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Annapolitans Win Grants to Build Living Shorelines

Two Annapolis projects to rebuild shorelines and stop erosion along the bay were among the 16 recipients of grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust on Thursday.

Politicians, nonprofits and homeowners from around Maryland gathered in Eastport on Thursday for the announcement of 16 recipients of the Chesapeake Bay Trust's 2012 grants to build living shorelines.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, living shorelines are a stabilization technique that uses natural habitat elements like rocks—instead of bulkhead or riprap—to protect shorelines from erosion while also providing critical habitat for fish, crabs and other wildlife.

The trust partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment to give away more than $800,000—the largest amount awarded to date.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said he brags about the Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts to his colleagues in Congress all the time. 

"This is really big news what's being done here. We know how important the Chesapeake Bay is to our state, and how important it is our country. It's a national treasure," Cardin said. "It was Maryland that started [the restoration effort], and then we brought in the other states and the local governments and the private sector and the federal government. And that partnership now is a national model."

The hope is that these 16 new shoreline projects will serve as learning tools for and examples of effective restoration.

"You are truly on the front lines," Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said. "You are educating the public on the importance of protecting the environment and our shorelines, but also you are putting into practice those techniques."

The 2012 recipient ceremony took place in Eastport where three neighbors got together after learning about living shorelines in part through demonstration projects funded through this collaborative. The Annapolitans worked together to remove bulkheads and build a contiguous living shoreline on their properties, which now serves as an example for current and future grant recipients. 

The South River Federation received a $12,880 grant to cover some of the costs for its restoration of 240 feet of shoreline along Church Creek in Annapolis, which was completed earlier this month.

Erik Michelsen, the federation's executive director, said the homeowner on Church Creek decided to move forward with the creation of the living shoreline before the grant had been secured. 

"The contractor who was building this project was also building another shoreline in the same vicinity so cost wise it made sense," Michelsen said. "Rather than mobilizing the crew twice, both projects were completed at the same time."

The other living shoreline was privately funded.

The Annapolis Cove Property Owners Association received $40,000 to create a 150-foot living shoreline in its community along Lake Ogleton.

State Sen. John Astle (D-Annapolis) is a Chespeake Bay Trust board member, and he votes on how much money should be allocated to living shoreline projects. He said being able to give out a number of grants to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County meant a lot to him.

"Representing an area that probably has more shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay than just about any other district in the state, I am acutely aware of the issues that we face that impact the bay," Astle said. 

He pointed to a shoreline restoration project done behind as an example of how erosion can be stopped and a habitat can be recreated.

"The fact that we can do this in an urban setting—I think is really neat," Astle said. 

Since the trust's living shoreline program started seven years ago, there have been 68 projects in local communities that have created 28,000 feet of living shoreline and 18 acres of wetland habitat. 

The program has awarded more than $4 million and leveraged $7 million in matching funds from landowners throughout Maryland and Virginia. 

Living Shoreline grant recipients include:

MARYLAND

  • Annapolis Cove Property Owners Association, Anne Arundel County, $40,000
  • Magothy Beach Improvement Association, Anne Arundel County, $100,000
  • Severn Riverkeeper Program, Anne Arundel County, $18,784
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Anne Arundel County, $41,931
  • South River Federation, Anne Arundel County, $12,880
  • West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Anne Arundel County, $39,850
  • Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks, Baltimore County, $13,336
  • North East Isles, Cecil County, $100,000
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s County, $16,500
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Talbot County, $60,000
  • The Gunston School, Queen Anne’s County, $100,000
  • Chester River Association, Queen Anne’s County, $99,000

