FOX ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — On a remote island six miles southwest of Crisfield, Maryland, tens of thousands of students have learned important lessons about the Chesapeake Bay.
But rising sea levels are washing Fox Island away and forcing its education program to close.
It’s a casualty of climate change.
“It’s a place that’s been so special to so many people,” said Karen Mullin.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Fox Island Environmental Education Center sits sturdy on stilts as the island and marsh around it slip away.
“What’s happening here on Fox Island is the story of what’s really happening in all of the marshes in the Chesapeake Bay,” Mullin said.
Karen Mullin is the Director of Professional Learning at the Foundation.
“With rising sea level, you have the salt marshes eroding and that’s exposing more land to more erosion,” Mullin said.
Over the past 50 years, 70 percent of the island has washed away.
So, they decided to close the center.
“We don’t have the safety that we used to have as we were sitting here in a marsh embrace,” Mullin said.
Jeff Varnon not only managed the Fox Island Education program- he’s lived there for the better part of two years.
“It was always going to happen eventually,” Varnon said. “It happened sooner than anyone would’ve liked,” Varnon said.
And while the education center has now officially closed, Norah Carlos said there’s still a lesson to be learned.
“This is a warning, Fox Island isn’t the first island to wash into the Chesapeake Bay and it won’t be the last,” Varnon said. “Climate change isn’t just happening around the world, it’s happening in our own backyard in Maryland and Virginia.”