Watershed & Environmental Groups in Southern Maryland

Accokeek Foundation:  Founded 51 years ago, the foundation’s mission is preserving, protecting and fostering “for scientific, educational or charitable use and study for the benefit of the people of the nation, the historical sites and relics, trees, plants, and wildlife rapidly disappearing from an area of great natural beauty along the Maryland shore of the historic Potomac River.” Web site: http://www.accokeek.org/.  Contact: Julie Brunton, outreach@accokeek.org.

Alice Ferguson Foundation: Serving nearly 10,000 students and teachers annually through its programs, this 54-year-old venture is based at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center in Accokeek. One recent undertaking is “Bridging the Watershed,” a partnership between the foundation and the National Park Service that utilizes “national park labs” to provide field studies and service-learning opportunities for urban high school students. Web site: http://www.fergusonfoundation.org/.  Contact: Tracy Bowen, tbowen@fergusonfoundation.org.

Chapman Forest Foundation: This organization’s efforts include protecting the Mattawoman and Potomac watersheds through keeping the natural and cultural resources of Chapman Forest, stopping its forests from fragmentation, maintaining its value for historic and archaeological research and interpretation, protecting its authentic setting, and providing public access and education. Web site: http://www.chapmanforest.org/.  Contact: info@chapmanforest.org.

Coastal Conservation Association, Southern Maryland Chapter: The CCA is a nonprofit comprising 17 coastal state chapters covering the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic seaboard and the Pacific Northwest. CCA started in 1977 “after drastic commercial overfishing along the Texas coast decimated redfish and speckled trout populations” and the organization’s regional chapters help translate concern from anglers into action to conserve and restore the nation’s coastal marine resources. One of CCA’s interesting Web resources is its Grassroots Action Center that serves as a legislative matching system so people can communicate with lawmakers. The Southern Maryland Chapter meets the first Monday of the month September through June at the new Hughesville American Legion. Web site: http://www.ccamd.org/chapters/MD07/MD07.htm.  Contact: Dennis Fleming, SouthernMaryland@ccamd.org.

Conservancy for Charles County: Preservation policies are focused on the Potomac River, Mattawoman Creek, Nanjemoy Creek, the Patuxent River and the Port Tobacco River. Formed in 1996, it evolved from citizen concern over Charles County’s “rapid and accelerating pace of rapid development,” according to Vivian Mills, president. To date, the conservancy has received donations of perpetual conservation easements of more than 1,700 acres of land and has contributed to the permanent protection of hundreds of other acres. Web site: http://www.conservecharles.org/.  Contact: Vivian Mills, vmills@conservecharles.org.

Lower Potomac Tributary Strategy Team: This nearly 12-year-old effort is based on local citizens, farmers, business leaders and government officials (appointed by the governor) banding together toward common goals. These stakeholders work to control nutrient pollution from farm fields and horse pastures, wastewater treatment plants, construction and road building activities, and hundreds of thousands of suburban properties, according to its chair Bob Boxwell. The team’s major focus is the 40 percent nutrient-reduction goal established in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. Web site: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/bay/tribstrat/low_pot/low_pot.html.  Contact: Bob Boxwell, bobboxwell@hotmail.com.

Mattawoman Watershed Society: Started in 2006, the society grew out of the Friends of the Mattawoman Creek and has several hundred supporters. Its efforts include spotlighting the importance of the watershed’s living resources and the protection, preservation and restoration of the creek and its tributaries and watershed. The group held a 2006 forum in which speakers from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Maryland Bass Federation Nation and the society discussed the value and vulnerability of the Mattawoman as well as solutions to averting “projected growth-induced severe degradation.” Web site: http://www.mattawomanwatershedsociety.org/.  Contact: Jim Long, info@mattwomanwatershedsociety.org.

Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center, Charles County Public Schools: Formed in 1987, the center’s seven staff members are dedicated to providing children with “meaningful outdoor learning experiences which promote the development of a lifelong environmental ethic and stewardship in students,” said Paula Batzer, environmental education resource teacher. One of its recent projects was working with the Charles County Planning and Growth Management office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and teachers and students at Dr. Gustavus Brown and Arthur Middleton elementary schools on a watershed restoration project to treat runoff from more than 41 acres of impervious cover on these school sites. Web site: http://www.ccboe.com/nanjemoycreek.  Contact: Paula Batzer, pbatzer.ccboe.com.

