Posts Tagged 'conservation event'

Thoughtful Thursday: More than 4,000 ft of restored shoreline at Indian Head

The Aquarium Conservation Team spent most of June at Naval Support Facility Indian Head and Stump Neck Annex (Indian Head, MD). Over a period of 11 days, volunteers planted 45,897 native wetland grasses along the Potomac River, restoring more than 4,000 feet of shoreline!

Spring and early summer are ideal times for planting wetland grasses in the mid-Atlantic region, so Aquarium staff and partners worked through record-high temperatures to complete the job! Volunteers from the Maryland Conservation Corps, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Appalachian Mountain Club, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, and the community hand-planted nine different species of grass.

Our volunteers aren’t afraid to get dirty

The National Aquarium has partnered with NSF Indian Head since 2008, restoring sections of shoreline each year. During this spring’s event, Aquarium staff monitored older wetland areas, and found them in full bloom and thriving.

After the planting is complete; look at all those grasses!

Want to join us? The Aquarium Conservation Team will return in the fall of 2012 to complete Phase Two of the shoreline restoration by planting the upland portion with trees and shrubs. We need your help! Dates for the fall planting will be announced in August. Be sure to check here for registration details.

Volunteer Spotlight: Q&A With Cris and Bill Fuller

Learn a little about a couple from Virginia Beach who volunteers with us restoring sand dunes at NAS Dam Neck Annex time and time again!

How long have you been volunteering with the National Aquarium?

Three years ago we saw an article in our local newspaper about your need for volunteers. Our thoughts were “Gee, a day on the beach…doing something worthwhile…what could be better?!”

Why do you continue to help?

It’s obvious our shorelines need help. We like that it’s a short-term commitment. We know we’ll be there volunteering for the two days of the event (yes, we do BOTH days), and then we’re free to go do something else.

At the end of the day, although we’re tired, we have such a good feeling, a sense of accomplishment, a connection to the Earth and its beauty.

Bill at the May 2012 planting

What is your most memorable experience from an event?

We have so many great memories…

Lots of men working to get the truck un-stuck in the soft sand, pelicans flying in formation just 20 feet over our heads, gentle rain cooling us off, sighting dolphins, kids making sand angels in between planting flats of dune grass.

We have fun getting to know the people working next to us. There are Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, people with multiple college degrees, people who couldn’t wait to get out of high school, home-schooled families, people with handicaps, people with huge muscles, locals, out-of-towners—all there to help. Since Bill spent 30 years in the Navy, we enjoy being around the active-duty sailors and marines who also come to help.

The people from the National Aquarium and our local Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center are such fun. We especially like their willingness to answer all of our questions about marine science. We get mini science lessons for free! How cool is that?

Cris at the May 2012 planting

Some of the many things learned while working:

The wind can start piling up sand behind each slat of the dune fencing almost immediately. Pretty ghost crabs get really big and, although they generally come out of their burrows at night, you can see them when you arrive in the morning. Dime-sized mushrooms can grow on the beach.

If learning about Cris and Bill’s volunteer experience has inspired you to join us in the field, you can sign up for one of our upcoming restoration events.

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.

A day of cleanup

Last Saturday a dedicated group of community volunteers joined the Aquarium Conservation Team at Fort McHenry to clean up debris in honor of Earth Day. They worked until the dumpster was overflowing, removing 10,944 pieces of debris from the marsh! 

Each spring the marsh is transformed into a living classroom for hundreds of students from Baltimore City schools. The cleanup day came just in time to give the education areas a much-needed facelift before the Aquarium’s AquaPartners students arrived this week. New gravel was added to the walking areas, and the butterfly gardens were weeded and given new mulch!

Fort McHenry Field Days could not be successful without the volunteers who step up to spend a Saturday morning in the mud. A sincere thank you goes out to all of our volunteers. And judging from the pictures, it seems like everyone had an enjoyable day!  Click here to see for yourself!



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