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2014 Annual Update


President’s message - Eugene Williams

I am very happy, and I have to say proud, to have served as the President of the Friends of the Nanticoke River this year. As you know, or will learn by reading on, we had a very productive 2014.

I recently visited my mother in North Carolina. She has sold her home, the one in which I grew up, and moved to a new, smaller home a few miles away. Our former home stands beside a tidal creek that drains into the Intercostal Waterway. When I was a kid my family and our neighbors swam and sailed and played in that creek. We also routinely feasted on the fish, crabs and oysters we harvested there. Today that creek is lifeless, unless you count the coliform bacteria there. At the same moment in time, the Nanticoke River is a beautiful tidal river with crabs, fish and oysters. My family and yours sail and swim and play there. There was no organization called “Friends of Purviance Branch”. But there is a group called “Friends of the Nanticoke River”. Thank you for your continuing support, and please continue to be active in our group.

First Paddle the Nanticoke Event

May 17th was a beautiful day for our first organized canoe/kayak trip, and it turned out to be a wonderful excursion. We launched at the Mardela Springs boat ramp, cruised with the tide downstream for a couple of hours, then caught the returning tide back. Exciting features included several unbroken stretches of natural shoreline with amazing tree root formations, at least 2 beaver lodges, and an abundance of wildlife, including a curious northern watersnake.

Nanticoke River Residents Help Restore Area Oysters

25 Nanticoke River area residents have joined nearly 1000 others around the Bay area to help to restore the oyster population of the Chesapeake. Each September, they receive 4-10 “cages” of oyster shells fertilized with new spat from the University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory. The cages hang off the resident’s pier for about 9 months, while the spat grow to about the size of a dime. The shells with new baby oysters are then collected and placed in a sanctuary off Roaring Point.

It’s a labor of love for volunteers like Don Brohawn, who remembers the heyday of oysters here on the Nanticoke River. While those days of harvest may be gone, that does not mean the efforts of this group of 25 are in vain. The purpose of the Maryland Grows Oysters project is to restore the filtering ability of oysters to the Bay. Oysters grown by the group will not be harvested for consumption but used to build a reef of oysters to help restore the population in the Nanticoke River. This year we added approximately 50 bushels of shells and spat to the Roaring Point Reef.

Dorchester and Wicomico Counties have joined with the Oyster Recovery Partnership to use public collection sites, including transfer stations, for the recycling of used oyster shells. The shell is used for attachment of oyster larvae at Horn Point Lab in Cambridge.

A healthy oyster population is important beyond the food resource, because one adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day. In colonial times, it’s estimated that the Bay’s oysters, in enormous reefs that emerged from the water at low tide, filtered the entire Chesapeake in just 3 days, removing algae and sediment and depositing them in stable pellets on the bottom. Today this process would take a whole year. Oysters also nurture other wildlife,
from crabs to fish to small invertebrates that feed on fthem. Please help by depositing your oyster shells in the recycling containers – you can even get a tax credit of $1 per bushel (go to www.oysterrecovery.org).

Project Clean Stream - Roaring Point Beach cleanup

The Friends participated in our annual Nanticoke River shoreline trash removal on September 27, 2014, at Roaring Point Park, Red Hill Lane, Nanticoke, MD.
We also installed a pet waste station for the frequent dog-walkers who visit the beach. Pet waste is a major source of nutrients for the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and an easy one to manage! We hope to see more of these around the watershed in the months to come.

The last of the Edwin Lewis sage! (really?)

Fourteen years after the FNR first gave testimony before the Wicomico County Board of Zoning Appeals on the Critical Areas violation of Mr. Edwin Lewis, who constructed several cabins on a pristine marsh above Rewastico Creek, a settlement has finally been reached. According to Ren Serey, Executive Director of the Critical Area Commission, an agreement has been finalized that would transfer ownership of the property to the Boy Scouts, who will apply for a variance to keep the 1 remaining lodge and portion of a shed for overnight camping trips. If for some reason this arrangement falls through, Mr. Lewis has agreed to file no more appeals in the matter and to remove the 2 remaining structures (he had already removed 5 buildings). The Boy Scouts will be required to apply for health dept. permits for any waste treatment on the site.

Atlantic Sturgeon officially return to the Nanticoke River!

Atlantic Sturgeon are in Marshyhope Creek! Over several weeks in August, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources caught, tagged and released eight adult Atlantic sturgeon in Marshyhope Creek. This species of sturgeon was recently listed as endangered, and for over 40 years reproductive adults have been absent from Maryland spawning habitats, so this is a very exciting development!

Nanticoke Watershed Alliance River Report Card release

The 2013 Nanticoke Watershed Alliance River Report Card is available at www.nanticokeriver.org. The report’s results are based on four primary indicators (dissolved oxygen, water clarity, total phosphorus, and total nitrogen), as well as bacteria. The “grade” for 2013 for the river was a C+, and for river tributaries a B-, both improvements over 2012. Despite relatively heavy rains and river flows during 2013, total phosphorus in most of the system did not increase, which is a positive sign. However, total nitrogen remained excessive throughout. The upper Nanticoke continued to decline in water clarity and for the first time this portion of the river dropped to a grade of C+.

Lexicon of Sustainability

The Friends are helping to support local display for The Lexicon of Sustainability, a project conceived by Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard from Petaluma, California. Douglas traveled around the country visiting farms of all types, including Provident Farm and Greenbranch Farm in Wicomico County, as well as school gardens, urban farms and food related businesses and activists, and took hundreds of photographs as he went. From these, he created a pop up show of 24 posters that display some of the positive solutions that are changing the way we grow and distribute our food. The purpose is to educate consumers to make more informed food purchasing decisions. Jay Martin, our VP, is a show curator and has managed displays at the Ward Museum in Salisbury, the Camden Avenue Farmers Market, James M. Bennett High School and the Clean Water Concert Series in Easton. If you are interested in hosting a pop up show, or know of a suitable venue or event, contact Jay at 410-873-2942 or at ubuubok@comcast.net to make arrangements.

Contact us:
Friends of the Nanticoke River
P.O. Box 15
Nanticoke, MD 21840-0015
www.friendsofthenanticoke.org | 410-548-2062

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Nanticoke River watershed throughout its extent for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Friends of the Nanticoke River is a section 501(c)(3) organization, and contributions are tax-deductible.