VIRGINIA

  • City of Norfolk, VA, $134,082
  • Friends of Norfolk’s Environment, Norfolk, VA, $5,894
  • Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Prince William County, VA, $16,500
  • The Landings at Bolling Square Community Association, Norfolk, VA, $11,212
Mike August 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
800 thousand dollars to 16 recipients. 50 grand per recipient on average. Based on the matching funds numbers mentioned, let's estimate 32 grand per recipient is directly taken from tax dollars. So, let's take from the little people all over the state, by force, and give away $509,000 of their money to a hand-selected group of 16 people who live in Eastport to replace their old seawalls and re-landscape their yards. And as such, it's worth asking who the 16 recipients actually are. Be very interesting to see what their political backgrounds and ties are.
Erik Michelsen August 31, 2012 at 08:03 PM
The funds for the Chesapeake Bay Trust come from people who voluntarily choose to get Bay license plates or check the tax check-off on their Maryland tax returns. Funding from the other government partners largely comes from dollars that go into mitigation funds when wetlands are impacted as a result of development. The grant recipients are selected through a process which is remarkably free of politics and is driven by technical experts from within and outside government.
Mike September 01, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Eric, thank you for your response. Please note, however, that the "check off" donations to the trust are tax-deductible. So, money is coming out of the general fund, AKA, the non-donating taxpayer base is forced to donate anyway. I will also bet the math behind the "mitigation funds" is interesting, and is essentially money from the general fund as well. Last, if the math in this article is correct, 7 percent of the monies in the history of the trust went to little ol' Eastport in this year alone. Given the size of the bay, and the size of Eastport, somehow that seems unlikely to be the most effective use of funds, and seems very likely to be tied in some way to political connections. But who knows, maybe it's pure coincidence.
Mike September 01, 2012 at 12:32 PM
And BTW, I would ask that you please distinguish clearly between "matching funds" and "funds for the Chesapeake Bay Trust" in describing any sources of the money. Thanks, Mike
Erik Michelsen September 01, 2012 at 02:55 PM
"Matching funds" as described above generally refers to private dollars used to match the grant. So, a homeowner may be eligible for 25% of the cost of a project on their property, but will have to come up with the 75% out of their own pocket.
Mike September 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Eric, The impression I get from your comments is that you are saying the Trust's actions are nearly exclusively done with private donations. In contrast, I say there is a LOT of tax money in there. So, what percentage of the trust's spend would you say is truly private donation and what percentage is tax dollars? Just SWAG a number of what you believe, and upon which your comments are based. I think that will add clarity and erase potential misunderstanding. Regards, Mike
Erik Michelsen September 01, 2012 at 06:53 PM
The money directly from the Trust is not "tax dollars" per se. This particular program has funding partners: MDE (tidal wetland mitigation money), DNR, and NOAA, as well as some corporate partners, I believe. I do not know what percentage of funding comes from DNR (though I believe it's fairly small), or NOAA, and how much of that might be considered general fund money. The point about "match" though is that these grant dollars are used to leverage their value several times over in truly private dollars for restoration.
Mike September 01, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I'm confused. Do you have an estimate for how much of the money you think is tax dollars versus TRULY private donation?
Erik Michelsen September 02, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I don't know the exact breakdown for this program.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Eric, please note I didn't ask for an exact percentage. I asked for you to estimate, just to give what YOU think the breakdown of tax dollars versus true private charity is. My point all along is that it appears that there is a lot of our tax money in this, and I have concerns about how that money is spent. Your responses have been to paint it as if it's all just some private charity, downplaying the tax dollars as if they don't exist or are negligible. Just pulling the "audit" off the trust's web site makes it clear that at least a third if not one half or more of the trust money is tax dollars, collected by force from the citizens. You also said: "The money directly from the Trust is not "tax dollars" per se. This particular program has funding partners: MDE (tidal wetland mitigation money), DNR, and NOAA, as well as some corporate partners, I believe. I do not know what percentage of funding comes from DNR (though I believe it's fairly small), or NOAA, and how much of that might be considered general fund money." Well, sorry, but when an agency of government "gives" money to some other entity, THOSE ARE TAX DOLLARS. They don't get laundered into some form of voluntary charity by having government hand them to someone else. So the "not "tax dollars" per se" comment is pointless. They ARE tax dollars. I find everything you've written to be misleading, either unwittingly or intentionally trying to downplay the reality of whose money it is.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 05:12 AM
