The Aquarium’s Conservation Department recently traveled to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to deliver Atlantic white cedar saplings to students at Stephen Decatur Middle School and Berlin Intermediate School.
Once common in freshwater wetlands along the East Coast, Atlantic white cedars are now rare. Lumber from Atlantic white cedars is highly valued because it has water-resistant properties and is therefore ideal for use in boats, furniture, and houses. Historically, it was also used to make barrels, buckets, shingles, and railroad ties. Overharvesting of this valuable natural resource has decimated Atlantic white cedar populations, and it is now on Maryland DNR’s Watch List.
After learning about the history of Atlantic white cedars and the need to restore them, students transplanted 270 saplings into larger pots. All year the students will care for the juvenile trees in a wet frame pond at their school. Teachers from the school will help students regularly monitor the trees’ progress and learn more about freshwater wetlands. In the spring, the students will join the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT) at Nassawango Creek Preserve to plant their trees.
Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the preserve encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is home to cypress swamps and upland forests. The planting will take place in a 20-acre plot that once served as part of a Loblolly Pine plantation. It was cleared several years ago to make room for native freshwater wetland species and has been the site of four previous ACT planting events.
This project would not be possible without the support of our partners: The Nature Conservancy, Perdue Foundation, Maryland Coastal Bays, Maryland Conservation Corps, and the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. We look forward to continuing this project and fostering a sense of environmental stewardship in students by providing them with a unique hands-on experience that helps the Chesapeake Bay.