Groundbreaking Restoration Brings Innovative Approach to Chesapeake Bay

April 22, 2009

John Griffin, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources welcomes Dr. Jane Lubchenco to Maryland with a fine art print of a Baltimore Oriole during an Earth Day event at Jug Bay.

John Griffin, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources welcomes Dr. Jane Lubchenco to Maryland with a fine art print of a Baltimore Oriole during an Earth Day event at Jug Bay.  

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco visited Jug Bay this Earth Day to celebrate its groundbreaking restoration. After a decade-long effort, nearly 80 percent of the vital habitat has been restored. Lubchenco applauded the public and private partnerships and research initiatives at Jug Bay that are helping scientists better understand climate change.

“Scientists are helping to lay the groundwork for a new national network of sentinel sites for climate change research that will provide the valuable climate data essential to providing the sound science on which sound policy must be built,” said Lubchenco.

“With America’s estuaries at serious risk, Jug Bay provides a model for tackling accelerating water quality issues and nutrient pollution. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 signed recently by President Obama enables us to continue acquiring and protecting critical coastal and estuarine habitats.”

Jug Bay, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is one of 27 reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System managed by NOAA in partnership with coastal states. The network protects over 1.3 million acres of estuarine land and water across the country. The decade-long restoration underscores the value of identifying the compounding effects of climate change and other environmental pressures and addressing them through science-based restoration. 

“Nearly 80 percent of the marsh is now restored, providing high-quality nutrition and shelter for resident and migrating birds and juvenile fish. And the wild rice is effectively maintaining water quality,” said John Griffin, Secretary of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  “This success story is a tribute to hundreds of community volunteers and school children, NOAA, and our many state and local partners, particularly the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.”

NOAA volunteers dug up and transplanted 1,000 wild rice plants to six different areas of Jug Bay during a 2007 NOAA Restoration Day event.

NOAA volunteers dug up and transplanted 1,000 wild rice plants to six different areas of Jug Bay during a 2007 NOAA Restoration Day event.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Comprising over 2,000 acres of open water, tidal marshes, swamps and fields, Jug Bay is situated near the middle of the Patuxent River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary and one of the world’s most productive bodies of water. For years the Patuxent River suffered the loss of its native wild rice marshes due to grazing by resident Canada geese and possibly exacerbated by climate-related sea level rise.

Between 1989 and 1999, 275 of 325 acres of wild rice were lost. But over the past decade, the reserve’s many partners, most notably the Patuxent River Park, have undertaken highly effective restoration to combat the impact. New rice has been planted, and geese-grazing has been controlled. Today nearly 200 acres are again robust and restoration efforts continue.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.