Making a Difference

Michael Vlahovich

Credit: Max Franz

Maryland fisherman Michael Vlahovich wasn't content to stand by and watch the historic fishing communities he loved go extinct. In 2003 he founded the Coastal Heritage Alliance (CHA), a national nonprofit based in St. Michaels, Md., that helps coastal communities promote their heritage, protect significant commercial fishing sites, and preserve historic vessels. (Among the boats Vlahovich has restored are those on display at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Wash., and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Md.)

CHA's Saving What Matters program, launched in 2006, works with Eastern Shore watermen and has received funds and support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "It is a culture in crisis," Vlahovich says, one he believes he can save with education and advocacy. "There is a distinct culture and lifestyle, and an awful lot of wisdom and knowledge and humor, that's being lost."

To learn more about Vlahovich's efforts, visit

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