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Volunteers essential for summer environmental efforts [Russett]

Summer volunteer opportunities abound in Anne Arundel County and elsewhere. For those of us who are environmentally conscientious, here are a few ideas.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center leads the nation in its research of water and land ecosystems in the coastal zones as well as providing the necessary education to help society meet the critical environmental challenges we all face in the 21st century. Volunteers are needed for the 2015 Annual Wetland Plant Census, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Thursday, July 30. Volunteer citizen scientists, ages 16 and over, are needed for a minimum of one half-day, but it is more feasible for people to come for a full day, ideally for multiple days in a row. The project will include working in the tidal marsh (on boardwalks) at SERC in order to measure and count all of the plants in the experimental plots, along with working in the lab to sort samples and conduct analyses.

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Another exciting project, taking place Friday, Aug. 14 to Sunday, Aug, 16 and Friday, Aug. 21 to Sunday, Aug. 23, is the Mud Crab Parasite Project. Volunteers ages 12 and over are needed to help with the sampling of mud crabs for the Loxo parasite on the Rhode River and other Chesapeake Bay area locations.

For more information on both projects, go to aacvc.org or contact Allison Cawood at 443-482-2271 or cawooda@si.edu.

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Another organization dedicated to protecting the environment is the Scenic Rivers Land Trust. This organization is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3), non-governmental organization that protects the natural and scenic qualities of the Severn, West, Rhode and Patuxent rivers as well as the surrounding land areas. The trust has been preserving land in Anne Arundel County since 1988 and today holds conservation easements on 61 properties, totaling 2,700 acres. On Wednesday, July 29 from 7 to 9 p.m., there will be a South River Greenway Happy Hour gathering at the Green Turtle at Waugh Chapel Towne Centre, in Gambrills. The informal discussions will include: "How protecting your land can provide property, estate and income tax benefits" and "Advocating the use of Forest Conservation Act Funds" for providing cash incentives to preserve forest lands. R.S.V.P. required by Thursday, July 28 to Sarah Knebel at sarah@SRLT.org or 410-980-6837.

Happy birthday to Maryland Del. Pam Beidle, who celebrated on July 21; Jim Ruland, who celebrated on July 22; Mark Brusberg, who celebrates on Aug. 5; and Don Rau, who celebrates on Aug. 11.

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