First Riverkeeper on Major Maryland Tributary of Chesapeake BayChestertown, MD, October 9, 2002 — The Chester River Association (CRA) has named Dr. Eileen McLellan as Chester Riverkeeper. As Chester Riverkeeper, McLellan will serve as a guardian and advocate for the river and its living resources. She will be headquartered with the Center for the Environment and Society in Washington College's 18th century Custom House on the Chester Riverfront. Her primary mission will be to remove the Chester River from the list of Maryland's impaired waterways. Classified as a Category 1 scenic river, the Chester has been rated "impaired" because of degraded water quality from non-point source pollution, primarily in the form of nutrients.
Rapid development in Kent and Queen Anne's Counties, one of the fastest growing corridors in the state, is impacting the rural character and compromising both water quality and biodiversity in the watershed. Through programs and actions designed to promote citizen stewardship of the river, McLellan will seek to halt the decline and begin to revive the river by addressing nutrient pollution and habitat degradation. She will work to empower all citizens in the watershed to hold those in authority accountable for the impact of their decisions on water quality and for the enforcement of environmental policies and laws.
Announcing the appointment, CRA President Andrew McCown stated, "We were fortunate to have a significant number of highly qualified applicants apply for the Riverkeeper position. In the end, we concluded that Eileen was uniquely suited to become an effective guardian and voice for the Chester River."
McLellan earned a doctorate in geology at Cambridge University in England, has conducted fieldwork throughout the U.S., and has many years of experience working with watershed groups. For the past three years, she has helped watershed groups in the Pacific Northwest secure funding and technical assistance for restoration projects. She has an in-depth knowledge of the Clean Water Act and has helped develop the EPA's TMDL (total maximum daily load) standards for impaired waters. With two segments of the Chester River scheduled for TMDL development this year, McLellan plans to work with citizens throughout the watershed to design TMDL plans that will restore the river's health. During her five-year tenure as a professor at the University of Maryland-College Park, McLellan conducted research on wetlands and watershed management and created the College Park Scholars in Environmental Studies program. As Chester Riverkeeper, she will continue to work as an educator, with the public, with local elementary and secondary schools, and with Washington College students through CRA's partnership with the Center for the Environment and Society.
Founded in 1986 by a group of citizens from Kent and Queen Anne's Counties, the Chester River Association is an advocate for the Chester River and the living resources it supports. CRA promotes stewardship of the Chester River watershed-its forests, marshes, fields and streams-as well as an understanding of the river's place in the economic and cultural life of our communities. It seeks to educate the public about a broad spectrum of river-related issues through public forums, recreational and educational activities, and a yearly river journal. CRA's water quality monitoring program, Chester Testers, has established the first long-term measure of water quality at 14 sites along the river. The Chester River Association has sought to articulate the link between actions on the land and the declining health of the river. Its volunteer Board of Directors includes watermen, farmers, educators, elected officials, biologists, architects, artists, writers and photographers.
CRA hopes that the Chester Riverkeeper program will serve as an example for protecting other Maryland waterways, and indeed, that hope is already becoming a reality. Watershed protection groups on the Patapsco, Severn and South Rivers have recently announced initiatives to bring Riverkeepers to their own waters in the near future. McLellan articulates her vision for the Chester River this way: "Ten years from now, I hope other communities will look to us as a model of how to implement the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement at the local level. That would mean that everyone in the watershed is aware of their connection to and dependence on the Chester River-and I say 'dependence' because there is a real connection between a healthy river, vibrant communities and a sustainable economy. More than awareness, I would like to see all of the river's citizens live their daily lives in a way that respects that connection and dependence. We will need everyone whose life touches the Chester River to become 'riverkeepers' who make sound choices that will protect our natural resources and quality of life for future generations."
For more information on the Chester River Association and the Chester Riverkeeper program visit www.chesterriverassociation.org, or call the CRA office 410.810.7445.