Service club helps county create marsh Project helped stretch limited government money

October 29, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County planned to spend $30,000 to create six-tenths of an acre of marsh but instead is getting almost three times as much wetland because it bought into a service club's project.

The deal came about because the county had to create about a half-acre of marsh to make up for wetlands destroyed in rebuilding Turkey Point Bridge.

County officials put the available money into an Annapolis Rotary Club project to stabilize shoreline at South River Farm Park.

For the same amount it would have had to spend anyway, the county acquired 1.5 acres of marsh.

The project overall is worth $75,000 and shows one way counties are getting more out of limited dollars.

"Counties have been striving for several years to stretch their money," said David S. Bliden, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

"In order to meet demands they are looking for efficiencies."

One way is to find projects outside the government that rely heavily on volunteers, he said.

Savings are bigger than with privatization because volunteers are unpaid.

"All we are paying for is the rock placement," Thomas Andrews, the county's land use officer, said of the Rotary project.

Rotary members did the engineering plans, got the state and federal permits, obtained a grant and negotiated with a marine contractor for 1,800 feet of rock revetment placed this month.

Next spring, they will plant cord grass at the new beach behind the rocks. Volunteers will grow most of the grass in the county's greenhouse. Nearby communities may help with plants and fill for the site.

"It was a nice way to do business," said Mr. Andrews, who authorized the program. "It was easier and cheaper for the county.

The county partnerships have resulted in two other rock revetment and marsh creation projects. The Annapolis Rotary did one at Quiet Waters -- another county park on the South River -- and a Sherwood Forest community group did one at Brewer Pond on the Severn River.

John Flood, who is in charge of the project for the Rotary Club and did most of the paperwork and design, said the area being stabilized has caused much of the siltation near Selby Bay.

In some years, waves send more than a foot of shoreline into the South River.

Mr. Andrews said funding cuts and limits on government mean that such partnerships will be sought more often.

"The resources are just not going to be there for government to do all of it. [Using volunteers] is clearly a way we have to go to promote and do these things," he said.

"You're getting to the point in environmental projects where you have to depend on people to volunteer their sweat equity."

The Chesapeake Bay Trust put $13,000 toward the project. The trust generally steers away from funding government-only work, but helped fund this because of the partnership.

"A grant is more likely to be funded if it is a county working with a community group or a community group itself," said Rick Leader, CBT's assistant director.

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