In Dorchester County, this project is concerned with the rural areas near Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, which are vulnerable to climate change impacts. The churches highlighted on the maps below were the focus of previous research that identified the ways in which these African American church communities have responded to flooding in the past, and the challenges they face for responding to flooding in the future. These churches were also identified as important areas to protect from ongoing and future flood inundation by residents and church members at a project workshop on June 23, 2018. New Revived United Methodist Church, marked below by the orange star, was selected by workshop participants as the location of concern that faces the most immediate threat of flooding and should be prioritized for collaborative discussions about adaptation. A secondary priority for workshop participants was the flooding of roads, particularly those around John Wesley United Methodist Church.
Dorchester County Community Meeting 1 – August 3, 2018
Congregation members from New Revived United Methodist Church and neighboring churches met with Dorchester County staff and project leaders in Cambridge to share and discuss local and county-level concerns about environmental changes and the needs, goals, and limitations of locals and County staff as they work to plan for and adapt to those changes. Dorchester County staff who presented county perspectives included Anna Sierra, Director of Emergency Services; Steve Garvin, Emergency Management Planner; Brian Soper, Environmental Planner; Ryan White, Director of Public Works; Jeff Trice, Economic Development Director; and Cindy Smith, Assistant Director of Finance. Roslyn Watts – pastor of the Church Creek-Cambridge Charge, former Smithville resident, and member of New Revived –
gave a presentation about the history of New Revived Church and its importance to the Smithville community. She emphasized that the church and its cemetery remain important for the community today. Landscape architects from the University of Maryland presented maps of present-day conditions, discussed future flood projections, and shared some preliminary designs aimed at protecting the church and cemetery, a priority for the community.
Dorchester County Community Meeting 2 – October 1, 2018
A second community meeting was organized to further explore potential short-term and long-term adaptation strategies for New Revived United Methodist Church and the broader Smithville community. Landscape design options included the construction of a berm around the church and cemetery and the grading of land behind the church to reduce flood risks. Other adaptation options included a range of structural enhancements to protect the church buildings from flood impacts, a cemetery mapping project to document and preserve its history and heritage, and pursuit of a variety of available funding options. Participants discussed benefits, challenges, and feasibility of each strategy.
Outcomes of Project’s Collaborative Discussions:
New working relationships were established between the Smithville community and Dorchester County staff
New Revived has begun the process of eradicating the invasive marsh grass (Phragmites) behind the church
Church members and County staff have a better understanding of the concerns and resources each has for addressing environmental challenges
Maps of Southern Dorchester County
These maps mark the sites that were discussed at the June 23, 2018 meeting by residents and church members from Southern Dorchester County. Participants at this workshop marked sites targeted of significance and places where flooding and other environmental impacts are increasingly a concern.
Black Water Wildlife Refuge and Surrounding Area
County Map: modified from d-maps.com (http://d-maps.com/m/america/usa/maryland/dorchester/dorchester33.ai)
Satellite Map: Google Maps 2018/ Earthstar Geographics, SNES/Airbus DS