Residents from The Shores at Water’s Edge in Belcamp, Maryland, teamed up with landscapers to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s critical area buffer.
The condominium owners received a grant from the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Trust earlier this year to help pay for the wetland restoration. Previously, condo owners looked out on an expanse of invasive plants.
“I was the first one to have gripes,” Marc Rosensweig told The Baltimore Sun. He also said he was glad the project offered opportunities to admire the wildlife.
Around 250 people live in the condos and they matched the $5,000 grant from CBT, according to Carol Sutton, resident and head of the landscaping committee.
The renovation included the removal of turf grass from a 3,000-square foot non-tidal wetlands area. Landscapers from the Brickman Groups planted native species such as winterberry holly, switch grass, obedient plant, fragrant sumac, Virginia sweetspire, bee balm and Joe Pye weed.
Residents worked with the Brickman Group and Harford County government to find plants that would meet the balance between what the Bay area needed and what the people wanted.
The plants chosen are good for attracting pollinators and maintain the required buffer for the bay as well. Drainage and a walking path that snakes between the condominiums and the waterfront were also added to the low-lying wetlands.
Due to state regulations, the amount of human activity in the critical area is restricted and some resources may not be disturbed.
“It’s sometimes a challenge to balance the need of people and the environment, and I think with this project, we definitely accomplished that,” Sutton said.
In order to receive the grant, the project was required to aim to restore wildlife habitats, to create a native plant buffer that prevents runoff into the Bush River and to educate residents about the benefits of native plants. The residents brought in speakers from the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to meet the education requirement.
Another condition of the grant was community involvement, so residents will volunteer to do weed control, plant watering and basic clean up of the area.
“What we have come up with at Water’s Edge is a sort of win-win situation,” said Bryan Lightner, county critical area planner.