Senator Elfreth will be the guest speaker at the Severn River Association’s monthly John Wright Speaker Series.
She will provide updates on her work promoting environmental legislation for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly. In particular, Senator Elfreth will address her work with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the new Oyster Advisory Committee and the State Parks Investment Commission.
To attend, please RSVP to Info@severnriver.org and put “Senator” in the message box. SRA will send out credentials on November 16.
Fisherman, outdoor journalist and outfitter Captain Chris Dollar will present an evening talk for anglers, fishermen, boat captains and mates who love any chance to get out on the water and enjoy an exciting chase. This talk marks the return of the John Wright Speaker Series presented by the Severn River Association.
Captain Dollar will talk about Rockfish, including the joy in pursuing our state fish and addressing questions about the sustainability of this iconic fishery throughout our Chesapeake Bay. Host and moderator is SRA’s own Bryan Gomes, Education Coordinator for the local environmental group ClearSharkH2O.
With the return of COVID concerns, the Severn River Association is planning to host a small live meeting and a live video broadcast so most members can participate from home.
The live meeting will be held at the Epping Forest Clubhouse. The remote version of the meeting will be held via GoToMeeting.
To attend this year’s annual meeting, please RSVP to Info@severnriver.org. Please put “Meeting” in the message box, and indicate whether you’d like to attend the live meeting at Epping Forest Clubhouse or whether you’ll attend by computer.
The new bivalve arrivals are now ensconced in their happy home on the Traces Hollow restoration reef just south of the Route 50 Bridge. And, just a week later, they’re enjoying good water quality.
SRA’s Field Investigators, Jack Beckham and Emi McGeady, report oxygen levels on the reef at 4.26 milligrams/Liter (mg/L).
This is pretty good water quality for this time of year. Salinity down there is good for our oysters, as well. Jack and Emi measured salinity at 9.12 parts per thousand (ppt).
In three years, when these guys mature (the oysters, that is), they’ll be filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day. And, one day, when the moon is high, the candles soft, the music mellow, and salinity is right (around 12 ppt), we hope that these baby oysters will naturally reproduce and start creating self-sustaining oyster reefs again.
The 2021 Operation Build-A-Reef project was the SRA/ORP partnership’s third effort, and it was funded entirely by private donations.
In July 2020, the Build-A-Reef operation planted 16.9 million oysters on a reef along Priest Point. In 2018, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources planted 40 million oysters and the SRA/ORP partners leveraged community fundraising to plant an additional 5.1 million spat on shell. There were planted on three other historic oyster bars where the US Army Corps of Engineers had previously laid down substrate (hard surfaces) so the oysters will be above the muddy bottom of the Severn River.
These oyster restoration plantings are all part of SRA’s mission to one day have have 1.3 billion mature oysters cleaning and filtering the Severn every few days.
More good news ahead: A new report from SRA will detail how our oyster dive team has found proof that natural oyster reproduction is beginning to occur in the Severn.
Severn River Association presents its next John Wright Speaker Series on how to keep one of nature’s best pollinators buzzing, swarming and doing their pollinating thing and producing honey?
Speaker: Master Beekeeper Tim McMahon who will explain the joys and pollinating power of bees. He is an Eastern Apicultural Society and Georgia Master Beekeeper with over 15 years of experience and as many as 28 hives going at once — now scaled down to 13 hives. Mr. McMahon is also involved in multiple Native Bee projects here and abroad and is a volunteer at the US Geological Survey Native Bee Lab in Beltsville where he works on native bee projects for the Smithsonian. He always has a butterfly net in the car to catch bees and has a microscope on his desk where he spends hours each day identifying bees.
Note: This will be a virtual version of the John Wright Speaker Series. To attend, please RSVP to:email@example.com and put BEES in the subject box. SRA will send login information on June 15.
The GreenGive is a local, environmentally-focused, online initiative designed to both raise funds and expand residents’ and businesses’ engagement with local environmental organizations, issues, projects and actions. It will run for 24 hours, from June 8 to 9. Of course, we want you to donate to Annapolis Green, but consider donating to one or more of the other partners too. We all do good work — each in our own way.
Severn River Association presents a discussion on the benefits and challenges of beavers as part of its John Wright Speaker Series. The speaker is Rachel Ott, Eco-credits Market Coordinator at Ecotone, Inc.
