Explore and Restore Maryland Streams

Stream Stewardship Action Projects

How can we help our stream?

There are many different ways for students to make a positive impact on the health of their watershed and stream. Use this Stream Walk presentation to identify some common stream problems. Then, take a look at the data you gathered when assessing your stream. Is there a particular issue your students would like to address? A matching activity linking stream issues with restorative actions may help students decide what beneficial action makes the most sense for their stream. Educators can follow the steps in this presentation and activity to guide students towards taking a leadership role in planning and implementing projects.

Stewardship projects that will help solve problems identified in your stream and prevent water pollution, will also help fulfill Maryland Environmental Literacy Standard 1: Issues Investigation and Action, and earn student service learning hours. Some sample projects and ideas are included on this web page but there are many more. If you think your stream has larger issues, and may be in need of professional intervention, please review Dynamics of Stream Restoration to learn more.

Mini-grant application information to fund an action project can be found here:

Stream Restoration

If you are considering a larger stream improvement project, please contact the Watershed Assistance Collaborative. The Collaborative offers the tools, resources and outreach needed to work toward large nonpoint source pollution implementation and restoration efforts.

Citizen Science: Water Quality Monitoring

Storm Drain Stenciling is a service learning activity for your school, community association, 4-H, Scout, or other youth group. Raise awareness by painting reminders on those local drains that say “Don’t Dump! Chesapeake Bay Drainage.”

Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers stenciling materials on loan to educators and groups.

Upload the location of the drain to our storm drain mapping site. Students can be part of a statewide initiative to map all our storm drains, whether stenciled or not. Students can then visit the updated map to see their data input, and use it to s​park more action projects!

Improving Water Quality

Streamside Forested Buffers are the trees and other plant life that grow beside streams and are critical to the health of all waterways. Buffers help stop pollution from entering waterways, stabilize stream banks, keep streams cool during the hot season, and provide food and habitat to wildlife. Read more at the Chesapeake Bay Program.

  • Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping describes the habitat requirements for many native Maryland plant species. One of the simplest ways to restore wildlife habitat is to begin by replacing lawn areas with locally native trees, shrubs, and perennial plants. The structure, leaves, flowers, seeds, berries and other fruits of these plants provide food and shelter for a variety of birds and other wildlife.

  • Tree-mendous Maryland provides high-quality, native trees and shrubs available at reasonable prices for plantings on public lands. The trees may be planted in places such as community open spaces, school grounds, government facilities, and rights-of-way. They also provide detailed directions on the correct way to plant a tree.

  • The Buffer Garden Plans chapter of the Green Book for the Buffer contains 24 ready-made garden plans using native plant species in beautiful arrangements. These plans were designed for areas immediately adjacent to waterways and are a simple and effective way to improve the health of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays.

  • Schoolyard Habitat– The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat program helps teachers and students create wildlife habitat on scho​ol grounds, providing a how-to project planning guide and additional resources, plus contacts for technical assistance. Among many other benefits, these projects can provide watershed benefits by creating more surface area to filter rainwater runoff.

Rain Gardens

  • Rain Gardens Across Maryland is a comprehensive guide on how to plan and build a beneficial rain garden. This resource provides instruction on how to capture and treat stormwater runoff from impervious areas.

  • RainScaping: Beautiful Soutions to Water Pollution! The Chesapeake Ecology Center promotes community greening and sustainable living practices by taking action via conservation landscaping and habitat restoration projects at many locations in the region. Includes information about rain barrels, permeable pavers, and more projects to help water quality in your watershed.

  • Rain Garden Lesson Plan – This lesson introduces students to the concept of rain gardens and why they are beneficial in cleaning up polluted waterways. Students will learn how and why rain gardens are created and build a model rain garden.

  • Barrels By the Bay - For students, by students, who share a common concern to help our Earth. This program distributes converted Coca-Cola syrup barrels to participating schools free of charge, in addition to all painting and education materials needed. Rain barrels are painted by the students within their schools and installed into local infrastructure around the community.

Pollution Management

  • Student Schoolya​rd Cleanup Guide  (from Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative) – Shows students how to organize a cleanup, and includes lessons and safety tips.

  • Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative.

  • Trash Free Potomac Cleanup Site Leaders Guide – Information on how to lead a safe and productive cleanup. Information includes site leader responsibilities, proper disposal of trash collected and hazardous materials, guidelines and video training for leading a safe cleanup, supplies needed, and other resources.

  • Trash Free Potomac Network is an online community that was created to connect volunteers, organizations, businesses, and governments in order to address the pervasive trash problem in the Potomac Region. The Trash Network hosts information about local cleanups, workshops, and trash monitoring opportunities happening throughout the year.

  • Trash Free Communities Project - Seeks to create a lasting reduction of litter in Potomac Watershed communities by raising awareness through public education in order to change community attitudes and littering behavior. This project is part of the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, which is a collaborative effort between the Alice Ferguson Foundation, communities, and regional jurisdictions to raise public awareness about litter to create clean land, safe water, and healthy lives for residents throughout the Potomac Watershed. The project provides an in depth toolkit including Litter Campaign visual ads as well as planning, outreach, and educational materials.

  • Trash Free Schools - Trash Free Schools actively works towards reducing school waste in a long-lasting, sustainable manner through education and action. Project resources encompass a multitude of subjects and topics that allow for teachers to input interactive activities and games into their lessons the project also provides support and s a sense of community. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is specifically working to align the Trash Free Schools project with school curriculum, environmental education requirements, and green certification programs.