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Raking up Chesapeake Bay grass beds in a bid to restore them

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay’s depleted underwater meadows is a painstaking process, requiring lots of elbow grease, savvy and patience. Paradoxically, it begins by pulling up a little of what’s left of the critical aquatic habitat.

Standing knee-deep in the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Elle Bassett and a handful of helpers raked clumps of wispy green grass from the water one warm June day. They piled the vegetation, known as horned pondweed, in orange plastic baskets for transport by boat to shore.

“This one is easier than others to harvest,” noted Bassett, the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper. Some species of bay grass are more firmly rooted in the bottom, she explained, and have to be collected one handful at a time.

For the last four years, Bassett, other staff and volunteers with the nonprofit group ShoreRivers have been working with experts from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Anne Arundel Community College learning how to restore bay grasses.

“We’re ...

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