In 2017, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will begin construction on a comprehensive watershed restoration initiative on Back Creek. The project will follow Chesapeake Bay Program expert guidelines and policy. Using regenerative stormwater technology and the power of nature, this project will clean and filter 28 acres of urban stormwater pollution currently flowing directly into the creek through a municipal pipe system.
Components of the project include conservation landscapes, rain gardens, curb cuts and bioswales, native trees and plants, daylighting stormwater drains, creating a regenerative stream channel, wetlands, tidal marsh, and a living shoreline; all of which will provide clean water and healthy habitat for aquatic species, waterfowl, wildlife, and humans.
The final result will be four acres of restored ecosystem that provides clean water habitat in this Back Creek cove, total maximum daily load (TMDL) pollution reduction credits for the City, and community green space.
St. Luke’s has a core value of Caring for Creation. Church members are dedicated to making their five-acre property not only a sacred restoration of nature but a learning campus that assists teachers in conveying environmental literacy requirements, and visitors in understanding the power of nature to clean water and mitigate climate change challenges.
Preparation for St. Luke’s Restoration of Nature project has involved the collaboration of numerous community volunteers, USNA Midshipmen, Maryland Conservation Corps, and City, State, and Federal permitting agencies. The project is funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, many small grant awards, private donors, and church fundraisers.
Three organizations empowered the church to move forward with this project: The consortium behind RiverWise Congregations; the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (our sponsor); Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy, who trained five church members as Master Watershed Stewards armed with the knowledge, skills and networking contacts that made the project possible; and Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake. The sense of community created in implementing the many conservation landscape projects to date has been a driving force for carrying out this audacious goal initiated by a small church.