Join Us for Beautiful Swimmers Revisited June 6

The free screening of Beautiful Swimmers Revisited will be held on Monday, June 6 from 7-8 pm at Maryland Hall‘s gymnasium

Recently the Legislatures of MD, PA and VA designated the second week in June as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week and urged groups to hold  events to re-invigorate public enthusiasm for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and our local waters. 

To celebrate this week the Annapolis Environmental Commission, Annapolis Green, Annapolis Community Foundation, Annapolis Conservancy, Spa Creek Conservancy and Back Creek Conservancy, invite you to attend a special Annapolis screening of the recently released film Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, which was inspired by the 40-year anniversary of William Warner’s Pulitzer Prize winning book and takes a look at how crabs and watermen are doing today. 

Filmmakers Sandy Cannon-Brown and Dave Harp will introduce the film, and afterwards the audience may ask questions of several people featured in the film including C.J Canby a Pasadena waterman, Ann Swanson (Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission), and Anson “Tuck” Hines (Director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center–SERC). 

Several local environmental groups will set up displays in the back of the room to share information about the good works they are doing in our area.

What We’re Up To This Spring

Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

The Back Creek Conservancy’s plans for monitoring this year exist in the context of a $72,000 Watershed Assistance Grant awarded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust in late 2015. Most of the funds will be used to develop a Watershed Action Plan intended to improve the management of stormwater, the main source of nutrients and sediment. But $4,750 of the grant forms the financial core of an effort to establish a firm baseline of quantitative data about the present condition of Back Creek’s water..

As of mid-April 2016, we have pulled together many elements of a successful effort:

  • Prof. Andrew Muller, Professor of Oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy, has agreed to help set up the QA/QC protocols, train citizen-scientist volunteers, and assist us to interpret the data. Prof. Sally Hornor, formerly at the AACC Environmental Center and founder of Operation Clearwater, and Dr. Pierre Henkert, the scientist who has led the Severn River monitoring for the past 12 years, will also serve as Senior Advisors.
  • We have adopted the rigorous EPA protocol described in Volunteer Estuary Monitoring: A Methods Manual, second edition, 2006, as the basis for the entire program.
  • We have acquired space for a small water quality laboratory, in Suite 104 of the Pacific Building at Port Annapolis Marina, 7076 Bembe Beach Road.
  • We have received the donation of a suitable boat, a 10-foot rigid inflatable with a 6 horsepower outboard motor; the boat is now fully operational.
  • We have purchased a very powerful and reliable monitoring instrument, a “YSI ProDSS, Multiparameter Sampling Instrument.” It is a battery-operated handheld device which accommodates up to four from a wide range of sensors. We plan to sample with four sensors: (1) conductivity and temperature, (2) pH, (3) Dissolved Oxygen, and (4) Turbidity. This instrument is said to be optimal for use by adult volunteers.
  • More than a dozen adults, mostly SUP and kayak devotees, have volunteered for the water monitoring training, and three students—two undergraduates at UMD and one senior at Annapolis High School– want to work as interns on the water quality monitoring this summer.
  • The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and GLEON have permited us to pilot test a new app, Lake Observer,, a cell phone and tablet means of capturing and storing water quality data.
  • The Back Creek Conservancy is an active member of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s effort to ensure that monitoring data meets the quality standards of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Engaging volunteers
We have only just begun, but a few of our efforts thus far:

Oil Spill Disaster Narrowly Averted on Back Creek

IMG_6616On Wednesday, 5 April, The Capital carried a front-page report of a freak accident in which a home heating oil truck overturned at a busy intersection in the Back Creek watershed:

The Capital’s story focused on the disruption caused by the consequent traffic jams, which spread for miles and lasted more than four hours.

What didn’t make the headlines was a potential oil spill disaster averted just days after volunteers cleaned more than a ton of trash from the Back Creek watershed. The fuel oil truck overturned at a storm drain that leads directly to the headwaters stream of Back Creek. Within 40 minutes of the accident, trucks from Ace Environmental were at the storm drain outfall, equipped with oil-absorbing booms and pillows and a large pump truck to remove the oil as it floated out of the storm pipe and into the stream bed.

IMG_6621As of now, about 48 hours after the accident, it appears that almost all of the fuel oil was captured at the outfall and that none of the oil penetrated more than about 70 feet down the stream before it was contained and removed. MDE has still not completed an accurate measure of the extent of the spill, but it is calculated to have been less than 300 gallons.

