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Three Leading Eastern Shore Conservation Organizations Join Forces

Photo of ShoreRivers ribbon-cutting ceremonyChester River Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and Sassafras River Association officially announced today the merger of their three organizations to form ShoreRivers, a new nonprofit dedicated to healthy waterways across the upper and middle Eastern Shore.

“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,” says 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.”

ShoreRivers will keep the local focus of its legacy organizations by maintaining their existing volunteer networks and local watershed boards. The new organization’s mission is to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. The combined organization will work with other environmental organizations, local businesses, farmers, families, local governments and a diverse community of Eastern Shore stakeholders to reduce pollution and protect natural resources.

“Each of our three legacy organizations has a proud and productive history of advocacy and restoration work on the Shore,” said Brennan Starkey, incoming Chair of the ShoreRivers Board of Directors. “By merging together, we draw upon our collective expertise, passion, and innovation to improve our Eastern Shore rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.”

ShoreRivers marked today’s announcement event with remarks from Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Governor Larry Hogan’s 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,” said Secretary Belton.

Photo of Secretary Mark Belton at ShoreRivers event

Secretary Belton provides remarks at ShoreRivers event

ShoreRivers has a dedicated staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of our rivers. The new nonprofit will have more than 3,500 members and supporters across the Eastern Shore to help achieve the organization’s vision for healthy waterways.

The new organization will include four Waterkeeper programs, the most among any Maryland nonprofit: Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Sassafras Riverkeeper. Waterkeepers regularly patrol and monitor area waterways and serve as key spokespersons for those waters.

Today’s announcement event was held at the new headquarters in the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in downtown Easton, Maryland. The nonprofit has regional offices in Chestertown and Georgetown, the former offices of the Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association, respectively.

ShoreRivers also announced several staff changes to coincide with the merger. Isabel Junkin Hardesty, formerly the Chester Riverkeeper, will become ShoreRivers Regional Director for the Chester and Sassafras Rivers. Tim Trumbauer, formerly the watershed manager for Chester River Association, will become the new Chester Riverkeeper. Elle O’Brien Bassett, formerly the education and outreach coordinator for Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, will become the new Miles-Wye Riverkeeper.