In this edition of the Miles and Wye River news, I provide an update on the practice of clamming in our rivers, a behind the scenes look at the opinions about underwater grasses from recreational boaters, and a highlight of a student-led action project in the Miles River watershed. Be sure to follow my social media pages for more exciting news in the watershed! @mileswyeriverkeeper
-Elle Bassett, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper
In this edition of the Miles and Wye River News:
Update on Clamming in our Rivers
In the previous Miles-Wye e-newsletter, I discussed the damaging practices of the hydraulic escalator dredge and the need for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Chesapeake Bay Management Plan for soft shell and razor clams in Maryland. We were invited by the Talbot County Council to present our research on the topic. However, after having a successful discussion with DNR and Councilman Dirck Bartlett, we have achieved our goal of DNR agreeing to organize a stakeholder meeting without presenting to the council. We’re looking forward to more discussions on the topic and I will keep you posted on the issue in our e-newsletters! (Image courtesy of Tyler Campbell)
SAV Behavior Change Study
ShoreRivers has been working to design a behavior change campaign in partnership with the Ocean Foundation that focuses on improving the relationship between boaters and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Chesapeake Bay. A key component of creating a campaign to change boaters’ behaviors has been the research of a target audience and their associated actions and attitudes towards SAV. Specifically, this included an online survey to determine several factors of this relationship, such as how and when boaters react to SAV, as well as the characteristics and phrases that they commonly associate with the underwater grasses.
Initial results of this survey have helped to provide clearer indications of why boaters sometimes run through and damage SAV and how this behavior might be addressed through an outreach campaign. For instance, the survey provided key evidence that boaters who regularly ran aground in SAV associated negative attitudes toward SAV in general. Specifically, boats that ran through SAV were most often used for recreational purposes and were aware of the underwater grasses while moving through shallow waters to dock their boats into slips and onto natural shorelines.
This data also provided the insight that there was no true correlation between knowledge and behavior; most survey respondents knew that SAV is a key component for improving water quality and providing habitat, but continued to run through it anyway. With this information, the future educational campaign will focus on improving the mindset of boaters, creating outreach to enforce the positive outcomes of avoiding SAV. This behavior change project will continue to analyze these results and develop campaign materials into the spring.
St. Michael's Middle High School Project
As part of ShoreRivers’ environmental education program, Students for Streams, students identify areas of concern on their campus and potential solutions to those concerns- very similar to what we do as Riverkeepers! Students from St. Michael’s Middle High School discovered an eroding storm drain on their campus that directly drains to the Miles River. Students noted that it could negatively impact the river’s turbidity. Bill Wolinski and Terry Martin from Talbot County Public Works visited the students’ classroom and drain site to review students’ project proposals and ideas. Together, the county, high school, and ShoreRivers will implement a native planting and stabilize the erosion to solve the problem. A high five to the students of St. Michael’s! Now let’s get our hands dirty!