In Our Communities

Volunteers of all ages plant native grasses along Annapolis' Parkwood neighborhood shoreline. Photo by Tom Zolper/CBF StaffVolunteers of all ages plant native grasses along Annapolis' Parkwood neighborhood shoreline. Photo by Tom Zolper/CBF Staff

Engaging Communities for Clean Water

From public meetings and adult education classes to numerous hands-on volunteer activities, CBF engages residents and teaches them ways to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries. But it doesn't stop there. CBF is also an active partner in local restoration efforts spearheaded by community organizations throughout the watershed.

Here are just a few examples of the way the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is working with local communities to restore and protect their waterways and the Bay.

Baltimore Inner Harbor Oyster Gardening Video from coolgreenschools.comThis link will take you to view the video on www.coolgreenschools.com

Oyster Gardening in the Inner Harbor

In September 2014, CBF and the Waterfront Partnership expanded their oyster restoration program, formally kicking off The Greater Baltimore Oyster Partnership.  Plans for 2014 are to grow 165,00 baby oysters in Baltimore's Inner Harbor with the help of local residents.  Check it out with this video on CoolGreenSchools.com.

The organizations tested out the program in October 2013 as part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative to create a swimmable and fishable Harbor. Members of the local business community planted 85,000 oyster spat in five designated oyster gardens around Baltimore's Inner Harbor. While oysters in the wild often see only a one percent survival rate due to predation and low oxygen levels, the spat grown by the Oyster Partnership maintained a 70 percent survival rate and increased 40 percent in size.

"With more than 50,000 oysters grown in the Harbor and planted on the reef at Fort Carroll, along with the incredible support we received from the local community, expanding the program was the obvious next step," said Adam Lindquist, Healthy Harbor project manager for the Waterfront Partnership.

"There's just so much excitement and opportunity around growing more oysters in the Harbor," said Terry Cummings, director of CBF's Baltimore Initiative. "We are thrilled to have new partners, the Downtown Sailing Center and the Baltimore Marine Centers, joining us for this expansion. We look forward to seeing the program grow and grow."

This year members of public are participating, building their own cages and learning how to be oyster gardeners. Their cages will be deployed along the piers of the Downtown Sailing Center and Baltimore Marine Centers' Lighthouse Point. Businesses sponsoring oyster gardens and providing volunteers who will tend to the cages include Brown Advisory, BGE/Constellation, Legg Mason and T.Rowe Price, all of whom participated last year, as well as engineering, architectural and planning firm Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP who is new to the program.

"Our boaters are always looking for an opportunity to give back to the Chesapeake Bay," said Jessie Bowling, director of sales and marketing at Baltimore Marine Centers. "The partnership is a perfect way for our boaters to get involved and make an impact."

In the spring, all of the volunteers will pull out their mature oysters and plant them on an oyster reef near Fort Carroll.

Rain garden, Richmond, Va.  Photo by Kim Jurczyk/CBF StaffRain gardens like this one will soon be popping up around the Broad Rock neighborhood of Richmond. Photo by Kim Jurczyk/CBF Staff

Broad Rock Creek Community Project

CBF is working with the Broad Rock neighborhood of Richmond, Va. to help implement a holistic watershed implementation project, called Restoring Southside Richmond Watersheds. The project is being funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, REI Outfitters, and The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia.

The Broad Rock neighborhood contains the Broad Rock and Grindall Creek watersheds, as well as a small portion of the Goodes Creek watershed, all of which drain into the James River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Not only will this project help the local community, it will also assist the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Richmond in meeting their target pollution reduction goals identified in their Phase 1 and Phase 2 Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs).

The Broad Rock neighborhood is older, urban, and under-served, with many aging commercial corridors that were constructed before stormwater management requirements were established. As a result, large expanses of pavement and little to no corrective measures to relieve stormwater pollution have taken their toll on the health of local waterways. Add to that decades of commercial use and a lack of new investment in the local economy and it's no surprise local creeks have little environmental or aesthetic appeal for residents.

The project's proposed efforts will help reduce street and ditch flooding that is currently a neighborhood nuisance and restore local creeks to the welcoming havens they should be. CBF and its partners hope that as residents become more familiar and involved with stormwater management solutions—such as rain barrels, rain gardens, riparian buffers, and permeable paving—the community will continue to pursue more such "green infrastructure" practices. 

