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SMRWA Submits Proposal for
St. Mary's Restoration and Oyster Fishery Management

St. Mary's City, Nov 9—The St. Mary's River Watershed Association (SMRWA) submitted their plan today for the protection and restoration of the St. Mary's River oyster sanctuary and an oyster fishery management plan for the public harvest areas. Read the plan.

      In summary, the plan calls for the protection of the entire sanctuary area as well as designation as one of five tributary sanctuaries to be restored under the Bay's clean-up plan using federal monies. Such a designation would bring a massive restoration project into the St. Mary's in an effort to add an additional 150 or more acres of productive oyster bars within the sanctuary. Once completed, the restored areas would remain off limts indefinately—the sanctuary would no longer be threatened by public harvest.

      Investments in the health of the St. Mary's River spans two decades and includes $3 million in federal dollars to develop ten years of water quality data under the St. Mary's River Project (a St. Mary's College of Maryland project). Since 2009, local efforts have restored oysters in seven locations within the sanctuary including the five-acre reef project (photo above) costing local, state, and corporate funders about $254,000. These projects have been very successful. Opening the sanctuary to harvest, as the watermen hope will happen, would throw away all these prior investments and return the St. Mary's to meager harvest and poorer water quality. Read the plan

Watermen Propose Limited Harvest
in St. Mary's Sanctuary

St. Mary's City, Sept. 29—The St. Mary's River Watershed Association (SMRWA) received a phone call last night from a member of the Watermen's Association of St. Mary's County inviting us to attend a meeting tonight on a proposal to open the St. Mary's River oyster sanctuary to commercial harvest of wild oysters. In response to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' invitation to submit such a proposal, the St. Mary's county oyster committee (a separate entity from the Watermen's Association) was preparing a proposal for a limited harvest using power dredges on a large portion of the sanctuary known as Horseshoe Bar and upriver including Box Oak Bar to Martin's Point. Read more.

Boeing Reef Build

      On Saturday, July 30th we'll be building the 35th reef mound (the first constructed with stone) as part of Boeing's Month of Service.

       Since 2013, the Oyster Reef Project, a partnership between SMRWA, Leonardtown Rotary Club, and St. Mary's College of Maryland, has restored nearly two acres of crucial habitat to the St. Mary's River oyster sanctuary. Within the five acre restoration site, 21 reef ball, 2 shell pile, and 13 concrete rubble mounds have been constructed, requiring 603 reef balls, 270 bushels of oyster shell, nearly 190 tons of concrete rubble.

      This area, which was previously barren and lifeless, now contains artificial reefs that closely mimic that of historic oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Extending up to 1 ft below low tide and 6 meters in diameter, these three dimensional mounds provide the structure necessary for oysters to become established and habitat for other organisms.

Interpretive Sign for
Oyster Reef Project

      A hearty thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for funding the design and manufacture of this exciting sign, which was installed last week at the college waterfront. And hats off to Dan Branigan and the college staff who endured northwest winds and temperatures in the twenties to get the sign installed promptly. It is only through the generous support of our partners and members that exciting work like this continues throughout the year.

      The signage project was organized and led by Allison Rugila, SMRWA Program Director. The design by Stephanie Sobchak Graphic Designs was based on Allison's content and utilizing several of the Association's photgraphs from actual projects and field trips at the reef.

      Read more.


40-Page Guide Published


Available Free

The forty-page guide, From My Backyard to Our Bay, A St. Mary's County Resident's Guide to Improving Our Environment and Drinking Water, is available free at area businesses, or you can download it from our web site. The Greenery in Hollywood, Chicken Scratch in Park Hall, and Good Earth Natural Foods in Leonardtown have free copies. Support your local businesses and get your free copy.    Download compressed version [3.8 MB]

A download link to a high resolution PDF formatted version
is available on our publications page.

303d Campaign to
Restore the St. Mary's River

The EPA has listed the St. Mary's River as an impaired tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Simply stated, the river is polluted and it's getting worse, not better. Read More.

