Participant Perspectives

At each Let’s Be Shore event, participants were given the opportunity to write their reflections on the back of a comment card. 

Read the selected comments collected below and add to them by sharing your thoughts:

If we have dirty water, we will not have most things we have now we need to work together to clean up the river. We have the right to have clean water.  Keeping our food healthy and farming is about family. Farming helps everything if we don’t have all the food groups we need. If we work together we can make the shore a better place.  We all want a safe clean world that we can live in  if we don’t try we may never know what our shore may come to. Nobody wants to drink dirty water. We all just want to do it different ways we can never get anything done and are shore will have clean water and we want to be heard. – Age 13

The current nutrient management program is a sham and a scam. My place imports no manure or chemicals and does not drain into anything. But I am required to have a plan and pay a “lab’ $50 for “soil testing” every year.

We as a Eastern Shore community – are in an new era – on our Historic resources – need knowledge and attention for the next generation – communicate with each other

Farming will always exist on the Eastern Shore as long as people continue to talk.

More education is needed on the Shore regarding overfertlization of lawns with nitrogen – no living shorelines.  People here don’t seem responsive to suggestions on making changes. More “hands on” approaches are needed. More power to this! – Stephanie Simpson

Bold project. Lots of passion and emotion around the issue, long long history of talking about it. Great chance to bring voices of the less vocal to the forefront. Big concern is what to do with it all next so as to create positive outcomes.

Trapped in Maryland… Looking forward to a time when the Bay is seen for its intrinsic value and not in conjunction with how it can be utilized for human use and consumption. Let it’s beauty stand alone and leave it alone too.

My thoughts are that you can not change what God has made.  What things about the videos – is that they do help with awareness.  For people not to dump or try to limit what happens to our Bay.  It is a valued past time that we need for the future.  – Dorchester Co. Age 20

Overall very educational presentation, I enjoy the Riverkeepers and how they incorporated on all three rivers and not just one.  I didn’t know anything really about agriculture working with the Riverkeepers and how they can communicate better to make a better environment and a way of life for everyone.

We need better enforcement to control the amount of nitrogen in the ground water.

If the WIP is a locally structured plan as the Riverkeepers said, why do the farmers feel as if the WIP is blaming the farmers.  Is how everyone pollutes defined and described to the public, through this project? Is everyone really being invited to the table? Focus on what people have in common in wanting to make it work for the children.

I learned a Riverkeeper takes care of the river. I had a question about the way in which the farmer talked. She was only talking about her family.

I really like the water, swimming and tubing. Both of the riverkeepers want to protect the rivers and lakes. They both believe that the water is important to the local community.  The chicken farmer thinks that farming is all about family and helping out the local community. (– BK age 12)

I really enjoyed the films. Farming is important and they provide us with food an preserve our land so the waterways; they provide fun for us and also food.

There needs to be more diversity in the group who was interviewed.

There are soo many different moving parts. How do we know what real facts based in science are? How do we influence other players (states) upstream?  Farmers need support to follow the rules for health and environmental improvement. Mistrust is a problem.

Over regulation of agriculture – recreating the bay as if no humans were here can not be done. Blame over emphasized on agriculture. Entire watershed is not just MD. Tourism critical – Growth is necessary for economic development.

Clearly the question of “balance” is key and “balance” may be in the eyes of the beholder.  However, we need and want profitable farms and tourism.  Water quality is affected by population first – then agriculture probably second.  Agriculture is threatened by population growth as in the natural habitat, which attracts tourism and fosters the water-based industries. Population growth and sprawl is enemy of the industries and the environment and life style of the Eastern Shore.

I learned what a river keeper does and what a river keeper is. What the people have in common is that the river keepers and the poultry farmer are worried about the water. (Annie – age 13)

I learned that it is boring listening to people talk about water pollution. What the people have in common is that they both want to help the environment and reduce pollution. The differences they have are that the river keepers think that the farmers could and should do more but the farmers don’t see how they can do anything else to help the environment .

