Land Trust and Maryland Coastal Bays Program. However, central to its success will be community involvement.

An open dialogue is vital to ensure the program’s goals of stimulating significant progress toward conservation, water quality and land use challenges facing Berlin, ultimately making the town an archetype for participatory environmental action. To encourage public participation GBG organizers will hold a public meeting Feb. 10 to provide an opportunity for residents, business owners and town officials to voice their opinions as well as learn more about the program.

The Grow Berlin Green Program is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the town, which was designated a Main Street Community by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley last year. The Main Street approach encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation designed to also help spur economic growth by rebuilding traditional commercial districts. Community self-reliance, a pedestrian-friendly environment, local ownership and a sense of community are also vital to the concept of a Main Street Community, which is managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Both Main Street and GBG rely on public opinion and feedback for their success. To promote this involvement, events and activities will be designed to include citizens, business owners and government officials to better build a foundation for citizen and policymaker participation. Engagement and activism among citizens and policymakers is needed to ensure success in hopes to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Next week’s meeting will be first formal effort to hear from a broad cross section of the community, including residents, business owners, public officials and educators. It is the energy and commitment of these stakeholders that will fuel the effort to build a movement for positive change in the town.

The meeting is set for Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at Berlin Town Hall. We urge all those who care about the town of Berlin and its future to attend and have their voices heard. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to have a direct impact on where this program is headed.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birding Workshop Tonight

Tonight, 6 - 7 PM

This exciting, free workshop hosted by the Lower Shore Land Trust will explain how to be part of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Count for fun, count for the future, count on February 13 - 16 for as little as 15 minutes!