In 2011, Ducks Unlimited (DU) partnered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Kent County government, Kent Soil Conservation District, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program, Chester River Association, and Washington College to form the Middle Chester River Partnership. The Middle Chester has a reputation among government agencies and non-government organizations as the Chester River's most impaired sub-watershed. However, it also boasts the best current measurement data, an existing Watershed Restoration Action Strategy, and the greatest opportunity to leverage other programs and initiatives. It is embedded within the DU Upper Chesapeake Bay Priority Area.
The goal of the MCRP is to restore the Middle Chester River within Kent County by delivering a multi-year, multi-faceted approach to address the factors contributing to the degradation of the entire watershed. Primary objectives are to:
Upgrade and replace failing septic systems;
Promote sustainable agricultural practices like buffers and ecologically-sound farm equipment, and
Implement wetland restoration projects.
All will help reduce excess nutrient runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and improve water quality and quality of life in the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. Partners are coordinating the septic system and agricultural portions of the MCRP, whereas DU is responsible for wetland restoration, including survey, design, and construction management.
The foal of the wetland restoration component of the MCRP is a minimum of two projects per year for three years. DU completed the first project in summer 2011 and construction on the second is scheduled for this winter. Three additional sites have already been identified and may even be completed within the first year. Regardless, benefits from the restoration and MCRP will be far-reaching and realized for many more years to come. Kent County landowners interested in supporting the conservation efforts of the MCRP are encouraged to contact the DU Annapolis Office at 410-224-6620.