The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is seeking volunteers to grow underwater Bay grasses in their homes, schools, or businesses as part of CBF’s Grasses for the Masses restoration program. The program enlists volunteers to help restore underwater grasses, submerged plants vital to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem but seriously depleted over the years by pollution and cloudy water.
“Plantings from previous years are on their way to becoming healthy grass beds, which help restore a key ecosystem in our rivers,” said Blair Blanchette, CBF Virginia grassroots coordinator. “Grasses for the Masses is a great hands-on opportunity for volunteers to heal our waterways.”
Volunteers will need to attend one of several upcoming workshops in the Richmond, Northern Virginia, and Hampton Roads areas to receive a self-contained indoor growing kit, seeds, and instructions. They then will nurture their grass sprouts until they are mature enough to be transplanted to permitted sites in the James and Potomac rivers in late spring.
Workshops will be held:
- In the Richmond area, on Jan. 28 and Feb. 6 at the REI store in Glen Allen; and on Feb. 6 at CBF’s downtown Richmond office.
- In Northern Virginia, on Jan. 16 at the George Mason Regional Library in Annandale; on Jan. 16 and Jan. 24 at the Centreville Community Library in Centreville; on Feb. 2 and 6 at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington; on Jan. 30 at the Burke Center Library in Burke; and on Jan. 31 at the Patriot Scuba Club in Occoquan.
- In Hampton Roads, on Jan. 31 at CBF’s Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach.
There is a $40 fee per grass growing kit, which includes a one-year CBF membership. Volunteers can find more information, register, and pay the program fee online at www.cbf.org/grasses.
Underwater grasses are among the Chesapeake’s most critical natural resources, with numerous benefits for the Bay and its rivers and streams. These plants reduce erosion, increase oxygen levels and absorb some of the harmful nutrients that enter our waterways. They also provide food and shelter for important Bay species, such as blue crabs, fish, and waterfowl. The grasses planted in Bay tributaries through CBF’s Grasses for the Masses program are making a real difference in the health of the Bay.