Students Plant Buffer To Save Creek; Create Habitat
Volunteers turn out to plant trees.
Photos by Janet Norman/USFWS
More than 100 volunteers came together on March 16 to plant over 1,000 native trees and shrubs to restore a stream buffer on the Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills, MD. The U.S. Navy leases the 857 acre property to Anne Arundel County, who subleases to Maryland Sunrise Farm to operate the largest organic farm in the State.
The planting is part of a larger master restoration plan for the former dairy farm developed by USFWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologist Rich Mason and Chesapeake Bay Foundation restoration specialist Rob Schnabel. The project has two main goals: to restore riparian forest habitat and small wetlands and to reduce nutrients and sediments flowing into Towser’s Branch and the Little Patuxent River watershed.
Prior to the planting, it was necessary to remove invasive tree species, such as the non-native, Callery/Bradford Pear which is found on approximately 35 acres on the farm. The control methods used met with organic farming regulations.
The white oak, sycamore, red maple, red oak, pin oak and redbud trees will provide habitat for songbirds, small mammals, beneficial insects and other local wildlife. Chesapeake Bay Foundation organized the volunteers, including high school students from the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils, who planted the native trees and learned about other restoration efforts planned for the farm.
The students then completed a “Farms for the Bay” Harlem Shake video on the restoration site, to tune in other teens to the need for Bay-saving measures such as this. Other volunteers included Allegis Group employees and University of Maryland students on an “alternative spring break.”
Restoration activities already completed include the conversion of 21 acres of tilled ground to pasture and installation of fencing to exclude livestock from stream valley. Future plans include additional stream buffer plantings, installation of at least two wetlands to catch runoff from crop fields, conversion of a manure pond into a stormwater wetland, and construction of a bio-retention area/wetland to catch and treat runoff from a pasture.
Funding for this event and for future restoration projects on the farm are through the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Other partners of the USFWS include the U.S. Navy, Anne Arundel County, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Maryland Sunrise Farm.
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