Bay plates fund provides greenhouse for marshes

November 01, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Re-creating the county's lost shoreline marshes became a little easier last week, thanks to thousands of motorists who purchased special Chesapeake Bay license plates.

Anne Arundel County officials opened a greenhouse in South County Friday, paid for by $50,000 from license plate sales, that will allow them to more than double the production of aquatic grasses.

"Our shoreline is going to look a lot better, and the Chesapeake Bay will be a lot healthier because of the work being done right here," County Executive Robert R. Neall said.

During a dedication ceremony at South River Farms near Edgewater, the Chesapeake Bay Local Government Advisory Committee lauded the innovation of the county's 4-year-old marsh revegetation program.

The program gives the marsh grasses to residents and communities that want to preserve eroding beaches and shoreline. Revegetation is considered more environmentally sound than bulkheading, which the county rarely permits.

Until now, the county has cultivated those grasses in greenhouses it shared with the Londontowne Publik House Gardens, said Patricia Haddon, a coordinator of the county marsh program.

The new galvanized steel and plexiglass greenhouse at South River Farms will produce enough grass to create 2 to 5 acres of tidal wetlands annually, said Mrs. Haddon. The county has 432 miles of shoreline, more than any other Maryland subdivision.

Wetlands absorb nutrients that would otherwise promote harmful algae blooms. They also slow erosion and provide a habitat for the shrimp and other wildlife that make up the bottom of the food chain.

Until recent years, communities scorned marshes and wetlands

as unsightly breeding grounds for mosquitoes and disease.

"There are some things that are so obvious they can't be stopped," said Stephen Ailstock, an assistant professor at Anne Arundel Community College and pioneer in marsh recreation. "I don't think the most cynical person could fault this program."

John Flood, an activist on the South River, praised Mr. Neall for salvaging the marsh revegetation program. Flood said.

For information about the program, call 222-7441.

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