The Federation has already completed three new restoration projects in 2013, in addition to finishing up work on several of 2012's projects. As in 2012, 2013's projects span from "top of watershed" projects designed to keep stormwater and its pollutants from ever reaching our creeks, to intense stream and wetland restoration projects designed to repair damaged aquatic habitats from ongoing pollution, to tidal shoreline projects that are the South River's "last defense" against polluted flows from the creeks. The projects continue to grow larger and more ambitious, and now include powerful multi-year partnerships with seemingly unlikely allies, like the Maryland State Highway Administration.
With federal, state, and county funding for Bay restoration likely to increase or at least remain stable into the next several years, projects and programs of unprecedented scale will start to be implemented. The prediction of environmental chemists and modelers has been that these projects, in the next several years, will start to have a positive impact on the health of individual creeks and rivers. We anticipate that nowhere else will the recovery be as evident as on the South River.
The South River Federation has spent the last several years advocating for one of the Bay's most progressive, science-based watershed restoration plans, and now it's being put into place. In the next ten years, roughly forty percent of the high priority and medium priority projects will be complete or under construction, and the effects should start to be seen in the headwater creeks and swamps. To manage this volume of work, something that few watershed organizations in the Bay are capable of doing, requires a substantial investment by the Federation in well-trained and experienced staff. Our staff will only grow in size, and it will grow out of necessity to manage the high volume of work that is being accomplished. But for right now, it's happening one project at a time, one creek at a time.
In Church Creek, we've watched a low-impact experimental shoreline project slowly grow into its new shape, as marsh grasses begin to colonize behind new stone breakwaters and fish build nests in the sand that's naturally accumulating against the previously eroding shoreline. At the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary, the restored wetland complex has enticed unusual migratory birds like the Solitary Sandpiper to stop in and enjoy the new habitat. Nearby, at the Homestead Gardens Stormwater Wetland system, dragonflies colonized the site before construction was even complete. Two weeks after construction, hungry bats also found the site and the dragonflies, swinging wide loops over the wetland at dusk, as schoolchildren watched from below, after helping to plant the site. Just to the north at Girl Scout Camp Woodlands, camp staff have marveled at the clear water running through natural drainages that are just downhill of new sediment basins, rain gardens, and groundcover enhancements that were piloted by the Federation. On many projects, we watch as amphibians colonize in order: green frog, bullfrog, leopard frog, toad, treefrogs, salamanders. It's so easy to see on a small scale why these individual projects are so important.
In 2023, we hope to showcase the South River and its tributaries not just as we do now - a watershed where big things are being accomplished - but also a watershed where those bold actions and brave investments in restoration projects are demonstrating significant results for water quality and wildlife in areas of the River beyond where restoration actually occurred. We hope you'll all join us for the journey - this bold experiment on the South River.
Restoration Project Manager