Saving the Bay Foot by Foot

Grants to restore shorelines multiply dollars and deeds

A South River Federation grant of less than $13,000 helped create a living shoreline for this Church Creek homeowner.

Restoring the Bay is like cleaning house: We do it chore by chore.
    Fortunately, the Bay multiplies much of the effort we put into it. Put water in motion and it keeps moving. Put $800,000 into shoreline restorations, and the grants multiply dollars and deeds.
    The dozen new shoreline restoration grants in Maryland and four in Virginia are putting that money to work, multiplying the momentum.
    This Bay chore is supported by the Chesapeake Bay Trust with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and, in Maryland the departments of Natural Resources and of Environment. Much of the money comes from our taxes, though we contribute voluntarily to the Trust, in large part by buying Treasure the Chesapeake license plates.
    From bulldozing bulkheads, building breakwaters and planting grasses to stabilize and soften 7,000 feet of shoreline, 173,073 square feet of wetlands are rising to nurture creatures beyond counting.
    Crawling through those wetlands to reproduce are terrapins, our state reptile, an iconic species that are reappearing in restored habitat “largely through the commitment of landowners to this type of project,” according to Eric Schwaab, now of NOAA.
    Homeowners typically work with riverkeepers in developing projects and seeking funding.
    “It’s happening all over, with significant funding to Anne Arundel County because we have so many active community groups and so much shoreline in need of stabilization,” South River Federation executive director Erik Michelsen told me.
    This round’s six grants put $253,445 to work in Anne Arundel County, funding living shorelines in the communities of Annapolis Cove and Magothy Beach, at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and, through three riverkeepers, at private homes.
    The South River Federation grant, Maryland’s smallest at $12,880, helped Church Creek homeowner Brenda Boultwood create a living shoreline stabilized by off-shore breakwaters. Property owners typically pay 25 percent of the cost of a project.
    Tara Potter of Beards Creek, also in the South River Watershed, put an earlier grant to work on her 120 feet of waterfront. “It’s really working well,” Potter said. “It’s flushing, and all kinds of critters are swimming.”