1. A river keeper takes care of the river
2. Both the river keeper and the farmer are helping the environment
3. Ones talking about the land and the other is talking about the water
Age 13

Did I learn anything? I learned that without a healthy river, a negative chain reaction begins. I learned that we need to improve the water quality for survival and so together we can move forward for our children’s future. The different opinions were that “we can’t live without polluting in a way” vs “We have to stop polluting all together.” Age 12

I like the water and the diversity of the people on the water.  I like to water ski and to tube. I also like the stories about hicks doing dumb stuff at the boat ramp.  I learned that both river keepers are very passionate about keeping the river clean. The chicken farmer didn’t fully admit to polluting. The people are too busy arguing to actually help this problem. – Jack age 11

I learned a lot from the video interviews. I learned that individual names can have a very big impact on the bay and rivers.  I didn’t know that lawn fertilizer had that big of and effect. I also learned about farm-raised oysters, which is interesting. The think that stood out the most was the amount of responsibility agriculture has o the well being of the water in Maryland.

This is Maryland! Without a clean Chesapeake, Maryland and the Bay are a lost cause.

I saw no black faces in the presentation. Perdue Farms has a black plant manager in Salisbury who may correct that – if he is still there? Or some other person of color. There needs to be a chart to show the present pollutants and the % improvement called for in WIPs shore wide.

We love being able to enjoy recreational activities on the bay and hope that one day the water will be clean enough for swimming.

Seriously, republicans, democrats watermen, farmers, and everybody else… stop butting heads and work together on all the problems that we have.

Development needs to be done responsibly. Can the land support the development impact? Critical areas must be maintained and not rezoned for development. Creeks in this area have been rated D+ in health. What can residents do to better this grade? We all need education. We love our crabs and waterfowl. Economically they support the county. We want them forever. Let’s each of us contribute to the future of our ecosystem by saving them.

Nobody addressed the core problem: Our population. No easy answers but that’s the one issue behind the whole problem.

There seem to be fewer fish and crabs than I remember from 10-15 years ago. The osprey population seems to be doing very well.

Important message: farms are about families. The greatest threat is that people forget that they pollute, and we can’t live like that. All farmers should work together. Educate people with the right facts.  All people who were recorded, wanted to make conversation.

I love the choice of this picture (the crabs) on this card! There is nothing more exciting to me than a “doubler” coming up on your trot line – A big heavy male and a soft crab or peeler female. I get chills in my spine when I hear my dad’s voice “Doubler!” Recalling my earliest trot lining days. A great symbol!

Here is agriculture’s biggest threat! Houses are a one time crop and once the productive farmland on which they’re built is lost forever, we can’t go back.

I worry about the chickens grown on Delmarva – are they safe to eat? All those chemicals and antibiotics and hormones; I’ve heard they grow from day old chicks to harvest size in 6 weeks due to the diets they’re force-fed.  And how is it that I can purchase an already cooked rotisserie chicken in Acme for $6? That seems too cheap. I’ll pay more for healthier chickens, I think. Wouldn’t fewer chickens that cost more and are not stuffed with chemicals be better for our water quality and the Bay?

July 28 Dialogue, Chesapeake Maritime Museum:

On water quality: I am a sailor and want to use pump out stations. Many times I go into a dock only to be told that the pump out isn’t working.  Someone should enforce the marinas not only have pump out – but that they are working.

The panel (at the July 28th event) obviously has parochial interests in WIPS. The EPA has no interests except to clean the watershed.  Everyone needs to understand that they need to make sacrifices.

We can not consider agriculture an “optional industry” without risking farming in America.

Good dialogue. I fundamentally believe we (humans) can make practical and sound decisions when we have charged neutral exchange of viewpoints.

Chickens – the land based equivalent of crabs, only public perception is that chickens are cause of pollution and crabs are victims. We need to work on modifying that.

We need to work with farmers with water quality management or else we will get more development which hurts the bay more.

I think all agencies/groups get together and create a video display program that contains all parts and opinions of the Eastern Shore. To preserve all of the life/jobs/etc of the area.

Public education is essential to the process of making laws/regulations that govern land/water policy. We had to make sure we get the public behind good science and good management practices. There is tremendous misunderstanding and lack of education.

October 22 World Cafè Dialogue at Salisbury University:

Little attention to justice and life quality for all shore residents. For example: food availability in poor non-white communities; job creation for working class people in sustainable industries.

Lots of environmentally diverse perspectives. Otherwise contributors were primarily white, middle-aged and middle class. This could limit the conversation and the relevance of its outcome.

Getting an image of how much healthier the Chesapeake waterways makes me wonder in what ways would it benefit me today and in what ways I would enjoy it. The stories of the past that the residents of the Eastern Shore tell are stories I wish I had. To have healthier waters, I believe would create better fishing, crabbing and oystering opportunities and success.

