CHESTERTOWN — Community members had the opportunity to get a closer look at the restoration work ShoreRivers organizes April 3 during a project tour in Kent County.
While known for its “science-based advocacy and education efforts” to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, ShoreRivers also supports projects inland to reduce erosion and runoff.
The tour began in Wye Mills at Chesapeake College where about 40 participants boarded a bus following a closer look at the stormwater restoration projection ongoing there.
The tour then took participants to three locations in Kent County giving them a better look at projects in all stages of completion — from initial work, to a newly finished project to one two years after its completion.
At the Chesapeake College project, according to a news release, ShoreRivers “implemented a suite of 19 projects to address major stormwater challenges on campus and to capture runoff from almost 80 acres of surrounding agricultural fields.”
The projects include a wetland restoration and meadow planting, 10 “bioponds,” two riparian buffer plantings, a stream restoration, the conversion of 10 acres of turf to wildflower meadow and a planting of 4 acres of switchgrass buffers around agricultural fields, the release states.
The next stop was Worton Park for a wetland and tree-planting tour. Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer was on hand to detail the project, which began in 2016.
He said before the wetland project, the area was primarily planted with grass. Now the area includes additional trees and wetland plants to create a better habitat for the creatures inhabit 10 acres across Kent County High School and Worton Park.
Trumbauer said the wetlands in Worton Park filter stormwater from about 120 acres of turf, buildings and parking lots.
The project, which was sponsored by the Kent County government with Kent County High School students aiding in its implementation, is now two years post completion. The area is becoming a “thriving wetland in a more natural state of plant growth,” the release states. It also is home to a muskrat nest among other native creatures.
Continuing north to Starkey Farms, participants in the tour were able to see an ongoing to project designed to “increase the capacity of an existing sediment pond, as well as restore a portion of the stream located the outlet of the pond,” the release states.
Brennan Starkey and Josh Thompson, a restoration specialist contracted by ShoreRivers, explained the design and goal of the project.
Thompson said the project will take about two more weeks to complete and will result in a natural filtration system that will catch runoff from Starkey Farm’s fields.
The project includes a sediment forebay, a series of stepped, lined and vegetated treatment “wetland cells” that provide both nutrient removal and create storage above the pond, a news release states.
The release states that erosion downstream of the pond will be “repaired through the installation of 700 feet of regenerative stormwater-style step pools to maximize infiltration of runoff and to protect the forested stream and promote groundwater recharge.”
The tour concluded at the Swantown Ravine restoration project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This project restored 4,100 feet of actively eroded stream, reconnected the stream to the floodplain, restored natural stream function and eliminated further sedimentation in Swantown Creek,” a news release states.
After complaints of sediment washing down from a farm upstream, former Sassafras RiverKeeper Emmett Duke worked with landowner Caleb Gould to organize the project.
Gould thanked Duke for his “diplomacy” and for doing “good environmental work” in order to get the project completed.
The project is made up of seven shallow pond that “capture and infiltrate water flow” from the farm. According to the release, the stream has been stabilized and replanted with native plants to reduce erosion and provide habitat.
Rocky Powell of Clear Creek Consulting, which designed the project, said the ravine was initially about 50 feet and growing due to erosion from the creek.
He said even with the record rainfall the area experienced last year, the new ponds did not overflow and there was no new erosion in the area.