Two local environmental organizations received more than $50,000 in grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust on Thursday to build living shorelines along local waterways.
Sixteen total recipients received more than $800,000 at a gathering in Eastport while The Chesapeake Bay Trust granted $12,880 to the South River Federation and $39,850 to the West/Rhode Riverkeeper along with 14 other groups.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, living shorelines are a stabilization technique that use natural habitat elements like rocks—instead of bulkhead or riprap—to protect shorelines from erosion while also providing critical habitat for fish, crabs and other wildlife.
The trust partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Department of the Environment to give away more than $800,000—the largest amount awarded to date.
Local Environmentalists Get Big Bump
The South River Federation received a $12,880 grant to cover some of the costs for its restoration of 240 feet of shoreline along Church Creek in Annapolis, which was completed earlier this month.
Erik Michelsen, the federation's executive director, said the homeowner on Church Creek decided to move forward with the creation of the living shoreline before the grant had been secured.
"The contractor who was building this project was also building another shoreline in the same vicinity so cost wise it made sense," Michelsen said. "Rather than mobilizing the crew twice, both projects were completed at the same time."
The other living shoreline was privately funded.
The West/Rhode Riverkeeper received nearly $40,000 specifically to help a local women restore 410 feet of shoreline along her private farm in Galesville. West/Rhode Riverkeeper and County Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District), along with his team, will assist the land owners in restoring the area.
The farm’s owners, Alice Murray and her daughter Susie Stricker, said the effort has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for about 50 years now,” Murray said.
“We’ve been engaging in practices to prevent damage to the bay and this project is actually an extension of that,” Stricker said. “We are just trying to protect the bay and protect the property so that we can all live in balance.”
The total cost of restoring the 410 feet of shoreline will be around $180,000 to $200,000, but the DNR is providing a $91,000 no-interest loan over 15 years.
“[Murray] has a severely eroding cliff on her property. I mean, it’s like an eight foot cliff … it’s been eroding very quickly over the last decade,” Trumbauer said. “We went out and looked at her site request and said ‘Absolutely, we need to do something.’”
Politicians Respond to New Bay Funding
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said he brags about the Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts to his colleagues in Congress all the time.
"This is really big news what's being done here. We know how important the Chesapeake Bay is to our state, and how important it is our country. It's a national treasure," Cardin said. "It was Maryland that started [the restoration effort], and then we brought in the other states and the local governments and the private sector and the federal government. And that partnership now is a national model."
The hope is that these 16 new shoreline projects will serve as learning tools for and examples of effective restoration.
"You are truly on the front lines," Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said. "You are educating the public on the importance of protecting the environment and our shorelines, but also you are putting into practice those techniques."
The 2012 recipient ceremony took place in Eastport where three neighbors got together after learning about living shorelines in part through demonstration projects funded through this collaborative. The Annapolitans worked together to remove bulkheads and build a contiguous living shoreline on their properties, which now serves as an example for current and future grant recipients.
State Sen. John Astle (D-Annapolis) is a Chespeake Bay Trust board member, and he votes on how much money should be allocated to living shoreline projects. He said being able to give out a number of grants to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County meant a lot to him.
"Representing an area that probably has more shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay than just about any other district in the state, I am acutely aware of the issues that we face that impact the bay," Astle said.
He pointed to a shoreline restoration project done behind as an example of how erosion can be stopped and a habitat can be recreated.
"The fact that we can do this in an urban setting—I think is really neat," Astle said.
Since the trust's living shoreline program started seven years ago, there have been 68 projects in local communities that have created 28,000 feet of living shoreline and 18 acres of wetland habitat.
The program has awarded more than $4 million and leveraged $7 million in matching funds from landowners throughout Maryland and Virginia.
Living Shoreline grant recipients include:
- Annapolis Cove Property Owners Association, Anne Arundel County, $40,000
- Magothy Beach Improvement Association, Anne Arundel County, $100,000
- Severn Riverkeeper Program, Anne Arundel County, $18,784
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Anne Arundel County, $41,931
- South River Federation, Anne Arundel County, $12,880
- West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Anne Arundel County, $39,850
- Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks, Baltimore County, $13,336
- North East Isles, Cecil County, $100,000
- St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s County, $16,500
- Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Talbot County, $60,000
- The Gunston School, Queen Anne’s County, $100,000
- Chester River Association, Queen Anne’s County, $99,000
- City of Norfolk, VA, $134,082
- Friends of Norfolk’s Environment, Norfolk, VA, $5,894
- Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Prince William County, VA, $16,500
- The Landings at Bolling Square Community Association, Norfolk, VA, $11,212