The Sassafras River Association is engaged in a wide range of activities: advocacy, education, watershed assessment and monitoring -- all focused on one principal goal, to remove the Sassafras River from Maryland's list of polluted waterways.
The Sassafras Watershed Action Plan (SWAP) is a community based watershed plan which was developed over the course of one year (2009). SWAP was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency in January 2010. The Plan includes 30 restoration strategies, cost estimates, responsible parties, implementation timeline and funding opportunities that will have clear and demonstrable effect on improving the water quality in the Sassafras River.
Goal: A healthy clean river that is safe for swimming, fishing, crabbing, and meets the TMDL for all impairments.
Sassafras River Report Card
Sassafras River Association produces an annual Report Card, detailing ecosystem health within the Sassafras River Watershed. The report grades the water quality of the estuary (tidal) and creeks (non-tidal) based on water monitoring data collected throughout the calendar year.
The 2011 and 2012 Report Cards evaluates six tidal indicators and six non-tidal indicators. "Sampling and data analysis protocols for Mid-Atlantic tidal tributary indicators" were used to calculate grades for the tidal portion of the River. These protocols were developed by the Mid-Altlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition (MTAC) in 2010, to establish common methods for sampling regime, data collection, and data analysis in the Chesapeake Bay region. Non-tidal grades were calculated on a pass/fail basis, using specific thresholds for for each indicator measured (shown in tabel below).
The first annual Sassafras River Report Card , published August 2010.
SRA would like to thank the Chesapeake Bay Trust for funding this report card as well as the following persons and organizations for their past and continued support in making the publication possible: Rauch Foundation, Campbell Foundtion, Town Creek Foundation, EcoCheck, and LaMotte.
For more than 5 years, SRA has sponsored a water quality monitoring program, the Sassafras Samplers. It's a great way for our dedicated volunteers to learn the science of the River while making an essential contribution to our knowledge of River conditions.
From 2005-2008 The Samplers tested 20 sites on the tidal portion of the River 3 times a year, in the spring, summer, and fall. The samplers tested for a number of parameters that indicate the overall health of the River.
In 2009-2010, the samplers conducted monthly testing in the tidal portion of the River as well as the non-tidal creeks and streams that flow into the River. This is a big effort and we will need more volunteers to carry out our plans. Click on the link to Volunteer Today or email/call the RIVERKEEPER® for more information.
Season Review Presentations & Results
Sassafras Sampler Resources
The following documents are required of each Sassafras Sampler to review and keep for their records for quality assurance while participating in the Sassafras River Association's Water Quality Monitoring Program.
The SRA Agriculture Outreach program focuses on building relationships with Sassafras River watershed farmers, identifying opportunities for and implementing conservation projects, and promoting best management practices on agricultural operations throughout the watershed. The three main goals of the program include:
- Developing relationships with the Sassafras River watershed agricultural community, including but not limited to farmers, NRCS, USDA and County SCD employees, DNR employees, Farm Bureau, University of Delaware and University of MD extension and research staff.
- Identifying priority areas as well as specific sites for agricultural BMPs, conservation planning, and restoration projects.
- Coordinating funding, technical assistance, and efforts of NRCS, SCD, DNR, Ducks Unlimited, and other sources to maximize assistance and simplify application and implementation processes for individual landowners in priority areas.
The SRA Residential Outreach program is focused on working closely with homeowners and residents of the Sassafras River watershed to develop an awareness of the common pollutants that affect the River’s health as well as behavior changes that can positively impact water quality. SRA works in conjunction with its partners, including but not limited to University of Maryland Master Gardeners, University of Delaware Soil Testing Lab, Kent and Cecil County Departments of Environmental Health, and private denitrifying septic system manufacturers, to hold information workshops and training opportunities focused on changing behaviors and offering solutions to common issues. To date, SRA has focused its efforts on soil testing for lawn and gardens, rain barrel construction and use, denitrifying septic systems, and use of native landscaping at home. We offer workshops in the community for both soil testing and to build rain barrels. Here is a video from one of our recent Rain Barrel workshops:
The SRA Residential Outreach program has also provided funding to homeowners interested in taking steps to reduce their impact on the Sassafras River, through free septic tests. Workshops and training opportunities are scheduled throughout the summer and fall. Check Watershed Events for details.