Beavers often get a bad reputation due to the changes these industrious mammals make to the landscape when they create their homes. What attracts them to want to live amongst us? How do we deal with them? The speaker will explain how they do what they do and highlight some of the benefits the beaver also bring to the Severn River watershed even while they create new challenges along our streams.
To register to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Beaver” in the message box. SRA will send you login credentials on Tuesday, April 20.
The Severn River Association’s John Wright Speaker Series presents a talk with hiking enthusiast and former Rhode/West Riverkeeper Jeff Holland who will share his experiences discovering readily available hiking paths in and around the Severn River and Anne Arundel County.
Jeff has written about his hiking adventures in his regular columns in the Sunday Capital. With springtime just around the corner, this is a great time to start planning a hike around the Severn River and Anne Arundel County to enjoy the flowering that’s about to burst forth in the forest.
(October 19, 2020) – The Severn River Association has been monitoring water quality in the creeks and main stem of our capital river for several years. This year it’s been doing this since early spring – even with the pandemic. Yesterday I joined in so see how it’s done. SRA executive director Tom Guay directed the operation as captain although the two young women who made up the crew needed no guidance as they had the routine well in hand.
Our masked crew consisted of Emi McGeady (left), who, as SRA Field Investigator, is working at SRA as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps participant after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also joining us was Summer Intern Amelia Johnson (right), a senior at St. Mary’s High School who plans to major in Environmental Studies when she starts college next year.
The job yesterday was to take readings in some of the Severn’s creeks north of Annapolis to include Mill, Burley, Rideout and Whitehall.
Apart from enjoying the spectacular day and unique views of some of the area’s most beautiful homes and boats, I joined in the work.
We took several readings in various locations in each creek. My job was to hold the sensor at various depths in the water column at each monitoring location. Amelia read data aloud from the sensor and Emi recorded salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and acidity (pH). Tom put the Secchi disk in the water to measure clarity which Emi also recorded. We did this 33 times.
At the end of the season the data will be added to the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative’s citizen science dataset via the Chesapeake Data Explorer program. The Cooperative shares water quality data for the entire Bay watershed and tracks tidal and non-tidal data with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program (the federal, multi-state, multi-jurisdictional organization led by the EPA). This river and creek data is an important piece of the puzzle of what makes up the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists take all the data obtained by volunteers and scientists throughout the year to determine if restoration efforts are working and what needs to be adjusted.
For its part, SRA uses collected data all year to provide weekly updates on status of the River, tracking dead zones all summer, pernicious algae blooms, sediment plumes, other activities on the river. That makes the monitoring program important for connecting residents to the River too.
SRA used the data collected to produce and release the Annual State of the Severn on April 23 and a River report card with grades for dissolved oxygen, clarity, swimming safety and abundance of underwater grasses properly known as subaquatic vegetation (SAV). When people living in the River’s watershed understand what is happening in the River they will be more likely to work to improve conditions and protect the River.
The organization visits its 44 monitoring stations in the 17 creeks and mainstem that make up the Severn River. Measuring the creeks is key to understanding the true makeup of the 14-mile-long river whose many miles of shoreline range from the natural flora and fauna that would have been familiar to the indigenous people and Captain John Smith to beautiful estates with piers and boathouses to the urban landscape of busy Annapolis. I had forgotten just how much shoreline the Severn and its tributaries contain.
SRA relies on a team of 25 volunteers and three boat captains to do the monitoring week every week, all season, from May through the end of fall, four days a week. It’s a major effort and it’s possible thanks to a grant from Delaplaine Foundation.
As is the case with most of the rivers in the mid and northern part of the Bay, the Severn is an impaired river, an EPA designation based primarily measurements of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment. This summer the SRA found dead zones in several parts of the River – areas where there is so little dissolved oxygen that fish and crabs go elsewhere. If the level is low enough and they can’t get away they suffocate and die.
Dead zones caused by algae blooms because when the algae die and bacteria get to work decomposing it, they use up the oxygen in the water. This is most common in hot weather. This year there were times when dead zones were up to five meters tall from the bottom. Fish move closer to the surface where there is more oxygen if they can. Algae blooms also make it hard for underwater grasses to grow because it blocks sunlight from reaching the bottom. These grasses are important for development of young marine life.
