Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will host its annual State of the Rivers Party and 2016 Midshore Rivers Report Card Release on Friday, April 21 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, Maryland. This year, the launch party will be held in the Small Boat Shed, where guests can discover the re-created interior of a crab picking plant and boats once used in the fisheries.
Researcher Walter Boynton, who hails from UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland will serve as honorary speaker for the evening. Boynton, in true scientist form, will make a few observations on the state of the Chesapeake Bay. Boynton says he has always enjoyed history and figuring out the “why.” Why is this happening in the Chesapeake? Why do we see increased “dead zones” in the summer? Why are we seeing an increase in aquatic grasses? During the evening, Boynton will highlight a few observations by early settlers about unspoiled water clarity on the Bay and the aquatic creatures found in those clear waters. He will also discuss issues facing the Chesapeake Bay today, and the prospect of good news for our communities. (Spoiler alert—there is good news!)
Starting as a research assistant in 1969, Boynton spent his career studying the Bay and offering new insights into how the Bay’s ecosystem works. In particular, Boynton and fellow researchers investigated the impacts of excess nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, flowing into the Chesapeake. Boynton co-authored one of the first scientific papers, still cited today, that stated excess nitrogen entering the Bay from parking lots, farms, and other human sources, was a key element to the creation of low-oxygen “dead zones” that weaken the ecosystem. Since then, Boynton has become known in the Chesapeake Bay community for his slight New England accent and his ability to effectively communicate the science of the Bay to a wide variety of groups. From testifying in front of Congress, to talking policy with state officials, to giving talks to local watershed and school groups, Boynton is a formidable source of information on the Chesapeake Bay.
Boynton has been working on the Bay for almost 50 years. He recently was honored with the 2016 Mathias Medal recognizing his career of environmental stewardship. The award is named after U.S. Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias of Maryland, who championed efforts to clean up the Bay. The award recognizes outstanding scientific research that contributes to informed environmental policy in the Chesapeake Bay region. Since the Mathias Medal was established in 1990, only six have been awarded.
The State of the Rivers Party on April 21 takes place from 5-7 pm, beginning with a wine and cheese reception. The event is free and open to the public. MRC Riverkeepers will also release the results of the 2016 State of the Rivers Report Card. These results assess water quality data collected by MRC scientists and 50+ Creekwatcher volunteers in sampling jurisdictions on the Choptank River, Miles River, Wye River, Tred Avon River, Tuckahoe River, Harris Creek, Broad Creek, Island Creek, La Trappe Creek, and Eastern Bay on the southern tip of Kent Island.