As part of the project, CBF will:

  • Host CBF's Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS) adult education class. During classes held weekly for eight weeks, participants are provided with a thorough understanding of water quality issues. VoiCeS graduates must complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service on a water quality-related project within the subsequent year of the classroom activities. VoiCeS graduates become local spokespeople for water quality improvements, habitat restoration efforts, environmental education initiatives, and other community-based projects. Register for the Broad Rock VoiCeS class.
  • Assist at least five institutions/businesses/homeowners with installing solutions that will reduce stormwater runoff and, ultimately, their stormwater utility fees.
  • Plant a buffer around the stormwater retention pond at Oak Grove Bellemeade Elementary School.
  • Install 'scoop-the-poop' stations, reducing the amount of bacteria entering local waterways.
  • Install one large-scale stormwater solution. Possible projects include installing bioretention areas, installing retention planters, "disconnecting" downspouts (redirecting downspouts so water can seep into the ground at a safe distance from the building), creating curb "cuts" (ramps from sidewalk to street), and using cisterns to capture rainfall. The location will be selected in accordance with the City of Richmond's Stormwater Master Plan.
  • Host educational and hands-on activities to engage members of the Broad Rock community. Some examples are:
    • neighborhood walks for citizens to get outside and experience their watersheds (register for our September Watershed Walk);
    • stream and street cleanups;
    • invasive species removal events to prevent debris and invasives from clogging local waterways and stormwater outfalls;
    • installation of stormwater medallions to be placed at sewer outlets to remind residents that stormwater and debris go untreated into their sewers, causing clogs, flooding, and poor water quality.
  • Invite local decision-makers aboard one of CBF's educational vessels and on a "stormwater" walk through the local community to learn more about the issues and see how green infrastructure can be implemented cost-effectively.
  • Host a school group aboard one of our educational vessels so students can learn more about what they can do to restore their urban watersheds.
  • Offer four scholarships for community members to attend leadership training through Non-Profit Learning Point, where they will learn how to effectively work with local government bodies to address water quality issues. CBF will encourage these leaders to be a part of a Broad Rock neighborhood coalition group tasked with sustaining water quality improvement efforts within the watershed for years to come.

For more information about how you can get involved with any of these activities, contact Blair Blanchette at bblanchette@cbf.org or 804-780-1392 x3150.

Panel at the 2013 Living Waters Interfaith Summit. Photo by CBF StaffPanel discussion at CBF's 2013 Living Waters Interfaith Summit. Photo by CBF Staff

Blessing the Waters, Restoring the Waters

Some 150 people from across Virginia gathered in Richmond on November 19, 2013 to ponder whether people of religious faith, science, and conservation can find common ground and save the Chesapeake Bay. Judging from comments of participants after this all-day "Living Waters"” summit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the answer was a profound "Yes!"

Planting trees as part of South Allison Hill neighborhood revitalization. Photo by Andrew Bliss/CBF StaffPlanting trees as part of South Allison Hill neighborhood revitalization. Photo by Andrew Bliss/CBF Staff

Going Green in the Capital

With a gloried history, grand architecture,and a beautiful view of downtown, the South Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg was once a thriving community. Today, however,the community struggles with poverty and has the highest crime rates in the city.

CBF is now working with the Community Action Commission, founded in 1966 to help Pennsylvanians achieve self-sufficiency, and a team of organizations to revitalize the neighborhood—starting by planting trees.

Research has shown that in addition to the many environmental benefits that trees provide, they also have societal benefits like raising property values, and reducing rates of domestic abuse, stress, and even Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children.

Although starting small, this project demonstrates the myriad of benefits of urban trees and builds partnerships that will help reduce pollution and revitalize communities in the city of Harrisburg.

Marsh at Pleasure House Point. Photo courtesy Jamie Betts/Trust for Public LandMarsh at Pleasure House Point. Photo courtesy Jamie Betts/Trust for Public Land

Saving Pleasure House Point

For years, the Virginia Beach community, environmental groups, and others fought an intense 1,100-home development called Indigo Dunes slated for Pleasure House Point.

Through a collaborative effort among the community, government and corporate officials, CBF, City of Virginia Beach, and the Trust for Public Land, 118 acres of beautiful marsh, beach, and maritime forest were acquired in July 2013. The Trust for Public Land purchased the property for $13 million. The City of Virginia Beach acquired 108 acres from the Trust for Public Land, and CBF will purchase 10 acres.

On less than an acre of that parcel, CBF is creating an environmental education/community center—the Brock Environmental Center—that will serve to engage, inform, and inspire the Hampton Roads community to solve the challenges facing the Bay in innovative, sustainable, and collaborative ways.

CBF and partners work with farmers to install conservation projects, like this cattle crossing, throughout the region. Photo by Matt Kofroth.Through the Buffer Bonus program, CBF and partners work with farmers to install conservation projects, like this cattle crossing. Photo by Matt Kofroth.

Buffer Bonus Program Helps Farmers Improve Local Water Quality—and Their Bottom Line

CBF and partners work with farmers and landowners throughout the region to implement conservation projects that will improve water quality and enhance farm profitability. Much of the work focuses on farm best management practices (BMPs). Currently available in a limited number of Pennsylvania counties, CBF's Buffer Bonus program encourages farmers to couple the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) forest buffers with these kinds of on-farm improvements. For each acre of forest buffer planted, CBF offers participating farmers a "best management practice voucher" to fund conservation work.

