Thursday, March 29, 2001

Grasses for the Masses Workshop Set for April 17

Learn How to Help Protect and Restore the Bay's Underwater Grasses

Chestertown, MD, March 29, 2001 — On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the Washington College Center for the Environment and Society and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) will host a "Grasses for the Masses" workshop at 6 p.m. at the Custom House, 100 Water Street, Chestertown, Maryland. The workshop will teach volunteers how to grow underwater grasses in a special system at home that will be used to help restore historic underwater grass beds in local rivers.
"Once, submerged aquatic vegetation was abundant in the shallower areas of the Chesapeake Bay," said Dr. Wayne H. Bell, director of the Center for the Environment and Society. "These grasses are essential in the ecosystem of the Bay, but today only a small percentage of the original beds remain. This workshop will teach citizens about the value and functions of the grass beds and give them a way to help restore the Bay's underwater grasses."
CBF staff will teach volunteers to grow redhead grass, a type of underwater grass native to the Bay. CBF will provide all necessary materials, plants and instruction at no cost. Later this spring, the grasses grown by volunteers will be planted at a designated local restoration site as part of a larger effort to restore underwater grasses in the Bay's watershed.
Underwater grasses are key indicators of the health of the Bay and its tributaries because underwater grass growth depends on good water quality. Underwater grasses filter polluted runoff and sediment, provide food for waterfowl, and provide habitat for crabs and many species of fish. According to CBF's 2000 State of the Bay Report, underwater grasses remain at only 12 percent of their historic levels. Many factors contribute to the decline of underwater grasses, including nutrient pollution, poor water clarity, and sediments from erosion.
To bring back the Bay's underwater grass beds, CBF is working to protect existing underwater grass beds, improve water quality, and restore grasses in areas where water quality is good enough to support survival. CBF's goal is to have 225,000 acres of underwater grasses cover the Bay and its tributaries by 2010.
Equipment is limited, so registration is required if you would like to participate, however, everyone is welcomed to attend the lecture. Contact Kim Donahue at 443-482-2155 or via email at to register.

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