Girl Scout Alexanna grew up swimming and sailing in Mill Creek, which is a part of the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. Over the years, she watched the river become more polluted and area wildlife leave their habitats due to sewage spills.
“…I feel very strongly about helping the environment, especially the Chesapeake Bay.” she said in her report. “I knew I wanted to do something to help restore the headwater habitat so that the creek would have a healthier ecosystem and the fish and wildlife would return.”
After meeting with the AACo Department of Watershed and Ecosystem Restoration and the AACo Mill Creek Committee and securing permission from the Department of Natural Resouces and sponsorship from the Magothy River Association, she undertook the project of planting submerged aquatic vegetation (underwater bay grasses) in Mill Creek.
“Every little bit of submerged aquatic vegetation that is planted in the bay helps to improve the overall quality of the entire ecosystem…The [plants] that were grown and planted as part of the project will continue to provide critical shallow tidal water habitat, improve water clarity by trapping sedimentation and will oxygenate the headwaters for years to come,” she said.
Alexanna gathered a group of 25 volunteers to start pre-growing the grasses and guided them throughout the process. When the grasses were ready, she worked with planting volunteers, and various government agencies to coordinate the planting of the grasses, which was no easy task. “One of our biggest challenges was getting to the site to plant the grasses. We would sink about waist deep into the mud, so the only way we could there was by boat,” she said.
At the end of her project, Alexanna said the planting of the grasses was not her only success. “The most successful aspect of my project was getting the community involved….Many of the volunteers are continuing to volunteer with the Mill Creek Restoration Project,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself for being able to coordinate all the volunteers and manage them, communicate with all of them and get them all working together.”
In addition to helping the environment, Alexanna said she hopes her project leave a lasting impression about the Bay and her generation. “I hope it inspires people and shows them there are things we can do to make the Chesapeake Bay better–it’s not dead, there’s still something we can do.” she said. “I also hope it motivates people my age to do projects like this–we are capable of making a difference.”