Coastkeeper Scores $50K Grant

BERLIN — The Town Creek Foundation recently awarded a $50,000 grant to the Maryland Assateague Costal Trust (ACT).

While the foundation has provided funding to ACT in the past, this is the first year that such a large grant has been given entirely to ACT’s Coastkeeper Program.

Kathy Phillips, who serves as Assateague Coastkeeper and as ACT’s executive director, said the grant will help the program continue to provide educational and hands-on services.

“Anytime someone finds your work worth funding, it is a very affirming experience,” Phillips said. “We are grateful to the Town Creek Foundation for recognizing the importance of ACT’s work on the lower Eastern Shore and the Coastal Bays watershed.”

According to Phillips, the grant will be used for several purposes.
“It will help keep the boat on the water, patrolling for the summer,” she said.

In addition to actively patrolling, the grant will assist Phillips in educating local students about the need for environmental conservation, a message that she often attempts to promote amongst area legislators as well.

Phillips stated that the grant is just the most recent of an encouraging pattern of interest being displayed by the community in regards to keeping waterways in good condition.

“Thanks to continuing support from the local community, 2010 was a good year for ACT and the health of our local waters and wetlands,” Phillips said.  “Weekly patrols on the water allowed us to monitor for pollution, critical area clearing violations, and the general health of these watersheds, as well as to undertake some targeted shoreline cleanup efforts.”

In 2010, the Coastkeeper was involved in a number of projects, many of which will continue on into this year. Some of the more impactful efforts included a compliance sweep of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and hosting two separate Worcester County Commissioner forums, allowing the legislators to address concerns the public had about its waterways. On top of that, Phillips conducted an educational workshop on Environmental Site Design to promote community understanding of the new stormwater regulations.

With interest in the area’s waterways increasing along with the demands on Phillips, there is a possibility ACT will field an additional Coastkeeper sometime in the future.

“The closest other waterkeeper [right now] is in the Choptank River,” said Phillips. “We’re working on it.”