New President’s Message – Jay Martin
Friends, The Friends Steering Committee met on January 18th and installed our new officers for 2017. I have taken over as President, Tom Darby is our new Vice President, Christina Darby has offered to temporarily serve as our Secretary and John King agreed to continue as our Treasurer. Judith Stribling and Mike Pretl have agreed to continue serving on the committee. Neill Carey will be leaving the committee after two years of outstanding service as our Secretary, for which we are all most grateful. We will need to find a replacement for Christina as soon as possible. If any of you are interested in serving as our Secretary please contact one of us. See our contact information below. I think we could all agree that environmental advocacy organizations will be under greater pressure to carry out their particular missions for the next four years.
Personally, I refuse to see this as a setback and choose to consider it an opportunity to come together and with greater resolve continue our work. History has shown us that in times of adversity we strengthen our bonds to protect that which we hold dear. I cite the recent efforts of Native Americans in South Dakota as an example.
I recently read a short book by Sebastian Junger titled Tribe. Junger has been a war journalist for many years doing his work in the most dangerous situations. While the book focuses on American war veterans and their struggles with PTSD, Junger also cites examples of non-combatants stuck in the line of fire. He interviewed residents of London who endured the Nazi bombing of their city. Many of them actually said that they missed the closeness to their neighbors they experienced in the bomb shelters during the Blitz. Is it possible that we are more stressed by our lack of connection to each other than by being bombed? Early in Junger’s career he was mentored by a man named Jonathan Schell, also a war journalist.
Junger quotes Schell as saying:
“Violence is the means by which the ruthless few can subdue the passive many. Non-violence is a means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.” I leave you with that to chew on and best wishes for a prosperous 2017. Onward,
Past President’s Farewell – Eugene Williams
Dear fellow Friends of the Nanticoke River, Our goal as an organization is “to work 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”. As a member you agree with those goals. As a member you support those goals. As a member you believe the Nanticoke River is both a remarkable resource and a precious gift. As we start a new year, as Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan sang, “the times they are a changin’ ”. I believe each of us should consider the goals of our organization and our commitment to achieving them. I would like to ask you to renew you membership. I would also ask you to please spread the word of our goals and our work among your friends, family and neighbors. Ask them to join us, we can use all the help we can get! For those of you who feel particularly motivated, please join the Steering Committee. We need participation and strong leadership from those of us who think of the river as a treasure. Please contact a current member of the steering Committee (see below) to learn more.
Speaking of strong leadership, I am very happy to pass the torch of office to Jay Martin. It is bittersweet for me to be leaving this position, and I am delighted to be leaving you in Jay’s very capable hands. I am excited about our future as an organization and very optimistic about the future of the Nanticoke.
Wicomico County’s Rural Legacy Program
This year may mark a major milestone in the conservation of agricultural lands in Wicomico County. On December 20, 2016, the County Council voted to approve an application to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to greatly expand the current Rural Legacy Area (RLA). It will be many months before we learn whether the proposal was approved, but signals from the State are very positive!
In 2000, the County created the Quantico Creek Rural Legacy Area as a primary agricultural preservation area. It was recognized as having large tracts of active farmland, no large-scale development, soils well-suited for agriculture, and several properties already participating in County or State agricultural preservation programs. The Quantico Creek RLA encompasses 14,687 acres or approximately 23.0 square miles in the western part of the County on both sides of Quantico Creek, which is a tributary of the Nanticoke River. The area is known for its rural character, abundant open lands, cultural significance, natural wildlife habitat, and water quality impact on the Nanticoke River Watershed. 4,500 acres in the RLA are developed and an additional 7,074 acres have some level of protection (i.e. Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, tidal wetlands, protective easement, or private protection measures). The remaining 2,665 acres are still unprotected and targeted for preservation efforts.
The new expanded area comprises 21,131 acres, including several parcels designated for conservation once the program is approved. The proposal was developed by the County’s Natural Resources Conservation Advisory Committee. The new area includes all of the lands surrounding Rewastico Creek, and extends around Hebron through the lands over the Paleochannel, to the Delaware line. It represents a major commitment on the part of the County to support and protect our agricultural industry, the rural lifestyle associated with it, and the natural resources associated with these rural lands that are a key to the health of both its citizens and the Nanticoke River.
From 2000 through 2016, Wicomico County spent about $9.3 million to purchase easements on 4,156 acres in the Quantico Creek RLA. Since its inception, 12 easements totaling 4,156 acres have been preserved in perpetuity using Rural Legacy funding from the State’s Program Open Space, as well as other funding sources.
The State of Maryland has established a goal of preserving approximately 1,030,000 acres of agricultural land by 2022, in order to support agricultural production; protect natural, forestry, and historic resources and the rural character of the landscape; preserve large, relatively contiguous parcels to protect resources and resource-based industries; and limit the intrusion of development on the above. The State-wide allocation to the Rural Legacy Program in FY 2017 was $17,663,385. Since its inception in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program has conserved over 87,649 acres of valuable farmland, forest, and natural areas across the State. Governor Hogan has exhibited a very strong commitment to open space and farmland conservation in Maryland.
Coming together as a community through innovative solutions
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has created a grant program to invest in technologies that support innovative uses for manure such as alternative product development and manure-to-energy projects that add value to the farm business model. The Animal Waste Technology Fund has $3 million available during fiscal year 2017. A minimum of $1 million will be directed at projects with a renewable energy component.
Steve Levitsky, the vice president for sustainability at Perdue Farms, wrote an editorial titled “Time to end the food fight and make progress” that appeared in the Daily Times and the Delmarva Farmer. He had attended two panel discussions. One was sponsored by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy titled “Food Fight” and the other by the Center for Environment and Society titled “Can Food Production and a Clean Chesapeake Bay Coexist”. In attendance were groups that he identified as “critical of agriculture and poultry production”. He wrote that there was no finger pointing and all participants recognized that we have common ground, literally, the Delmarva Peninsula and its farms. He admitted there was not agreement on everything but that “there was a clear sense that continued progress in cleaning up the Bay requires working together to address all the sources of runoff, including lawn fertilizer, stormwater, failing wastewater treatment plants, land applied sewage sludge and chemical and natural farm fertilizer”. He also said “All too often, we hear only the shouting at the extreme ends, with confrontation, the laying of blame and defensiveness making headlines. Progress, however, will come from those who want to move forward toward a productive common ground”.
Nanticoke Watershed Alliance News
NWA will be celebrating its 25th year in 2017, as well as the 10th season of the Nanticoke Creekwatchers program -- certified at the highest level by EPA . Under the able tutelage of Beth Wasden, Creekwatchers Spring Training will take place at the Trap Pond Baldcypress Nature Center on March 18. We expect to cover at least 32 sites this year, from Seaford down to Bivalve and Nanticoke. Contact Beth if you are interested in helping out!
New NWA Board members beginning this year are our own Christina Darby from Delaware, and Tami Ransom, professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University.
The fifth annual Toast to the Nanticoke will be held at the wonderful Layton's Chance Winery in Vienna on Friday, June 12 from 6:30 to 10 PM. Tickets are limited -- $50 per person, including live music, great food, open wine bar, vineyard tours, silent auction and more! Go to nanticokeriver.org/events for details.
COMING UP: Project Clean Stream – ROARING POINT BEACH cleanup Please join us for our annual Nanticoke River shoreline trash removal, September 17, beginning at 9:00 am, at Roaring Point Park, Red Hill Lane, Nanticoke, MD. We will provide bags, gloves, snacks, hand sanitizer, and t-shirts; you should bring a hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, etc. Hope to see you there!