Search Results for 'Nassawango'



Students raise Atlantic white cedar tree saplings

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.

Volunteer Spotlight: Laura Cattell

We are pleased to welcome Laura Cattell to the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!). As the second Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer to be placed with the National Aquarium, Laura will help plan and lead community and student volunteer watershed restoration projects.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is a career apprenticeship program funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Young adult volunteers are placed with environmental nonprofits for one-year terms of service. Through regular training and hands-on leadership opportunities, volunteers gain valuable experience and knowledge.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Laura traveled to Virginia to study environmental science in college. After graduating in 2009, she worked for two years with the Maryland Park Service’s Conservation Corps. In this capacity, she assisted at ACT! events at Indian Head Naval Support Facility, Nassawango Creek Preserve, Fort McHenry National Monument, Dominion Cove Point LNG, Poplar Island, and Farring-Baybrook Park.

Laura

Laura found a caddisfly on a leaf

In her first two months, Laura has helped construct a new wetland nursery pond, designed a butterfly garden, monitored recent restoration sites, and assisted at several community wetland restoration events. She says her favorite projects are the hands-on outdoor activities, but it’s also been interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes components of large conservation events.

Laura is pleased to join the Aquarium’s conservation efforts and eager to learn more about watershed restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay!

Saving a special tree

When you think about the conservation efforts of the National Aquarium, the first thing that probably comes to mind is our work with endangered animals, particularly marine mammals and sea turtles. You may not realize that our conservation team also spends a lot of time restoring coastal habitats, and is even saving trees that are in danger of becoming endangered.

There is one particular species of tree that seems to be getting special attention these days, for good reason. The Atlantic white cedar trees are considered rare in Maryland, and conservation efforts are underway to restore this species and the valuable freshwater wetland habitat it creates.

Why are these evergreen trees rare? There are few species of trees that have been used to make everything from barrels, to water pipes, to railroad ties, and even gunpowder; historically, Atlantic white cedars were used for all this and more! Even pirates utilized Atlantic white cedar forests of New Jersey as a hiding place in the 1700s. Needless to say, a tree that produced strong, waterproof lumber was in high demand, and Atlantic white cedars were harvested heavily throughout their natural range along the East Coast, from Maine to Florida. Heavy cutting for these commercial uses has continued during this century.

Our conservation team saw the opportunity to help this cause and educate students along the way by adding Atlantic white cedar plantings to the Wetland Nursery Program. 

Continue reading ‘Saving a special tree’

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