Join the new 303d Campaign and become a River Guardian or a River Steward.

Just updated: SMRWA recognizes donors to the 303d Campaign.

CALL TO ACTION
Oyster Sanctuary Under Threat - May Be Opened to Public Harvest

St. Mary's City, Nov 9—At the State's invitation, the St. Mary's county oyster committee submitted a proposal to the Secretary of DNR and the Oyster Advisory Committee to open the St. Mary's River Oyster Sanctury to public harvest. In fact, many of Maryland's sancturies are under similar threat from relvant county oyster committees. County oysters committees are made up of license watermen only. Yet the people of Maryland own the oysters and should be a part of any decision. Therefore the SMRWA has submitted our porposal to manage our sanctuary (see article to the left).

       PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO SECRETARY BELTON AND THE OYSTER ADVISORY COMMISSION AND TELL THEM TO PROTECT THE ST. MARY'S RIVER SANCTUARY AND ALL OF MARYLAND'S SANCTUARIES. Ask them to designate the St. Mary's as one of five tributaries to be restored using federal monies.


Underwater image of the oyster reef restoration project in the St. Mary's River oyster sanctuary—a partnership project with St. Mary's College of Maryland, Leonardtown Rotary, and the St. Mary's River Watershed Association.

Download a sample letter
Fact Sheet     |    St. Mary's Plan

Write to:
Secretary Mark Belton
Oyster Advisory Commission - Tawes Building
580 Taylor Ave
Annapolis, MD 21401

or send by email to: david.blazer@maryland.gov

State Report Says No Public Harvest
St. Mary's River Oyster Sanctuary
Should Be Protected

St. Mary's City, Oct. 13—Last winter, Governor Hogan suspended the restoration activities in Maryland's sanctuaries—turning away a million dollars of federal monies that ended up going to Virginia—because a 5-year study of sanctuaries, public harvest areas, and aquaculture operations was due out last July 2016. Hogan was looking for opportunities within the reportto enhance the wild oyster fishery, a campaign promise he made to Maryland's watermen.


Underwater image of the oyster reef restoration project in the St. Mary's River oyster sanctuary—a partnership project with St. Mary's College of Maryland, Leonardtown Rotary, and the St. Mary's River Watershed Association.

       The report does little to support Hogan's promise. It states that restoration in two sanctuaries, Harris Creek and the Little Choptank, has been successful and that restoration activities should continue. Furthermore, the report specifically calls out the St. Mary's River as a sanctuary that is doing extremely well and may, after extensive surveys, be termed fully restored to Bay goals without the state or federal governments investing a single dollar of taxpayer monies. The report offers just two options within the recommendations for the St. Mary's River sanctuary: 1) do nothing,... Read more.

Thank you!


Saturday, September 24, 2016
at Historic St. Mary's City
More Info

Fourteen Rain Gardens Installed

      There are numerous ways to positively impact our beloved river from collecting trash to arresting rainwater runoff before it reaches the river. A rain garden is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. This natural water filtration system is not only aesthetically appealing, but also a big help in reducing runoff by catching storm water from your roof and/or driveway and filtering it through plant use and organic materials. And best of all—we have grant funding to assit you in designing and building your dream rain garden!

      We have installed fourteen rain gardens in the past few year and, collectively, they are reducing pollution to the St. Mary's River: Nitrogen reduction 24 pounds annually, Phosphorus reduction 1 1/3 pounds annually and sediments reduction by 240 pounds annually. For more info please contact us at Email: meghan.m.webster@gmail.com

Watershed Implementation Plan:
A Characterization of
the St. Mary's River Watershed


      Want to know more about current status of the Watershed? The first draft of the Characterization document (part of the St. Mary's River Watershed Restoration Action Strategy) is now available online! This document presents a snapshot of the watershed in terms of its environmental issues, natural resources, and human development, needs, and impacts.

Time-lapse:
Oysters Filtering Water

An adult oyster can filter 55 gallons of water each day. Once oysters filtered the entire Chesapeake Bay every few days.

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