Responsible Recreation Outreach
The Sassafras RIVERKEEPER monitors and patrols the River weekly from April through October. The RIVERKEEPER promotes responsible use of the River (paddling, canoeing, bird watching, etc.) as well as disseminates information on Clean Boating practices and the Department of Natural Resources Clean Marina program. The RIVERKEEPER speaks at a host of public forums (yacht clubs, homeowner’s associations, schools, events, etc.) to educate stakeholders and promote SRA’s mission of restoring the Sassafras.
The Sassafras RIVERKEEPER has an annual goal to reach every 4th grader in the watershed, with the goal of developing the next generation of stewards through education and awareness. The RIVERKEEPER participates in Kent County’s outdoor education program as well as Boy Scout, Girl Scout and other youth based activities in both Cecil and Kent Counties. Children participate in simple water quality sampling (tidal waters) and macroinvertebrate investigation (non-tidal waters). Children learn about sources of pollution and steps they can take to improve water quality.
In the beginning SRA hosted educational forums to educate stakeholders about our watershed. You can find summaries of our forums in our Monthly Newsletters. With the implementation of SWAP, SRA now hosts workshops on restoration strategies and occasional meetings on relevant topics. For a schedule of upcoming workshops and activities please check Watershed Events.
Monthly Newsletter—Sassafras Update
The Sassafras Update has the latest SRA news. You can get a topical index of our past newsletters and read them here.
The following table can be sorted by date or subject by clicking on the header.
|2013-04||Cecilton Elementary School Rain Garden|
|2013-03||Stewardship Assistant Position Available|
|2013-02||Mark Your Calendar- SRA Spring and Summer Events|
|2013-01||SRA Welcomes New Board President, Board Members|
|2012-12||Membership Meeting January 19|
|2012-11||Making Progress on the WIP|
|2012-10||Chesapeake Conservation Corps Capstone Project|
|2012-09||Breaking Ground on the Crawford Treatment Wetland|
|2012-01||SRA Welcomes Pam Duke as Acting Executive Director|
|2012-02||SRA Implementing 2nd Treatment Wetland|
|2012-03||Subsurfer in Action|
|2012-04||Riverkeeper Bids Farewell to SRA|
|2012-05||Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Visits the Sassafras|
|2012-06||Exploring a New Way of Increasing Nutrient Efficiency|
|2012-07||To Swim or Not to Swim|
An important part of our mission is to work with Federal, State and local governments on issues that effect the Sassafras River watershed. You can find a description of the issues we're currently tracking here. If there's an issue you think we should be following—a new residential development, a change in zoning laws, or other proposed legislation—send us an email.
Galena Waste Water Treatment Plant Expansion and Sewer Line Extension to Georgetown
At the Comissioners' meeting on October 31, 2012, the Kent County Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of:
- amending the comprehensive plan to include the Galena wastewater treatment plant extension
- not taking the recommendation of the Planning commission not to expand the system
- notifying the town of Galena that the county intends to join them in the expansion of their plant
Both SRA Riverkeeper Emmett Duke and Former SRA President John Burke spoke in favor of the expansion at the public hearing at the Commissioners' meeting on October 23, 2012.
Thank you to everyone who submitted letters of support, attended the Commissioners' meetings, or showed support for this project. Your support was crucial in getting the project approved and we couldn't have done it without you! The expansion of the Galena wastewater treatment plant and sewer line extension to Georgetown will positively affect the quality of water discharged into the Sassafras River and increase the overall quality of the river.
Kent Recycling and Land Reclamation, LLC
At the meeting of the Kent County Commissioners on October 4, 2011, Commission president Ron Fithian announced that the Commissioners “were unanimous” in their opposition to the rubble fill proposal. “We needed to do our due diligence, and take into account both sides” said Fithian. An audience of more than 80 citizens gathered to demonstrate before the Commissioners' meeting and applauded Commissioner Fithian's announcement. Although the Commissioners have announced their opposition to the rubble dump proposal, they have not yet taken an official vote on the matter. Instead the Commissioners have indicated that they will produce a written resolution stating their decision, which is expected to be released in the next few weeks. SRA is closely monitoring this issue to ensure the rubble dump project does not move forward, and to protect the River from any future threats.
