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Ocean Pines Bay Day - April 29, 2018

As the weather changes and nature begins to bloom, people tend to spend more time out-of-doors, enjoying the beauties that spring offers us. It’s a common sight to drive down the road and see people working on their gardens, grilling in their yards, and making improvements to their homes. But spring is not just a time to get outside to work, but to celebrate the exceptional place that Worcester County is.

Take a minute and imagine you have a free afternoon to do anything you please.  There are so many outdoor options to choose from, and all right at our fingertips. You could take a drive to enjoy a wild day in Ocean City, explore the beaches of Assateague State Park and National Seashore, enjoy the small town feels in Berlin, Snow Hill, or Pocomoke, or spend the day hiking or paddling along the Pocomoke River.  If you have ever had the chance to experience any of these, I am sure you felt a sense of wonderment and respect for the place we call home.  At Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP), we get to surrounded ourselves with this nature every day. One of our goals is provide as many opportunities as we can to the residents of Worcester County to come outside, educate themselves, and celebrate the unique coastal bays watershed.

On Sunday, May 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., MCBP and the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) will be hosting the 1st Annual OP Bay Day. It will take place at White Horse Park in Ocean Pines. This event is the catalyst for a commitment from MCBP and its partners to work with OP community members, surrounding business, and other watershed residents to improve the health of the St. Martin River. In the 2016 Report Card, the St. Martin River was graded the unhealthiest sub-watershed with our Coastal Bays. It is crucial for all residents to understand that what happens on the land, directly impacts the health of the waters.

Every action we take as individual homeowners may seem small, but when you combine everyone’s actions, there can be large impacts on a community level.  With a smaller watershed such as the Coastal Bays, this is obtainable for us; we have already seen dramatic changes in the state of our bays over the past ten years.  At Bay Day, MCBP and the OPA want to bring residents together for a fun-filled day of educational activities and information on how we can all act as one towards positive change and improvements to the water and watershed.

Our goal of Bay Day was to incorporate education into every aspect of the event. The day will host four key speakers representing different environmental organizations.  University of Maryland Extension’s Ginny Rosenkraz will be giving a talk on bay-friendly backyards and pollinators, Bryan Gomes from the Oyster Recovery Partnership will speak on the importance of oysters and healthy waterways, Department of Natural Resources’ Dave Brinker will be giving talks on colonial nesting birds and the St. Martin River on river boat rides, and Coastal Bays staff members will speak to the state of the watershed and ways to get involved.

The Bay Day will host a variety of activities and events that cater to all backgrounds, ages, and interests.  There will be over 35 environmental exhibitors including local state parks, farms, nonprofits, research organizations, and educational centers and museums.  All exhibitors will be providing handouts and informational materials. Some of them will be offering free hands-on educational activities such as sun prints, build-your-own-watershed, native seed bombs, touch tanks, and live animal encounters. There will also be interactive exhibits like the National Aquarium’s walk-through 50-foot whale, the Fish Mobile from Phillips Wharf, and the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s Agriculture Mobile.

But why stop the fun there?! Catch a hayride down or walk the trails to the public boat ramp behind White Horse Park for free kayaking sessions by Ayers Creek Adventures, or a bay boat ride on the OC Swim Call! And don’t forget to take your time walking back from a cruise on the water, and check out the beautiful nature trails that White Horse Park has to offer.  Other highlights of the day include the first 300 individuals receiving a hand-painted canvas bag done by a Worcester County student, a recycling corner, a student art showcase of recycled materials and watershed imagery, and radio coverage from 97.1 The Wave.

We are also excited to announce that Gilbert’s Provisions, Baked Desserts, Eastern Shore Kettle Korn, the Street Kitchen food truck, and OP Kiwanis Club will all be onsite serving up local delicacies and treats in the Food Garden. The Burley Oak Beer Truck will also be parked close by to quench your thirst following eats.  And if that doesn’t sound like enough, our Food Garden will be made complete with the amazing sounds of the Bilenki Experience coming from the nearby stage.

So whether someone is perusing the environmental exhibitors, relaxing on a bay boat ride, or sitting in to hear our guest speakers, they will walk away with more watershed knowledge than when they arrived. We hope you can join MCBP and OPA on Sunday, May 20th for Bay Day for, not only some fun and food, but to show your support of improving our Coastal Bays watershed. For more information on the OP Bay Day, please visit MCBP’s Facebook page, or go to http://www.oceanpines.org/about-ocean-pines/bay-day-ocean-pines/.

Wist is the Education Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 



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