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Key members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) management and staff, Maryland Congress members and state legislators today donned boots and rolled up their sleeves to plant marsh grass during National Volunteer Week to help improve a wetland area on Maryland's Eastern Shore. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.
Timothy R.E. Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, and Dr. Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, led a 15-member NOAA crew and several dozen other volunteers from national and local area organizations. The group helped plant a total of 65,000 cordgrass plants to thwart erosion in a four-acre tidal wetland on the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
"As the nation's leading agency for oceans and atmosphere, NOAA is proud to participate in such a great event," said Keeney. "Wetlands are critical to wildlife survival and to the overall integrity of this countries' environment."
Senator Barbara Mikulski, and Reps. Wayne Gilchrest and Robert Erlich joined event participants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the Shared Earth Foundation to help in the effort.
Hogarth used the setting and opportunity to officially award the National Aquarium in Baltimore a $40,000 Chesapeake Bay Small Watersheds grant.
"Today we are celebrating a week-long, community-based restoration of the tidal wetland here at Eastern Neck. This is the perfect time to announce this award promoting partnerships and volunteer involvement in this noble effort the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay," said Hogarth.
The project was coordinated by National Aquarium in Baltimore and addressed the long-term problem of erosion in the refuge. The four-acre marsh was created by the Army Corps of Engineers from 26,000 cubic yards of dredged material from the Kent Narrows navigation channel.
Its construction provided a cost-effective and environmentally sound solution to the island erosion problem and placement of clean dredge material. However, the material placed to create the marsh is eroding at a rapid rate.
"Inviting the public to join in a hands-on restoration activity further connects people to the plants and animals of the Chesapeake Bay making a better world for both," said Glenn Page, Director of Conservation at the Aquarium. "This unique community-based restoration effort is a great example of a partnership that work between government and the private sector."
The Friends of Eastern Neck, a volunteer group dedicated to the support of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and restoration of estuarine habitats in the Chesapeake Bay, will perform long-term maintenance of the site. Friends of Eastern Neck and members of the Aquarium's Conservation Team (ACT!) plan to hold education and demonstration sessions on planting techniques and site restoration and monitoring.
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, a part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed teems with biodiversity, providing homes to numerous species valuable to the ecology and economy of the region.
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit http://www.noaa.gov.
Note: Media should dress in clothes appropriate for the weather. Due to the likelihood of insects, we encourage you to pack a light long sleeved shirt and pants. Your boots, shoes or sneakers WILL get dirty. Please bring a wide brimmed hat, sun block, and bug spray to protect yourself from the elements. To make the expedition more convenient, we will arrange vessel transport from Kent Narrows Public Boat Ramp to Eastern Neck for a tour of the island and restoration demonstration. (See enclosed invitation for directions and details.) Media interested in attending should RSVP to Dawn Jennings at 410-576-3860.