Ace Environmental, located in Curtis Bay, Baltimore, was also the MDE emergency response contractor for the fuel oil spill into the Crab Creek headwaters at the Annapolis Middle School during the big snow storm at the end of January. Unfortunately, that spill, estimated to have been 220-230 gallons, wasn’t discovered until about 36 hours after it began, and the deep snow and wooded terrain hampered the cleanup, so the oil flowed all the way down to the tidal range, a distance of one-half to two-thirds of a mile. Now, more than two months later, a bright red oil sheen is still visible in the headwater stream after every rain.

Everyone who lives, works, or plays on Back Creek owes Ace Environmental a vote of thanks for their quick and professional response.

50 Cheers for 50 Volunteers


All photos by Lisa Borre

Fifty or more cheers for the 50 volunteers who showed up Saturday, April 2, on a gloomy morning to pick up trash for Project Clean Stream—which Bay-wide had more than 50,000 volunteers. The 50 who signed up through Back Creek Conservancy are the ones we’d like to give a special thanks to. This is our first big volunteer event, so to have four dozen people show up in the rain to clean up the shorelines of our creek is pretty darned special and makes us proud to live in this community.

Among the volunteer base were 11 students, many neighbors and friends, a handful of board members (and one very helpful mom of a board member), seven SpinSheet staffers, and a whole lot of friends who love their home creek.

Betsy Love and Daniel Walton organized their own Project Clean Stream event at the shoreline of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, mainly using a dozen midshipmen for the heavy lifting. They picked up about 2/3 of a truckload of trash bags and metal debris, out of the four truckloads in total that were collected from Back Creek. Love and Walton are both Master Watershed Stewards, and this effort marks the beginning of a promising collaboration between the conservancy and this gifted group of highly trained community leaders.

DSC_0921_50pWe picked up 1743 pounds of trash in 115 bags in one morning! (The final tally came closer to one ton!) The booty included two bikes, two shopping carts, two tires, four auto batteries, an ancient radio, a safe, a headliner for car, a mossy backpack, a full can of Coors Light, Styrofoam cups, and more plastic bags and bottles and cigarette butts than we’d care to discuss.

Did we mention we uncovered a crime scene and discovered a wad of Canadian currency and many passports? See what goodies you may find when you volunteer?

Lorie and David with the 1750-pound heap of trash we collected from the Back Creek shores.

Lorie and David with the 1750-pound heap of trash we collected from the Back Creek shores.

Special thanks should go out to Lorie Stout, who singlehandedly organized the volunteers, created the cleanup action map, and took care of the registration table. Our board president David Barker manned the pickup truck with a smile on his face, and his wife Lisa Borre took the great pictures shown here.

For you kayakers, paddleboarders, and small boat enthusiasts, we will plan an on-the-water cleanup when the water warms up. Next up on our volunteer opportunity schedule is Greenscape on Saturday, April 23. If you’d like to help do some planting and beautification around Back Creek that day or volunteer for future events, sign up for our email list at the righthand side of this page.



Join Us for Project Clean Stream April 2

Join Us for Project Clean Stream April 2

BC Nature Park mapPlease join us for the Back Creek Conservancy’s first spring cleanup day. To join our team of volunteers who will participate in Project Clean Stream along Back Creek on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to noon, SIGN UP HERE.

We will be scouring areas around the Back Creek Watershed to pick up trash before it makes its way into the creek.  At the end we will weigh the trash collected to share with other Project Clean Stream teams.

On the day of the event, the entire group will meet at Back Creek Nature Park at 9 a.m. to divide into teams. Wear jeans, sturdy shoes with socks, and anything you wouldn’t mind picking up trash and debris in. If you have garden gloves, bring them, too. Bring friends!

Questions? Email

Date: 04/02/2016 (Sat.)
Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm EDT
Location: 7314 Edgewood Road – Ellen Moyer Nature Park

Back Creek Conservancy Meets the Neighbors

Back Creek Conservancy Meets the Neighbors

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BCC board president David Barker shows a guest aspects of the watershed.

At least 75 residents showed up for the Back Creek Conservancy’s first “meet the neighbors” open house on Wednesday, February 17 at the Seafarers Yacht Club. What a welcome!

