The Rhode River empties into the West River, which drains directly into the Chesapeake Bay. Locals refer to the main anchorage as “Behind the Islands,” considered one of the best anchorages in the entire Bay. Major landmarks include the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Mayo Beach Park, Beverly Triton Beach Park, and Camp Letts.
The Rhode River has a lot of forest and marsh to protect it from stormwater. Forest comprise 54% of the watershed. The other most significant land use/land cover categories are row crop and 2-acre residential.
Impervious surfaces represented by roads, building footprints, parking lots and other hard surfaces cover approximately 5% (~473 acres). Biologists start to see impairment to wildlife when impervious surfaces rise above 5%.
Still, despite its good land use, the Rhode River suffers from low water clarity preventing underwater grass from growing, and regular algae blooms with spikes of low dissolved oxygen levels. Some, but not all, can be explained by the shallowness of the river and Bay influence.
Rhode River Monitoring
The Federation operates an array of water quality monitoring programs from tidal and non-tidal to bacteria and biological monitoring.