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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Pleasure Island, Edgemere, Maryland, USA

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Pleasure Island, Edgemere, Maryland, USA
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Registered: August 2017
City/Town/Province: Windsor Mill
Posts: 1
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My name is Calvin Parker and I am a sophomore at the University of Maryland College Park. I plan to major in either Civil Engineering or Environmental Science. I have had an interest of the environment ever since I participated in the Environmental Protection Agency's, Student Environmental Development Program. It was interesting to learn about various environmental epidemics such as runoff, lead poisoning, radon, and toxic waste. So far in college, I have taken an introductory engineering courses, introductory environmental policy courses, and an anthropology course that focused on climate change. I chose to do an Apprentice Ecologist not only to uplift the environment, but to learn about and have more experience with the environment.

This past summer, I interned with the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection & Sustainability (EPS) to learn about and gain experience in projects that involve civil engineering and environmental science. I learned a lot about the processes of stream restoration, storm water design/conversion, and shoreline restoration/stabilization through site evaluations with employees from EPS. I learned a lot about the different structures such as rip rap, imbricate wall, the barrel and riser, and riparian buffers that are used to prevent erosion (by controlling, diverting, and slowing water flow) an and filter pollution such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment out of water.

One of the highlights of my time interning with EPS was our trip to Pleasure Island located in Back River, Maryland. I went with two EPS employees. One was, Civil Engineer, Andrew Fish. The other was Project Manager, David Riter. Once we arrived at Back River (via a Baltimore County Government vehicle) we boarded one of the county motorboats and David drove us out to Pleasure Island. When we arrived at the island, we assembled our grabbers and trash bags because our main duty was to do Baltimore County's yearly job of providing maintenance for the island. We were also going out to check on the condition of the project which included the structures of breakwaters, groins, and sill. A couple of days prior to the trip, David explained the importance of these structures. He told me about how they prevent water from crashing in to the bank to prevent further erosion, protect the channel, provide ecological uplift as semi-aquatic species can travel from water to land, (and vice-versa) and that they ensure the right amount of sediment is deposited in the proper areas. The presence of submerged aquatic vegetation is important to have protect breeding areas for small species and their subsequent offspring to survive. It was wonderful to see all of this in action as we found that the project (which hasn't been visited since 2011) was in good condition. Before we arrived at the island, David showed me an example of a floating wetland and explained the process of the sill which would cause the sediment to dropout in certain patterns in an act called accretion. David showed me the 22 mile fetch based on wind energy that would erode the banks of the island, thus solidifying the need of the breakwater structures. We walked through what at first looked like a forested-area into a more typical shore of an island as we picked up trash. As we went along picking up various pieces of trash such as plastic bottles, potato chip bags, and dirty napkins, we came across a summer camp. David explained to the camp counselors the overall goal of the project, the functions of the breakwater and groin strictures, and the history of Pleasure Island. Listening to the conversation, I learned that there was once an amusement park on Pleasure Island in the 1920s. Also, Pleasure Island used to be connected to Heart and Miller Island before erosion caused these two islands to split over many years. Material in the water of Pleasure Island was even hydrologically dredged to allow navigation for large ships. The project included beneficial use of this dredged material as it was transported to restore the body of Heart and Miller Island (20 million cubic yards dredged).
Andrew, David, and I walked the entire length of the island (to and fro) and scavenged all the trash we could manage. We got nearly 3 bags full of trash and would often use teamwork as we would put trash in each other's bag. Along the way, David also helped me identify certain plant species, identify skeletal remains of aquatic species, and explained to me the different biological indicators of the tide and which row of plants was being watered the most.

I think it is important to protect this area because it is necessary to reduce erosion which would otherwise contribute to sedimentation and further deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay. Since Middle River and Back River filter to the Chesapeake Bay, using wave attenuation structures and marsh areas are essential so that polluted sediment won't be filtered to the Bay. Protecting this area is also important to provide ecological uplift to the ecosystem and species that live there. With biodiversity, this biome has a better chance to withstanding the negative impacts that come with the change of its climate over time. Also, providing maintenance to this project by picking up waste is necessary to ensure the efficacy of the structures. Picking up trash will also help with the cleanliness of this Back-River community. This Apprentice Ecologist Initiative Project has opened the light to many opportunities to continue to be involved in projects that protect the environment and humanity. I want to continue learning about storm water management, shoreline stabilization, stream restoration, watershed management, and even move on to subjects such as wastewater and reservoir management through college courses and additional internships. I am interested in continuing to take increasingly specific math and science courses to have even more of a foundation on the reasoning of natural phenomena to know what can be done to protect the environment. Also, I want to gain a deeper understanding of the technology, engineering principles, and structures with the applied scientific principles and operations that are used to facilitate this goal.
Date: December 27, 2017 Views: 377 File size: 11.7kb, 3501.1kb : 3024 x 4032
Hours Volunteered: 12
Volunteers: 3
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 25 to 48
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 445.154
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