Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s visit to Horn Point Laboratory

Bill Dennison ·
17 August 2023

Governor Wes Moore came to the Oyster Settlement Pier on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory on 20 July 2023. Governor Moore brought his Lieutenant Governor, Aruna Miller, and five cabinet secretaries: Josh Kurtz (Dept. of Natural Resources), Serena McIlwaine (Dept. of Environment), Kevin Atticks (Dept. of Agriculture), Rebecca Flora (Dept. of Planning), and Susan Lee (Secretary of State).

Governor Wes Moore visiting the Oyster Settling Pier.

Governor Moore signed an Executive Order to establish an Oyster Shell & Substrate Task Force after short speeches by Peter Goodwin (UMCES President), Mike Sieracki (Horn Point Laboratory Director), Josh Kurtz, and Lt. Governor Miller, the Governor spoke eloquently and passionately about the Bay and how his administration is going to be guided by the science (music to my ears), and referred to the Comprehensive Ecosystem Strategy Response (CESR report developed by the Chesapeake Bay Program Science and Technical Advisory Committee), although sadly not by name. The Governor talked about setting aggressive targets and establishing a new Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bays Governor’s Council to “supercharge the partnership”. He articulated a vision of a Bay with thriving underwater grasses, Marylanders reconnected with the myriad of streams in the watched and combating rising sea levels with living shorelines. Governor Moore also spoke about reducing the urban heat islands and bolstering the economy for farmers, fishers, and foresters. He said that experts were not only people with letters behind their names. I loved that he specifically gave a shout-out to the students, interns, and research assistants who had climbed up on the oyster settling tanks to watch the event. Governor Moore said “The Bay belongs to all of us” and that “It will take all of us” regarding the restoration of the Bay.

During the week leading up to the Governor’s visit, I had the opportunity to brief Secretary Mcllwaine and Deputy Secretary Dorsey about the recent Chesapeake Bay report card. In particular, the Environmental Justice Index was discussed as an example of how we can use highly granular data sets to focus on the issues of justice disparities in our region. Governor Moore’s signature phrase “No one left behind” provides an impetus to use these data to target actions to reduce environmental injustices.

Governor Moore's visit to Horn Point Laboratory made the front cover of the Baltimore Sun and shows him and other officials at the event tossing oyster larvae into oyster settling tanks.

Stephanie Alexander, who heads up the Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery, prepared a special event. Steph harvested approximately one million larval oysters that were raised in the hatchery and brought them in a bucket to one of the oyster settling tanks. She then dipped out the larval oysters into cups which she distributed to the Governor, his team, along with Peter Goodwin, Mike Sieracki, and me. We then proceeded to toss the seawater containing the oyster larvae into a seawater tank full of oyster shells that the Oyster Recovery Partnership had previously painstakingly collected and cleaned. The oyster spat quickly settled onto the shells and after a couple of weeks in the settling tanks, the ‘spat on shell’ baby oysters were loaded aboard a boat, transported to the Manokin River Oyster Sanctuary, and released. I hope that after a few years, we can take the Governor to the sanctuary to observe some of the adult oysters that he helped create.

I look forward to working with the Moore Administration on social-environmental issues. I am encouraged by the excellent people Governor Moore has selected to surround himself with.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Interim President at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

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  • Atika 11 months ago

    The article beautifully captures Governor Moore's visit, underscoring his dedication to collaborative, science-driven environmental policies that involve all members of the community. It's heartening to witness leaders taking proactive steps toward preserving the environment for future generations. Thanks for sharing, i really enjoyed read your post!

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