Governor O’Malley and Educators Partner to Restore Maryland Streams
In a first of its kind effort, Governor Martin O’Malley met with teachers and educators from across the State on Tuesday to explore how the next generation of Marylanders could help restore the Bay, one stream at a time. Under this new statewide stream restoration partnership, schools would adopt the streams and tributaries on or near their properties and turn their restoration into a learning experience.
“The creeks, streams and rivers are all connected, and they all flow back to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By working together through our schools, we are teaching our children the power and value of respecting these natural resources and the connection between man and the world in which we live.”
In addition to taking students out of the classroom for experiential learning, the new collaborative will help schools meet the State’s Environmental Literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) requirements. Under the guidance of Governor O’Malley in 2011, the State Board of Education ruled that “each local school system shall provide in public schools a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education program infused within current curricular offerings and aligned with the Maryland Environmental Literacy Curriculum.” This allowed Maryland to become the first state in the nation to require students to be environmentally literate when they graduate from high school.
Today’s meeting, arranged in collaboration with the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, set the groundwork for the ongoing partnership. Schools and their teachers will conduct lessons around their stream’s ecology, including health problems and possible solutions. Students will monitor the water quality and work to improve the stream’s overall health with actions such as planting trees along their banks to create buffer areas.
Citizen action programs have been a cornerstone of the O’Malley-Brown Administration. Programs such as Marylanders Plant Trees, the Governor’s Stream Restoration Challenge and Marylanders Grow Oysters have allowed citizens to take an active role in restoration.
Governor O’Malley started the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program in 2008, where citizens tend to young oysters, held in wire mesh cages suspended from private piers. When the oysters are mature, they are moved to a local sanctuary. Citizens and school groups now participate in the program in 24 tributaries.
The Governor’s Stream Restoration Challenge has allocated $6 million to local governments and organizations to establish 1,000 acres of stream-side forests by 2015. This competitive grant program was designed to support Bay restoration while creating opportunities for students to engage in service-learning and environmental literacy projects. Maryland’s interactive StreamHealth map shows citizens the health of specific streams and the amounts of surrounding impervious surfaces.
Through Marylanders Plant Trees, citizens across Maryland have exceeded the statewide goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2013. Citizens who plant and register their trees online can observe the tree’s environmental impacts through interactive charts and maps. The State offers $25 coupons good for the purchase of native trees and gives away prizes to those who register to encourage people to participate.