Improvements that qualify under the Buffer Bonus program include rotational grazing practices, streambank fencing, alternative watering systems, and laneways. Other options include the installation of waste transfer lines for milk-house waste and silage leachate, stabilization of access roads, and the installation of roof gutters, to name a few.

Another goal of this program is to provide, at no cost to the farmer, a new or updated Conservation and Nutrient Management Plan. By combining this plan with an engineer's evaluation of the farm (also provided) the plans are then considered a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan or a CNMP. Having a CNMP gives farmers the opportunity to apply for federal funding to assist with larger on-farm improvements such as manure storage facilities and concrete barnyards.

Buffer Bonus Results

In Bradford County, 36 farmers have already participated in the program. In just two years, through the Buffer Bonus program, $1.6 million has been invested in best management practices that have resulted in nearly 200 completed projects. These projects also brought those farms into full compliance with state required conservation and manure management plans.

In Lancaster County, Amish and Mennonite farmers are also reducing pollution by installing conservation projects and planting streamside forested buffers. In just two years another $1.6 million investment has resulted in nearly 300 completed projects, bringing 41 farms into full compliance with state required conservation and manure management plans.

"These conservation improvements are a win-win for both the farmer and local water quality," said Jennifer Johns, CBF Buffer Specialist in Bradford County. "While each project ultimately produces different results, we find that creating healthier living conditions for the livestock through the installation of conservation practices improves herd health and the farmer's bottom line."

Volunteers turn out for Clean the Bay Day. Photo by Kevin DuBoisVolunteers turn out for Clean the Bay Day. Photo by Kevin DuBois

Clean the Bay Day

Every year since 1989, thousands of volunteers of all ages have dedicated their time to clear debris from Virginia’s urban, suburban, and rural shorelines and waterways. During the 2011 Clean the Bay Day alone, more than 6,500 volunteers removed more than 200,000 pounds of debris along more than 500 miles of shoreline.

A living shoreline project in Salisbury, Maryland. Photo by CBF Staff.CBF has been supporting restoration efforts on the Eastern Shore for years. Above, volunteers plant trees as part of a farm conservation program at Harleigh Farm. Photo by Margaret Enloe/CBF Staff.

Engaging Eastern Shore Communities to Save the Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) educates and motivates Eastern Shore residents to support clean water efforts through a range of community events. From ice cream socials to public forums to planting trees in downtown Cambridge, CBF recognizes that in order to be successful, Bay restoration must start at the community level.

Last November, CBF and partner organizations initiated “Clean Water Week”—a week-long celebration of bringing back the health of local rivers and streams complete with music, film, art, and educational talks and clean water tips. The event drew and inspired hundreds of engaged citizens concerned about the health of our waters.

A few weeks prior, CBF participated in Fresh Coat Pine Street, a community building event intended to cultivate citizen interest and participation in stewardship by organizing volunteers to provide maintenance and repairs at downtown residence and business locations throughout Cambridge, Maryland.

Just recently, CBF participated in Plein Air-Easton! Competition and Arts Festival to reconnect with individuals about the importance of clean water, what we’re doing to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams, and how others can help.

Further, CBF continues to cultivate a strong group of clean water advocates to stand up for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Earlier this year, we convened 13 conservation partners to initiate a citizen activist training called Clear Voices—Clean Water Call to Action, which offered an overview of why now is the moment in time for Bay restoration. More than 60 citizens participated from across the Eastern Shore.

CBF continues to organize citizens to communicate clean water messages to Congressman Andrew Harris. Harris has suggested that federal action to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is an impediment to local efforts by communities, counties and states to restore clean water for our children, families, and the next generation. However, many scientists agree that the Blueprint is the Bay's best hope for recovery after decades of failure and inaction. Residents of the area—where the Bay is so close to the places people live, work, and play—routinely tell us how important clean water is to their livelihoods.  CBF's efforts to highlight how out-of-synch Harri' views are with those of the many who live and work on the Shore in his district is a main focus of CBF's growing presence.

Speakers Bureau

What are the issues affecting the Bay and its rivers and streams? How can citizens make a difference?

In presentations to civic, service, and social organizations across the region, volunteers from CBF's Speakers Bureau provide the answers. Their training includes briefings on the state of the Bay's health, the latest legislative issues, and the science-based strategies that are needed to save the Bay.

If you're interested in joining CBF's Speakers Bureau sign up and our volunteer manager will get back to you.  

Want a CBF Speaker to visit your group? Click here to book a Speaker.

Volunteers As Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS)

CBF created the VoiCeS program in 2004 as a way to reach out to local volunteers and their communities and create a deeper understanding of the Bay and the efforts to restore it. This professionally-taught, two-part program, meet weekly for eight weeks and includes field trips and participant-led community projects. Participants learn about the Bay's biology, its problems and issues, and how volunteers and their communities can help Bay restoration.

Programs are periodically available in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia (Richmond and Charlottesville), and Virginia's Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore.

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