Green Notes: 3 Major Conservation Organizations Merge
By Josh Kurtz
Three major Eastern Shore conservation organizations officially merged last week.
Chester River Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and Sassafras River Association have formed ShoreRivers, a nonprofit dedicated to healthy waterways across the upper and middle shore through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.
ShoreRivers will keep the local focus of its legacy organizations by maintaining their existing volunteer networks and local watershed boards. The combined organization will work with other environmental organizations, local businesses, farmers, families, local governments and other Eastern Shore stakeholders to reduce pollution and protect natural resources.
“I am thrilled to lead this exciting organization and its passionate staff as we work to develop real solutions to improve the health of our waters,” said Jeff Horstman, who will serve as the new executive director of ShoreRivers. “ShoreRivers is more than just the sum of our parts – we are now one committed voice with more influence on policy, more capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large regional agricultural and restoration projects to reduce pollution.”
Several state and local officials were on hand Friday for a dedication at the new organization’s headquarters at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, including Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) deputy chief of Staff, and Mark Belton, secretary of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“Congratulations to ShoreRivers on this exciting merger. We look forward to continuing our productive partnership with them to accomplish bigger and bolder projects to help enhance and restore the Chesapeake Bay and our local waterways,” Belton said.
ShoreRivers has a staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of local rivers. The nonprofit will also have more than 3,500 members and supporters across the Eastern Shore.
The new organization will include four Waterkeeper programs, the most among any Maryland nonprofit: Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Sassafras Riverkeeper.
The Maryland League of Conservation Voters held its annual dinner in Annapolis last week – fondly known as “the Green Prom.” In the run-up to the 2018 election, with so many candidates present, the dinner sold out.
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus and a prominent national environmental leader, was the headline speaker. House Environment and Transportation Chairman Kumar Barve (D) was named LCV’s “legislator of the year,” in part for his work to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. He was also hailed for protecting pollinator habitats, advancing clean energy, and ensuring sustainable oyster fisheries.
“It was a milestone year for Maryland’s environment in the 2017 legislative session,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Karla Raettig.
The Maryland LCV is also having an event on Dec. 1 in Frederick to honor Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs, the recipient of the group’s President Theodore Roosevelt Award. Briggs is being cited for his commitment to making Emmitsburg more sustainable.
The LCV event takes place at 5 p.m. at Reina, a restaurant in Frederick. County Executive Jan Gardner (D) is scheduled to speak.