Board members Lorie Stout and Ellen Moyer greeted guests and signed them up for our email list and volunteer opportunities. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (compliments of Eastport Liquors–thank you!). Molly Winans gave a brief presentation, including a nearly botched video presentation—until the recovery! Thanks to Seafarers YC’s AV genious, Mel!–what ended up being a great delivery of our video. She told guests about our recent Chesapeake Bay Trust grant and how we intend to use it, as well as sharing three upcoming volunteer opportunities: Project Clean Stream April 2, Greenscape April 23, and ongoing water testing. We were impressed and touched by the interest generated for all of these activities.

Thank you to all who attended. Your enthusiasm for our Conservancy is exactly what we need to move forward. We look forward to future social hours–and of course, rolling up our sleeves and cleaning up our creek!

Here are some photos very generously taken and donated by Ken Tom. Enjoy!


Join Us for a Drink!

The Back Creek Conservancy invites anyone who lives, works, or plays along the Creek to join us for a free drink and snacks.  

  • Learn what the Back Creek Conservancy is all about
  • Find out how you can join our efforts to clean up the Creek
  • Have some laughs with your neighbors on a winter’s night

When:   Wednesday, February 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where:  Seafarers Yacht Club, 301 Chester Avenue
(a two-minute walk from Davis’ Pub)

Thank you to Eastport Liquors for donating the beer and wine.

Back Creek Conservancy Welcomes Chesapeake Legal Alliance Volunteer

The Back Creek Conservancy would like to welcome Chesapeake Legal Alliance‘s (CLA) volunteer attorney Ross Phillips of the Phillips Law Firm (Easton, MD). He recently agreed to serve as an ongoing legal advisor to the Conservancy’s board of directors. Ross will provide key guidance and support as the organization develops and implements its advocacy strategy.

chesapeake legal allianceCLA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to using the law to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay. CLA coordinates a network of lawyers who volunteer their time and professional skills to representing environmental organizations, citizens’ groups, and individuals in their efforts to improve the health of the Chesapeake and its watershed. Too often, the health of the Bay and the humans and animals that inhabit its watershed are subjugated to the agendas of interest groups represented by well-paid attorneys. CLA seeks to level the playing field by finding lawyers who will assist citizens and organizations, pro bono, in participating in government decision-making processes and enforcing underutilized laws and regulations designed to protect the Bay.

Find CLA’s latest newsletter here.

And thank you for your help with the Back Creek Conservancy, Ross!

Back Creek Conservancy Wins Watershed Assistance Grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust

An estimated 1500 recreational boats are stored or moored on Back Creek. Ninety-five percent of the creek is within Annapolis City limits.

The Back Creek Conservancy recently won a grant from the Watershed Assistance Program of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Known as America’s Sailing Capital, Annapolis is the center of Maryland’s recreational boating scene. Polluted waterways cannot coexist with this vision of Annapolis.

“We’re really excited to receive this grant and want to express our gratitude to the Chesapeake Bay Trust,” says board president David Barker. “Everyone on the Back Creek Conservancy board is an active sailor or boater who lives within the watershed if not right on the creek. We’re dedicated to getting it back to a fishable, swimmable state for future generations.”

With this grant, the Back Creek Conservancy, in partnership with the Center for Watershed Protection in Ellicott City, MD, will develop a Watershed Action Plan for the Back Creek watershed that will (1) establish a baseline of watershed conditions from which future progress can be evaluated; (2) create a framework for identifying future restoration and protection actions; and (3) engage stakeholders, particularly marina and dock owners and homeowner and condominium associations, regarding water quality issues.

The watershed plan will provide sufficient detail on priority projects to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and leverage future implementation funds. Land development in the Back Creek watershed has outpaced environmental protections to address issues such as stormwater run-off and the resultant water pollution.

The goal of the $95,000 project is widespread awareness and support for fundable projects in the Back Creek watershed that will halt the downward spiral of increasing pollution and begin the long process of improving the quality of the creek to make it clean and safe for its residents and greater community of boaters, maritime businesses, and other water-related activities.

Back Creek Conservancy is a new nonprofit organization made up of citizen volunteers. By 2025, the Conservancy envisions a fishable, swimmable Back Creek supported by a citizen-led nonprofit group that speaks for the Creek and conducts projects to improve and maintain its health.

Click here for a short video about the Conservancy.

For more information, contact Molly Winans,