To Anna Staver of Patch: Anna, would you agree that making edits to stories is both misleading and troublesome? If the content of a story changes, or new information is found, the appropriate thing to do is to CLEARLY APPEND UPDATES. NOT to insert updates in the original story, as if it was completely reported from the start. Going back and editing the original story, as if the content had not changed since it was first published, is somewhere between appalling sloppiness and outright journalistic fraud. Two questions: 1. Do you share my assessment of the impropriety of inserting undoicumented edits after the fact? 2. If so, will you work to see that this is stopped at Patch? I have noticed quite a few instances where stories change A LOT with no acknowledgement of the fact that any editing is being done. I look forward to your answers. Regards, Mike
Erik Michelsen September 02, 2012 at 12:06 PM
In terms of the tax dollars spent, page 17 of the audit lays it out very clearly where that money went (and page 13 identifies any "related party transactions" to address the issue of perceived conflict of interest.). If you don't think you should be taxed, so be it, but my experience in having interacted with the Trust for several years is that, not only are they very good stewards of the private and public dollars given to them, they are remarkably effective at leveraging additional dollars to make the initial investment go further.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Eric, no offense, but for clarity, I'm the one who pointed out the trust's financials (which support MY position that there are large amounts of tax dollars in the trust and refute your multiple claims above that nearly all the money was from private donation). If you agreed that a lot of tax money is spent by the trust, you could have just said so up front, rather than repeatedly implying the opposite. Or you could have acknowledged that in the course of our discussion you have learned that lots of tax dollars are routed into the trust. Instead you continued to paint the false picture that the trust is virtually all private charity until I cited the trust's own financials that support my point. Now that the correctness of my claim is shown by the trust's own financials, you have fallen back on "well, okay, there's a lot of tax money in there, but..." But honestly, given that you repeatedly painted an incorrect picture about the source of the funds, why should any reasonable person not question the correctness of your other statements regarding whether those funds are well spent? Who knows, perhaps the trust does great and efficient work witht the money they get their hands on. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But this discussion makes me more, not less, concerned about where the money goes. P.S. The conflict of interest stuff on page 13 is an absolute joke. (If you don't see why right away and agree, please just ask.) Sincerely, Mike
Mike September 02, 2012 at 02:55 PM
In the interest of absolute honesty and candor, let me say I think I was incorrect in my comment above about how this 800k was used (meaning I was wrong that it went to 16 residents in Eastport). This was the impression I got from first reading the article, perhaps due to misreading or perhaps due to correct reading, or a combination of the two. However, I want to note that it appears that the article has been radically updated since I first read it and posted my comment at 11:29 on 8/31/2012. Also, it appears that the article was changed with no acknowledgment of the changes, something I have observed happen on multiple Patch articles. I have suggested at least twice to Patch (once in this comment thread, at least once a month or more before) that any after-the-fact edits to articles be presented clearly as such. To be fair, I have seen a few occasions where this was done correctly, and some where it has not been done. But I think it is important to print updates, edits, corrections and retractions clearly as just that, rather than quietly slipping in changes to articles. Especially when people are discussing the articles already, with comments (which rightly cannot be edited after-the-fact by the commentor). Quiet, undocumented edits range from being hopelessly confusing and unprofessional to outright Orwellian. Neither is acceptable, so we should all endeavor to stop the practice completely.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Eric, a couple of other things. You said "If you don't think you should be taxed, so be it". However, I said nothing about it either way. What I said was that a lot of tax dollars went into this trust and that I was concerned about how those tax dollars were being used. One other note/question. Does the trust use any funds to attempt to influence government policy? I ask because I have found that a lot of charities paint a VERY misleading picture about what they do with the monies people donate. People think their voluntarily-surrendered money goes, say, to pay people to do cancer research. But instead the money goes to lobby government to FORCE everyone to surrender money against his will through taxation, to fund government programs and enact new laws. The charities I have seen make it VERY hard to see how much they spend on lobbying, instead of on the nominal purpose that was sold to the donors. So, with that in mind, does this trust attempt to influence government policy and legislation? If so, to what extent to the donors who buy license license plates and "check the box on their tax form" understand this, versus thinking that the money goes to DIRECTLY fund the efforts to repair shoreline, clean up water, etc? Let me be clear, I am not saying this is happening with this trust, I am asking. But I've seen the phenomenon with other charities where it is clearly deceptive and thus, fraud.
