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NEWS | June 13, 2011

Employees Implement Conservation Program at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment In Maryland

By Dom Panciarelli

Employees representing the Safety Branch and Environmental Section of the Naval Research Laboratory have recently planted tree and shrub seedlings in support of a state-wide Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) environmental program. The planting activity was conducted at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment in Maryland, by a group of eight hardy employees.

The tree-planting event held on March 25, was coordinated by NRL's Environmental Section. The day started at 8 a.m. with the volunteers unloading supplies and attending a quick lesson on the fine art of planting seedlings. The volunteers were grouped into teams of two, in order to cover the large planting area assigned for the day's activity. After a healthy amount of digging, the volunteers planted all the seedlings that included mulching and installing tree protectors to discourage animals from disturbing the seedlings. Most of the volunteers worked through the day enabling the project to end just after 4 p.m. All participants left the planting site both dirty and tired, but satisfied with their accomplishment. In total, they planted approximately 100 trees and shrubs in support of the statewide conservation effort. Organizers of this event offer a special note of thanks to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery, for providing NRL with the seedlings at a greatly reduced price.

As an environmental protection specialist, I am always on the look-out for opportunities to expand the command's environmental efforts. These plantings will serve as windbreaks, reduce runoff and erosion of sediment and harmful nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay, and provide a beautiful backdrop for CBD employees to enjoy. It's great to be able to participate in an effort that supports the Command's stewardship of this important water body, concluded Ms. Michele Hepler, NRL's Natural Resources Program Manager.

According to Joe Pawlovich, head of NRL's Safety Branch, Planting these one-year old seedlings will increase the NRL-CBD riparian forested buffers, helping NRL fulfill its obligations under the Sikes Act, Clean Water Act, and Executive Order 13508, Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration of May 2009. The plantings consisted of approximately 25 black gums, 25 red maples, 25 river birch and 25 button bushes. Riparian forests, including their undergrowth, provide essential wildlife habitat to a variety of creatures such as birds, squirrels and deer. Riparian forests are also important in reducing soil erosion and reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels in nearby waterways. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorous in water bodies results in excessive algae growth which blocks out light from aquatic grasses that serve as important nurseries for young organisms such as fish and crabs. As the algae decays, the dissolved oxygen, necessary for fish and other aquatic organisms, is depleted. Riparian forested buffers make use of some of these nutrients before they reach the waters of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed thus enhancing water quality, explains Pawlovich.

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