President’s Message – Jay Martin
At our January Steering Committee meeting, we decided to retain the current slate of officers. I feel honored to serve another year as President of the Friends and grateful to Tom and Christina Darby, John King and Judith Stribling that they agreed to continue as Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Coordinator respectively. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
My particular focus lately has been on the use of productive farmland for large solar collector installations. After reading about the reservations of farmers about these conversions in The Delmarva Farmer, I became concerned that solar “farms” could become a contentious issue similar to the mega poultry operations popping up in the area. Describing a solar array as a farm is a misnomer; you can’t eat sunlight. Thus far there has been little discussion of the issue among our local representatives. Other MD counties on the Shore are currently addressing the issue, which could make Wicomico County an easy “target”. Read below for more on this.
We welcome any suggestions or comments you may have. Contact me at 410-873-2942 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Judith (newsletter editor) at 410-873-2091 or email@example.com.
Rural Legacy expansion approved!
On October 4, 2017, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted unanimously to approve the expansion of the Quantico Creek Rural Legacy Area in Wicomico County. This expansion will combine the existing Quantico Creek Rural Legacy Area (RLA), which encompasses 14,687 acres on both sides of Quantico Creek, with an additional 21,131 acres surrounding Rewastico Creek, both tributaries of the Nanticoke River. It also extends around Hebron through the lands over the Paleochannel, to the Delaware line.
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. This represents a major commitment on the part of the County and the State to protect our agricultural industry, our rural lifestyle, and the environmentally sensitive natural resources that are a key to the health of both its citizens and the Nanticoke River. It will also provide landowners in these areas a voluntary financial alternative to selling lots for development.
Early winter comes to the Nanticoke River Upper Nanticoke in Seaford, near Tom Darby’s house, 1/5/2018
Nanticoke River Cleanup at Roaring Point – September 2017
Are solar “farms” in need of regulation?
Solar energy represents a vital contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and other environmental damages. The Maryland General Assembly has mandated a statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) at 25% (combined wind and solar) of our total energy supply by 2030, and solar energy systems are proliferating in our region. However, solar panels are often placed over natural landscapes, negatively affecting these ecosystems. Currently, the drive to place large solar installations on farmland has generated concerns on the part of farmers who must compete with solar companies for renting farmland, and others who decry the potential loss of productive farmland in general. Several of Maryland’s counties and most of the Eastern Shore farm bureaus are contesting use of prime farm land for this purpose.
The Maryland Public Service Commission has been tasked with approval of specific proposals, and under a law passed last session, is required to consult with county authorities and to hold public hearings on each application. Many of Maryland’s rural counties have adopted, or are in the process of adopting or considering, guidelines for when and where solar panels may be placed on agricultural zoned land.
The Friends of the Nanticoke River enlisted Salisbury University’s Environmental Studies Department to lend its hand in trying to resolve potential controversies over siting of solar panels on farm land. Building on the experience of other Shore counties, SU’s Mike Lewis has organized a series of meetings with farmers, environmentalists (including the Friends) and local legislators to try to find common ground on this issue. The objective is to reach agreement on guidelines that can be recommended for adoption in Wicomico and in other counties to prevent conflict with farming.
Nanticoke Watershed Alliance River Wade-In and 2018 Creekwatchers
Warmer days are coming! The 2018 season of Nanticoke Creekwatching is approaching! The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance (NWA) will kick off the season with training on Saturday, March 17, 2018, from 10AM-4PM at the Trap Pond State Park Baldcypress Nature Center near Laurel, DE. The NWA needs a new Creekwatcher to adopt a site in Quantico, MD, near Salisbury. Please contact Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Beth Wasden for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org or 443.944.1175). You can register for training at:http://nanticokeriver.org/creekwatchers2018/
The NWA will also be holding its annual Wade-In at Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, DE on Saturday, June 9th. Come see whether water clarity in that part of the river has improved! There will be a unique addition to this event this year, a “seed exchange.” Donations will be accepted at several events prior to the Wade-In, and seeds will be available there for attendees. In addition, the Wade In will offer several free programs for adults and children, and the NWA will release the Ten Year Nanticoke River Report Card.
See www.nanticokeriver.org for more information on both events.
We had a beautiful day for our beach cleanup, and equally beautiful was a beach with relatively little trash. Wicomico County Parks helped with hauling the bags away, and our recently-posted Facebook page garnered several new volunteers.