A busy season for field work!

Thanks to the generous help of 642 volunteers and students, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) was able to make a positive impact throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the spring and summer of 2011! Three large-scale wetland restoration events took us from Southern Maryland to the Eastern Shore, and each site offered unique surroundings and experiences.

In early May, we revisited Dominion Cove Point LNG to plant the low marsh area of a shoreline recently built with the beneficial use of dredged material. Super-high tides and deep mud couldn’t keep our dedicated volunteers away, as they worked to plant more than 42,000 grasses!

This project in Lusby, MD, was designed to reinforce the Bay shoreline and protect a nearby freshwater wetland – a delicate, rare habitat that was threatened by storm surge and salt-water intrusion.

Our next event took the Conservation Team to the shores of the Potomac River at Naval Support Facility Indian Head. The base is threatened by heavy erosion and the Navy is in the process of rebuilding and reinforcing the entire shoreline. The National Aquarium is helping to lend a hand…or hundreds!

Volunteers helped us plant a 5.7-acre section of shoreline with 700 native riparian trees and 13,689 wetland grasses. Even the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy stopped by to plant a few trees!

Last, but certainly not least, ACT! traveled to Maryland’s Eastern Shore to take part in the ongoing restoration of Poplar Island. This Chesapeake Bay island was once the site of several homes and hunting lodges, but over many decades it eroded away –
from more than 1,000 acres to fewer than 10.

The Maryland Port Administration saw the opportunity to rebuild this valuable habitat area. With the collaboration of many hard-working partners and the use of dredged material, it is nearly restored to its original 1,400-acre footprint. The National Aquarium has taken part in volunteer planting events on Poplar Island since 2005, and this past June we worked with community members and student groups to plant 35,000 high marsh grasses. Students also toured the island and released year-old diamondback terrapins as part of their Terrapins in the Classroom project!

We’d like to thank all of our volunteers for a busy and successful spring and look forward to our upcoming fall events! Please contact conserve@aqua.org if you are interested in volunteering with the Aquarium Conservation Team.

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