I disagree with the concept that development in the region is good.  Yes bring in money, but at what cost?  The different perspectives allowed the viewer to see all the various factors that play into the health of the Bay. Most (videos) did not push  an idea on the viewer, just expressed it which was nice.

I agree that the Eastern Shore has changed over the years and the community should do everything possible to preserve it. I’m not sure if I agree with the man who said golf courses filter the water before it enters the watershed,  that seems like an excuse to keep building.  Very interesting videos, I loved the variety of people that contributed.

The business interests focused on how regulation can be negative- especially over regulation. Also Jenny mentioned that “Political Science” is putting politics before science. This is not actually “political science”.

We can’t fix 200 years of impact on the Bay in five years. The steps need to be small enough to be doable and large enough to make a difference.  The schedule laid out by Maryland has accelerated beyond what the EPA requires and the cost is not manageable.  Wicomico County alone – the county cost will be $2 billion according to the consultant. All the efforts made by MD is learned by one flood for PA over the Conowingo Dam.  PA needs to be a bigger part of the effort.

I feel these videos portray a positive side of the residents on the Eastern Shore. All of these people are directly related to the Chesapeake Bay through work or regulations. There are many others who are not though and feel they do not share the responsibility.

No one addressed decades (at least 7) of metrox plex pollution. No one addressed PA, NJ, NY – Conowingo. No one addressed a cram down EPA mandate that will cost counties billions of dollars over a decade. No one addressed prevailing westerlies that bring pollution to Maryland from the rust belt and beyond. No balance at all.

The common solution mentioned in most of the videos was effective communication between all stakeholders. Farmers, landowners, developers, etc. The videos provided a good variety of viewpoints. I agree with a little bit of each of them. Obviously, pollution and water quality is an issue that needs to be resolved, but with other impacts in minds as well.

Clean eater. Seafood – of tomorrow. Business of today. The need for clean water.

Everyday business not the cleanest, but where would we be without farmers food, wealth, family.

I go hunting in Vienna and the lady who was from Vienna and works now as a tourism director for Dorchester County talked about the rich nature and wildlife there and being able to grow up hunting that area really allowed me to appreciate the land on a totally different level than I ever would have if I had not of experienced that growing up and even now.

I agree that people of all occupations and livelihoods must come together to figure out the best way to go about fixing and reducing the pollution of the Bay. More river associations and other organizations should work directly with farmers and other polluters to reduce their pollution, yet still maintain profitability.

There is obviously a fragile balance in play between traditional industries and water quality.  I enjoyed the “land owner” who said we must work together and I acknowledge the warning from the Riverkeepers that agriculture must succeed or we will get uncontrolled sprawl. However, one industry must not be allowed to destroy others, along with the health of our communities. Farmers are not practicing in “historic” ways – there has been a shift to intensive technologies and these must be mitigated for the benefit of all.

Farmers are in need of relief from regulations so they can preserve their farms and pass them on to family members.  We need to come together as a community to resolve some of the problems that cause our waters to be in distress.

Whose responsibility is it to give us the “real” or “full” picture of the problems.  Is that up to individuals to self-educate up to the media? Non-profits? Schools?

While the Eastern Shore is not located at the mouth of the Chesapeake, how much can the SS really do to turn the Chesapeake back to its pure state and the Bay Bridge – pre huge increase in population north of us.

Do we agree that water quality is worse?
Does turf grass act as a filter?
Is it true that golf course communities cant keep their water on it?
Do we agree that we need to follow the science?
Is it true that zero discharge is impossible?
What would lead farming to stop? Is it regulations?
“Right correct facts”
Is economics the key to preserving culture?

I believe it is important to really bring together local officials, residents, farmers,  Riverkeepers etc, much like at this event.  A common practical ground should become to about regulation that are not as hard on farmers yet still have a positive impact on the environment.

Building is a balance and we forget redevelopment in this picture as well. Growth is not a bad thing and promotes a healthy economy/environment if done in the right way.

Farming – chicken industry are very important to our community.  Economically they support many businesses and professions. Must work together.

More needs to be said about large housing developments as causes for pollution.  Most of the people interviewed are trust worthy but what was their motivation such as the golf course/chicken farm – what are their management plans? – what have they done for clean water?

