New funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is enabling Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to enact real change across the watershed!

The One Water Partnership reports exciting things are happening in Salisbury, MD! Among the many projects currently underway in the Salisbury region, we are thrilled to share the completion of a major stormwater infrastructure project at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. 

St. Peter’s Episcopal was the recent recipient of a $64,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust in support of their efforts to remove impervious blacktop parking surfaces on their property and replace them with pervious surfaces. We are thrilled to announce the completion of their project, and applaud their efforts towards conservation of their local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. You can learn more about the project and dedication ceremony in this short video from WBOC. 

The installation of these large pervious surfaces will allow for a significant amount of rainwater to percolate slowly through the earth in a natural way, rather than flow overland directly into the Wicomico River carrying sediment and other pollutants that degrade our water quality. The grant will also fund native landscaping around the new parking surface to improve habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Additionally, these plantings will help to slow flowing overland stormwater with their deep root structures.

Funding for the project was provided in-part through the City of Salisbury’s Stormwater Utility Fee. The City of Salisbury provided funds from the Stormwater Utility Fee to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for this year’s Outreach and Restoration Grant program.

“We just feel blessed to be able to do our part to care for Creation here on our campus,” said Sharon Clark, a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and leader of the congregation’s green team.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the One Water Partnership program,” Clark added.

“We are just incredibly excited to see the conclusion of this project at St. Peter’s,” said Matthew Heim, Director of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s One Water Partnership program and a resident of Salisbury, MD.  

“This has been a thrilling project for the Salisbury region and we hope it will serve as inspiration for other congregations and communities to get involved as well.  We’re just getting started,” Heim added.

Another key member of the One Water Partnership is the Lower Shore Land Trust, who played an integral role in securing funding for the St. Peter’s project. “Working with the faith communities of the Lower Shore on these types of restoration projects is just such a powerful way of advancing our mission,” said Kate Patton, Executive Director of the Lower Shore Land Trust.   

“We’re always looking for new ways to offer informative programming to the public, expand and preserve native habitat, and improve local water quality. Working with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the One Water Partnership helps us reach audiences we might not reach otherwise. We’re thrilled to be a partner in this project and we’re looking forward to working with more congregations on a multitude of projects as the One Water Partnership grows,” said Patton.

St. Francis de Sales has quickly become one of those future projects. In November of 2020, the Lower Shore Land Trust visited the congregation to conduct a site assessment of the congregation’s property and identify potential restoration projects. Currently, they are pursuing design and implementation of a significant Pollinator Garden, which will serve as both a teaching tool to congregant members, as well as provide critical habitat and food resources for bees, butterflies, and many other native species. 

“There is just such immense potential to improve our impact on the Wicomico River,” said Susan Parker, a member of St. Francis de Sales and Volunteer Coordinator for the Wicomico Environmental Trust which is also involved locally with the One Water Partnership.

“Every time it rains, 116,178 gallons of stormwater flow off our buildings and parking lots straight into the Wicomico River, carrying all sorts of pollutants that harm the health of the waterway. If we can work with the One Water Partnership to secure funding and resources to install things like cisterns and rain gardens to help mitigate that impact, we’d not only be doing our part for the local environment, we’d also be living out our faith tradition’s call to be good stewards of the Earth,” added Parker. 

Additionally in the Salisbury region, the One Water Partnership has been pursuing implementation and design for a variety of other projects. These have included a rain garden and bio retention practice at the Salvation Army of Salisbury, a pollinator garden at the Islamic Society of Delmarva, a rain garden at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Salisbury, and multiple restoration projects at Delmarva Evangelicalistic Church who host 35 acres of woodland, meadow, and stream habitat that drain into the Wicomico River. 

Projects like these have all been possible thanks to a 3-year grant awarded in 2020 totaling $882,750 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support the One Water Partnership collaborative. IPC is uniquely positioned to accelerate water quality outcomes in Maryland through engagement of congregations in addressing non-point-source pollution. The new funding will help IPC diversify its reach into new locations, expand existing partnerships, and leverage our ability to tap into innovative funding strategies.

Over the grant period, the One Water Partnership will engage more than 100 new congregations, train 50 new "green teams," and install 60-80 practices, reducing urban stormwater pollution on 27 acres. Key strategies to achieve these goals include bringing in new funding along with traditional grants and working alongside non-traditional value-aligned partners and local agencies. The One Water Partnership's unifying and inspiring values of clean water, healthy communities, resilient landscapes, healthy soils, and engaged citizenry will accelerate critical conservation outcomes across regions and sectors.

The One Water Partnership is currently offering free site assessments to congregations interested in learning more about actions their community can take to improve their impact on the local environment and our waterways. 

Congregations in Wicomico County are also eligible for $500 grants from the One Water Partnership to support environmental initiatives. Congregations must attend Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s Faithful Green Leaders Training online program offered in February, June, and October of 2021 to qualify. 

Faithful Green Leaders Trainings will give you all the tools needed to start a Green Team at your own congregation. These training sessions will focus on how to establish and grow a green team at your congregation, about exciting environmental education programs to engage your congregation, how to develop an action plan for your Green Team, and a number of ways to enhance your communication skills to help spread the word. We can’t wait to see you there!

If your congregation is interested in learning more about our upcoming October Faithful Green Leaders Training, or more about how to get involved with the One Water Partnership, you can visit www.InterfaithChesapeake.org or contact Matthew Heim at [email protected]

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Taylor Swanson

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Communications & Outreach Coordinator