Grasses for the Masses

Glenn Telfer, Technical Leader for Sustainable Design in our Richmond office, is making a lasting, positive impact by taking part in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Grasses for the Masses program. He is volunteering to grow aquatic grasses from seed and plant them in the Chesapeake Bay.

Aquatic grasses are a vital part of the chain of life in the Bay. Also know as submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), they provide essential habitat and shelter for the young of many species, including crabs and fish. Without the shelter provided by thick grass beds in shallow waters near the shoreline, the young are exposed to predators.

Glenn volunteered to be part of this program because it links with his expertise in stormwater design. “On every project, I design stormwater systems to reduce nutrient pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. Re-establishing the aquatic grass beds also helps to achieve the goal of a cleaner Bay.”

Aquatic vegetation converts phosphorus and nitrogen in stormwater runoff to plant matter. This reduces the harmful explosive growth of algae (algae blooms) that would otherwise result in dead zones, areas of extremely low oxygen in the water where aquatic life cannot exist. Aquatic grasses also reduce the level of Total Suspended Solids (TSS), another Bay stormwater pollutant. The plants prevent fine soil particles from suspension in the water by absorbing wave energy and trapping soil to protect shorelines.

The CBF provides the required equipment to the volunteers, as seen in the photo from Glenn’s basement grass nursery. Trays containing a sandy soils mix and the grass seeds are submerged in a tub of water. An aquarium heater keeps the water at 78 degrees and an aquarium pump keeps the water circulating. Desk lamps provide the required light.

Glenn planted his seeds in February and, by May, the grass should be ready for planting at one of CBFs restoration sites in the Bay and its tributaries. Glenn’s is one of 201 kits distributed by CBF this year to individuals and school groups to help restore aquatic grasses to 185,000 acres of the Chesapeake Bay. For more information on aquatic Bay grasses go to the CBF’s website: