Envision the Choptank Partnership Receives $1 Million to Advance Restoration

To support the Envision the Choptank partnership, ShoreRivers was awarded a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to accelerate the implementation of restoration practices throughout the Choptank River watershed with the goal of improving water quality and reducing nutrients and sediment.

Shown is a retrofit of a 2-stage ditch, an example of a restoration practice eligible for funding by a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund for restoration practices throughout the Choptank River watershed.

The grant was awarded through NFWF’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction program and will support the partnership’s efforts to engage private agricultural landowners in installing some of the most effective pollution-reducing restoration practices on our local waterways. Funds will be used to design and develop innovative incentive programs and hire a Landowner Assistance Coordinator to assist landowners with the installation of wetlands, buffers, and ditch retrofits. Through these efforts, the partnership plans to restore over 200 acres, helping state and local counties meet their nutrient and sediment reduction goals.

“The advantage of a partnership like Envision the Choptank is that we’re able to build on the strengths of many organizations and agencies to tackle more complex and larger-scale projects,” said ShoreRivers Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “ShoreRivers is happy to provide our scientific and technical expertise to the partnership, as well as direct resources to agricultural landowners in the watershed that will help accelerate the implementation of clean water projects.”

Envision the Choptank partners, including ShoreRivers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Soil Conservation Districts, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), will also develop opportunity maps for each of the five counties located within the Choptank watershed—Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot in Maryland and Kent County in Delaware. Using fine-scale resolution topography, land use data, and input from local stakeholders, partners will identify locations where restoration practices will be most effective at reducing nutrients and sediment.

“Using the latest science to identify locations where restoration practices will be most effective helps landowners make informed land-use decisions and ensures that private and public funds are maximizing the return on these investments for cleaner water,” said TNC Maryland/DC Agricultural Program Director Amy Jacobs.

The funding will build on and help expand and mature the Envision the Choptank partnership. Since 2015, the partnership has been bringing together organizations, agencies, and individuals to identify and implement collaborative solutions to meet their joint mission of providing swimmable, fishable waters and enhancing the health and productivity of native oysters in a way that best meets the needs of surrounding communities. The group has grown to include a 17-member Steering Committee and has engaged over 800 people in completing a Common Agenda for the watershed, to be officially launched in 2019. The Agenda can be found at envisionthechoptank.org.

“DNR is very excited to utilize and leverage our Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund grants in the Choptank watershed to begin carrying out the strategies of our Common Agenda. These efforts will further support the state’s mission to restore and protect water quality and habitats in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, including the Choptank River,” said Carrie Decker, Natural Resource Planner and Project Manager with DNR’s Habitat Restoration and Conservation Division.

The partnership welcomes participants to this collaborative endeavor. The initiative’s success will depend on the diversity of organizations and individuals engaged. “If we all work together, we can deliver results that improve both the environmental and the socio-economic health of the watershed, creating a swimmable, fishable Choptank for every community,” said CBF Eastern Shore Director Alan Girard.

Individuals or organizations in the Choptank River watershed interested in engaging in Envision the Choptank, or anyone wanting to learn more about the work of the initiative, is encouraged to contact the partnership at envisionthechoptank@gmail.com.

Previous support for the partnership was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with assistance from the Chesapeake Conservancy.

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