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Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Sea Grant Gets New Watershed Restoration Specialists

January 31, 2013

Two new watershed restoration specialists have joined Maryland Sea Grant College’s Extension team. Dr. Amy Scaroni and Mr. Krisztian Varsa will help Marylanders assist in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of restoration projects to improve the water quality of local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Scaroni will serve Maryland’s mid and upper Eastern Shore, including Queen Anne’s, Kent, Cecil, Talbot, and Caroline counties. Varsa will engage with local governments and citizen groups in northern Maryland in Baltimore, Carroll, and Harford counties.  

The two scientists will assist Sea Grant’s team of watershed specialists who have for several years educated local governments and citizen groups on the benefits of watershed restoration. The specialists have aided projects to clean up the Corsica River, design new rain gardens, and help homeowners install rain barrels. Such programs not only improve local water quality but also help communities reduce the nutrients they send down to the Chesapeake Bay, a requirement under new state and federal rules. 

Before coming to Sea Grant, Scaroni served as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant Office. There, she helped to administer Sea Grant’s Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Safe and Sustainable Seafood Supply programs. She received her Ph.D. in wildlife and fisheries science from Louisiana State University in 2011. She studied how floodplain wetlands in Louisiana could help to retain and remove nutrients, limiting the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus washing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. She spent a lot of her free time exploring the swamps and bayous of Louisiana from her kayak, and looks forward to doing the same on the Eastern Shore.  

Varsa previously directed the University of Montana’s Computer Aided Design program. He also has years of experience using computer-mapping software to inform environmental policies, most notably in Oakland, California. Additionally, he served on the Board of Friends for Sausal Creek in Oakland, helping to stabilize that stream’s banks and remove invasive species, such as Cape ivy and Himalayan blackberry plants. Varsa earned a master’s degree in regional planning with a focus on environmental planning from Cornell University in 2008. He loves to fly-fish for trout and hunt for aquatic insects, both activities that tend to leave him soaked. 

Both Scaroni and Varsa bring to Sea Grant a passion, not just for protecting the Chesapeake, but also for communicating watershed and Bay issues to a wide audience.

“I’m especially excited to ensure that sound science makes its way into affecting policy and management decisions through education and outreach,” Scaroni says. Varsa adds that he’s looking forward to working with a diverse group of communities and Marylanders, recognizing the “unique needs of the many municipalities, watershed groups, and citizens across a landscape spanning from ultra-urban to pastoral and parkland.”

In addition to Scaroni and Varsa, Sea Grant Extension’s watershed restoration specialists include Amanda Rockler (western Maryland and Washington metropolitan area), Jacqueline Takacs (southern Maryland), and Jennifer Dindinger (lower Eastern Shore). To contact them with questions about watershed restoration planning, please visit our watershed specialists page.

-- Daniel Strain