I see all points of view presented. The one theme I definitely agree with is that regulation must be based on sound science.

I didn’t hear anything about sewage factor – what role does that play?

I agree the we need to follow the science, that land use affects water quality, that the Bay resources have declined. I believe that more people and agriculture are large impacts on the water quality. I disagree that we need fewer regulations and that we need less fighting. I don’t believe golf course developments are benefiting the environment.

I believe it is very important to continue the heritage and water “way of life” by creating more educational and recreational events and programs to educate the public.  Locals as well as visiting tourists must know the importance of the waterways to the continuation of this area’s way of life.

The opinions I heard in the videos were similar to what I have heard from people I have talked to around the Bay. Some of the statements I do agree with but there are some that are overly defensive. (sometimes, farmers).

The connection between the bridge and life and culture on the Delmarva is an interesting point not brought up in water quality discussions.

I don’t feel heavy regulation is the answer to improving water quality; perhaps we should let farmers farm (within environmental reason) and spread them out – less CAFOs!

Agriculture is the most important factor that protects, preserves, and empowers humans or any living entities on early. There for it is so critical that all human policies should be based on sound science that will have the credibility to sustain agriculture for future generations.

Open discussion is needed. Farmers are worried about regulation and being put out of business.

Fisher – put out false information
Riverkeepers – They speak with forked tongue. They can not be trusted.
Rhodes – Great accurate message. She hit the nail on the head
Golf Guy – made some good points
Schockley – made some good points
Tourism – made some good points but we don’t need more people on Delmarva
White haired woman – added very little to the cause

I agree with the majority of what all of the videos were saying. Especially that poultry farmer who said “Education with the real facts is what is needed” People are allowed to throw around too many misleading statistics. It would infringe on Freedom of speech but the arguing has to be stopped if we are to move forward.

Having grown up on the Eastern Shore, I agree with all the video speakers – if something is not done to correct the pollution of the waters, a special way of life will soon be only a memory that is merely talked about and missed – Mr Fisher and Mr Schockley seem to be truly making an effort to do something constructive not just talk! Not sure I can support Mr. Kotoski and his golf course scenario.

Although these videos are representing these different views and ideas, there needs to be a coming together of these groups to hash out viable solutions. Agriculture and watermen and Riverkeepers having a healthy communication to share their ideas and thoughts, they shouldn’t be separate.

Limited heart felt sentiment toward the farming industry.  Seemed one sided. If I was a farmer I would be fearful of this organization.

In the videos, one of the most prevalent things I heard was that the people and interest groups in the Chesapeake Bay watershed need to work together.  I agree with this and even will agree that until we learn how to do this effectively, we will not make sufficient progress in cleaning the Bay and restoring its resources. We need not just be a good steward, but great stewards.

Tom Fisher – these are empirical data.  How can one disagree?
Annabel Lesher – I agree that we should each do what is within our reach. Our reaches differ but if everyone did it would help.
John Kotoski – I am skeptical. I would want to see tests that show that the water leaving the site is cleaner after fertilizer and pesticides are added.  I doubt it has a net cleaning effect on water quality. He is selling and has a dog in this fight.
Tourism – didn’t the address the effect of tourists, retirees, themselves. That’s a balance.

Riverkeepers – agriculture prevents sprawl development. That  is something I hadn’t considered.
Jenny Rhodes – spreading the blame…talking about the effects on her and her family not facts or evidence.
Johnny Schockley – foucs on maintaining heritage sustainably through oyster aquaculture.

I appreciate hearing these diverse perspectives one after another.  I think an overriding theme throughout these videos is the need to have all stakeholders communicating with each other and collaborating if we wish to improve the Bay’s health. I mostly related to the perspective of the elderly woman whose family had owned her property for generations. Her on the water work combined with her desire to see everyone reducing their impact on the bay (including herself) resonating with me.

It’s impossible to not create any pollution through agriculture. By imposing laws that hurt the farmers it hurts our economy. By combining the ideas of everyone our ability to come to a sustainable water system would be easier. The River keepers are who I agreed with the most.

Bringing together everyone around one table to come up with ways to collaboratively protect our waterways. I think it’s the only way to get anything done with the WIPS.

Common themes I got from the videos: work together, stewardship, open dialogue, balance, too much regulation, heritage and communities, residents and visitors needs.

