Maryland's Chesapeake & Coastal Service News - March 2012

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Volume 4, Issue 3 

March 2012


IN THE ZONE is a service from the 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources'

Chesapeake & Coastal Service (CCS)

that delivers timely information, tools, and resources to those who live, work, and play in Maryland's coastal zone.

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From Science to Policy: How Wetland Monitoring Has Informed Maryland's Land Conservation Efforts


Measuring a SET station at Jug Bay.

Photo credit: L. Carroll

In an effort to better understand how marshes will respond to sea level rise, Maryland DNR's Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve-MD (CBNERR-MD) research program started a project in 2007 to monitor marsh soil elevation change as a result of erosion, marsh settlement, compaction, and sediment accumulation. The study uses two different field techniques: Surface Elevation Tables (SETs) and marker horizons. Both techniques are widely employed around the world as they allow scientists to determine if a marsh will be able to survive sea level rise trends. If a marsh surface elevation increases at a similar or greater rate as increase in water levels, it is expected that the marsh will be able to survive sea level rise, otherwise the marsh will start to become more flooded and fall apart.


CBNERR-MD's marsh surface elevation monitoring is currently conducted at Jug Bay and Monie Bay. In each of these sites, SETs are located in low and high marsh zones and are distributed along emergent vegetation transects that are also monitored by the Reserve. All SETs sampled by CBNERR-MD are measured twice a year: in the spring (start of growing season) and fall (start of non-growing season). The data from these sites will help inform DNR policies and statewide climate change responses.


One such example was the use of Jug Bay SET data in Maryland's land conservation targeting. Over the last two years, Maryland made strides to increase the State's resiliency and adaptability to climate change through land conservation targeting using predictive wetland modeling as a guide for future coastal landscape. Jug Bay wetland accumulation rates derived from CBNERR-MD SET data were used to help predict the rate of wetland response to sea level rise for Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties. This effort has led to the identification of priority land conservation and restoration areas in those counties that will be used to help direct the State's land conservation and restoration dollars.


Sea level rise is an important factor leading to the deterioration of Maryland's coastal marshes. The only way marshes can keep up with increasing water levels is by building up their elevation (through sediment accumulation on top of the marsh soil surface) and/or by migrating to uplands. Understanding how wetlands may respond to the effects of sea level rise will influence the way Maryland DNR manages State lands, directs conservation and restoration efforts, and further helps the State become more resilient to sea level rise and other coastal hazards.


For more info please contact Dr. Patricia Delgado, CBNERR Research Coordinator at or visit  



Funding Available to Help Coastal Communities Prepare for Climate Change


climate change

Maryland is offering grants and technical assistance to help local communities prepare to respond and adapt to the anticipated impacts of coastal hazards and climate change through the CoastSmart Communities Initiative (CCI). In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State will provide grants ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 to coastal communities to support the planning and preparation needed to adapt to climate related impacts. In addition to competitive grants, the State will offer on-the-ground expertise, planning guidance, training and tools to support local planning efforts.


The deadline to submit proposals is rapidly approaching If you would like to discuss your project ideas or require pre-proposal assistance, please e-mail CoastSmart Planner, Jeff Allenby.


For more information on this opportunity as well as the services offered by the State or to apply for a grant, please visit the CoastSmart Communities Online Resource Center at

A Spring Forum Sponsored by Maryland's Watershed Assistance Collaborative


Maryland's Watershed Assistance Collaborative is sponsoring a "Resources for Restoration" Spring Forum on April 17, 2012 at University of Maryland's College Park's Stamp Student Union. Learn about: opportunities from the area's top restoration funders; tips for building sustainable financing strategies with a focus on stormwater management projects; how to access real one-on-one technical assistance; and top notch contractors and service providers who can assist in completing your projects.


Are you a contractor or service provider that focuses on stormwater management?  If so, please consider applying to be part of our Spring Forum Service Provider Showcase. Please click here for exhibitor/sponsorship information.


Registration is free. For more information and to register click here.


The Watershed Assistance Collaborative, with its dedicated staff of regional watershed restoration specialists, has given more than $1M in hands-on technical assistance and has helped more than 40 communities in the identification, design and engineering of shovel-ready restoration projects. It has also identified more than 75 acres of necessary forested buffer plantings, and assisted several communities with innovative financing strategies and new stormwater utilities.


New Fact Sheet Available Describing Monitoring Efforts 


TF fact sheetIn partnership with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, DNR is tasked to monitor the effectiveness of the Trust Fund. Past accomplishments include the development of a monitoring strategy designed to guide Trust Fund recipients in the development of local watershed monitoring plans as well continuous on-the-ground baseline monitoring. Recent efforts have focused on the effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) which will guide future investments with the Trust Fund.


