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Summer Newsletter 2019

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

From Jay Martin, president

As an organic farmer (as well as president of the Friends), I pay close attention to developments in the farm community and their potential impact on our watershed. Conventional farmers have incorporated cover crops into their rotations for many years, for the most part planting them during the off-season to reduce erosion from wind and excessive rains during the winter. But cover crops provide many other services such as weed suppression, increasing soil organic matter, and attracting beneficial insects and pollinators. Their organic matter can mine nutrients from deeper soil and sequester them, preventing them from ending up in our waterways. Information on the benefits of these services is being gathered from experimental plots across the country and shared with conventional farmers by the university extension services and farmers who have adopted cover crops throughout the season.

Farm fields with green houses in background
Provident Organic Farm (Jay’s farm)

In the organic farming community, we strive to mimic nature as our model for how we farm with the understanding that the wisdom of nature will never be outperformed by human cleverness. It is exciting to me that conventional farmers are beginning to recognize the benefits of cover crops that more closely follow the rules of nature.



Environmental stewardship – MD Critical Areas and Wetlands

Map of Nanticoke River showing Critical Wetland Areas
Example of Critical Area map for Maryland – Critical Areas are in green, yellow, orange, and red, and include lands within 1000 feet of the mean high tide level.

The Friends have worked this year to address violations of the Maryland Critical Area Act in the Lower Nanticoke River area, including land clearing and intrusion into nontidal wetlands, and we have assisted property owners with questions about enforcement of regulations. In one case, the property owner in violation remediated the situation and abandoned plans for developing a shoreline site for commercial use. Often, illegal activities along the river go unnoticed and unreported, and without the help of observant citizens these laws to protect the river will not have an effect.

State of the Nanticoke Conference a big success!

The Friends were co-sponsors of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance conference held August 7. The conference included a summary of the 2018 Nanticoke Creekwatchers report, which detailed impacts of the season’s very heavy rainfall, where water quality at every site was either worse or unchanged.

Read the full report at the Nanticoke River's site.

Image above from the Reimagine Laurel presentation. (Click image for more)

There were exciting presentations on redevelopment efforts in Laurel and Seaford that incorporate downtown re-development, nature tourism, and neighborhood revitalization. Several presentations focused on the resources and conservation of the Nanticoke Watershed, including economic valuation of ecosystem services, stream restoration as a means of reducing nutrient discharge, farmland drainage modified for conservation, poultry industry efforts to limit nutrient pollution, land conservation efforts in alliance with the US Navy, marsh stabilization at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in the face of sea level rise, submersed aquatic vegetation and Atlantic Sturgeon restoration efforts, and more!

Presentation materials are viewable at

Is it safe to swim in the Nanticoke River?

The Nanticoke River is a beautiful place to swim, and recreation is common along its entire extent. However, swimmers should be aware of a couple of things before they take to the water. Though uncommon, a potential threat is vibriosis, an infection that is often mild but can turn lethal, caused by about a dozen species of Vibrio bacteria. These are the same types of bacteria that can cause illness after eating undercooked shellfish. Brackish waters, such as in the mid-lower Nanticoke River, are often sites for its occurrence. According to the CDC, if a vibriosis skin infection becomes severe, it can progress to necrotizing fasciitis, a serious infection of the connective tissues surrounding muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels that can lead to amputation or even death.

There have been a few reports of infection in swimmers in the Nanticoke River, so precautions are important. Swimming should be avoided if open wounds are present, as this is the conduit for bacteria to enter the body. Wearing water shoes helps to prevent cuts. If a person is cut while swimming, they should leave the water as soon as possible, and clean and disinfect the site carefully. The wound should be watched closely, because severe infection can develop in a matter of hours, and medical care should be sought if symptoms develop or worsen.

Another cause of bacterial illness is fecal bacterial ingestion. These bacteria increase dramatically in numbers in response to large rain events. Avoiding swimming, especially for children, is a good idea for a day or two after a heavy rain.

TWO Coastal Cleanups on the Nanticoke September 21!

2019 Coastal Cleanup in Seaford

Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, the City of Seaford's Department of Parks and Rec, and the Reclaim Our River (ROR) Nanticoke team host a cleanup beginning at 9:00 am. A free lunch for volunteers will follow the cleanup at 11:30AM. Please register online at:

or contact Beth Wasden, or

443 944-1175.

2019 Coastal Cleanup at Roaring Point

The Friends of the Nanticoke River and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance are sponsoring a cleanup at Roaring Point Park in Nanticoke. Cleanup begins at 2 pm; bags, gloves, water provided.

Hope to see you at one of these (or you could actually do both)!

Membership Renewal for 2019

Thanks to all of you who have renewed for 2019! If you happened to misplace your form, one is included below. We need your voice as we work to conserve the river! The Friends of the Nanticoke River is a section 501(c)(3) organization, and contributions are tax-deductible.

We welcome any suggestions or comments you may have. Contact Jay at 410-873-2942 or or Judith (newsletter editor) at 410-873-2091 or

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