Environmental Concern Inc
Environmental Concern Inc. is a 501(c)3 public not for profit Corporation, that is dedicated to working with all aspects of wetlands; the most productive and fascinating ecosystems in the world. After more than 40 years of providing wetland services in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and beyond, we continue to broaden our partnership efforts. We have made significant progress in the ongoing effort to improve the water quality in the bay; yet there is still much work to be done. Protecting our wetlands is vital. We would like to invite you to visit our 7 acre facility located at the headwaters of San Domingo Creek in St. Michaels, MD. At the site you can view over 120 native wetland plants propagated and grown for wetland restoration efforts. In addition to supplying trees, shrubs and emergent grasses to wholesale and retail buyers, the nursery also supplies the wetland plants for EC’s restoration and education projects.
Since EC’s founding in 1972, the restoration division has restored over 35 miles of shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed using the bioengineering protocol developed by our founder Dr. Garbisch. Over the years engineers and scientists at EC have refined this technique, a process that has been proven over time as an effective long term solution to control shoreline erosion. In addition the division also constructs and restores wetland facilities to improve wastewater treatment and stormwater management. We are proud to be the recipient of the largest planting contract ever sent out to bid by the Baltimore District ACOE. The EC team planted 550,000 wetland plants on Poplar Island in 2005 (one of the largest restoration projects using dredged material in the nation).
EC’s education division works to increase understanding of, foster appreciation for, and encourage the stewardships of wetland systems. This is accomplished through materials/curriculum development, schoolyard habitat development and innovative outreach programs.
Additional resources, services and pictures of our current projects can be found on our site. Take a day and visit our facility to learn all about EC, and “all about wetlands”!
EC promotes public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing nature’s habitat. This is accomplished through wetland outreach and education, native species horticulture, and the restoration, construction and enhancement of wetlands.
Motivated by the continual decline in environmental health that began in the 1900’s with the industrial revolution that led to rivers so polluted that they caught fire, and air so choked with smog that a clear day was a rare occurrence, the people of the U.S. put the environment on the front burner. Between 1970 and 1975, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed, the Clean Water Act was signed into law, and the first Earth Day celebrated. Also during that time, a fore-thinking scientist that was teaching chemistry at the University of Minnesota turned his attention to wetlands.
In 1972, Dr. Edgar Garbisch returned to the place of his youth, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and founded Environmental Concern – a non-profit dedicated to wetlands. Unlike water and air, two subjects that the public understood and valued as important, wetlands suffered from a legacy of false perceptions. Swamps, bogs and marshes were seen as undesirable components of the landscape good only for conversion to usable land. This perception manifested itself in the wide-spread destruction of millions upon millions of acres of wetlands.
Dr. Garbisch, however, saw wetlands for what they truly are, vital ecosystems that provide a multitude of ecological and social functions that are paramount in maintaining quality of life on this planet. While there were extensive instructions detailing ways to destroy wetlands, no such blueprints existed to reverse the process. Dr. Garbisch’s mission to build wetlands would be a pioneering effort.
The first challenge was to mimic nature. A steady supply of native marsh grasses would be necessary to support any and all restoration projects. No commercial nurseries grew these plants, so Dr. Garbisch had to grow them himself. Out in the marsh, he collected seeds, brought them back to Environmental Concern, and began developing the propagation techniques that are now used throughout the world. After many research projects, and trial and error, the first wetland plants were successfully propagated in Environmental Concern’s glass greenhouse.
As the restoration projects became more sophisticated, the need for more and more plant species increased. Dr. Garbisch met the need through the development of additional propagation and grow-out protocols. Today, Environmental Concern’s native plant nursery, the first of its kind in the nation, grows over 120 different species of native plants. These plants are used in projects as large as the restoration of Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay (600,000 plants), to projects as small as a home landscaping project.
With the necessary plants, Dr. Garbisch set out to build marshes. Many techniques were tried. Some worked, others failed. However, through the age-old process of trial and error, sound practices emerged. The first restoration project repairing a breach in a small Bay island, Hambleton Island, remains a living testament to Dr. Garbisch, affectionately referred to as “the grandfather of wetlands”. Environmental Concern continues to build on this legacy through its Wetland Restoration department that actively restores, enhances and creates wetlands.
Dr. Garbisch understood that knowledge is most effective when shared. To help build the capacity of people to better address the needs of wetlands, Dr. Garbisch added an Education Department. What began as a way to train resource professionals has grown into a multi-faceted program that reaches out to teachers, students, decision makers, and the general public. Environmental Concern’s materials are used in over 40 countries and throughout the U.S. If people were taught to fear wetlands, people can be taught to love wetlands.
Environmental Concern is a dynamic organization that continues to build on the legacy of Dr. Garbisch through innovation and commitment.