Convening more than 50 local government officials, representing more than 45 different municipalities, across 3 states within a short 6 week period led to a busy, yet exciting spring season for the Alliance!

Hosted by members of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee, with support from state agencies and associations, the Alliance held three 2-day tours, one each in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia between late March and early May 2022.

Since 2019, the Wandering Waterways series of hands-on learning opportunities has created the space for local decision-makers to learn about regional conservation efforts with the goal of empowering them to take on environmental challenges within their own communities. The series fosters peer to peer connections and provides resources for implementation of environmental solutions.

Take a look at this year’s Wandering Waterways tours below!



Funded by the Virginia Environmental Endowment, with support from the Virginia Association of Counties and Virginia Municipal League

The Wandering Virginia’s Waterways tour focused on innovative agricultural practices that foster resilient economies. Inviting local elected officials to travel across the Chesapeake Bay to the Commonwealth’s lower Eastern Shore, Attendees not only explored how the region is a significant contributor to Virginia’s massive agriculture industry, but how it is an essential part of their history and culture.

The group met with local farmers specializing in alternative agricultural disciplines such as commercial hydroponics, shellfish aquaculture and sustainable viticulture. Along the Bay, Alex Lambert, owner of Lambert Shellfish shared his oyster cultivation methods and use of biodegradable material to grow and produce harvests on their family farm. Heading over to Machipongo, Jon Wehner, owner of Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek took attendees on a tour of the vineyard while discussing its incorporation of sustainable infrastructure, including a riparian forest buffer, bioswales and more.  Taking a dive into the science behind agriculture, graduate students of the Virginia Tech Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center, led a tour of their field lands and facilities presenting research on topics including mulch management, crop covers, invasive species and drone technology to name a few. 

Delegate Robert Bloxom, and Senator Lynwood Lewis, and Clara Vaughn on behalf of Congresswoman Elaine Luria also joined attendees to continue the conversation from a state and federal perspective.

“The Wandering Virginia’s Waterways tour was an invaluable experience for Virginia’s elected officials,” said Mayor David Meyer, City of Fairfax. “The tour gave all participants a greater appreciation for the opportunities and challenges of various Virginia businesses whose livelihoods are linked to the future of the Chesapeake Bay. Strengthening the long-term viability of the Bay is critical for economic development, jobs creation, and community sustainability on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The insights gained are a must for all leaders in Virginia.” 
“Efforts to innovatively connect local leaders to the Bay watershed have a true return on investment. Not only are elected officials able to fellowship amongst their peers, but we are able to have meaningful conversations related to making legislative and funding decisions to support both local and Bay-wide restoration efforts,” said Jasmine Gore, City of Hopewell Councilmember and LGAC Chair. “Affording us the opportunity to engage this multifaceted dialogue within a creative format, gives us the chance to experience the Bay hands-on and brainstorm as a unit.”



Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with support from the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League

The Wandering Maryland’s Waterways tour invited local elected officials from central and western Maryland to meet up with Eastern Shore officials and explore Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Tilghman Island, Poplar Island, and sites in between. As the Bay serves as an economic driver for many communities in Maryland and beyond, attendees explored the various initiatives that promote clean water standards as well as their impact on local economies.

Beginning with a walking tour of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the group learned more about the city’s Waterfront Partnership and its actions to rejuvenate the waterfront, including Mr. Trash Wheel. Just south of Baltimore, officials toured Masonville Cove, an urban wildlife refuge partnership and nature center that began restoring local waters and natural habitats incorporating efforts such as volunteer trash removals and environmental education. Finally, visiting the newly reconstructed area of Poplar Island local officials explored how the once group of small islets, reformed into its now 1,000 acres of sea-side habitat relying on the dredged material from in and around Baltimore’s harbor.

Joined by Secretary Ben Grumbles, Maryland Department of the Environment, tour attendees were able to have a larger discussion about the state’s efforts to combat polluted runoff into local waterways.

“It was valuable to see the effort placed on habitat areas and containment projects and interesting to see how we will be taking care of the Bay in ways that are not always immediately noticeable”, said Mayor Bob Willey, Town of Easton. “Also, our town recycles Christmas trees to Poplar Island that end up being a part of habitat nesting areas. Good to see the end use!”
“The overall mission of the tour was valuable”, said Councilmember, Donecella Wilson, Town of Denton. “Learning occurred at every location, intermingling with other elected officials and state representatives was beneficial and the speakers that joined each location were phenomenal.”
“Meeting with Maryland officials who can help communicate solutions to flooding and stormwater issues was very beneficial”, said Councilmember Mike Atkins, City of Crisfield. “I was pleasantly surprised to learn about all of the Maryland agencies willing and able to help with the most important problems our city is dealing with.”



Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with support from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, and Pennsylvania Municipal League

The spring tours concluded with Wandering Pennsylvania’s Waterways where local officials discussed flooding along the Susquehanna River. Representatives of cities, counties, boroughs and townships traveled to locations around south central Pennsylvania to discuss challenges and solutions for localized flooding. As the Susquehanna River basin is extremely flood prone, local decision makers of its 49,000 square mile reach have sought opportunities to lessen the risk and impacts of flooding to their communities.

Guests visited several flood prevention and hazard mitigation projects including rain gardens within Wrightsville Borough’s Riverfront Park and a riparian buffer in Paradise Township’s Paradise Community Park. Attendees also met with members of Trout Unlimited, who with assistance from the Alliance and other partners, began the multi-year restorative effort of Hammer Creek, located within the Susquehanna basin spanning Lancaster and Lebanon county. In addition to increasing the overall health of the creek, this project made it easier for wildlife to mature and found opportunities for local government entities to work together across municipal lines.

Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, joined elected officials to share support for local initiatives.

“Having the time to network with everyone from other municipal leaders to various government agency representatives was a valuable experience of the Wandering Pennsylvania’s Waterways tour”, mentioned Supervisor Nedette B. Otterbein, Hellam Township. “This was the best use of my time as a new township supervisor as well as being in a community that has limited plans for long-term stormwater management. The connections made and information shared will be helpful for years to come!“