Severn Riverkeeper Sara Caldes has background in land use planning and project management. At the beginning of her career she was involved in the commercial revitalization of Wilmington, N.C. Locally she worked for an economic development public interest group in Washington; as a project manager for a developer doing specialized hotel renovations and historic rehabilitation; and as a yacht broker. She has worked for the SRK since 2004 as Restoration Manager. The mission of the Severn RIVERKEEPER® is to protect and restore the Severn River for families and future generations. Its goal is to reduce pollution, muddy runoff, contamination, and loss of habitat so that the Severn is removed from EPA’s “impaired waterways” list and is once again safe and swimmable.
Severn Riverkeeper concentrates on repairing degraded streams and shorelines to reduce pollution, erosion, and increase wildlife habitat. They believe if you fix the streams and shores, you will fix the river — “Saving the Severn One Creek at a Time.” This strategy has resulted in several projects around Saltworks and Clements Creeks, concentrating efforts on an area to make it as healthy as possible and creating the best chance for wildlife to re-enter this habitat. Also, it allows a model for the government agencies and funding sources see the benefits of restoration methods. They are expanding our reach to the entire Severn River. The process of building major restoration projects is a lengthy one. It often takes years to get funding and permits to construct a project. The bigger it is, the harder it is to get everything together. For the Cabin Branch stream restoration, it was a three-year process. Smaller projects are much easier and can be completed in about a year.
In order to assess the Severn’s water quality Severn Riverkeeper established a monitoring program throughout the summer months, in which they monitor 15 sampling stations every 1-2 weeks. They measure dissolved oxygen as this is a major threat to habitats in this area of the Bay. They also test for salinity, water clarity and temperature. In addition to the water quality measurements, They monitor yellow perch larvae in the upper Severn in the spring in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center.
As professional advocates, the staff of the Severn Riverkeeper Program works full time to protect and restore the Severn River. They advocate for compliance with environmental laws, respond to citizen complaints, identify problems that affect the Severn, and devise appropriate remedies to address the problems. They are especially concerned with facilitating private citizen empowerment to ensure that existing laws designed to protect the river are actually being complied with, that we raise awareness and involvement in activities that can improve the river and that there is better collaboration and synergy between the many people and groups that are active on the river.
Severn Riverkeeper integrates education experiences with restoration construction projects. This education component is often vital to the success of the restoration project. They immerse school children in the creation of viable ecosystems and provide hands-on education on the importance of healthy streams to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. With this level of physical involvement, children and their parents develop a sense of participation and ownership in the finished projects that we feel truly fosters stewardship of the resources. To that end, we have developed partnerships with Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center and the Annapolis Maritime Museum.