Recap: 23rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Chapter IECA Conference

This year’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) Annual Conference and Trade Exposition in Annapolis, Maryland left everyone in the dark when a power failure occurred just prior to the Opening Day luncheon on September 21, 2016.  The Exhibit Hall and the Mainsail West room were in pitch black before the emergency lighting switched on.  Everyone was asking “What do we do now”.  However, after some quick thinking by the MAC Board of Directors and the Doubletree of Annapolis staff we were able to enjoy a wonderful “candlelight lunch”.  The “highlight” of the lunch was a presentation by Mr. Lee McDaniel, President of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Mr. McDaniel’s comments were brief given the circumstances, but he left the audience with a better understanding of the role of NACD districts and how the MAC should work with the NACD and the State and local Soil Conversation Districts to provide education as to how to preserve and protect our public lands, farmlands, water and natural resources.

Prior to the Opening Day luncheon, on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the conference “tee’ d off” with the MAC Annual Golf Tournament at the nearby Eisenhower Golf Club (named after our 34th President Dwight Eisenhower) in Crownsville, Maryland. Conference Attendees, MAC Members, Exhibitors and MAC Board Members were shuffled up into foursomes for the outing. the tournament was a scramble (best ball) structure and many opportunities for giveaways and prizes were offered throughout the course. Players competed for Longest Drive, Straightest Drive, Lowest Score & Closest to Pin (multiple par 3’s). Long story short, a great day was had by all.

After the golf tournament, the conference continued with our first Special Event, the “Contractors Social”.    The event was free to all contractors and included free entrance to the Exhibit Hall and included presentations by Ryan Cole of the Maryland State Highway Administration, Office of Environmental Design and Erik Michaelson, Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Watershed Protection and Restoration Program regarding upcoming opportunities for contractors to submit bids on future TMDL related construction projects in the Mid-Atlantic Area. Contractors and attendees were encouraged to speak with vendors to learn about the latest innovations in erosion control and environmental products and services as well as to receive drink tickets (to be exchanged for their favorite adult beverages at the refreshment bar).  The event concluded with the “Golf Awards” from the earlier golf tournament.

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) of the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) officially opened the 23rd Annual Chapter Conference and Trade Exposition in Annapolis, MD on Wednesday morning, September 21, 2016.  This was definitely one that will not soon be forgotten. This conference (titled “A Brave New World”) explored tracks related to Climate Change and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL’s).  The Opening Session began with a video montage of the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis, Maryland. Dylan Drudul, MAC 2016 President, welcomed everyone to the conference and informed them about MAC activities during the past year as well as events scheduled for 2017 Including next year’s conference in Richmond, Virginia). Brooke Schiavone, Elections Chair, informed the audience about the MAC Elections of the 2017 Officers and the procedures for nominations.  2016 Scholarship winner, Lyndsee Gay, who attends Glenville State College in West Virginia thanked the MAC for her scholarship and expressed how important the scholarship was for her to continue her education. Sharan Wilson, IECA Region One Executive Director, spoke about the organization and presented a brief video about what opportunities the IECA can provide to the erosion and sediment control community as well as individual professional growth. After, a briefing of a few “housekeeping” items, MAC 2016 Conference Chair, Paul Clement introduced the Keynote Speaker, Captain John Smith, as portrayed by Mr. Stephen McCoy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Captain John Smith provided a description of two voyages he made from Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries during the summer of 1608.  Smith documented the natural environment, features of the land and waterways, and encounters with the native people. He also created a reliable and influential map of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding country and described the tools used to create the map. In his account of the first voyages, Smith describes the Bay shoreline, the rivers, and the creeks and provides names for islands and other land features. Smith also describes fishing in the Bay. It was relatively easy due to the clarity of the water in those days. The dense forests surrounding the Bay and its rivers slowed sediment and freshwater runoff. Stephen McCoy concluded the presentation by describing the present condition of the Chesapeake Bay and the ongoing restoration efforts.

After the “candle light” lunch and after restoration of the power, the technical sessions began.  Speakers from all over the Mid-Atlantic region presented TMDL program updates, case studies, research and information related to the conference theme and around the four IECA Educational Tracks of erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, MS4’s and surface water restoration.

Our second Special Event, the “Exhibitors Social” followed the first day’s afternoon sessions.  The exhibit hall was abuzz with activity as the attendees, presenters and vendors enjoyed food and drink in celebration of the conference’s “first-day”.  Award-winning singer-songwriter, Dan Fisk (MAC’s 2nd Vice President) provided the evening’s entertainment as he performed a variety of beautiful melodies woven with soulful, witty lyrics that spoke to the audience’s heart. Fisk’s percussive, rhythmic guitar style is all his own. It is the foundation – and soul – of his music, forming the backbone of his rollicking country/rock tunes, sweet ballads, or songs of regret and sorrow. His solo performance was well received and appreciated by the audience.  The Master of Ceremonies for the Exhibitors Social was none other than our own, Charlie Riling.  Charlie hosted a 50/50 drawing “MAC/IECA Scholarship fundraiser” throughout the evening. A total of $888.00 was raised and our special thanks goes out to Mr. Don Elly of Allan Myers, the winner of the 50/50 drawing, who graciously donated his winning’s to the “MAC/IECA Scholarship fundraiser”. Thanks to everyone who helped out with these events and came out to support the MAC!

Our third and final Special Event was the Poplar Island Restoration Field Trip on Thursday, September 22, 2016.  The attendees enjoyed the beautiful weather and the Maryland Port Administration graciously provided a boat trip and a tour of the restored Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay.  This project received the American Society of Civil Engineer’s “Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award for 2015”.  Not only did the attendees have a great day on the Chesapeake Bay, they also were educated about the restoration of the island.  Essentially, the Poplar Island restoration solved two problems at once. The Port of Baltimore’s bay shipping channels had an excess of dredge material that needed to be disposed of somewhere. Meanwhile, erosion and tidal changes had eliminated thousands of acres of remote island habitat in the Chesapeake, including Poplar Island, a once prosperous fishing post that was almost entirely covered by water by the end of last century. The Poplar Island restoration took more than a decade to complete and was constructed almost completely from material dredged from the Port of Baltimore’s Bay shipping channels. It includes armored dikes, dredging, and dredged-material placement and grading as well as ecological restoration and breeding grounds for the Diamondback Terrapin and a variety of bird species. Attendees participated in a picnic lunch before returning to Sandy Point State Park.  The MAC IECA would like to thank the Maryland Port Administration for their generosity for providing this field trip to us.

For those that did not attend the field trip, the conference continued with additional technical presentations by academic, local agencies and industry professionals from around the Mid-Atlantic region and the conference offered review courses and exams for CPESC, CPSWQ, CESSWI & CMS4S certifications attendees.  At the conclusions of the technical sessions, everyone returned to the Mainsail West for lunch, a conference wrap-up and the MAC/IECA Election of 2017 Officers. Charlie Riling put out a call for nominations besides the current officers who were running for re-election. No opposing nominations were cast and a unanimous vote to elect the current officers for another term was recorded. Congratulations to everyone who was re-elected as MAC officers! Your hard work is appreciated and we look forward to you all running our organization in 2017.

With that, another annual conference came to an end and everyone has since parted ways. The chapter now sets its sights on Richmond, VA in September 2017. Check for more info to be listed under our Events Page as it is released.