south river restoration

By E.B. FURGURSON III  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 

Kate Fritz might be coming from a job in Prince George’s County, but she’s no stranger to Anne Arundel’s watersheds.

She will tap into that knowledge as she starts her tenure as executive director of the South River Federation today. Fritz previously served as an environmental planner in Prince George’s.

 

She moved to the county 10 years ago and has been involved in watershed issues outside of her day-to-day working life that began as a student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“I worked every summer on the river, in the river and researching the river,” she said of her college career along the banks of the St. Mary’s River.

Her summers were spent working with on the St. Mary’s Project monitoring river water quality and later working under a National Science Foundation grant studying eel grass diseases.

Working with the river, on the water, it gets to you.

“It takes hold and doesn’t let go,” she said.

After earning a biology degree with a concentration in environmental studies, she did environmental field work, then returned to school earning two master’s degrees in environmental management and natural resources management while still working.

“I am a shovel-ready executive director — I love working in the field,” she said sitting at a small conference table, her rubber field boots leaning up against the wall.

“But I knew I wanted to get into the policy side of things and work to implement policy.”

Most recently she was the co-manager of Prince George’s County’s general development plan, a 20-year blueprint for growth. She rose to that responsibility after several years as an environmental planner there.

Now she gets to work on the river closer to home. She recently moved to Eastport.

“I have developed a passion for the South River and the work to meet the federation’s goal — to help clean up the river in a generation.”

First up she’ll hit the field with restorations manager Kirk Mantay, then out on the river with Riverkeeper Diana Muller.

Then it will be to tackle what she sees as one of the biggest challenges ahead — securing the funding to keep the momentum of projects moving forward.

“The South River Federation has been very successful taking action, getting projects done. Now there is a pipeline of projects out there. Sometimes success can create your own monster. Now we have to secure the resources to keep it going,” she said.

As the county’s new Watershed Protection and Restoration Program gets rolling, the county hopes to develop a method to provide grants and assistance to watershed groups like the federation to get work done.

“We are working to find ways to further work of nonprofits who are effective and capable of doing similar kinds of work the county is undertaking,” said Erik Michelsen, the watershed program administrator. He said the county hopes to roll out the plan, which is called for in the legislation creating the program, early next year

Michelsen is familiar with what Fritz is undertaking. He was executive director of the federation before taking the county job.

“Kate Fritz has been very active in county watersheds as a board member of the Watershed Stewards, and a great partner with the South River Federation. She brings a lot of energy to that work and will be a great asset to them,” he said.