Posts Tagged 'baltimore city'



Reviving wilderness in Baltimore Harbor

The National Aquarium’s Conservation Team has been busy in Baltimore City this fall! The last week in September, we planted 2,100 shrubs at the site of a new wetland along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in Baltimore Harbor. This was the first planting in the creation of the Masonville Cove wetland, which began with the saltbush community. Three different species of salt-tolerant shrubs were planted: hightide bush, groundsel tree, and wax myrtle.

Volunteers planting at Masonville Cove

Volunteers hard at work

We couldn’t have planted all those shrubs without the help of our fantastic volunteers! A total of nearly 90 students from Curtis Bay Elementary and Middle School, Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School, and Benjamin Franklin High School assisted us throughout the week.

Community volunteers also showed up in force, as well—close to 50 people turned out! We even had a group of kayakers with the Canton Kayak Club brave the blustery, winter-like conditions we had one day and paddle out to the wetland.

This project is a part of the revitalization that is taking place in the Masonville Cove area as a result of Maryland Port Administration’s (MPA) new Dredge Material Containment Facility at the Masonville Marine Terminal. It will hold material dredged from the shipping channels of Baltimore Harbor.

In addition to the creation of the wetland, a bird sanctuary, hiking trails, and a fishing pier will be built as a part of the mitigation efforts by MPA. Also, the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center was constructed to serve local students and connect them with their natural environment.

The wetland restoration at Masonville Cove is important for wildlife because it provides habitat, which is very rare in an urban area. At the nearby Fort McHenry wetland, more than 200 bird species have been counted.

Shrubs planted at Masonville Cove

After the shrubs were planted

Restoring the harbor’s surrounding land, like Masonville Cove, back to a natural state will increase the amount of habitat for not only the birds, but also the terrestrial and aquatic life found along the Patapsco River.

With the help of community members and students, we will continue to restore this area to a thriving wetland ecosystem. Work at this site will continue with a wetland grass planting in the springtime, so we hope to see you there!

Sign up to receive the quarterly Conservation News e-mail to be alerted to upcoming conservation events and volunteer opportunities.

Volunteers clean up Fort McHenry Wetland

Together, what can 83 volunteers accomplish on a Saturday morning?

In just four hours on Saturday, September 24, these volunteers, along with the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), removed 23,839 pieces of debris from the Fort McHenry Wetland in support of National Public Lands Day and the International Coastal Cleanup.

“Before I went through this experience, I never knew there was so much trash out there,” was one volunteer’s response to the overwhelming sight of the Patapsco River shoreline.

Fort McHenry Before Cleanup

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a well-visited piece of history for both Baltimore residents and out-of-town visitors. The Fort McHenry Wetland, located adjacent to the Fort, can be seen from the popular walking path. As one of the very few living shorelines in Baltimore City, the 8-acre Fort McHenry Wetland is well functioning, doing exactly what it’s meant to do: remove excess nutrients from the water; provide habitat for local wildlife; and filter the marine debris that is carried in from the tide. Since 1998, ACT! has hosted multiple community-supported debris cleanups here.

Fort McHenry After Cleanup

Volunteers have dedicated 250 hours to remove the urban debris (aka trash) and maintain the butterfly and rain gardens located on the site. Partners for this event included the Steinweg Baltimore, Maryland Port Administration, REI, Royal Bank of Canada, Constellation Energy, Maryland Environmental Trust, Toyota, and the National Park Service. To participate in a future Fort McHenry Field Day or another ACT! event, sign up to receive the Aquarium’s Conservation e-newsletter, and we’ll let you know about upcoming conservation events.

Spring cleaning with the Conservation Team

The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT) took “spring cleaning” to a whole new level, taking part in two large-scale debris cleanups in April.

The first was part of a joint effort between the Curtis Bay and Brooklyn Coalition, Port of Baltimore, Living Classrooms Foundation, Maryland Conservation Corps, ACT, and Baltimore City to revitalize Farring-Baybrook Park, in south Baltimore.

The cleanup started with a day of work with the Maryland Conservation Corps to clear invasive vines and downed trees from along the main walking path in the park, which follows a small stream.
Baybrook Cleanup

As part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Project Clean Stream efforts on April 2, 75 volunteers collected 150 garbage bags full of debris and hoisted various objects like couches, mattresses, and bicycles out of the streambed.

In total, the hard work resulted in 6 tons of debris and plant materials removed from Farring-Baybrook Park! Our contribution was a valuable addition to the 4,900 volunteers and 150 tons of trash collected at 217 Project Clean Stream sites on April 2.

Fort McHenry Field Day

On April 16, as part of National Volunteer Week, 105 dedicated volunteers braved the wind and rain to help us collect debris at a Field Day at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Despite a thorough drenching, volunteers picked up enough plastic bottles, polystyrene foam products, aluminum cans, and driftwood to fill a huge dumpster, adding to the overall Project Clean Stream impact.

Special thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bank of America, Constellation Energy, and Solo Cup Company, whose groups could not be deterred by the weather and came out to the event in force!

Our next Fort McHenry Field Day will be held on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24. We hope you’ll join us!

Conservation Site Update: Westport Waterfront

In May and June of 2010, the Aquarium took part in the restoration of a living shoreline at Westport Waterfront, a mixed-use development in Baltimore City that is currently under construction. The project aims to revitalize the Westport neighborhood with an environmentally conscious way of life and LEED-certified buildings for residential, commercial and retail use. Constructing a healthy marsh as a living shoreline is just the beginning.

More than 170 Baltimore-area students assisted the Aquarium in planting 18,000 marsh grasses along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. Many of these students were part of our Wetland Nursery Program, so they actually helped grow the grasses in their schoolyards throughout the year before coming out to plant them in the marsh. Westport Waterfront community is reclaiming a previously industrial area adjacent to the river, and many building practices will be in place that should make a positive impact on aquatic habitat. As you can see from the before and after photos, the marsh is already thriving after just one growing season!

Westport Waterfront, before

Westport Waterfront, before...

Westport waterfront, after

...and, after!

Support the National Aquarium on Election Day!

Dear Citizens of Baltimore,

Support the city in preserving and improving a Baltimore icon by voting YES on Question H.

Wings in the Water Exhibit

On this year’s election ballot, a number of bond issues will appear before City voters.

One of those is Question H, which would authorize a $1 million grant to the National Aquarium to restore its original central atrium and the 265,000-gallon open water exhibit that is home to stingrays, sharks and an endangered green sea turtle named Calypso.

Originally built in 1981, the concrete structures in and around the Wings in the Water exhibit are corroding from 30 years of contact with salt water and the wear and tear of 1.4 million visitors every year. These funds will be put toward the $6 million total cost to reinforce the concrete in and under the exhibit and improve the exhibit lighting for the animals and our visitors.

Improving the National Aquarium will ensure that we can be a centerpiece of Baltimore pride for years to come. Help us to preserve and improve this Baltimore icon by voting YES on Question H!


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