ETC In The Community: Port Tobacco River Conservancy

The Port Tobacco River Conservancy (PTRC) is a conservation advocacy group active in Charles County, Maryland. In 2001, residents near the river became alarmed over its unhealthy conditions, resulting mainly from failing septic and sewage systems. Since then, the scope of concerns for PTRC has broadened to cover issues of rainwater runoff, silting and trashing of the river, and the overall environmental health of the river watershed. 


Our vision is that the Port Tobacco River and its 30,000-acre watershed will be restored to nearly pristine condition, as they were in the 1950s. PTRC's work is about more than just environmental advocacy – it has taken on numerous conservation projects, each of which may be one small step. Still, together these projects protect and improve the ecological health of the river and its watershed. You can see the lasting impact of many of these completed projects today. Trees planted in five acres near the Northwest corner of Hawthorne Rd., at Mitchell Rd., are now over 15 feet tall and are helping to control erosion that once flowed into the Port Tobacco Creek - just one of several tree planting projects. 


Rain Gardens have been completed in a few locations – a meditation garden at Christ Church in La Plata (available to all) and educational gardens at McDonough High School and Craik Elementary School. PTRC was a significant contributor to the pavilion that Charles County erected in the Port Tobacco River Park. We plant and maintain native plant pollinator attractors at the park.

We worked with United Way of Charles County on the "Watershed


Discovery and Exploration" project, providing kayak and canoeing adventures for children of low-income families. The kids learned about native plants and animals in our watershed and how to protect them. North Point High School students participated in an invasive plant control program, including hands-on training on removing these harmful plants. PTRC has just finished the construction of an "outdoor classroom" at Craik Elementary School, which it will use for instruction about the environment. These are just a few examples of the many educational and environmental activities the organization conducts. We also organize activities that promote appreciation of the beauty and importance of the river, its watershed, and its ecosystem. Each year, with the help of many students and citizen volunteers, we conduct trash cleanups along the shoreline. PTRC worked with the county to install an "Eagle Webcam" focused on a nest that is used each year by a pair of eagles named "Hope" and "Chandler." You can live-view their nest on the PTRC webpage.  

PTRC's success in pursuing its vision of a healthy river and environment relies on two essential components: its volunteers' work and the financial support of sponsors such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the principal financial sponsor of our projects. PTRC is very grateful to ETC for being one of the most consistent, strongest, generous, and reliable corporate sponsors for many years!  Additional Information at: