ShoreRivers Awarded DNR Grant

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce the receipt of a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to complete two large ecological restorations on the Eastern Shore that will significantly reduce nutrient and sediment pollution entering our rivers. In the Wye River watershed, ShoreRivers will restore 29 acres of marginal cropland to ponds, wetlands, and forest. In the Sassafras River watershed, ShoreRivers will restore 16 acres of floodplain and 4,800 feet of stream. This project will result in the complete restoration of the entire length of the stream, from a headwater agricultural ditch to the main stem of the Sassafras. The projects are slated to begin this fall and be completed by December 2021.

Wye River Restoration at Chesapeake College
The Chesapeake College Agriculture to Ecosystem project will convert 28.72 acres of an agricultural field with a badly incised ditch that drains nutrient and sediments to the Wye East River. The land will be removed from production, converted into two ponds, a series of wetland cells with habitat islands, planted infiltration berms and approximately 13.5 acres of tree plantings. The campus of Chesapeake College is located at the headwaters of the Wye East River.

This site will undergo a total conversion from an agricultural field to high quality wetland and forest habitat, all in view of heavily trafficked Route 50. This project will complement ShoreRivers’ regenerative stormwater conveyance project installed on a separate stream on the Chesapeake College campus, in addition to bioretentions, tree plantings, wildflower meadows, switchgrass buffers, and a wetland that have been installed throughout the campus. The project will also incorporate a walking path to allow students to use the project as an outdoor laboratory.

For more information about the Chesapeake College restoration, contact ShoreRivers Director of Operations & Finance Kristin Junkin at 443.385.0511 ext 204 or

Sassafras River Stream Restoration
The project in the Sassafras River watershed will restore 16 acres of floodplain wetlands and 4,800 feet of a headwater stream in the upper Sassafras. Combined with a recently completed restoration of 3,800 feet of stream also funded by Maryland DNR, this project represents 8,000 consecutive feet of stream restoration beginning in a headwaters agricultural ditch and flowing all the way to the main stem of the Sassafras River.

This restoration site is directly downstream of a ShoreRivers sampling site that historically has the highest monitored nutrient concentrations in the non-tidal Sassafras. The drainage is mainly agricultural but includes 43 acres of state and county roadways. Heavy stormflow runoff events have incised the stream channel with steep, eroding banks that are disconnected from its historic floodplain and subsequently unable to disperse stormflow energy, continually increasing the severity of bank erosion and over-widening of the channel.

This restoration, designed by Ecotone Ecological Restoration in consultation with ShoreRivers, goes beyond the consideration of nutrient processing and sediment storage, placing significant emphasis on promoting quality of in-stream and floodplain habitat, ecological uplift, and biodiversity. The restoration will promote higher dissolved oxygen levels within the stream system and lower water temperatures. This, along with connectivity of the floodplain, restoration of groundwater hydrology, seep habitat, and vernal pool wetlands, will provide critical habitat for a range of amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish, and improve fish passage through the system to the Sassafras River headwaters.

For more information about the Sassafras restoration, contact ShoreRivers Restoration Manager Kim Righi at 443.385.0511 ext 251 or

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. For more information, visit

An eroding stream bank pre-restoration, from an earlier ShoreRivers project.
Post-restoration shows the streambed raised and re-connected to its natural floodplain.
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