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Summer Newsletter 2020

President’s Message – Jay Martin

“May you live in interesting times.”

Whether it is a Chinese curse or blessing depends on how you perceive it. Are we living through an awakening or a Stephen King novel? If an awakening, then we must all open our eyes to what we can do to help and support that which is dear to our hearts, for our family, our friends and neighbors, all that we care about.

The Steering Committee of the Friends has been working on issues that directly affect the Nanticoke Watershed. See below for more on our advocacy efforts, from supporting the Environmental Justice For All Act to assisting with legal action on the DAF storage tank on Porter Mill Rd that is now operational and creating some serious problems.

In these stressful times many non-profit organizations are struggling to maintain their efforts on our behalf. With our new membership format, the Friends have seen an increase in membership but some decrease in donations. Blessing or curse? If you have not joined us or provided financial support please consider doing so to help us continue preserving the Nanticoke River for future generations. Visit our website for more information.

And please join us for our Annual Beach Cleanup at Roaring Point (details below)!

With our wishes for your safety,


Friends’ Advocacy Efforts

The Friends have actively worked throughout the year to promote environmental protections for the Nanticoke River and the Chesapeake Bay on your behalf. To that end, our organization:

  • supported legislation requiring land buffers between industrial/commercial/residential development and wetlands and waterways like the Nanticoke River. Current laws are antiquated with requirements significantly lower than surrounding counties and states.

  • opposed construction of a 6.83 mile pipeline to carry fracking gas (70-90% methane) from Wicomico into Somerset Counties (Salisbury to Eden).  This pipeline further commits our region to dependence on fossil fuels.

  • supported the Environmental Justice For All Act, which would require federal agencies to provide early and meaningful community involvement under the National Environmental Policy Act when proposing an action affecting an environmental justice community. Additionally, this bill would establish a fund to use revenues from fees on oil, gas, and coal industries to support communities and workers as they transition away from greenhouse gas-dependent economies.

  • supported America's Conservation Enhancement Act. This bill would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through FY2024.

  • supported legal action to counter the approval of a poultry effluent storage tank on Rewastico Creek.

How bad is plastic really?

Imagine that every single piece of plastic you purchased and did not recycle had to be disposed of on your own land, and then think about the fact that all plastic is basically indestructible.

Since 1950, 1 billion tons of plastic has been produced in the world, and except for the small amount that has been incinerated, it is virtually all still with us. Instead of keeping it on our own property, however, we “dispose” of it in landfills (who owns that land but us?) at best, and at worst, it ends up in the oceans and rivers. From entanglement in plastic fishing nets to ingestion of plastic bags, there is a huge toll taken on marine life. Eventually, marine plastic breaks up into smaller fragments, and recent studies show large amounts of microplastics are essentially in every aquatic environment and in our food supply.

Because petroleum prices have plummeted, plastic is even cheaper to produce than ever, and the pressure to convert packaging and other products from more degradable materials to plastic is growing strongly.

Everyone should consider the long range impact of each product purchased, including its packaging and how its disposal affects the health of our environment. Sustainable use, re-use, and simply using less is an attainable and important goal. Buying second hand, using natural-fiber clothing, buying in bulk instead of in small individual containers, etc. are small and important changes we all can make.

Effluent Storage Tank Controversy to be Heard in Court

On September 2 at 9 a.m., the Wicomico County Circuit Court will hear the first of two complaints filed by the Neighborhood Action Group (NAG), a group formed last year by Hebron- and Mardela Springs-area residents to challenge the permitting of a large poultry rendering effluent storage tank near their homes.

Members of the NAG and other interested citizens began discussing concerns with County, State, and Federal officials in May 2019, raising health, safety, environmental, and quality of life issues regarding the proposed construction of the tank and its use to store up to 3 million gallons of dissolved air flotation (DAF), the waste product from poultry and other waste rendering. However, the building permit was issued without opportunity for public comment, because the DAF product was considered for “agricultural” use. Under this designation, the construction and operation of the tank are permitted by applicable zoning regulations. The NAG requested review of the building permit on multiple grounds. After that request was rejected, the current judicial review was requested, naming both the property owners and the County as defendants. A second Circuit Court complaint filed in February questioned the agricultural nature and challenged the legality of the tank on additional grounds. That case has not yet been scheduled.

For more information, contact Lynette Kenney of the Neighborhood Action Group at or (410) 726-8544.

Exciting Federal Environmental Legislation

The Great American Outdoors Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President this summer. The Friends joined many environmental groups in supporting what has been called the biggest land conservation legislation in a generation.

The Act establishes a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund that will allocate up to $9 billion over the next five years to address the backlog of maintenance at national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and other federal lands. It also guarantees $900 million per year in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), paid for by royalty payments from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters. The LWCF supports the four main federal land programs (National Parks, National Forests, Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management) and provides grants to state and local governments to purchase land for recreation and conservation.

Unwelcome Visitors return to the Nanticoke River

The amount of rainfall in spring and early summer is again affecting conditions in the Nanticoke River. Last year, high rainfall led to the increased potential for fecal bacteria contact. This year, low rainfall produced clearer water, higher salinity, and favorable conditions for jellyfish, especially the Atlantic sea nettle, as the water was also extremely warm. Recent rains have eased this somewhat, however.

Another frequent visitor that is being sighted on the lower river is the bull shark. These sharks favor warm water and are well-adapted to brackish and even fresh water rivers. Bull sharks breed near the mouth of estuaries, and the young spend their early years in the estuary before leaving for the ocean. They are aggressive, though there are no published reports of attacks for Chesapeake Bay.

Annual Roaring Point Beach Cleanup September 19!

Please help prevent plastics and other trash from polluting

our local waterways and bodies of water further downstream!

The Friends of the Nanticoke River will be partnering with Girl Scout Troop #1049 for a Covid-safe beach cleanup on Sept. 19 at Roaring Point Park starting at 9:00 am.

Bags and gloves will be provided if you need them; please bring your own water and other supplies such as sunscreen and bug spray.

Very small groups and mask-wearing are encouraged; strict social distancing should be observed at the park.

Wicomico County will handle removal of the collected trash.

Nanticoke Watershed Alliance news

Interested in becoming a citizen scientist? If you have a kayak, Nanticoke River Grass Watchers may be the program for you! Set your own schedule and use your smartphone (basic survey-Tier 1) or check out one of our kits to conduct more advanced, Tier 2 surveys. River Grass Watching is suitable for children and adults and is a great way to learn more about water quality, suitable habitat for grasses, why aquatic grasses are so important, and how to identify and report grasses.

Register for the program at their website: Click Here

Membership Drive for 2020

Welcome New Members!! Please tell your friends and neighbors about us.

Thanks to all of you who have joined through the website - we need your voice as we work to conserve the river and protect the bay!

If you still have not done so, please go to and set up your membership. Donations are optional but we would appreciate your help.

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

(Per the CARES Act, this applies up to $300 without needing to itemize deductions!)

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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