SRA Board Meeting Minutes
February 15, 2011
Meeting was called to order at 7:07 p.m. by SRA President Bob Whitcomb.
First guest speaker Kevin Smith, Director of Ecosystem Restoration, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources speaking on Living Shorelines; along with John Flood, local activist, former board member of SRA and South River Federation, and living shoreline designer.
Kevin showed a brochure DNR printed in conjunction with SRA about 10 years ago. Jim Martin printed it for free, and it was also related to terrapin habitat restoration initiatives SRA was involved with. SRA also helped put on a seminar on living shorelines. Along the Bay, there are more than 1,000 miles of shoreline that have been armed by bulkheads and seawalls. You can’t get approval to build a new bulkhead any more, but you can repair or replace an old one. Revetment was supposed to be better, but there’s some debate on that. Some solid rock berms can just capture and trap fish and crabs.
It’s good to allow for the natural processes to continue: to allow sediment to move along the shoreline. For example: there was an eroding site on the Corsica River contributing sand to a lovely sand beach upstream. What you do on your property can have an impact on your neighbors.
Showed example of South River Farm Park where he and John Flood worked on the project placing sills out a way and planted behind them. It slows erosion, but erosion still occurs, replenishing beaches along the way. Stone was bought with money from a development project across the way. They saved the money that would have been spent on disposal of the dredged materials and used it as the sand backfill behind the sills.
Kevin also showed an example on a Bay front property on Tilghman Island, at Pawpaw Cove. It has had little erosion over the years, but the neighbor put in a revetment and caused erosion. The cove has significant artifacts, so it’s been looked at over time, and it has existed in about the same way over 100 years. For terrapin habitat, this is ideal. It has nesting area and excellent marsh habitat for the young to live in. There’s been a proposal to do a living shoreline here. The proposal was to make a long sill and plant marsh grass behind it with a huge quantity of large rocks. And this would destroy the existing habitat for an area that isn’t really eroding a lot as it is. And it would take property from the public domain. Instead if you build a small rock groin, you could probably protect a large part of the eroding area.
Question: Is there a review process that evaluates whether living shorelines are the right design, right size or even a good idea. Answer: There is a need for more guidelines. The City of Annapolis is surveying its shorelines to have a record of what is appropriate. Kevin says he hates “standards,” because contractors want a template or standard that works everywhere. But the designer of these projects needs added knowledge of how the shoreline works, and a single design doesn’t work everywhere. It’s critical habitat and public property. You want something to work with nature, not against it. It’s difficult.
When a contractor is doing a project, the more sand or stone they use, the more money they make. But we are talking about the public domain in a living shoreline. And most people think about “how do we stop erosion.” Kevin advocates for thinking about “how do we slow erosion” especially in places where danger to structures is not imminent.
Question: What do you think about floating islands? Kevin thinks they are good in some situations. John Flood notes that it can stop some of the wave energy, but not as effective as something that goes all the way to the sea floor.
Kevin continued: Living shorelines are good for people. And good for shore birds, terrapins, horseshoe crabs etc. and have high habitat value. But strategic placement of the rock in high-energy environments is key. Minimize the use of rock and create the optimum habitat.
The Chesapeake Bay Trust has funded many living shorelines especially for public, community or group projects. At MDE there’s a revolving loan fund that provides some money. DNR has some loan funding as well. That program is changing – it’s no longer accepting projects for single private property owners. That program is changing and many that were installed were heavily rock, and maybe not optimum.
Chesapeake Bay Trust has a large variety of grants available. And there is new money available for private property owners to build living shorelines, in certain cases.
Question/Comment: The erosion from motor boats and waterskiing causes erosion too.
John Flood showed a photo of a site proposed for a new living shoreline on Spa Creek, and in front of Horn Point Condominiums. There are two adjacent living shorelines alongside this site. They put up a retaining wall here, and the beach disappeared. There’s also a groin. They plan to make segmented sills off shore. They plan to remove some of the large stone and rubble, cut back the slope and remove the most of the bulkhead. And they’ll create a tidepool in front of his property.
