Since 2008, National Aquarium has actively worked to restore a riparian buffer (a bank of water that naturally filters out pollution and prevents erosion) along a section of the Potomac River at Naval Support Facility Indian Head and Stump Neck Annex. This four-year project, which involved 81,268 grasses and 5,902 trees, was a partnership between the National Aquarium, Department of Defense, and Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development.
This past November marked the Aquarium’s last volunteer planting event, where we were able to finish the third phase of this cleanup and restoration project.
The project began when the Navy experienced severe erosion along their shoreline, weakening base infrastructure and threatening operations. The Navy proposed a plan and provided funding to reconstruct the shoreline in areas most vulnerable to base activity. The Aquarium was brought on board to lead community-based, hands-on restoration events to vegetate the shoreline.
The 15 acres of shoreline were restored with the help of 622 volunteers donating 4,938 hours to the project since 2008! Volunteers included the local community, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), Maryland Conservation Corps, National Civilian Community Corps, Charles Master Gardeners, and Navy personnel.
Riparian buffers are environmentally critical to providing habitat for local wildlife and improving water quality. The buffer intercepts sediment and nutrients that can lead to what’s known as “dead zones.” The Aquarium has plans to return to NSF Indian Head and Stump Neck Annex to further monitor the success of the project. For more information on this project, please visit aqua.org.