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The following articles are selections from our quarterly newsletter: "The Otter's Tale". The entire newsletter is available at the Estuary Center or you can download it here.

Main Parking Lot at Harford County's Anita C. Leight Estuary Center Closed for Environmentally Friendly Repaving Project

The Harford County Department of Parks & Recreation has closed the main parking lot at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon to all visitors until October for a repaving project that will reduce stormwater runoff and include a water retention garden. The Center is located on a 93-acre county-owned park, including wooded uplands overlooking Otter Point Creek, used for trail hiking, birdwatching, and passive environmental recreation. The park and all programs at the Center will continue throughout the construction period.

Parking Lot ConstructionAlternate parking areas are available at 618 Otter Point Road, just past the entrance to the park and on the right coming from Route 40, and at the overflow lot on Otter Point Road, prior to the main entrance. Signs are on display at both lots, and both lots are accessible to the Center via foot trails. Visitors in need of assistance can arrange for a staff-assisted shuttle service by calling 410-612-1688.

Unlike a typical parking lot resurfacing, this project will involve replacing 4,600 square feet of asphalt with permeable pavers and a filtering system. The pavers will mimic the way natural land absorbs water, allowing rain that falls onto the parking area to seep back into the ground rather than increasing runoff. Additional layers of stone will help mitigate remaining runoff by infiltrating and treating polluted stormwater before the water is discharged into Otter Point Creek, the Bush River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to the permeable pavers and filtering systems, the project includes planting a water retention garden filled with native plants. The garden will attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds, while improving the water quality before it discharges into Otter Point Creek.

Funding for the $554,500 project is the result of a collaboration between Harford County's Department of Parks & Recreation and Department of Public Works. Capital funds designated for ongoing projects at Anita C. Leight will contribute $429,500. The remainder will come from two grants to construct stormwater management improvements totaling $125,000, awarded to the county's Dept. of Public Works. Specifically, $25,000 came from the Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and $100,000 from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. The construction contract was awarded to Imark Builders, Inc. of Edgewood.

In addition to improving water quality, the completed project will provide research opportunities, and demonstrate the value of stormwater management to the Center's nearly 15,000 annual visitors.

Reserve News: Aloha and Kokua!

by Jenn Raulin, MD DNR Reserve Manager

"Aloha" is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, greeting, or salutation. It's probably a word you're quite familiar with. "Kokua", on the other hand may be a bit more foreign to you; it's the Hawaiian word for help. The National Estuarine Research Reserve system (NERRs) has been through a lot of ups and downs over the past several months and we are reaching out to you to not only celebrate a new Reserve, but also ask for your help in showing your love of Otter Point Creek and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR-MD).

He'eia NERRFirst, the good news! In January, the NERRs said Aloha to a new member of the family! The He'eia National Estuarine Research Reserve (HNERR) became the 29th Reserve in the system. The 1,385 acres of protected waters and lands encompasses upland forests and grasslands, wetlands, reefs and seagrass beds, as well as the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Island chain. It is located within the Kaneohe Bay estuary on the windward side of Oahu and includes significant historic and cultural resourcesĚ (NOAA NOS 2017 [press release]). HNERR is also special to the Reserve System as it represents a biogeographic subregion, the Insular Hawaiian Islands, which was previously not represented in the system. A biogeographic region is a large area that shares similar species; CBNERR-MD is located in the Virginian biogeographic subregion.

Although we are very excited to be expanding our Reserve family, a 29th Reserve comes with additional costs and the NERRs budget is at risk. Upon the release of the President's Skinny Budget in March, it became known that the Trump Administration is urging drastic cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that would include the elimination of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and Maryland's Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Approximately 98% of federal funding to the NERRs from NOAA goes out the door to communities like ours and it is vital to our way of life. Without the funding and considerable programmatic support that NOAA provides, CBNERR-MD would cease to exist. This would result in a loss of jobs and leveraged funds to our community. It would also cut off NOAA science, training, and technical support that is essential to keeping our community safe and thriving.

You are among the many who benefit from the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Reserves are special places that communities can count on to educate children, adults, and decision makers about their environment. Nationwide, reserves provide STEM education to more than 8,500 kids and 250 teachers annually; they deliver coastal resiliency training services that reach more than 2,500 communities; and they maintain more than 110 water quality stations and 30 weather stations that collect data every 15 minutes to manage hazardous spills, shellfish industry operations, and emergency response to storm surge and flooding.

We are reaching out to you for help, kokua. Our request is pretty simple. Visit the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association's (NERRA) website: and follow the 5 easy steps to help support Otter Point Creek and the other Reserves in the Nation. Mahalo, thank you.



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Anita C. Leight Estuary Center / 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon MD 21009 / 410-612-1688