By: Maura Duffy
Last Friday, the Discovery Channel’s “Discover Your Impact Day” returned to the South River for its second consecutive year. Discover Your Impact Day is an annual company-wide event that brings Discovery employees from across the world to local organizations that support land, water, and people. The group of 28 employees we hosted volunteered in two projects: cleaning Flood Buckets and planting at our Poplar Point restoration project.
The day began by cleaning and shaking Flood Buckets. John Flood, founder of the South River Federation, started the Flood Bucket program several years ago. Flood Buckets are 5 gallon containers that have holes to allow water to flow through them. The buckets are filled with oyster spat (which are baby oysters) and attached to boat docks with rope. With the help of his neighbors, John has hung hundreds of buckets from multiple docks throughout Harness Creek. The buckets house and protect the oyster spat from predators during their vulnerable first year of life. After one year, the oysters are released at a local oyster sanctuary within Harness Creek. The program aims to boost local oyster populations and to increase local biodiversity. The buckets create a great habitat for other organisms, including mud crabs, eels, grass shrimp, and a variety of small fish. Over time, the buckets become dirty and the holes can sometimes become clogged. By having volunteers help us to clean the buckets we hope to ensure higher survival rates for the oyster spat. The volunteers and I were amazed at the number of eels, mud crabs, and fish that we saw living in the buckets.
The second project of the day was to plant a variety of shrubs and trees at our Poplar Point restoration project. This restoration site, which is located along Church Creek Lane, has recently completed all major construction efforts. Because of this, we are now able to plant the site with a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. By using a diverse mix of plants, one of our goals for the project is to increase wildlife habitat by selecting plants that produce seeds and fruit that attract wildlife. Even before we began our planting efforts, we saw a variety of wildlife already beginning to make their home close to the restoration project. We have seen snapping turtles, black rat snakes, frogs, and blue dasher dragonflies. I enjoyed getting to spend the day outside, and many of the volunteers voiced the same. Special thanks to Discovery Channel for volunteering and for purchasing new shovels for the South River Federation. A special thanks also goes to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for funding this tree planting.