CENTREVILLE — With the fate of the future hanging in the balance, the Corsica River Conservancy is a group dedicated to the preservation of one of our most important assets closest to home. Sunday, Sept. 15, area residents gathered on the river to learn about those efforts to preserve the Corsica River and help pass the legacy of a healthy Corsica River on to the next generation.

Held at the Corsica River Yacht Club, this free event, which combined family fun with engaging environmental education, was designed to remind residents of their responsibility to help restore and maintain a clean and healthy river and watershed. For almost a decade, it has been a local tradition, attracting residents and visitors alike.

Family entertainment with water and environmental activities and exhibits included the Fishmobile, pony rides, a petting zoo, Scales and Tales, and crafts for children. The invitation to relax while learning about sustainable practices was accompanied by vendors offering barbecue, ice cream, soft drinks and beer available for sale, with music provided by Blue Octane, “a high energy” bluegrass group.

Liz Hammond with the CRC said she was very pleased with the turnout as well as the perfect late summer weather. CRC believes that voluntary cooperation and active participation of watershed residents is critical to the continued success of efforts to restore the Corsica River and its watershed. Community and citizen involvement is welcomed on many levels, Hammond added.

In the spring, the CRC will host its annual Project Clean Stream, with four locations in Centreville dedicated to a “spring cleaning.” Throughout the year the group strives to educate all ages about stewardship (they are seeking to expand the student education program), participates in growing oysters with the Maryland Grows Oyster partnership, and assists with restoration programs, including establishment of rain gardens.

A Rain Garden helps to minimize runoff which carries pollutants (including nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment into the river. If you live in the watershed you can now have a rain garden (costing up to $2,000) installed on your property free of charge.

Helping keeping the Corsica healthy is Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society. During this year’s Awareness Day, visitors were invited to participate in a 20-minute boat ride aboard one of the college’s vessels.

Capt. Abigail Robison navigated for Michael Menke as he outlined the water quality data collection program that helps monitor the quality of the water in the Corsica. With basic observation buoys and other monitoring tools, the group can check water temperature, the amount of dissolved oxygen (crucial to fish and plants), turbidity (how murky or clear the water is), and pH. Too much acidity or too high pH levels negatively affect oysters, Menke explained.

The data collected is transmitted over a platform that is public domain, he said, and agencies like NASA and NOAA often use this information when looking at the overall health of the Bay.

One of the Corsica River Conservancy’s most important partnerships is the Corsica Restoration Project Implementers Group. The Project is a joint responsibility of a consortium of government and non-profit entities, including CRC and headed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Implementers Group meets most months at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Planning and Zoning.

This group has been primarily responsible for planning, initiating and tracking the establishment of best management practices and installations throughout the watershed. It also reviews progress toward water quality goals and impairment reductions. There continues to be an ecosystem-wide approach to preservation and restoration including municipal practices of the town in waste water treatment plant management, storm water management and tree canopy, agricultural conservation such as cover crop usage, buffer enhancements and sound nutrient management, and state agency activities such as roadway improvements that might impact water quality, as well as programs to improve individual residential practices such as rain gardens and other ways to minimize the damage from storm water.

Membership with the CRC is always open and anyone interested in learning more about upcoming projects or activities can visit https://www.corsicariverconservancy.org/join-us/ or email Corsicariverconservancy@gmail.com.

The website also offers links to the organization’s many partners and additional resources.

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