Save the Bay Newsletter: Living Shorelines, Urban Farms, and People-Centered Conservation

Placing oyster castles CBFStaff 1171x593

Volunteers place oyster castles that will form part of a new oyster reef at a living shoreline project in Portsmouth, Virginia.

CBF Staff

This month, we discuss what it means to center people in conservation. When we do it successfully, it not only moves watershed restoration forward, but also builds community.

“A polluted, degraded environment—or a healthy one—impacts more than plants and animals,” writes Carmera Thomas-Wilhite. “It also shapes who we are as people and as communities. It can influence how we interact with and care for the world around us.” With more than 18 million people living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, humans are undoubtedly part of the ecosystem—so how do we care for both? This month, Thomas-Wilhite, CBF’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, explains what it means to center people in conservation. When we do, it not only moves watershed restoration forward, but also builds community—as 90 volunteers who installed a living shoreline over 10 weeks in Portsmouth, Virginia found this summer. In Baltimore and Prince George’s County, Maryland, work to support small and urban farmers is also helping to build local food systems that are critical for community and environmental health. Along the Nansemond River, oyster restoration is one pathway the Nansemond Indian Nation is using to rebuild connections to their ancestral waterway. And for nearly two decades, CBF’s VoiCeS program has inspired hundreds of dedicated volunteers across the watershed to act through service projects and local advocacy of all shapes and forms—creating a better place for people and all of the 3,600 species who share the Bay watershed. Also, in the news this month, a settlement was reached to begin remedying pollution at Baltimore’s wastewater treatment plants, restoration is ramping up in Pennsylvania’s Halfmoon and Pequea watersheds, several advocacy opportunities kick up in Virginia ahead of legislative session, and more.

Four people finish planting a tree next to a road.

Volunteers came out to plant trees in Virginia's Oak Grove neighborhood to cool its streets.

Daniel Klein

A Place for People

More than 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from all types of backgrounds. Creating a truly sustainable ecosystem has to include everyone, writes Carmera Thomas-Wilhite, CBF’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. Pollution shapes both human and ecological communities, and conservation needs to take both into account to succeed.

A line of volunteers flanks a newly created living shoreline, arms raised in victory.

A muddy group of volunteers celebrate progress on a living shoreline project in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Sue Mangan

Bringing Shorelines to Life

What happens when dozens of people volunteer together one summer to restore a tidal shoreline? They not only help save the Bay—they end up creating community. That’s what happened in Portsmouth, Virginia this summer as 90 volunteers installed a 718-foot living shoreline  over the course of 10 weeks, building up oyster reefs and marshes along the waterfront.   

A crowd of people poses for the camera on a field next to a farm tractor.

Farmers gathered with staff from CBF, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service at CBF's Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland for a cover crop workshop. Isabella Bruno, CBF's Maryland Agriculture Equity Project Coordinator, hosts such workshops as part of her outreach work to farmers who have long been underserved by federal and state agricultural programs, which include small, urban, beginning, military veteran, and BIPOC (Black,Indigenous, and people of color) farmers.

Isabella Bruno/CBF Staff

Farming in the City

Small and urban farms have an outsized impact on their communities and are a critical part of building local food systems that support people and the health of waterways. Isabella Bruno, CBF’s Agriculture Equity Project Coordinator in Maryland, is working to directly reach farmers who have long been overlooked by federal conservation programs in an effort to expand access.

A group of people sit and stand in the stern of a CBF education vessel.

Participants in CBF's Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS) program learn about the Bay and how to play a personal role in restoration and advocacy.

Sue Mangan

The Bay’s Voice

For nearly two decades, CBF’s VoiCeS program has inspired hundreds of dedicated volunteers to serve their community and the Bay. As we near the program’s 20th anniversary, alumni share their experiences, projects, and how the courses have inspired them to take action in myriad ways—from creating fashion out of plastic to telling the Bay’s story through photographs.

Nikki Bass, Nansemond Tribal Council Member, in traditional dress.

VIDEO: Oyster Connections

After centuries of displacement, the Nansemond Indian Nation is rebuilding connections to their ancestral waterway in southeastern Virginia, in part through oyster restoration. Hear about their work to raise oysters and bring the river back to life in this video.

In the News

What You Can Do

  • Striped bass, one of the most iconic fish in the Chesapeake Bay, are continuing to face significant challenges. Take action now to help bring them back!
  • From cleaning oyster cages to planting trees, join us in the field to do great things for our watershed. Check out our events calendar.
  • November 15 was GIS Day! Celebrate by exploring our CBF Maps Portal.
  • As the holidays approach, find the perfect gift at the CBF Store! From cozy sweatshirts to mugs just right for hot chocolate, the CBF Store has something for everyone on your list.
  • Giving Tuesday is almost here, and starting NOW, your gift to be a part of this special day will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to CBF’s Board of Trustees. Donate today to show your love for the Bay while your gift is worth twice as much.

Issues in this Post

Community   Restoration  


The views and opinions expressed in the media or articles on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Website, or any link contained in a linked Website, or any changes or updates to such Websites. The inclusion of any link is provided only for information purposes.

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

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