Drinks, Snacks, and Fish Migration on April 7

Fish Ladder in Port Tobacco Creek
Fish Ladder in Port Tobacco Creek

Did you know there is a fish ladder in the Port Tobacco Creek at Route 6? A fish ladder is a structure that allows migratory fish, such as yellow perch and river herring, to bypass a barrier and migrate upstream to their spawning habitat.

Join us on Thursday, April 7, at 7:00 pm, as Jim Thompson, Fish Passage Coordinator for MD DNR, talks about the importance of fish passage and dam removal in Maryland for restoring migratory fish populations. Jim promises to “blow your mind” with information on how dam removals may be one of the best tools to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The fish ladder itself is maintained by the State Highway Administration, and Bill Buettner of SHA’s Environmental Programs Division will tell us about SHA’s efforts to locate sites to mitigate impacts to wetlands, streams, forest and wildlife habitat.

The event is free and open to the public. We will offer complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks. Hope to see you at 7:00 on April 7 at the Holiday Inn Express, 6860 Crain Hwy in La Plata.

A Public Tree Planting Project – Port Tobacco River Park

Preserve Plant Play


Residents are invited to help plant trees along the Port Tobacco River as part of a month-long celebration of Earth Day. Grab the kids and join us for a few fun-filled hours of improving our local environment!
The Conservancy for Charles County and the Port Tobacco River Conservancy have partnered with Charles County Government to develop a natural tree buffer area to help protect the important wetlands that surround the Port Tobacco River. With the assistance of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Charles County recently acquired 149 acres of undeveloped land along the headwaters of this historic river. Initial plans call to convert the existing agricultural fields into natural forest buffer areas in an effort to create watershed protection and natural wildlife habitat. This public tree planting event is the first step towards that goal. In time, the Port Tobacco River Park will offer public access to hiking trails and outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities.
Four separate event dates are available:
• Saturday, April 2 9:00 a.m. – Noon
• Sunday, April 3 Noon – 3:00 p.m.
• Saturday, April 9 9:00 a.m. – Noon.
• Sunday, April 10 Noon – 3:00 p.m.
Due to parking limitations, preregistration is required. To sign-up, please call the Charles County Parks Division Office @ 301-932-3470 or register online using Volunteer Spot. Go to http://vols.pt/nZdkcc
Port Tobacco River Park is located on Chapel Point Road in Port Tobacco, Maryland (approximately 1 mile from Rte. 6). With the exception of special events, this park is currently not open for public access.

Join Us April 16 for the 28th Annual Potomac River Cleanup

Trash Free Potomac Network - Connecting for a Trash Free Watershed - Event - Port Tobacco River Cleanup at Chapel Point State Park 2015

Cleanup Is from 9 am to noon

The Port Tobacco River Conservancy is teaming up with the Alice Ferguson Foundation for the 28th Annual Potomac River Cleanup on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

We will be at Chapel Point State Park, 8160 Pisces Rd, Port Tobacco MD 20677. We will supply bags, gloves, drinking water and snacks.

Please come join us to have fun and to help make our river more beautiful.

For more information please visit http://trashnetwork.fergusonfoundation.org/event/3077/show, or contact Julie at jsimpson@porttobaccoriver.org or Krupa at krupa@porttobaccoriver.org

Welcome Tina Wilson, our Newest Board Member


We are very pleased to have Tina Wilson as the newest member of the PTRC Board of Directors. Tina joined the Board on January 7.

Tina is a lifelong resident of Charles County. She grew up on a small farm along Neale Sound near Cobb Island, where she nurtured her love of the water. After attending college on the eastern shore, she pursued a career in the Army, retiring in 2005. She served as a logistics officer on a variety of assignments, including at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, and in Stuttgart, Germany, and Skopje, Macedonia. She is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Several of Tina’s assignments involved providing water to villagers as part of humanitarian support, and this work brought home to her the importance of clean water and how so many take it for granted.

