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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them.

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climate change Tag

Climate Change Conference to be Held in Easton, April 1st

EASTON – The Eastern Shore is the third most susceptible region to the effects of sea level rise in the country. The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a progressive, environmentally-focused nonprofit organization headquartered in Easton, will host the half-day conference, Unsinkable Eastern Shore II: Rural America Responds to Climate Change, on Saturday, April 1st from 9am to 1pm. The event will be held at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center – the former McCord laundry facility which ESLC rehabilitated and has since occupied with several other conservation groups since 2015. The event is $20 to attend and includes breakfast, two panel discussions, and presentations by two keynote speakers. Also included with admission is a copy of speaker John Englander’s book High Tide on Main Street, which Politico Magazine called “one of the 50 most important books to read in 2016.” Attendees may register online but are encouraged to do so soon, as seating is limited. The conference will be hosted by ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Manager, Brian Ambrette, who has been working with town and county government on the Mid and Upper Shore for more than two years, helping to bring awareness about the effects of climate change – most notably, sea level rise – as well as working to help implement sound planning in the form of mitigation strategies and town/county comprehensive plans. “I hope our audience will learn how their communities and their neighbors are embracing change as an opportunity to innovate and make the systems we rely on stronger and greener”, notes Ambrette. “I am excited about the new ideas that our keynote speakers will inject into the conversation.” While the conference panels boast a mix of knowledgeable educators and emergency management professionals, the inclusion of oceanographer, author, and consultant John Englander is perhaps the most impressive addition to the conference. As a leading

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A moral responsibility

Pope Francis' call to action should spur us all to look at the effect of our consumer lifestyles. Last week the Vatican released Pope Francis' encyclical, the Church’s highest level of teaching, on the environment. Reaching far beyond one religion, Francis called on “every person living on this planet” to recognize the effects that two hundred years of industrialization have had on our environment. He accentuated the moral obligation we have to conserve our natural resources for future generations. The message of moral responsibility to our grandchildren and their grandchildren is one that has been downplayed by the environmental movement for the last twenty years. It was replaced by economic arguments demonstrating that protecting the environment and cutting greenhouse gases will have greater benefits to society than the sum of their dollar costs. These economic arguments arose out of a need to convince policymakers and CEO’s that going green can strengthen their bottom line. The roots of conservation and stewardship dating back to John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and Aldo Leopold, have a strong theme of using only what we need and protecting the rest for future generations. Before that, many of the Native American nations hewed to the Seven Generations principle that important decisions must honor those seven generations in the past and consider the well-being of those seven generations in the future. Today, thousands of backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts follow "Leave No Trace" practices when they are in nature. The Pope is calling for this sense of moral and personal responsibility to become common habits of our daily lifestyles. Francis is correct that today’s consumerism is devouring natural resources and creating waste at a rate that will leave our grandchildren with a planet our grandparents would scarcely recognize. He urges “Humanity [to] recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption”. What

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Unsinkable Shore Draws 200

The 14th Eastern Shore Planning Conference, Unsinkable Shore: Regional Resilience and Prosperity, Thursday drew about 200 people to the Tidewater Inn in Easton. ESLC Deputy Director Amy Owsley said she was impressed and encouraged by the energy and interest around climate change action for the region. A morning conference poll showed that participants overwhelming view climate change as a priority issue for local and regional action. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy thanks its speakers, sponsors, presenters, volunteers and attendees for making this one of the most successful planning conferences to date. Yesterday, Eastern Shore leaders came together to start a regional conversation about preparing agriculture, infrastructure and towns for projected climate changes. “The Eastern Shore has demonstrated again and again its ability to evolve without changing the core of who we are as a region,” Owsley said. “While our lands may be taking on water, the Eastern Shore character and spirit is undeniably unsinkable. Together, we can find ways to build resilience and find opportunities in the changes we face.” Since 1990, ESLC has helped to preserve  nearly 54,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Additionally, we support strong land use policies that protect our farms and rural landscapes. More recently, we have worked in partnership with Shore towns to help create open spaces and trails, to help use green designs to manage stormwater, and to use community design to help revitalize downtowns. ESLC recognizes that climate change can be a controversial topic. While we believe scientific data supports that the climate is changing, on this and all the tough issues facing the region, ESLC welcomes and respects all perspectives. Speaker presentations, a conference summary, and information on upcoming opportunities to continue the discussion on climate change resilience on Maryland’s Eastern Shore soon will be available on our website, eslc.org.

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Response to Governor’s Climate Change Summit

I was encouraged to see Gov. O’Malley host the Maryland Climate Change Summit and to hear the discussions on the effects of climate change, but many questions still need to be answered if we want a more resilient and prepared region. Here on the Eastern Shore, we are seeing the effects of climate change faster than nearly any other area in the country.  According to the Governor, Maryland currently is losing 1.6 acres of land every day to sea-level rise.  584 acres a year may not seem significant, but what’s happening on that land is significant.  Holland Island, just one of the 13 major Chesapeake islands to forever be sunk into the Bay, was within the past 100 years a significant place that included a thriving community of 70 homes, over 350 residents, a main street, stores, a school, a church, a baseball team and more. It’s all gone. Lost land doesn’t immediately affect those that live inland, but what about the effects of rising temperatures on farming and human health?  Will fungi or other pests prosper, or will longer growing seasons significantly increase farm outputs?  Are our roads and bridges planned to serve us through rising sea levels and more powerful storms? The Eastern Shore and its people have been resilient throughout history, but in order for us to adapt to a warmer and wetter climate, we need to prepare.  The land and life here are precious and as the Governor said, “It’s not just about what we stand for; it’s about what we stand on.” Rob Etgen Executive Director

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