Posts Tagged 'conservation events'



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.

Conservation Site Update: Dominion Cove Point LNG

The Aquarium Conservation Team visited Dominion Cove Point LNG in Lusby, MD, in February. Though it has only been a couple of months, the American beachgrass planted by several hundred local students and volunteers is already showing great progress! Despite a harsh winter and several large storms, the grasses are holding strong and will continue to grow larger and greener throughout the summer months. As they grow, their roots will work to stabilize the new shoreline, which was created from the beneficial use of dredge material.

Cove Point in February 2011

Cove Point before, during February's planting

Cove Point Two Months Later

Cove Point after two months of growing time


 The second stage of the community-based planting of this shoreline took place from May 11-14, when nearly 300 students and volunteers helped plant an additional 40,000 wetland grasses. Stay tuned for further updates…next time we post photos of this site, February’s dune grasses will be tall and lush, and the muddy intertidal marsh area will be filled with native grasses, as well!

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!

Over 50,000 trees & grasses planted in 2010!

As we welcome the start of the New Year, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) would also like to take a moment to reflect back on a successful end to 2010. The National Public Lands Day event at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on September 25 was a great wrap-up for our 2010 Field Days. Led by our experienced ACT! members, 189 volunteers spent their Saturday morning removing 20,000 pieces of debris from the Inner Harbor. Since 1998, Aquarium volunteers have collected more than 12 million pieces of debris from this small wetland!

In October, we spent a week at Naval Support Facility Indian Head in Charles County, Maryland. With the help of 50 volunteers, we restored nearly a mile of riparian buffer along the Potomac River. We were very pleased to work with not only local community members, but also AmeriCorps volunteers from the Maryland Conservation Corps, and quite a few volunteers and staff from the National Aquarium Institute. It’s a good thing we had so much dedicated help, because the event involved planting 1,850 trees – and we’re not talking seedlings! The shoreline is now home to a healthy mix of sweet bay magnolia, river birch, black willow, sycamore, and several other riparian species. We will be returning to Indian Head to plant marsh grasses along the lower intertidal area of the rebuilt shoreline in the spring. Sign up to receive e-mail from our Conservation team about upcoming events.

Volunteers help restore sand dunes at Virginia Beach

In early November, we switched gears and traveled to Virginia Beach to continue our work restoring the dunes at area naval bases. This trip involved planting 7,000 native dune grasses at JEB Little Creek and 20,000 grasses at NASO Dam Neck. Over the course of four days, we had the help of nearly 150 volunteers – they included dedicated ACT! members, base personnel, local school groups, community members, and partners from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

In total, ACT! planted 50,030 grasses and trees in 2010. Of course, we could not have done it without the help of 731 wonderful volunteers! Many thanks to all of you who spent time with us restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and we hope to see you in 2011.

Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Harwood, Chesapeake Conservation Corps

Maria Harwood, National Aquarium volunteerMaria Harwood is the newest addition to the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!). She will be volunteering with us for a year as a part of the inaugural class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. The Corps was founded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust as a program to promote the health of the Chesapeake Bay through environmental education, community engagement in conservation activities, and energy efficiency campaigns. The 16 Corps volunteers are working with various environmentally focused host organizations throughout the state of Maryland.

During the year, volunteers will undergo a series of trainings on leadership, energy conservation, environmental education, and watershed restoration aimed at developing skill sets that will help them in their future careers.

Maria is from northern Virginia, but sought out new experiences for her college years. She attended Pitzer College in southern California and graduated with a B.A. this past May with a double-major in environmental studies and human biology. While she enjoyed learning about the different environmental issues that the West faces, she always knew she wanted to return to this area and work on the Bay. One of her favorite memories from college was replacing a grass lawn with native, drought-tolerant plants. She got to operate a Bobcat when they removed the grass!

Maria wanted to join the Chesapeake Conservation Corps because she saw it as a perfect introduction to the world of conservation on the Chesapeake and she feels extremely lucky to have been placed with the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team. The most exciting part of the upcoming year for Maria is the opportunity for hands-on experience at the Aquarium’s conservation events. She can’t wait to get out there and plant and hopes to see you there too!


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