Question: when that becomes a beach, will it be public property? A: No, not public, but it will provide habitat and water quality benefits.
Question: what is the cost of a living shoreline. A: It varies a lot.
Question: Do you need a lot of sun for a living shoreline? A: Yes, most of the shore grasses need full sunlight to thrive.
Bob Whitcomb thanked our two speakers and then proceed to begin the “business” part of the meeting.
Nominating Committee announced the nominations for officers: Duane Wilding for President, Bob Whitcomb for 1st VP, Dinny White for 2nd VP, Tom Guay for Communications Secretary, Lynn Rockenbach Treasurer, Thistle Cone for Recording Secretary (maybe to be shared with Stevie Wilding).
Moving Waters is the name of the film to premiere at the Annual Meeting on April 29th. And a panel of past presidents will speak. The envelopes with the invitations will be stuffed on Friday at Freestate Press in Annapolis.
Cleanup this spring: Project Clean Stream: April 2, 8:30 a.m. on Clements Creek across from Roadhouse Tavern. Details are still being planned. The second site will be at headwaters of Luce Creek off Bestgate Road.
Steve Barry, Director of Arlington Echo, speaking on Environmental Literacy. It’s about environmental stewardship. The programs at Arlington Echo are not available to all students – and not all counties have a similar program. He recommends every child have experiences outdoors pre-K through 12. The goals for this initiative include having all the schools to be certified as green schools. He tries to get kids out and get them involved in some action too. To involve them directly. The graduation requirement has been passed, but the final language has to be passed still. When it went to the political process, it ended up saying you could achieve it by passing the science and social studies requirement. Now the language will be changed. Each county will have state standards. Steve has a film on the topic.
Pierre Henkart has been doing water quality monitoring in the Severn for 5 years. He has the 2010 version, and offered to email it to anyone who signed a list he sent around. To summarize, the changes over the 5 years do not show a significant trend. The Severn has its own dead zone, unfortunately.
Bob Whitcomb reported: Four SRA folks met with the Naval Academy public works office. We heard they intend to be a good environmental citizen, but have no money for retrofits. Thanks goes to Colleen Rutter, who is the stormwater manager for the Academy, and is also a Watershed Steward for helping set up this meeting. There is no line item in the Academy budget for stormwater management. The Academy is right on College Creek. They try to pull out money when new construction occurs on the campus. Some of the worst stormwater problems on campus come from the lot where buses and trucks are stored and maintained; the lot has a broken stormdrain. They have longterm plans to replace the building, but no funds at the moment. Perhaps at the end of some fiscal year they could get funds.
Question: Have you asked about softening their shoreline? A: They have considered it near the crew building, but the water was too deep. At Greenbury Point they may do something, but that’s under Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction.
Bob Whitcomb and others will be premiering in a film, Rivers of Worry, on Maryland Public TV: Feb. 25th, 10:30 p.m. March 23, 8:30 p.m. It may also be shown at other times. Volunteers will also be highlighted April 17.
Event at the Maritime Museum: 1st Annual Oyster Roast on March 19. We will have a booth, if anyone would like to help.
Next SRA meeting: March 15: Don Morris-Jones will finish his presentation on uses of GIS. And we had Earl Bradley sift through permit applications, and the Land Use Committee has sorted through them some more. And we are sorting them by County Council districts: Councilman Jamie Benoit’s district is being considered first. There are some properties of concern seeking permits for large areas of clearing trees, especially along Severn Run. Also there’s a large property on Luce Creek. We are wondering how the County will comply with the General Development plan to have no net loss of forests and allow some of these projects. We are trying to decide which properties to take a stand on.
There was a fascinating walk along the Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance system near East-West Highway at the County offices on Sunday, February 13, with Keith Underwood and Ron Bowen. It was wonderful to see the system there, already attracting wildlife.
Green Drinks, Feb. 23 at the Rockfish Grill.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
(Revised July 2011)