This summer dead zone conditions were found from June through Labor Day from the Route 50 bridge through Round Bay and up to headwaters. Dead zones were also found at one time or another in most of the River’s creeks, especially Weems, Luce, Saltworks, Clements, Chase, and Brewer.
And it’s all our fault.
Stormwater runoff, carrying sediment, fertilizers, pesticides and other toxic materials makes it difficult, if not impossible for underwater grasses, fish, and shellfish like crabs and oysters to thrive or to even survive. And with the effects of human-induced Climate Change upon us, our waters will get hotter and more acidic, likely altering the type of critters that live in the waters and along the shore. That’s why monitoring is so important – so scientists can better understand what’s happening and advise policy makers on next steps. Emi and Amelia are learning firsthand how human activity alters Nature.
SRA was founded in 1911 and is the oldest river organization in the country. Its website, severnriver.org, contains a lot of info about the river and the organization’s many programs and volunteer opportunities. Its staff and volunteers monitor the entire river and its creeks from its stations ranging from Lake Ogleton to Indian Landing. It works closely with the Spa Creek Conservancy too.
One of the things that made the day especially enjoyable for me was Tom’s narrative of the history of the area (he’s a history buff, author of a historical novel, and former heritage guide in Annapolis) and of its natural history. He is a treasure trove of stories and scientific data.
At the end of our monitoring work we explored Meredith Creek, which begins under Route 50. Tom set some waypoints that may be the sites of new monitoring stations next year.
Yesterday we didn’t monitor oysters or SAV but SRA reports that oysters in the Severn are doing well. No dead zones were found south of the Route 50 bridge this summer.
On the chilly quick return trip to the slip in Back Creek, the wide expanse of the Bay – bookended by the Bay Bridge on one end and Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse on the other – filled my heart and reminded me how lucky we are to live here and how important it is to protect this unique estuary.
The SRA crew will continue its work until it gets too cold to attract volunteers to help – probably in December. For now the SRA boat will get under weigh from Port Annapolis in Back Creek four days a week to gather data – up close and personal with the Severn. Reliable volunteers are welcome. Read more about the program.
It’s messing about in boats for a good purpose. There’s nothing better than that!
The GreenGive is a local, environmentally-focused, 24-hour online initiative designed to both raise funds and expand residents’ and businesses’ engagement with local environmental organizations, issues, projects and actions.
On July 21-22, 2020, we invite the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County community to join with us to support clean water in our own communities. Through an interactive online platform, individuals and businesses will be invited to invest in clean water by donating to any of the GreenGive partners:
Pick More Than One! All ten GreenGive partners are part of a force for the Greener Good in Anne Arundel County.
Funds raised through the GreenGive will be used by the ten GreenGive partners to invest in actions that have a tangible impact on our own local waterways and quality of life. Every dollar raised will be turned into projects and programs that really do make a difference right here in Anne Arundel County. In a time when federal support and leadership is uncertain at best, we know that the fate of our local environment is in our own hands.
We all love our Chesapeake Bay and consider it a national treasure. GreenGive organizations intend to make sure that the waterways that feed into the Bay are clean and ready for fishing, crabbing, swimming and boating. There is no better legacy we can leave the next generation.
The Severn River Association will present the 2019 State of the Severn report during its (now virtual via Zoom) John Wright Speaker Series. The report addresses issues such as is it safe to swim in the river, oxygen levels, dead zones, oyster restoration, underwater grasses and more. To attend the meeting RSVP to email@example.com.
Scuba diver Audrey McDowell, with the University of Maryland’s Paynter Labs, presents her report on how the Severn River oysters are doing and how they respond to the changes in the river’s oxygen and salinity levels. Hosted by the Severn River Association.
A Severn River Association John Wright Speaker Series talk. Each year, in early March, the colorful Yellow Perch return to spawn in the Severn River headwaters like Bear Branch and Severn Run. However, they fail to produce mature offspring, possibly due to poor water quality. Why is this happening? Speaker Alex MacLeod, a PhD student from the University of Maryland and Margaret McGinty with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. They will discuss how land use has affected aquatic habitat and water quality and the genetic changes the Yellow Perch is going through to survive. Food and drink is available for purchase.