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Chester River

Field Research Station

History & Background

In the Beginning

In 1999 the Chester River Field Research Station (CRFRS) was established to address the myriad issues involved with the establishment of ecological conservation practices and wildlife habitat restoration on land adjacent to commercial agriculture.

At that time, little scientific information was available about the ability of USDA conservation programs such as CRP and CREP to improve water quality or their value as wildlife habitat. 

The owner had for many years supported experiments in ecologically friendly agriculture and enthusiastically supported the vision of melding the aforementioned goals on land directly adjacent to the commercial row crop farming part of Chino Farms. The aim was to test if modern farming methods would make it hard to successfully reestablish wildlife habitat next to areas that were exposed to agricultural chemicals and practices. Also, would the newly established habitat harbor insects or other organisms that would be detrimental to the farmer’s crops?

In 2001, 99% of Chino’s property was protected into perpetuity when 2000 acres were placed under Conservation Easements and 3000 acres were consigned to Rural Legacy with the State of Maryland. Another milestone was the designation of the entire property as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Maryland-DC Audubon in November of 2006 IBAs are recognized as being essential habitat for birds of concern.

Our Mission-  Students and Interns undertake projects with the following goals in mind: 

  • Large-scale restoration of diverse wildlife habitats, especially mid-Atlantic coastal grasslands, Delmarva Bays and the Chester River, all of which have long histories of heavy human-impact, such as agriculture and pasturing.
  • Design of studies and protocols for the establishment and sustainable management of these wildlife habitats, especially as they interact with on-going modern farming.
  • To conduct basic and applied research on the flora and fauna that colonize these restored habitats, to learn their natural requirements for sustained survival, growth, and reproduction.
  • Sustaining the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory, a year-round avian research and banding station.
  • Environmental education, including hands-on programs for school children K-12, undergraduate and graduate students and members of society interested in the natural sciences.