BMPs are practical structural or nonstructural methods designed to prevent or reduce the movement of pollutants from land to surface and/or ground waters. Evaluating BMP effectiveness is necessary for demonstrating whether projects actually reduce pollutant yields. The current monitoring strategy indicates that BMPs implemented in Trust Fund projects must demonstrate a water quality response (e.g., improvement in water quality) within three years of completion. Monitoring water quality both before and after BMP implementation is a preferred and effective method that can be used to evaluate the pollutant reduction capabilities.


For more information on Trust Fund projects and monitoring effectiveness, click the thumbnail above to view the new fact sheet, or visit

Provides Public with New Soft Launch and Water Trail Access Site


ayers creek ls
Photo of a recently completed biolog living shoreline project (biolog is buried) on Ayers Creek. Marsh grass planting is scheduled for Spring 2012. Photo by Bhaskar Subramanian.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Town of Ocean City, and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program have partnered to install a living shoreline and create a soft launch on Ayers Creek in Worcester County. The project will provide public recreational boating access to Ayers Creek from a site that was formerly the Ocean City Landfill.


The 37-acre site, with approximately 450 feet of shoreline, is owned by the Town of Ocean City and was the municipal landfill until 1980. Once designated as a Superfund site, the area has since been cleaned of toxic materials and was cleared by MDE in 2007. The site is also adjacent to the 442-acre Ayers Creek/Holly Grove Swamp property - a large, forested wetland complex along a half-mile stretch of Ayers Creek - which was preserved for public open space through a partnership between DNR, the County, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, NOAA's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) and the Trust for Public Land in 2011.


Specific features of the project include:

  • Installation of a parking area fitted with Grass Protecta (a pervious mesh material);
  • Creation of an ADA accessible path to the Ayers Creek shoreline (also fitted with Grass Protecta);
  • Creation of an access site/marsh area along the shore which is about 20 ft. wide and is composed of biologs, sand fill, and wetland plantings;
  • Planting of native trees, shrubs and grasses that adhere to State Critical Area Commission and County requirements; and
  • Installation of bike racks, a portable toilet, and an entrance gate.

This new access site will benefit paddlers, recreational trail users and nature lovers by providing an amenity that is accessible by persons with disabilities, and provides access to the headwaters of Ayers Creek. The public will be able to experience both nearby CELCP properties from the water, which are also accessible for passive recreation opportunities like hiking and bird watching. And finally, this new access site provides much needed access to the northwestern areas of the Assateague Water Trails network which is being developed by DNR Boating Services, Worcester County and Delmarva Low Impact Trail Experiences (DLITE). The trail network will feature a series of routes for paddlers and other recreational boaters who want to explore Ayers Creek, Newport, Chincoteague and Sinepuxent Bays, Ocean City and the Atlantic Ocean.


For more information about this project contact Lisa Gutierrez with DNR Boating Services at


Leasing Process for Commercial Wind Development Initiated for Offshore Maryland


wind farm

Kentish Flats wind power farm, in sunset.

Photo by Vattenfall.

On February 2, 2012, the Department of Interior announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is moving forward with the process for wind energy lease sales off the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware.  BOEM's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment found that there would be no significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases in designated Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas off the mid-Atlantic Coast.


The environmental assessment considered potential environmental impacts associated with site assessment activities, such as geophysical, geotechnical, archeological and biological surveys and the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys.  BOEM will use this environmental assessment to inform future leasing decisions in the Mid-Atlantic, including those emerging from BOEM's recent Call for Information and Nominations (Call) for Maryland's Wind Energy Area (WEA). Through this Call, BOEM is soliciting additional lease nominations and is requesting public comments about site conditions, resources and other existing uses of the WEA off the coast of Maryland. Once a lease is obtained and the developer proposes a wind energy generation project on its lease, BOEM will prepare a separate site- and project-specific analysis under NEPA of its construction and operations plan, and provide additional opportunities for public involvement.  


The Call Area offshore Maryland contains nine whole OCS blocks and 11 partial blocks. A map of the area of interest can be found at: 


For more information on Maryland's efforts to plan for offshore wind and to help the State to balance multiple uses in the ocean, visit


Congratulations to Martha Shaum!



The Chesapeake and Coastal Service's very own, Martha Shaum, has won a statewide education award. The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) presented Shaum with the Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award on February 10.


Shaum has worked within DNR's Chesapeake and Coastal Service for more than five years as the Angler Education Coordinator. She leads the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs program, which teaches school students, summer campers and even adults how to fish. She also develops curricula on aquatic animals, including fish husbandry programs. Shaum combines science with important conservation messages to deliver captivating lessons to children in school, and at education and outreach events.


The Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate leadership and innovation in environmental and outdoor education. This year's annual MAEOE conference was held in Ocean City, Md. and had more than 600 attendees.


The Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award honors his memory by rewarding the efforts of those who strive for these qualities. The award began in 2007; Martha is the 6th recipient.


Click here to view the full press release.

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IN THE ZONE e-mails.
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A publication of the Maryland Coastal Zone Management Program pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA11NOS4190151. This publication is funded (in part) by a grant/cooperative agreement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or any of its sub-agencies. 

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