Our policy advocacy is some of the most important work that we do to protect our rivers, but it can be mentally draining at times. The other day, I decided to switch up my schedule and go back to the basics, to a place where I get my energy and determination – the Choptank River. I spent an early morning on the river, arriving at 6 a.m. to volunteer with biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for their fish monitoring program. We pulled up fyke nets, sorted through the variety of fish species we found, and then took blood samples that will be analyzed at the lab. After leaving the crew, and with the smell of fish on my hands, I found myself smiling ear to ear and thinking, “This is what we’re protecting.”
As the weather starts to warm up and your desire to get outside increases, think about how you can be a part of protecting the Choptank River. Read ahead in this month’s newsletter about the many volunteer opportunities we’re offering this spring and come and join me and the other ShoreRivers staff and volunteers on the water, in the fields, along our shorelines, and throughout our communities. Come and be a part of protecting what you love.
-Matt Pluta, Choptank Riverkeeper
In this edition of the Choptank River News:
State of the Choptank
Join me on April 26th at the Robbins Heritage Center in Cambridge for a presentation on the state of the Choptank River. Keynote speaker Jay Lazar, a physical scientist with NOAA will talk about his work monitoring the oyster sanctuaries throughout the Choptank River. Jay will be sharing NEW underwater footage of the Harris Creek oyster sanctuary, which has been termed one of the largest oyster restoration projects in the world. I’ll also be releasing the 2017 grades for the Choptank River and explaining where we’ve seen improvements in water quality and where we need to be focusing more effort and resources so we can fully restore our river from all angles and at all levels.
With field season right around the corner we’re hopeful that our communities will take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities that we have lined up. Contact me at email@example.com for more information or to sign up to volunteer.
- Oyster Plantings – Spring oyster plantings for the Marylanders Grow Oysters program are scheduled for the month of May, and we could use your help! Volunteers are needed to help collect oysters from residential docks, plant oysters on protected sanctuaries, and conduct survivability surveys.
- Maryland Freedom Swim – This inaugural swim across the Choptank River is scheduled for May 20th and ShoreRivers has been chosen as one of the event’s beneficiaries. If swimming isn’t your sport, that’s okay because we have a number of volunteer opportunities. If you enjoy being on the water and have a kayak or power boat, sign up for a water safety position. If you’re more of a land-lover, sign-up to help with registration or the start and finish line coordination. Sign up on the “volunteer” tab here: https://runsignup.com/MarylandFreedomSwim
- Monitor Underwater Grasses – The rebound of underwater grass populations is a visible sign that our rivers are improving. Over the past three years we’ve seen a record number of grass beds come back to the Choptank River, which is good for our crabs, fish, and the overall water clarity. Be a part of this amazing recovery and help us monitor these sensitive grass beds. If you have a kayak, canoe or boat and enjoy being on the water – this program is for you! For more information, contact Rebecca Murphy at 443.385.0511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Spring Trash Cleanups – Project Clean Stream is back and we are coordinating a large number of clean-up sites throughout the watershed over the next few weeks. Join an existing group or start your own clean-up at a location of your choice. https://pg-cloud.com/ACB/
- Ride for Clean Rivers training ride – It’s time to starting training for Ride for Clean Rivers, which takes place September 16! Get out that bike from winter storage and register for the Talbot Special Riders Spring Classic on April 14.
As part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources “Buffer in a Bag” program, free trees are available to residents who live along a drainage ditch, stream, creek or river. The goal is to improve tree coverage where we need it most – at the intersection where our land meets our water! http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2017/02/10/backyard-buffers-offer-trees-to-improve-marylands-waters/