Upon retiring from the service, she renewed her love of boating and moved to Port Tobacco. While on a boating trip to Chapel Point, she learned of the dangers of a high bacteria count in the river from fellow boaters, which lead her to join the PTRC. Monitoring the river provides wonderful opportunities to see the watershed in ways many locals don’t get to see. Once you have muddied your boots and collected a few samples, the river as well as many of its contributing streams is no longer just a feature you drive by and take for granted; you begin to take ownership of it. It is Tina’s hope that many more people will become members of the PTRC and learn to better appreciate the Port Tobacco River. In addition to being a member of the Board of Directors, Tina serves as PTRC’s Water Monitoring Coordinator.

Public Hearing on Mallows Bay November 4

Mallows kayaker

Maryland DNR has posted the following information:

In a first for the state of Maryland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on October 5 declared its intent to designate Mallows Bay in Charles County as a National Marine Sanctuary, and is seeking public input on how the site should best be used and managed.

Located in Nanjemoy, an area of the Potomac River, Mallows Bay features a host of archaeological, recreational, historical, cultural, educational and environmental qualities, and is home to one of the largest assemblages of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay, this collection totals nearly 200 vessels dating back to the Revolutionary War and World War II.

“The state of Maryland and its partners in this effort are thrilled that such a multipurpose and unique site on the Chesapeake Bay is on its way to becoming a National Marine Sanctuary,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Mark Belton said. “We believe that the designation serves as a tremendous opportunity to promote our state’s world-class recreational fishing, boating and tourism, to advance our efforts to protect and restore the bay watershed, and to educate the public about our nation’s maritime and cultural history. This was and continues to be a community-driven process.”

“The Maryland State Historic Preservation Office has long been seeking the best means of managing the important and diverse cultural resources in and around Mallows Bay,” State Historical Preservation Officer Elizabeth Hughes said. “Cognizant of the role these resources have come to play in the environment, both as a haven for natural resources and from a recreational perspective, the opportunity to build partnerships throughout the Maryland community and with NOAA has provided a timely and elegant means to ensure an appropriate and comprehensive approach to their long term management.”

DNR’s Chesapeake and Coastal Service, the Maryland Historical Trust, Charles County and a number of other partners submitted the Mallows Bay nomination to NOAA in September 2014. In early 2015, the nomination became the first to be successfully added to the inventory of areas considered for designation.  The next phase of the process will include a public feedback period that may last up to two years. Feedback will be used to help create a draft plan for the site.

Partners will host public input meetings in:

  • Charles County on Nov. 4, 2015, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Charles County Government Building Auditorium: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata; and
  • Anne Arundel County on Nov. 10, 2015 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Annapolis Maritime Museum: 723 Second Street, Annapolis.

Comments may also be submitted online at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/mallows-bay and are due by Jan. 15, 2016.

“A National Marine Sanctuary designation for Mallows Bay would focus well deserved national attention on this Charles County treasure,” Charles County Commissioner President Peter F. Murphy said. “We have worked hard to promote public access to the site and to conserve its significant historic and natural resources. This esteemed recognition would stimulate those efforts and afford us the opportunity to share its beauty and historical significance with the nation.”

The National Marine Sanctuary System was established in 1972 to recognize and promote the conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research or aesthetic values of special areas of the marine environment. The existing network is comprised of 14 sites totaling more than 170,000 square miles. They all serve as natural classrooms and laboratories for school children and researchers alike to promote stewardship of our marine resources.

Photo by Daryl Byrd.

Join Our Shoreline Cleanup at Chapel Point on August 1

Trash Free Potomac Network - Connecting for a Trash Free Watershed - Event - Port Tobacco River Cleanup at Chapel Point State Park 2015It’s time for another shoreline cleanup at Chapel Point State Park, 8160 Pisces Rd, Port Tobacco MD 20677.  We will be there Saturday, August 1, starting at 9:00 am. We will supply bags, gloves, and drinking water.

Please come join us to have fun and to help make our river more beautiful. For more information, contact Julie at jsimpson@porttobaccoriver.org or Krupa at krupa@porttobaccoriver.org

PTRC President Urges Planning Commission to Protect Port Tobacco Headwaters

Washington Glen Aerial Map
Washington Glen Aerial Map

PTRC President Jerry Forbes testified before the Charles County Planning commission on Tuesday, June 22, opposing a zoning map amendment for the proposed Washington Glen project near the intersection of Billingsley and Middletown Roads. This project would convert 137 acres in the present-day “deferred development district” to medium residential zoning, an increase in density of 30 times. Nearly all of the tract is in the headwaters of the Port Tobacco River.

