Growing up in Harford County, MD, Sam spent much of his youth exploring the Bush River. His decision to move to Delmarva was greatly influenced by his love for the outdoors and Salisbury’s close proximity to several river systems and the Chesapeake Bay. National Geographic: Adventure even rated Salisbury in the top ten east-coast, adventure towns to live in.
While his initial ties to nature are rooted to the Bush River, today, Sam refers to the Wicomico as “my river.” He frequently uses it for leisure paddling and training for adventure races. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, the Pocomoke and Nanticoke Rivers are commonly thought of as more scenic; however, Sam prefers to kayak the Wicomico. He lives very close to the water, so getting out to paddle is a hassle-free process.
Regardless of his affection towards the Wicomico River, Sam sees it as a perfect example of what is wrong with our society. There are very few access points for boaters to get on the water, yet it is very accessible for pollution. Sewage spills occur much too frequently and prevent people from enjoying the river. The concrete parking lots and asphalt roads, which line the river's edge, quickly drain unwanted nutrients and chemicals directly into the water. This adds to the massive loads of synthetic fertilizer and manure that runs off from the many farm fields and suburban lawns in the area. A lack of commitment and awareness has allowed the degradation of the Wicomico River to persist.
The good news is that there is plenty of room for improvement, and it seems that we are increasingly taking solid steps in the right direction. It is the citizens who have the power to demand the addition of public access points. It is we who can hold the polluters accountable, and it is our tax money that can make the necessary repairs.
When Sam took a group to Pemberton Park, he was surprised to learn that none of them were aware of the soft launch access ramp leading into the Wicomico. Many people have no idea of the treasure in their backyards. Every day spent on the river brings a new experience and a new appreciation of what nature offers. Through increased awareness and commitment, everyone could enjoy what we have and work to make it better.
Swimming is not permitted In Schumaker Pond because of high levels of bacterial contamination. Photo by Anne Stanley
It may not be the most beautiful or the cleanest river on the Eastern Shore, but the Wicomico is Sam’s river. It is our river.