Search Results for 'Eastern Neck'

Re-Cap: Eastern Neck Tree Planting!

Last weekend, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) hosted a tree planting event at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Eastern Neck is a 2,285-acre stopover area for migratory and wintering waterfowl at the mouth of the Chester River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Funded through the US Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and National Wildlife Federation, community volunteers, students and partners planted 15,000 native hardwood trees creating a 300 foot forest buffer along the river. Since 2000, we have restored more than 12 acres of wetland habitat, demonstrating the beneficial use of dredge material. The wetlands provide refuge to a variety of wildlife including terrapins, birds, snakes and small mammals.

In total, 80 students from Rock Hall Elementary, Kent County High School and Aquarium On Wheels (an after school program for Baltimore City Youth) participated alongside 18 Maryland Conservation Corps, 19 Aquarium Conservation Team and 36 community volunteers. Our planting project at Eastern Neck is part of a larger initiative to educate local school children on the importance of marsh habitat around the Chesapeake Bay using these restored wetlands as a living classroom.

US Fish and Wildlife Staff will continue to monitor trees over the next several years to assure success of the newly-planted seedlings!

Want to get out in the field and give back to our local wildlife? Join us at our of our upcoming conservation events

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Celebrate our National, Natural Treasures on July 4th!

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The 4th of July is a day filled with friends, family, parades, fireworks, cookouts, and flags – all in celebration of American Independence! It’s an important day to celebrate our history, our culture and our freedoms.

This 4th of July, I’d like to highlight our natural wonders, cultural treasures and the determination of the men and women that made sure they were protected and available to everyone. During the time when westward expansion was at its height, there was also a growing recognition that the young United States held some amazing landscapes, worthy of preservation.

Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872 and “Americas Best Idea” was born. In 1903, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was created. It was an important step forward in also preserving vital habitat for wildlife.

One of every three acres of land in the United States—nearly 600 million acres—belongs to the public. These lands are the country’s special, one-of-a-kind natural resources. These are the national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, coastal preserves, forests, grasslands, marine sanctuaries, lakes and reservoirs that all of us use to hike, bike, climb, swim, explore, picnic or just simply relax.

Here in Maryland, there are 16 National Parks and 5 National Wildlife Refuges. Together, they boast more than 6 million visitors a year – deservedly so. Bald Eagles and Osprey take their turn nesting on these undeveloped sites. Snow geese, black ducks, tundra swan and other waterfowl by the tens of thousands visit our refuges each winter as they migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. Endangered species like the piping plover and loggerhead sea turtle use the Assateague coast for nesting.

Ft. McHenry

Part of the Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine.

These parks, along with other protected areas like National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas, are often well managed and are less influenced by outside stressors, such as development, overfishing and habitat degradations, that strain the health of our natural ecosystems. Protected areas such as these are national treasures, and we must all do our part to ensure their long-term survival and sustainability.

The National Aquarium’s Conservation Team (ACT!) has partnered with the National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore vital habitats at places like Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, and Eastern Neck and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuges. Over the past 14 years, with the help of community volunteers, we have planted more than 1.5 million native plants and restored more than 170 acres of vital habitat on protected lands.

Now, more than ever, is the time to advocate for more areas, aquatic and terrestrial, under protection. The world does not need one more shopping mall. We DO need clean water, clean air, and places to fish, kayak, hike, bike and sail.

This 4th of July, I encourage you to get outside and celebrate our national, natural treasures! Go check out a National Park or Wildlife Refuge near you.

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

Thoughtful Thursdays: The Nature of Learning

In early May, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) spent two days at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge engaging students in activities focused on climate change and its effects on the diamondback terrapin.

Partnering with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students were led through activities including a wetland planting promoting terrapin habitat, a GPS scavenger hunt to illustrate field monitoring techniques, and a nature walk along the butterfly garden, surveying the local bird population.

Prior to this field trip, Aquarium staff visited the students in their classrooms as part of an introduction to climate change, as well as terrapin characteristics and husbandry. Schools selected to participate are part of the Aquarium’s Terrapins in the Classroom program, a head-start program in which students care for and observe a newly hatched terrapin they will ultimately release into natural habitat at the end of the school year.

All activities were made possible through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Nature of Learning grant. The Nature of Learning grant encourages educators to “use National Wildlife Refuges as outdoor classrooms to promote a greater understanding of local conservation issues.”

In all, the Aquarium engaged more than 100 students in climate change activities, while educating students on how to be stewards of the Chesapeake Bay.

You can too! The Aquarium offers habitat restoration opportunities to promote a healthy Bay. Sign up for one of our free events today! Together our actions and awareness will create a healthy environment for Maryland’s state reptile, the diamondback terrapin.

Restoring valuable habitats

Thanks to the support of our hard-working volunteers, 2009 has been incredibly productive for the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team.  Throughout the year, 4 large-scale planting events translated into 10 critical acres restored – that’s 144,000 plants that will provide valuable habitat and help to slow shoreline erosion! 

Our restoration projects took us to many beautiful areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay.  The planting season kicked off just outside of Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  In May, fifty-two volunteers and 90 students joined us on Barren Island to plant 3 acres of restored offshore habitat, created from repurposed dredge material.  The marsh grasses we provided are a huge part of the recipe that turns dredge material into viable wetland habitat, making it possible to rebuild islands that have dramatically eroded over the last century. 

Poplar Island is a similar restoration project off of Tilghman Island MD, in the central region of the Bay.  Dredge material is again being used to rebuild the severely eroded Island to its original 1000 acres.  The Aquarium Conservation Team, along with 268 volunteers and students, planted 3 acres of wetland grasses on the island in June.  As more dredge material is brought in and settles into plant-able areas, the National Aquarium will continue to return to the island to be a part of the restoration process.  The next Poplar Island planting project is expected to take place in the summer of 2011. 

Click here to learn more about Poplar Island and the beneficial use of dredge material.

Continue reading ‘Restoring valuable habitats’

Thoughtful Thursdays: Virginia Beach Sand Dune Restoration

Earlier this month, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) headed south to Virginia Beach for our annual sand dune restoration project. Our team, along with an amazing group of volunteers, focused their efforts on the eastern coast near the Naval Air Station Dam Neck Annex.

Virginia Beach

Beautiful day at the beach for a restoration!

Coastal sand dunes are formed by the action of sea and wind. Dunes protect the land by acting as natural barriers to salt water intrusion and sea wind erosion. The sand dune system absorbs energy of the waves and without this protection, the soft coastline would disappear rapidly. Even small disruptions in the dune system can cause salt-water infiltration into the ground water, threatening local farmlands.

Virginia Beach restoration

Although sand dunes may appear to be lifeless, in reality they are home to a multitude of species! Their importance has been acknowledged over the last years and they now are priority habitats for conservation.

Over two days, Aquarium staff partnering with Naval Air Station Dam Neck Annex planted 25,000 native grasses including American Beach Grass and Switch Grass. The Aquarium has partnered with the US Navy for the last 10 years. Big storms like Hurricane Isabel have ravaged the area in recent years, making restoration of this habitat even more of a vital need!

We can’t wait to return to Virginia Beach and continue our dune restoration at NAS Dam Neck Annex. Join us in 2013!

Can’t wait that long? Click here to find out about our upcoming conservation events!

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