April 2018 Miles and Wye Rivers Newsletter


April brings some exciting activities and events that I have been looking forward to sharing with you! Not only have our oyster drop-off dates been set, but I will also be diving on the Miles Oyster Sanctuary Reef for my first time this month. My camera and flippers are ready to go! Equally exciting, April means the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the St. Michael’s Maritime Museum, the official kick off to the boating season. Another first for me- I’ll be there to cheer on the blessing of our Pumpout Boat, which is getting ready for its third season on the Wye and Miles Rivers. Our boats are being Spring commissioned as I type and I’m almost spinning in my chair with excitement to get back out on the rivers. See you on the water!

Elle Bassett
Miles-Wye Riverkeeper

In this edition of Miles-Wye River News:

-Elle Bassett, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper


Oyster Drop Off Dates Announced

After an icy winter, I’m eager to see the survival rates of our oyster spat in our Marylander’s Grow Oysters Program. This free program, created by the Department of Natural Resources, has been extremely successful in Midshore rivers. ShoreRivers has been coordinating for the Miles and Wye Rivers since 2008. Last year, we planted over 50,000 oysters on local sanctuaries in these rivers, directly contributing to increased oyster populations, reef habitat, and improved water quality. ShoreRivers will be diving on the Miles River Oyster Reef this month to take a closer look at the success of the reef! Be sure to follow my social media accounts to see photos from the dive - @mileswyeriverkeeper

Miles Oyster Drop Off
Saturday, May 12
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Drop Off from 9:30 - 11:00

Wye Oyster Drop-Off
Saturday, May 19
Bennett Point Landing
Drop Off from 11:00 - 12:30

If you would like to learn more or sign up for our FREE Marylander’s Grow Oyster Program, please contact me at ebassett@shorerivers.org.

Blessing of the Pumpout Boat


Our rivers will soon be populated with recreational boaters as our weather warms up. This means that our pumpout boat is getting ready to go back in the water this month! Last season, the pumpout boat pumped almost 12,000 gallons of waste last season. We are aiming to pump over 15,000 gallons this year! Surprising to many, it is legal to discharge marine sewage overboard, with very limited treatment. Marine sanitation devices do nothing to remove polluting nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, from the waste. The pumpout boat is a free service offered to Miles and Wye River boaters. Thank you to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for donating free dockage and storage of the boat. Join us for the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Museum on April 12th to wish the pumpout boat a successful season! Pump, don’t dump!

Pumpout Boat Hours:
End on October 21st, 2018

Saturday’s 10am-4pm
Sunday’s 8:30am-2:30pm

Pumpout Boat Service: 410-829-4352 or VHF Channel 9


First Ever State of the Rivers in Grasonville

I’m happy to announce the first ShoreRivers State of the Rivers event in Grasonville at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center on May 16th at 5:30pm. I will be joined by Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer. What determines the health of our rivers throughout the year and how do we measure it? Join us for an evening of friends, drinks, and presentations providing insights into our local waterways. Take a deeper look at the water quality of the Wye and Chester Rivers and Eastern Bay. Our 2017 report card shows some interesting results compared to previous years and trends. I’m looking forward to sharing the results with you! See you there!

For more information on this event, please contact Eleanor Nelson at enelson@shorerivers.org.


February 2018 Miles and Wye Rivers Newsletter


Is it boating season yet?! As the ice thaws, I grow more anxious to get out on the river. The calendar is slowly starting to fill with water quality monitoring schedules, paddle dates, clean ups, and warm weather events. We’re so close! Until then, however, I will continue with my “boots on the ground” work, rotating through the many hats I wear. During these chilly months, I am most often checking in on muddy construction sites, supporting environmental efforts in Annapolis, or teaching local students about stewardship practices and projects. Even though our activity on the bay is slower in these winter months, our actions still impact our local rivers!

-Elle Bassett, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper

In this edition of the Miles and Wye River News:

(Image courtesy of Tyler Campbell)

(Image courtesy of Tyler Campbell)

Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Clam Dredging

ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman recently submitted a letter to the editor highlighting the destructive practice of hydraulic clam dredging. Soft shell and razor clams currently have no Maryland Department of Natural Resources Management Plan, and are being harvested with loose restrictions in our local rivers. In addition to the huge sediment plumes these machines produce, hydraulic clam dredges decimate underwater grasses and threaten our oyster populations. Soft shell clams filter just as much water as oysters, but represent a miniscule percentage of our seafood industry and continue to be harvested without a management plan. ShoreRivers has been invited to present these facts and figures to the Talbot County Council on the evening of February 27. Join us and show your support in our fight to reevaluate this destructive practice for the sake of our rivers.


