Environmental Stewardship Award presented at DCPG

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline received the 2014 Stewardship Award from the Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth. A certificate was presented to the mayor by state Sen. Addie Eckardt and Delegate Johnny Mautz at the DCPG annual meeting held at the Dorchester County Historical Society.

CAMBRIDGE — An attentive crowd, well acquainted with the nuts and bolts of Chesapeake Bay clean-up practices, attended the Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth (DCPG) annual meeting on Jan. 25 at the Dorchester County Historical Society. DCPG President Fred Pomeroy served as master of ceremonies.

Aside from generous servings of chilled local oysters, two presentations highlighted the event. The 2015 Environmental Stewardship Award was “given to a Dorchester resident who has exemplified good stewardship of the county’s resources.” This year’s recipient, East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline, has protected the county’s natural resource and, said Mr. Pomeroy, “done so with grace and style.”

Mr. Pomeroy explained that Friendship Hall, an historic mansion in East New Market, was on the “auction block. It seemed like that place would be lost, maybe torn down, but thankfully through Caroline’s work and others it has been preserved. That is a major event for Dorchester County.”

In introducing Mayor Cline, Mr. Pomeroy noted that Ms. Cline has “Spearheaded the beautification of the community and saved a pristine tract of land from development.”   He referred to the town’s purchase of 10 acres next to the mansion. Phase I, a playground with covered structure, is complete and work is beginning on Phase II, a walking trail.

State Senator Addie Eckardt said everyone needs to work together to figure out a multi-layered strategy that will “preserve the health of our water and our land. She said Mayor Cline “is a wonderful example for all of us to emulate” because she has applied what she knows about the land, a passion for history and a passion for being a good steward of the land and the water. Sen. Eckardt and Delegate Johnny Mautz presented a citation from the state legislature.

In response, the Mayor said, “I kind of feel like this is a case of mistaken identity but I’m happy to be here. I am honored and immensely humbled by this.” Saying that anything she has done was done with the cooperation of many people. She thanked the town council and acknowledged attendees Vice Mayor David Tolley and Councilperson Cindy Merrick. “A lot of what we have done is with the support of now Senator Addie Eckardt, our Commissioner Rick Price, and all of our staunchest and most wonderful supporters in this county including Tourism Director Amanda Fenstermaker. I am hopeful that because of the efforts of a group like this, this wonderful special part of the world that we live in will be held in trust for future generations.”

After receiving a David Harp photograph in further recognition of her good stewardship Ms. Cline promised to hang the piece, “Winter Solstice,” in the town hall for everyone to enjoy.

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth president Fred Pomeroy presented a David Harp photograph entitled “Winter Solstice” to East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline, winner of the 2014 Stewardship Award. She plans to hang the piece in the town’s Municipal Building for the public to enjoy.

Keynote speaker Diane Miller, PWS, restoration ecologist for Environmental Concern, Inc., announced an ambitious project underway at Sailwinds Park to improve the quality of the Choptank River in that immediate vicinity.

Stormwater runoff funnels harmful sediments directly into the Bay. By developing stormwater ponds, wetlands, and bio-retention facilities to capture and filter stormwater runoff before it enters the waterways the threat is mitigated.

As development progresses and more land is covered by impervious surfaces less water is able to infiltrate into the ground. According to the company’s website, “Wetlands are natural sponges that hold great quantities of water, filter sediments, uptake nutrients, and slowly release the captured water into the groundwater and into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation.”

Modeled after a similar project in Centreville, the Sailwinds project will include a Stormwater Education Station and Rain Gardens. In Centreville, the group worked with Queen Anne county officials and volunteers to build a covered kiosk that is fitted with a “green roof” — a vegetated cover of soil and plants that replaces shingles or tile and perpetuates the use of rainwater. Rain barrels will feed a nearby rain garden. The rain gardens are designed to filter and discharge the water within two days unlike wetlands which retain water.

In Centreville, Environmental Concern Inc. provided the rain garden, permeable pavers and educators to assist volunteers in understanding the native plants and use of retrofit techniques. Explanatory signage joins vegetative and structural elements in the demonstration area where visitors can learn the basics about environmental stewardship.

The rain gardens are “Retrofit Projects.” The first has a catchment area of less than an acre with room for a 1,900 sq. ft. rain garden. The second catchment area is .39 acres for a 1,800 sq. ft. garden. The third is a .36 acre catchment area with plenty of room for a large garden.  The next step is to survey and refine the conceptual design.  Several groups will assume responsibility for the project which is estimated to cost $45,000. So far, the County Council, the City of Cambridge, and DCPG have each pledged $5,000; and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance has pledged $7,000. Mr. Pomeroy noted “almost half” of the funds have been raised. The affiliated organizations are seeking grants, matching funds, and fundraising through private donors.

Prior to the presentations, Dr. Roman Jesien, chair of DCPG’s water quality monitoring, reported 2014 results from creek monitoring at numerous locations. He acknowledged sediment contamination problems with the Conowingo Dam but emphasized “we have to fix what’s on our property.”

Shelly Baird, executive director of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, shared some programs and initiatives of the group that are designed to protect the resources of the Nanticoke Watershed. Over 40 organizations now partner with the Alliance.

Beth Watson, volunteer and outreach coordinator for the Nanticoke Alliance, noted that 42 Creekwatcher volunteers monitored 36 sites in 2014 and stressed the need for additional volunteer helpers.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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