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The many ways we help our coastal bays - December 12, 2013

’Tis the season of giving, so once again the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) hopes you will join us for another year of projects to protect our wonderful coastal bays.

MCBP is a nonprofit organization that works with local, state and federal partners year round to not only protect and monitor the health of the bays, but also educate visitors and residents and work within our local communities.

Because we are a nonprofit, we are always looking for donations. While money is always appreciated, we also encourage people to volunteer their time and energy in helping us preserve our wetlands and bays.

Thanks to the funding we received this year, we were able to accomplish many projects including;

» Oyster Gardening Program — Last year waterfront property owners grew oysters in cages at 17 locations throughout our bays. The oysters were collected at the end of the year and released to areas where they should survive. Oysters provide habitat value, nutrient reduction, wave attenuation and other values, but they face numerous challenges in the coastal bays. By determining where they can grow, and where they survive when released, we are collecting information that will be valuable for future restoration efforts, while supplementing the natural population. We are looking for additional volunteers with access to waterfront properties who want to grow oysters.

» Peruvian Flutes — With the help of researchers from Horn Point Labs, MCBP is developing an innovative technique for increasing the ecological value of bulkheads. By attaching tiers of PVC piping to bulkheads and then planting them with native vegetation, we hope to increase the value of these manmade, vertical shorelines. The vegetation will allow for nutrient uptake while providing suitable habitat on bulkheads which are considered relatively sterile structures. Thus far two such structures, nicknamed “peruvian flutes,” have been installed and the MCBP will monitor these for future viability.

» Human Induced Marsh Change — The MCBP has been collecting fish in Worcester and Somerset counties as part of a larger collaborative learning project to investigate human induced marsh change.

» Coastal Stewards — The Coastal Stewards program is an outdoor summer employment opportunity for high school and college students on Delmarva, aimed at increasing diversity and youth employment in the environmental field. This year we were able to hire 16 stewards who participated in a variety of restoration projects and helped conduct education and outreach programs reaching more than 15,000 residents and visitors.

» Reel in and Recycle Program — The MCBP is taking part in a Boat US Foundation program called “Reel in and Recycle.” Through this program we received, built and installed a few containers designed as disposal mechanisms for fishing line. By placing these containers at popular fishing locations, the MCBP is working to keep fishing lines out of the water and off of the land.

» Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) Update — The CCMP represents a consensus of the best means needed to preserve the economic and ecological prosperity of the Coastal Bays for the future. With help from Worcester County, Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Environment, the town of Ocean City and other local, state and federal planners and scientists, the strategies in the plan include reachable scientific goals and the most effective means for implementing them. The plan is created with a 15-year life span in mind and because we are coming to the end of our previous plan, we have been updating and changing certain actions, challenges and research goals based off of what we have already accomplished in the previous years. Come spring of 2014 there will be public input sessions for you to attend to help us to address your issues and ideas concerning our coastal bays.

» Ghost Crab Pot Program — Thanks to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the MCBP has been able to institute a new program this year focusing on the removal of “ghost” crab pots and the inclusion of turtle excluders on crab pots. This new program relies heavily on volunteers, both local citizens and watermen, to go out into our coastal bays and collect abandoned “ghost” pots, record where they were and what was in them and then dispose of them properly.

» Horseshoe crab, colonial nesting bird, diamondback terrapin and water quality surveys — In 2002, the program initiated the annual horseshoe crab surveys with volunteers to assess the current and long-term population status of Atlantic horseshoe crabs. The program has done the same for colonial nesting birds, like herons and egrets, since 2006. Beginning 2011, MCBP partnered with the Terrapin Work Group and volunteers to conduct yearly Diamondback terrapin surveys to help develop more comprehensive information on our state reptile.

While the MCBP staff does great work year round, it would be impossible without the donations and dedicated support of our fantastic members.
 

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