Farming and watermen have always been on the shore.  More land was tilled and oysters caught before pollution came with population increase.  The overall increase in the human population of the Mid-Atlantic has caused more detriment to the waters than overharvesting or agriculture combined.

It is about dialogue and communication. Despite the different perspectives represented by the videos, I think that the speakers would agree on 80/90%.  In some ways the challenge seems to be that each speaker also was somewhat resistant to change – we can’t go back, we can only go forward. In going forward, folks need to have a conversation about what’s worth saving, what needs to change more. I agree with the sentiment that everyone is a contributor and everyone needs to demonstrate some willingness to “move” their position if we are to balance the issues of the use of the land and the use of the water.

I can sort of understand where the farmer is coming from when she said that everyboday automatically blames them and how they need to bring everybody to the table. I don’t necessarily see people blaming but just thinking that they are one of the major contributors to the issues on the Eastern Shore.  Another thing is the oyster system. I found it to be interesting and wonder if that can actually make a difference.

It frustrated me that the golf course owner seemed unfazed about spreading fertilizers on his course which abutted the water. It seems like he could develop a more environmentally friendly system such as creating a buffer zone around the water where fertilizers would not be spread.  Although he spoke of environmental awareness, I was not convinced that his measures are as stringent as he claims them to be.

Poultry/Sewage = dominant source (?)
There is a great deal of misinformation when it comes to the true source of pollution. I don’t believe its agriculture. Goals and changes need to be directed to the norther states – Susquehanna Rover, its not a factor of local farms here on the Eastern Shore. Maryland is the #1 producer of Agriculture. We should be proud of that fact and work to maintain it.

I agree with many of the videos. Farmers should not take all of the blame when it comes to water quality issues.  Agriculture is an important aspect in our society and we should help farmers with regulations that will arise. The Eastern Shore’s heritage is also very important. Many watermen rely on the Bay to make a living. We need to find more ways to reduce pollution and fight for more ways to reduce pollution and fight for more ways for companies, ourselves etc to be more  environmentally friendly. Although these things cannot happen overnight, they could happen a lot faster if more people joined the environmental movement.

I’ve never though of a golf course as a water filter. Interesting perspective, and in time it could be a creative part of solutions. But I’m not yet sure it is as effective as he made it out to be and with the new homes associated, it could add more waste/run off to the water.

I saw a common theme that there is a want for people from many different perspectives of the Chesapeake Bay to come together to discuss the issues and concerns that each have and find agreeable solutions. I think if something like that could be organized (similar to tonight) that ideas and proposals could be shared and possibly progress could be made.

Great balance of opinions. With so many people living in the watershed opinions are very diverse. It’s nice to see them well represented. Better though, would be to have varying politicians expressing their views as the issue of bay quality will never be apolitical.

We need to pin a middle ground and not just legislate from the Western Shore how to live on the Eastern Shore.

The videos were compelling. Everyone wants to hear the music see the sun sets picture the boats and pretty farms.  People would like to also have individual choice about the use of their own property.

It is interesting to hear from a waterman who sees the future of the watermen communities as reliant upon developments such as aquaculture. Most watermen, I have interacted with would disagree with Mr. Schockley, and see growing oysters as essentially different from the culture of wild harvest. I wonder how Amanda Fenstermaker feels about the idea of aquaculture replacing (at least partially) the tradition of wild harvest? How would tourists respond? Would they still visit Dorchester County for heritage tourism purposes?

Agriculture and governing bodies need to work with one another to find sustainable practices. A problem faced by farmers especially in these hard economic times is keeping up and complying with regulations. Many of the practices require etra time and money. Cost effective measures need to be realized. The future of the bay lies in coordinating.

I agree with the idea that the different groups need to come together and communicate with each other instead of feuding about which viewpoint is “right” If a group were to come together, I believe that they could come up with a plan which is mutually beneficial.

Farmers and watermen always feel picked on, but they are the most resistant to share their accomplishments. Residents (nonfarmers/non watermen) seem to be the least reasonable when asked to change.

I am pleased to hear the multiple requests to work together to preserve our heritage, economics and quality of life. I would like to hear more about the steps all sectors are taking that are positive – a reminder that small steps are necessary and collectively responsible. Less finger pointing, more bragging is in order!

We need to turn back the clock fifty + years when runoff was much better with the hedgerows.  All the practices today have added to the runoff and decimated much of the quail and dove populations. The land owners need to have more input.

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