Erik Michelsen September 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Mike, first, the Trust does not engage in lobbying, and they tout that in many of their materials. Second, this whole conversation has involved a great deal if comparing apples to oranges. The initial discussion was about the living shoreline grant program, which involves a mix of private dollars, mitigation funds (not taxes), and government dollars I don't know the exact source of. Then, with the audit, the conversation shifted. The audit shows about 1/3 of the revenue for 2011 were from "grants." Assume those were all public dollars. Even under that scenario, a significant majority of the expenditures from the orgnanization are not government money. As I said upthread, I don't know how this overall breakdown corresponds to the particular program that started the discussion.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Eric, first off the initial discussion you entered was not somehow limited to the "living shoreline" program. Your first words: "The funds for the Chesapeake Bay Trust come from people who voluntarily choose to get Bay license plates or check the tax check-off on their Maryland tax returns. Funding from the other government partners largely comes from dollars that go into mitigation funds when wetlands are impacted as a result of development." Second, this first comment of yours suggests that I was incorrect in discussing tax dollars funding the trust, and that the trust is funded by private charity, and a bit also from "mitigation funds." However, I was not incorrect. LOTS of tax money is getting into the trust. Pulling straight from the trust's own published "audit." Your words I quoted above are very (incorrectly) dismissive of my point about tax dollars in the trust. As for the 1/3 number, I cited that up front long ago in the thread, as a minimum number. And so what if it were only 1/3, if that's even the case? (Which it isn't.) If it's a small enough amount not to be important or relevant then the trust can do without it. If our tax dollars are enough to be important to the trust, they're bloody well enough to be important to us to ask about how they are spent and get FULL disclosure. In fact, as tax dollars, it is appalling to resist or downplay ANY attempt to investigate their use in whatever level of detail. That's OUR money.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Further, Eric, with all due respect, your statement that "mitigation funds" are "not taxes" is accounting nonsense. If I understand what you yourself are claiming, mitigation funds are largely paid by developers for some notion of impact on the environment when they develop property they own. Property which will then be sold or rented, with the "mitigation funds" taken by government being passed on to the buyer or renter. This is, quite simply, a development tax imposed on people who build on land that they own. Saying it is not a tax is nonsense. One can argue about the merits of the tax, but it most certainly is a tax. And once again, your attempts to paint the picture of this trust as being "private donations", "grants", and "mitigation funds" rather than taxes are misleading at best, and inherently undermine the credibility of other statements about whether the money is well spent. Had I just slinked quietly off after your first comment or said "oh, I guess I was wrong about the tax dollars as it's all just private donation," does anyone think you'd have come rushing to promote the reality, or just happily let it end with the written perception being that the tax dollars are negligible or nonexistent? I leave that answer to the readers... Please consider that people mighgt be less suspicious if they weren't constantly misled about how much money is confiscated by government.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Oops, I failed to hit Reply when I wanted to. My 12:35 PM and 12:47 PM comments belong in chronological order. That's my goof, failing to nest both below Eric's 11:45 AM comment.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Oops, I failed to hit Reply when I wanted to. My 12:35 PM and 12:47 PM comments belong in chronological order. That's my goof, failing to nest both below Eric's 11:45 AM comment.
Mike September 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
One other note, if I read the "audit" correctly, at least some if not all of the folks associated with the trust appear to get some employee benefits from the State of Maryland. More tax dollars. And the muddier and more confusing the accounting gets, the more the use of tax dollars piles up unbeknownst to the taxpayer.
Mike Queener September 03, 2012 at 11:10 PM
There are many new grants for environment posted on Grantwatch.com http://www.grantwatch.com/ Nonprofits may be interested in applying for this grant: Grants to Maryland Non-Profits, Faith-Based, and Others for Environmental Education and Restoration Deadline: 01/11/2013 Grants of up to $5,000 to schools, non-profits, faith-based organizations, and government entities that help promote awareness of and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams through promoting environmental education programs. LINK: http://www.grantwatch.com/grant/129858/grants+to+maryland+non+profits++faith+based++and+++others+for+environmental+education+and+restoration.html Best of Luck in finding grants, Mike Queener

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