The Kent Commissioners’ declaration of opposition came after more than two months of grassroots organizing and campaigning against the project by the SRA, the Kent Farmland Preservation Coalition, and concerned citizens throughout Kent and Cecil Counties. In those two months, nearly three hundred citizens participated in protests, 499 citizens signed a petition to stop the rubble fill, and a flood of correspondence came into the commissioner’s office voicing opposition to the project.
YOUR help in raising awareness, writing the commissioners, and supporting SRA's opposition to the rubble dump was critical in this key success! But SRA still needs your support to ensure the rubble dump is permanently stopped. Contact the Kent County Commissioners to voice your opinion on this project. Tell your friends and neighbors that this project is bad for the Sassafras River. "No Rubble Dump" signs are available FREE at the SRA office to post in your yard. Join SRA today in advocating for the protection of our precious River.
What is the Rubble Dump?
The rubble dump is a construction and debris dump, proposed in the northern portion of Kent county, which would receive trash from cities like Wilmington, Philadelphia, and portions of New Jersey and New York. A facility of this magnitude would present severe threats to the environmental health of the surrounding area, as well as to the quality of life for the surrounding communities. The site is located at the head of Jacob’s Creek, a highly sensitive headwaters stream of the impaired Sassafras River (as listed by EPA 303d list). The proposed site is not suited for an industrial operation of this nature and lacks an adequate riparian buffer and safe distance from the shallow groundwater aquifer.
The proposed rubble dump site lies between Rt. 301 and Rt. 299 in Massey, Maryland – directly adjacent to Jacobs Creek, a tributary of the Sassafras River. Contact the Kent County Commissioners to voice your opinion on this project, and join SRA in advocating for the protection of the Sassafras River Watershed.
County Commissioner Contact Information:
President Ronald Fithian, email@example.com
Commissioner William Pickrum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Alexander Rasin, email@example.com
Commissioners' Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Direct your emails to all four of these addresses)
Kent County Commissioners
400 High Street
Chestertown, MD 21620
More information on this project can be found below, in the provided documents and links.
Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA)- July 30 2011 This agreement lays out the conditions and expectations between the County and developer, regarding the Kent Recycling and Land Reclamation Facility.
Board of Appeals Report, for Kent Sand and Gravel, LLC. Report States that final land use of site would be returned to agriculture, in the form of aquaculture.
Rubble Dump (2009 Proposal)
SRA advocated against a similar proposal in 2009 to create a rubble dump located at the same site proposed for Kent Recycling and Land Reclamation LLC. You can follow the links below to the relevant documents:
- May 29, 2009 Denial of Request from Kent County
- May 11, 2009 Freedom of Information Act Request to Kent County
- August 22, 2008 MDE Secretary Wilson's letter to the SRA
- July 25, 2008 SRA Letter to the Kent County Commissioners
- June 13, 2008 Fiscal Impact Analysis by the Plan's Proponents
The Sassafras Riverkeeper has joined the Waterkeepers Chesapeake in filing a petition to EPA to revoke Maryland Department of the Environement's authority to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act.
- What Do Other Waterkeepers Have to Say?
- December 3, 2009 Waterkeeper Chesapeake Petition to EPA
- December 7, 2009 Waterkeeper Chesapeake De-delegation Petition Press Release
The Cecil County Commissioners voted and approved the Letter of Intent (LOI) surrounding full time residency at Indian Acres Campground in Earlville, MD. SRA has advocated for improved waste infrastructure at Indian Acres to the State and County authorities and will continue to follow this issue to ensure the proper regulations are followed.
- February 22, 2010 SRA Letter to Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- January 8, 2010 SRA Second Letter to Health Department
- December 15, 2009 Approved LOI
- December 2, 2009 SRA Letter to Health Department
- October 6, 2009 SRA Letter to Cecil County Commissioners Opposing the Letter of Intent
- September 23, 2009 Public Notice of Hearing and Letter of Intent
- August, 2009 Sassafras Riverkeeper's Cove: Indian Acres Campground Raises Questions
- May 4, 2009 SRA Letter to Cecil County Commissioners
Letters of Support
- August 2009 SRA writes a letter to Governor O'Malley advoacting for state funding of upgrades to Betterton and Galena Waste Water Treatment Plants.
