Environmental scientist Amanda Poskaitis from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) spoke to our college students and professors about projects she has worked on and what the program offers as a whole.
After giving a bit of her background, Amanda shared that she volunteered at MCBP before she worked there. She also encouraged students to get involved with the program.
“It’s always good to get experiences, like you are right now, before you get out of school,” Amanda said.
There is an annual report card that rates the qualities of bays, and the bays in this area, including the Chincoteague Bay, have a combined grade of C/C+. The freshwater quality is poor because of the excess nitrogen and phosphorous. This is harmful to the organisms that live in this water, one example is clams, according to Amanda.
“Hard clams are a really important part of our environment,” she said.
One of Amanda’s first projects with MCBP was the Bishopville stream corridor enhancement project. More than 100 dams had to be removed or replaced. The dams had to be removed because they prevented the fish living in the water from moving upstream. However, many of these dams created ponds that people enjoyed and thought of as part of their community.
“We had to maintain the pond ecosystem,” Amanda said.
Because of the low amount of dissolved oxygen, it was hard for fish to swim. During the construction, Amanda and her team created regenerative stream channels. The construction occured from 2014 to 2015.
They monitored the water a year after construction, and they found that using the channel was really successful. They even found fish in the water.
“It was actually pretty neat to find [fish] a year after construction,” Amanda said.
The total cost of the project was $1.5 million, but it created 1.5 acres of wetland. Although it seems like a lot of money, it greatly increased the fisheries in the area, according to Amanda.
Amanda is currently working on Big Millpond Dam which also has a pond that her and her team are trying to maintain. They are also repairing the shoreline on the northern side of Assateague Island which will create an ideal habitat for horseshoe crabs and terrapins.
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