Posts Tagged 'baltimore city'

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!

Wetlands are wonderful!

Despite its concrete walls, the Baltimore Harbor is looking a little greener with the addition of new floating wetlands. It’s no secret that the water quality of the harbor could use a little help, but the bulkheads that surround the Harbor make it unsuitable for the traditional muddy shoreline restoration projects the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team typically takes on. But where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Floating wetlands have long been utilized in retention ponds as an attempt to deal with excess nutrients from farm fields and landscaping, but only recently has this technology moved to tidal, brackish areas like the Chesapeake Bay. This concept is now being introduced to Baltimore’s urban waterfront as part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative launched by the Waterfront Partnership, which includes the Aquarium and Baltimore City.

Continue reading ‘Wetlands are wonderful!’

Baltimore’s hidden green gem

Did you know that part of the Aquarium’s roof is green? Five years ago this summer, during the Aquarium’s major building expansion, a green roof was installed on a portion of Pier 3 just behind the Australia exhibit.

Each spring the roof blooms into a lush, green landscape, and this year was no exception!

It was designed as an “extensive” green roof, which is virtually self-sustaining and requires minimum maintenance. “Intensive” green roofs, on the other hand, are more labor-intensive. A very thin layer of soil supports a variety of stonecrops (Sedum) and ornamental onions (Allium).

We believe this roof is one of Baltimore’s hidden gems. Green roofs provide many benefits to cities, especially during the dog days of summer. Traditional building materials soak up the sun’s radiation and re-emit it as heat, making cities 6-10°F hotter than surrounding areas. This is called the urban heat island effect. Our roof may be small, but we hope it is helping to alleviate some of the intense heat Baltimore City is experiencing this week!

The roofs also reduce heating and cooling loads on a building. A study conducted by Environment Canada found a 25% reduction in summer cooling needs and a 26% reduction in winter heat losses when a green roof is used.

Green roofs will also last up to twice as long as conventional roofs by protecting exterior roof membranes from UV radiation, extreme temperature fluctuations, and punctures.

These roofs even help the surrounding environment because they reduce stormwater runoff by acting as a sponge. It has been found that they can retain up to 75% of rainwater, gradually releasing it back into the atmosphere via condensation and transpiration, while filtering pollutants and heavy metals in their soil. Pollutants and carbon dioxide are also filtered out of the air.

Finally, green roofs provide habitat for plants, insects, and animals that otherwise have limited natural space in cities. Rooftop greenery complements wild areas by providing “stepping stones” for songbirds, migratory birds, and other wildlife facing shortages of natural habitat.

Catch a clean, green ride in Baltimore

Baltimore City has launched a free shuttle service that is clean and green, and ready to help residents and visitors get to their favorite downtown attractions!

The Charm City Circulator (CCC) features a fleet of 21 hybrid shuttles that travel three routes around the city and arrive every 10 minutes. The National Aquarium, Baltimore is among the stops on the orange route, which began service today. Some of us at the Aquarium enjoyed a ride this morning and we urge everyone in town to check it out! 

The City of Baltimore has promised that the service will be FAST, FRIENDLY and FREE, and CONNECTED to all there is to do in the heart of the city, like business meetings or a ball game.

But above all, this service will be COOL. Baltimore’s never seen a ride like this one – it’s sleek, comfortable, and GREEN. With zero emissions it will even help keep the planet cool. The CCC fleet features  DesignLine 2009 EcoSaver IV LF Hybrid Electric vehicles—the first fleet of this type in a major metropolitan area. The service is intended to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas pollution.

Need another reason to start riding today? The National Aquarium and other local attractions are offering discounted admission opportunities to everyone who rides the circulator this week. Discounts are good through January 18th so catch your ride today!

For more information visit the Charm City Circulator website.

Honoring the Aquarium’s ‘hero’

Yesterday, the City of Baltimore honored its most beloved mayor and former Maryland governor, William Donald Schaefer with the unveiling of a statue to memorialize his distinguished political career in Maryland. The statue lives in the middle of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which is fitting since Schaefer’s most notable accomplishment was the transformation of the Inner Harbor from an industrial shipping area to a multi-million dollar tourist attraction and the gem of Baltimore.

The National Aquarium was one of the first additions to the Inner Harbor. In the mid-1970s Mayor Schaefer conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component of the redevelopment. William Donald Schaefer is truly the Aquarium’s hero because if wasn’t for him, the National Aquarium may not exist today. Dozens of staff members and volunteers, as well as the Aquarium’s first board president, Frank Gunther, attended the ceremony yesterday to pay tribute to the man who brought our Aquarium to life.

Schaefer’s idea for an aquarium may have been his best idea for the City of Baltimore. In 1976, residents supported the Aquarium by voting for it on a bond referendum, and the groundbreaking for the facility took place August 8, 1978.  The Aquarium’s world-class status was recognized by the United States Congress, which granted the facility national status. The National Aquarium in Baltimore opened to the public exactly three years later on August 8, 1981. Today the Aquarium is huge economic driver for the city and is the most visited destination at the Inner Harbor.

Schaefer is also known for his hilarious dip in the Aquarium’s seal pool, which has turned out to be his most famous photo op! The mayor  lost a bet with a developer who said the National Aquarium would not open on schedule. When the initial date passed, the mayor put on his bathing garb, grabbed a Donald Duck squeaky, and jumped into the seal pool that used to be outside of the Aquarium. The pictures live on in Aquarium history. Many see Schaefer as he is represented in the beautiful new statue, but at the Aquarium, this how we like to remember our hero:

Classic Mayor Schaefer blog

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