Queen Anne's County High School Students Kick Off Action Project Season

ShoreRivers educators have been working with Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Dorchester County public schools in a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience program this school year. Students from Queen Anne’s County kicked off our action project season this past month, creating native seed balls, oyster cages, and wood duck boxes during class. These students have been collecting local water quality and land-use data since the beginning of the school year. After analyzing data and researching potential causes of the results, students proposed stewardship projects to improve water quality conditions. The momentum continued in Dorchester County Public Schools as North Dorchester built 100 oyster cages in late January. Students will implement action projects throughout the spring season, ending the program with a celebratory field trip to Horn Point Lab.


Wye Sub Watershed Study

The Wye Sub Watershed Study began in August 2015 to take a closer look at the nutrients and discharge flow in non-tidal portions of the Wye River. The study takes place at six sites ranging from Skipton Creek in Talbot County to Sallie Harris Creek in Queen Anne’s County. Over the past two years, ShoreRivers staff and Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteers have collected water discharge data and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) samples on a monthly to bi-monthly basis to gain a better understanding of the tributaries that flow into the Wye River. Specifically, by recording this data in upstream portions of the river over a multi-year span, we will be better able to identify where the highest concentrations of nutrient pollution may be found and thereafter determine the best solutions to improve the water quality at these sources. We look forward to continuing the study at these six sites in 2018 through further fieldwork and data analysis to provide more information for the health of the Wye River.


January 2018 Miles and Wye Rivers Newsletter


I am thrilled to announce my new position as your Miles-Wye Riverkeeper! Previously, as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, I spent the majority of the past five years educating local youth on the beauty and importance of our local rivers. I will continue to educate and inspire future environmental stewards among our local students. I will also take on the role of providing a voice for the Miles and Wye Rivers and Eastern Bay—waterways that are very near and dear to my heart. I will actively patrol, monitor, and advocate for these rivers, and I look forward to working with the community toward the common goal of healthy rivers! Learn more about my past experiences and future role below, as well as exciting news for the Miles-Wye watershed.

-Elle Bassett, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper

In this edition of the Miles and Wye River News:

Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Announcement

Elle the Riverkeeper.compressed.jpg

ShoreRivers (formerly Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy) is pleased to announce that Elle Bassett is the new Miles-Wye Riverkeeper. As Riverkeeper, Bassett will act as the primary spokesperson for the Miles and Wye Rivers and Eastern Bay, advocating for their protection and restoration. She will strive to increase environmental awareness through education, outreach, advocacy and restoration; emphasizing the essential role these rivers play in the community, the issues that threaten their health and vitality, and the solutions that must be implemented to protect and preserve them. She will work at every level to restore and protect these waterways and to advance clean water policy. Basset will provide on-the-water vigilance and will regularly patrol these rivers, ready to combat illegal pollution and serve as a guardian for these living resources.

A Chesapeake Bay native, Bassett grew up as a “river rat,” and remains dedicated to and passionate about clean water. Although new to the Riverkeeper position, she has been with MRC since 2012 as the Education and Outreach Coordinator, introducing local youth to the outdoors through hands-on experiences. She previously worked on oyster restoration programs, water quality monitoring, and environmental education programming and restoration.

Bassett graduated from Washington College with a degree in environmental studies and a focus on Chesapeake Bay Regional Studies. She recently achieved a master’s degree in environmental education.

ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman, who was also the previous Miles-Wye Riverkeeper, commented, “The Miles and Wye Rivers could not have a better environmental advocate than Elle Bassett. She is a student of the Chesapeake Bay with strong academic and professional backgrounds in environmental outreach. I have worked with Elle on the Miles and Wye for the last three years. She is passionate and tireless. The residents of these watersheds are lucky to have her as Riverkeeper.” 


ShoreRivers Continues to Implement 19 Projects at Chesapeake College

ShoreRivers has been leading a comprehensive initiative, in collaboration with Chesapeake College and various funding partners, to address major stormwater challenges on the campus. A suite of 19 projects will materially improve water quality in the nearby Wye River. The projects completed in 2017 include a wetland restoration and meadow planting, nine bioretention facilities that filter stormwater, and stream restoration that will reduce erosion and treat pollutants coming off hard surfaces and the agriculture fields surrounding the campus. Other projects that will be wrapped up in 2018 are an additional bioretention project, conversion of almost ten acres of turf to wildflower meadow at three sites, the planting of almost four acres of switchgrass buffers around agricultural fields, and the installation of interpretive signage around the campus to explain to visitors the nature and purpose of the various projects. Finally, the ShoreRivers initiative will include the development of a training program and manual for use by faculty and students to conduct ongoing monitoring at the stream restoration site.