2022 President’s Letter

Published: November 17, 2022

Dear Friend of the Severn,

This past June I joined the Severn River Association (SRA) board of directors as President following a career in environmental service that included serving as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. I joined because of SRA’s commitment to make a difference in the life, health, and future of the Severn River, and I have not been disappointed. 

Yet as impressed as I have been thus far with the work SRA is accomplishing, even more remarkable is the generous support of our donors. Severn River watershed residents clearly understand the value of our river and how it improves the quality of life for all who are able to experience it. And you know that healthy rivers deliver immense benefits to economies and nature as well as people.

SRA’s mission is to connect the people who live, work, and play on the Severn River to restore and protect it for all of our communities. 

Connecting. Generations of families have grown up on the Severn River, with ever-renewing appreciation for the opportunities it provides to experience the wonder of nature. Children wiggling toes in the sand and waters of beaches; anglers catching perch; kayakers paddling against the backdrop of a rising or setting sun; boaters feeling the wind and sun against smiling faces. Watershed residents, grateful for the opportunity to live near the Severn, welcome family, friends, and neighbors to share the view. Over the past 10 months we have widened and deepened our connections as follows:

  • Increased our Social Media (Facebook & Instagram) followers by 25%  
  • Deployed 30 trained volunteers in our water quality monitoring program to collect and analyze water samples from 51 locations up and down the Severn 
  • Educated children at community summer camps on the Severn River and provided on-the-water experiences for students through our Floating Classrooms program
  •  Presented experts on issues important to the Severn through our adult education John Wright Speaker Series with topics on oysters, jellyfish, osprey and more
  • Recruited over 200 new private donors.

This important work cannot happen without your generous support!

Restoring. The Severn River is suffering largely as a result of excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment from stormwater runoff mostly coming from over 4,000 acres of development built before required stormwater controls. Healing and restoring the River will take a long-term, sustained effort. 

In 2022, SRA took a major step forward by hiring two professional staff to assist with the planning and implementation of restoration projects. We are just getting started, but in the past year SRA has been awarded the following grants:

  • $131,000 for Nautilus Point to treat stormwater runoff that flows into Back Creek, a tributary of the Severn.
  • $77,000 to reduce stormwater runoff in the Wardour community.
  • $72,000 to develop a Severn River Action Plan of restoration priorities.

Another way SRA is restoring the river is through oyster reefs, which provide habitat for fish and filter nitrogen from the water. This year SRA planted 30 million oysters (“spat-on-shell”) on sanctuaries through the Oyster Recovery Partnership, and engaged 320 volunteers in growing oysters as part of the Maryland Grow Oysters program.

Protecting. We advocate for policies and laws that protect and restore our river. We work with all levels of government, corporate partners, civic associations and individuals to implement river-friendly policies and practices. This year we led the charge against the concept plan to turn the Greenbury Point nature preserve into a golf course.

SRA’s vision is a thriving Severn River by 2050. Realizing this vision requires your help to face the challenges ahead. Our future needs include: 

  • Additional staff resources to apply for grant funding, manage grants, and bid out and manage design and construction restoration work; 
  • a restoration fund to issue challenge grants to communities to make our applications more competitive, as other watershed organizations have done

The future of the Severn River belongs to all of us! Will you help SRA make a difference on the Severn with a generous tax-deductible donation this year? You can Donate Here

Thank you again for your continued support,


Joe Gill
Severn River Association 

P.S. If you’d like more information now, simply email info@severnriver.org