Monday, January 4, 2010

Our Accomplishments in 2009

As we embark on the first week of a new year, it’s a good time to review a few of our accomplishments from last year.

In 2009 we continued to study horseshoe crabs, which thanks in large part to our efforts now have the highest population numbers to date in Maryland, according to a 2002-2009 report recently completed by MCBP staffer Carol Cain and Steve Doctor of the Maryland Fisheries Service. Data from this survey will be used to develop estimates of relative abundance, determine timing of spawning activity used to direct regulations, and make comparisons with horseshoe crab spawning behavior in the Delaware Bay.

In June we released the first Coastal Bays Report Card, revealing an overall grade C+ grade for our bays in 2008. Each of the six sub-watersheds received individual grades, with marks ranging from a B for the Sinepuxent Bay to a D+ for the St. Martin River and the Newport Bay. The grades were determined based on the current water quality and its relation to the quality needed for aquatic life to grow and thrive. The report provided a clear, concise and timely assessment of the health of our bays to help guide future efforts.

Also in June we released the book, Shifting Sand-Environmental and Cultural Change in Maryland’s Coastal Bays, a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This was a major undertaking with MCBP Executive Director David Wilson Jr. and staff scientists Dr. Roman Jesien and Carol Cain among the 80 authors from 24 different organizations and agencies who contributed to the book. This team assessed the condition of the Coastal Bays ecosystem, reviewed the history of the area, current management strategies and upcoming concerns for the watershed.

In October, Dr. Roman Jesien oversaw the completion of a wetland habitat restoration at an 89-acre conservation easement in Showell that showcases some of the techniques that can be used to restore streams and wetlands. This once damaged and neglected property now provides habitat for forest dwelling birds, and serves as a site to teach youngsters about trees, wetlands, vegetation and wildlife.

Last summer 11 area high school and college students learned how to be Coastal Stewards as part of a new program that trains youth to conduct education, outreach, and stewardship activities. Managed by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences, partnered with the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance, Assateague Island National Seashore, and Assateague State Park, the Coastal Stewards program was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is expected to expand in 2010.

Also in 2009 we completely revised and updated our website, helped launch Grow Berlin Green, raised a record amount of money from our Osprey Triathlon and continued work on conservation projects totaling 547 acres.

Part of the National Estuary Program, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is a partnership with the towns of Ocean City and Berlin, National Park Service, Worcester County, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Environment, and Planning.

Through education and outreach programs, restoration projects and involvement with the business community, builders, residents, visitors and government leaders, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program works to improve water quality, protect habitat and enhance forests and wetlands. With the help of our partners and the community, we vow to continue this important work in 2010.

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