Patuxent Riverkeeper: Started more than three years ago, this nonprofit has nearly 300 members and its mission is to conserve, protect and replenish the Patuxent River – the state’s longest and deepest intrastate waterway, said Riverkeeper Fred Tutman. Its accomplishments include creating a comprehensive “action plan” based on holistic watershed planning and restoration, working on a multi-county paddle trail linking camping sites and paddle launch destinations, patrolling the river and investigating water-quality-related complaints, coordinating the annual Patuxent River Cleanup and spearheading a citizen water-quality-monitoring initiative used by the state to collate an annual river report card. Web site: http://www.paxriverkeeper.org/.  Contact: 301-249-8200.

Port Tobacco River Conservancy: This nonprofit got underway in 2001 and has built up momentum through water testing, and securing grants for research and restoration work. Through projects, members help in a range of grassroots ways, from wading in streams to seine for macroinvertebrates as indicators of the river’s health and managing wade-ins and clean-ups at Chapel Point State Park in Port Tobacco, to focusing on protecting yellow perch – a species that has been adversely affected by habitat destruction and over-fishing. It also encouraged Charles County to apply for Bay Restoration Fund monies and manage a state-funded program for septic system upgrades with nitrogen-removal technology. Web site: http://www.porttobaccoriver.org/. Contact: Debra Murphey, murpheywrite@aol.com.

Potomac River Association: It was formed through a merger of the Potomac River Association, which started in 1969 to oppose a petroleum refinery at Piney Point on the lower Potomac, and the Patuxent River Association, which was founded in 1967 to save Myrtle Point from development, said Erik Jansson, president of the association. The refinery was blocked and Myrtle Point is now a 200-acre park. Recent efforts include using volunteers to inspect stormwater systems in the critical areas. The association is the oldest environmental group serving the mid-Chesapeake Bay and Southern Maryland region and is not focused solely on the Potomac River. Its work impacts the Potomac River as well as its tributaries, the Patuxent River watershed and the Chesapeake Bay. Web site: http://www.p-r-a.org/.  Contact: Dudley Lindsley, dlindsley@verizon.net.

Sierra Club/Southern Maryland Group: The local arm of this national organization was formed in 1989 with a mission that encompasses exploring, enjoying and protecting “the wild places of the earth.” A need for a Southern Maryland group was partially based on the reality that “Southern Maryland is unique in that it has most of the coastline for the state,” said locally renowned activist Bonnie Bick. “We are crisscrossed and surrounded by waterways.” The club’s public outreach includes publications, presentations and public events. Web site: http://maryland.sierraclub.org/southern-md/. Contact: Frank Fox, ff725@yahoo.com.

Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Board, Inc.: This nonprofit serves the citizens of Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. Working with diverse partners, and with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the board helps communities address conservation and quality-of-life concerns. Initiatives have touched on extending the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Charles and St. Mary’s counties, large-scale shoreline stabilization efforts with the U.S. Navy, living shoreline projects, assisting with Charles County’s Watershed Restoration Action Strategy and promoting innovative stormwater management. Web site: http://www.somdrcd.org/. Contact: Jeremy West, jeremy.west1@verizon.net.

St. Mary’s River Watershed Association: Known for RiverFest, an annual celebration of the St. Mary’s River that is held the last Saturday in September, this nonprofit counts collaboration with stakeholders with economic, agricultural, environmental, social, cultural and political interests as the cornerstone of its mission. With over five years of data from the St. Mary’s River Project, “the association was formed to establish a sustainable, reciprocally beneficial relationship between the ecology of the St. Mary’s River and the communities that reside within the watershed.” Web site: http://www.smrwa.org/. Contact: Bob Lewis, taylew@erols.com.

The Patuxent River Commission: An interjurisdictional group that was created by state legislation in 1980 to address Patuxent watershed issues. The commission charged with the implementation of the Patuxent River Policy Plan and in 1995 expanded to 34 members and assumed the additional role of the Patuxent Tributary Team. Commission members envision a Patuxent River ecosystem as vital and productive in 2050 as it was in the 1950s. Web site: http://www.mdp.state.md.us/info/patux.htm. Contact: Maryland Department of Planning, 410-767-4500.

Thanks to Deborah Zimmerman Murphey for this listing