- August 2009 SRA supports the Town of Galena in acquiring funds for the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade to Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology.
- May 2009 SRA supports Kent County Commissioners in opposition to land application of sewage sludge
- March 2009 Sultana Project
- February 2009 Susquehanna Sediment Study
- January 2009 CRA Septic Initiative
Past Events from 2012
**The First Membership Meeting of 2013: Saturday, January 19**
SRA staff, members, and friends met on Saturday, January
19 9am-11am for a membership meeting in Cecilton at Zion
United Methodist Church (164 West Main Street, Cecilton MD).
John Burke, the outgoing President, introduced Ken Shumaker, the new President. The Sassafras RIVERKEEPER, Emmett Duke, shared his past experiences and what he hopes to bring to SRA. Josh Thompson, the Ag Outreach Coordinator, gave a presentation about the projects SRA implemented in 2012, as well as the projects planned for 2013.
Thank you to Zion United Methodist Church and to all who attended!
Poultry Manure Injector Field Day
March 11, 2013 8:00am-11:am
On March 11, interested residents and farmers came out and saw the poultry injector in action. Josh McGrath, UMD, was on hand to discuss the benefits of injecting poultry manure, answered questions and explained the demonstration. The field day was at Turners Creek Conservation Park in Kennedyville, Maryland. Click here to view the flyer for more information.
Sponsored by Kent Soil & Water Conservation District and Sassafras River Association.
Also, watch this video on the progress of the Subsurfer to learn more about the project!
Sunset Paddle to Heron and Bald Eagle Nests
About 20 paddlers joined SRA on a sunset paddle to view the heron nests on Saturday, March 23 4:00pm-6:00pm. This was a great opportunity to get outside and paddle on the Sassafras, while also viewing the herons' nests!
Click below to view a video of the paddle:
Project Clean Stream
On April 6th, 55 volunteers cleaned up 116 bags-worth of trash, plus miscellaneous items such as 20+ tires, a picnic bench, and an outboard motor! We cleaned up trash in 5 sites:
Kent County: Foxhole Landing, Sassafras Natural Resource Management Area, Turner's Creek
Cecil County: Mount Harmon Plantation, Ward's Hill Road
April 30, 2013 7-8:30 PM
SRA Membership Meeting
ARE YOU BAY-WISE?
Home of Ken and Sue Shumaker, 694 Budds Landing Road, Warwick, MD 21912
We know from the Sassafras Watershed Action Plan that nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment are the 3 primary pollutants on the Sassafras! Sewage treatment plants, septic systems, urban/suburban runoff, agriculture and emissions from automobiles and power plants are all sources of pollution.
In a typical year, heavy spring rains wash these pollutants into the Sassafras where they contribute to algal blooms. Once the algae blooms die, the oxygen in the water is reduced enough to create dead zones. This negatively affects rockfish, crabs, oysters, and other creatures in the Chesapeake Bay.
Sabine Harvey, Master Gardener for the Maryland Bay-Wise Program, teaches home- and landowners ways to promote better water quality by decreasing the amount of pollutants running into the Sassafras. Sabine will tell us about three ways to get your yard or landscape certified Bay-Wise: Landscapes with Lawns, Landscapes without Lawns, and Vegetable Gardens.
Come out and find out how your yard measures up!
Sassafest River Jam Sunday June 23
When: Sunday June 23rd Noon til 5pm
Where: Kitty Knight House
SRA's fourth annual Sassafest River Jam will once again be a fun-filled day for all ages! Join SRA at the Georgetown Yacht Basin for this FREE event with local food, local entertainment, and local vendors. In addition to listening to music by Chester River Runoff, The Blueskeepers, and Bay Country Gentlemen, you can also take a stroll down to the water for the annual wade-in led by the Sassafras RIVERKEEPER®. The dinghy poker run and kayak race are always popular events that get attendees out on the river. Mark your calendars for another great Sassafest River Jam on the bank of the Sassafras!