Here is his testimony.

Good evening. My name is Jerry Forbes and I am the President of the Board of Directors of the Port Tobacco River Conservancy. Since 2001, PTRC has worked with businesses, residents, local and state governments, and other conservation groups to restore and protect the Port Tobacco River and streams in the watershed. PTRC balances restoration and protection with economic development concerns and the value of its river and watershed to both the local and state economies.

I urge you to adopt the recommendation of the Department of Planning and Growth Management Staff Report and deny the requested rezoning for the Washington Glen project. This project would be located on 136 acres of land in the headwaters of the Port Tobacco River. We believe this property’s current zoning, Rural Conservation Deferred Development District, or RC(D), provides the needed protection for this environmentally sensitive area. This would not be the case if the property were rezoned to allow medium to high-density residential development.

The Importance of Headwater Streams

Stream health indicators such as macro-invertebrates decline noticeably whenever impervious surfaces (roofs, paved parking lots) within watersheds exceeds 10 percent. Impervious surfaces change the rate and route in which water enters the stream system, they prevent infiltration, change the flow regime within the stream system and prevent groundwater recharge, which impacts the dry weather base flow of the streams. Runoff from impervious surfaces also increases the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids in the water. The effects of these changes are particularly critical when they occur in headwater streams, as they affect downstream water quality.

This property contains over 3,500 feet of unnamed tributaries of the Port Tobacco Creek, all of which is surrounded by forest. The property’s current uses of forest and agriculture are consistent with RC(D) zoning, which is intended to preserve the rural environment and natural features of the area, while maintaining low density residential development and existing agricultural activities. These uses are far better suited to protecting the health of these headwater streams than the proposed use of medium to high density residential development will be.

Goals of the WRAS

The County and the public have already agreed on the ecological, aesthetic, scenic, recreational, and economic value of a healthy Port Tobacco watershed. In 2007, the County adopted for implementation the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) for the Port Tobacco River. One of the stated goals of the WRAS is to mitigate future changes to watershed hydrology, and the WRAS recommends preserving 50% of the Port Tobacco watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL

The County also must consider its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, which establishes annual total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total suspended solids (sediment) allocations for the watershed areas draining into the Chesapeake Bay.

A specific example of concern is the wetlands near the Route 6 bridge and Rose Hill road. For the past 40–50 years, the Port Tobacco Creek has eroded and deepened because of the increased volume of storm water from developments with impervious surfaces and discharges from waste water treatment plants. This has left the former wetland south of the bridge dry, driving out the waterfowl, other birds, and wildlife that once lived there and no longer filtering out nutrients and sediment. The county in partnership with a landowner has a project to restore the highly eroded stream banks and bottom to allow the natural overflow of the stream to go into the former wetlands south of the bridge. The County’s investment in this project could be put in jeopardy if there are significant changes in upstream headwaters hydrology due to runoff from added impervious surfaces.


For all these reasons, we ask you to adopt the recommendation of the planning staff and deny this requested rezoning to protect the health of the Port Tobacco River and its watershed for generations to come. Thank you for listening!

Help Us Celebrate PTRC’s 14th Birthday!

Port Tobacco Green Drinks, May 2015

Join us on Thursday, June 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Port Tobacco Marina Restaurant for our next Port Tobacco Green Drinks. We will be celebrating PTRC’s 14th birthday! Admission is free.

Green Drinks is a social network for those who are interested in environmental issues. It’s a great way to meet up, to make new friends, to create job opportunities, and to just have fun. The Port Tobacco Marina Restaurant is located at 7536 Shirley Blvd, Port Tobacco.

Enjoy the Restaurant’s Thirsty Thursday Specials:

  • $4 Rails
  • $3 Shooters
  • $2 Regular domestic drafts

The Restaurant will donate 10% of food sales to PTRC.

Hope to see you there!