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Holiday Appeal Article - November 15, 2015

’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.
 
The 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, regardless of whether it is money, time or volunteers.
 
Thanks to the funding we received this year, we were able to accomplish many projects including;
 
Bishopville Dam Removal- The MCBP has worked with numerous partners including Worcester County, Department of Natural Resources, and US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Bishopville Dam in St. Martins River and replace it with a series of weirs and pools. By removing the sheet metal dam, we opened up approximately seven miles of upstream habitat previously inaccessible to fish and aquatic animals, like eels and herring. The removal also renovated the local area, including around 600 feet of stream buffers, three acres of surrounding wetlands and the creation of a 2.5 acre pond. By removing the dam, we expect to see improved water quality and a reduction of excess nutrients entering St. Martins river and the Coastal Bays.
 
Seal Stewards - Partnering with the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Marine Mammal Wildlife Rescue, the MCBP created a seal stewards volunteer group to assist animal control with seal haul outs. Over the past several years, seals have been 'hauling out' (coming onto the beach) on Ocean City beaches to rest during their journey in the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean City animal control is tasked with the responsibility of watching over the resting seals, but are limited in staffing. MCBP's seal stewards are now tasked with responding to seal haul outs and educating beach goers on the importance of giving seals their space.
 
Terp Search - Since 2011, the MCBP has been collecting data about terrapin populations in the Maryland coastal bays to help us understand more about this enigmatic species. Over 40 volunteers worked a total of 76 hours at 27 different sites and reported a total of 827 terrapins in the 2015 survey, both on land, in the water and online.
 
Oysters - 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.
 
Ilia Fahrer - The MCBP and its partners are starting to work on the Ilia Fahrer nature preserve after removing several acres of monoculture loblolly pine. This over 400 acre nature preserve will one day be open to the public to enjoy, however work is still under way to add wetlands, replant more native species, establish hiking and walking trails and more. 
 
Assateague Outfitters - The MCBP, partnering with Super Fun Eco Tours, were awarded the concessions at the National Assateague Island Seashore and created Assateague Outfitters. Assateague Outfitters offers wildlife tours, kayak, canoe and bike rentals and more on Assateague Island. Over the first summer of operation, Assateague Outfitters was a huge success and has provided goods and services to locals and visitors alike. 
 
Sustainable Business Guide - The MCBP is working with the town of Ocean City to create a guide to showcase our local sustainable businesses. Being a sustainable or “green” business takes added work and dedication and we are proud to promote the businesses and organizations that have gone the extra mile to achieve this status. The MCBP is still taking online applications for those who would like to apply to be added to the sustainable business guide at www.mdcoastalbays.org/sustainable-businesses
 
MAEOE Green Center Recertification - The MCBP partnered with the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) to become a re-certified Maryland Green Center. As a Green Center, we help local schools and individuals apply for and sustain MAEOE Green School status and help participate in training and celebrations, both locally and state-wide. 
 
CCMP Update - This year we updated our CCMP, which represents a consensus of the best means needed to preserve the economic and ecological prosperity of the Coastal Bays. With help from Worcester County, MD DNR, MDE, the town of Ocean City and other local, state and federal planners, the plan includes reachable scientific goals and the effective means for implementing them. 
 
Spokes cat - The MCBP is excited to start our search for a spokes cat! In the past we have done a similar search for a spokes dog, however this year we are switching over to our feline friends. Starting later this month and into December, the MCBP will be looking for charismatic and photogenic cats to be our spokes cat. Please check our website for more details and information at www.mdcoastalbays.org.  
 
While the MCBP staff does great work year round, it would be impossible without the donations and dedicated support of our fantastic members and volunteers. Thank you!
 
Harrison Jackson is the Education Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. 
 


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