Bernie goes deep in 25th Patuxent wade-in

Bernie Fowler evidently found the faintest glimmer of hope Sunday in his 25th annual Patuxent River wade-in.  The Associated Press reports the former Calvert County state senator and friends made it 35 inches deep into the river at Jefferson-Patterson Park in St. Leonard before they lost sight of their feet in the water.

That's the clearest he's seen the water in a decade. Though his wade-ins are an unscientific survey of the river's health, it's the third year in a row Bernie's "Sneaker Index" has made it above 30 inches.

It's still a far cry from the crystal clarity of his youth in the 1950s and '60s, when he recalls seeing his toes in five feet of water.  The Patuxent received a failing grade in the latest University of Maryland report card on the Chesapeake Bay's health, with the river's water clarity last year rated the worst since assessments began in the 1980s.

One thing Bernie's wade-ins have done is capture the public's imagination - and spawn similar celebrations of other bay tributaries.  On Saturday, Chris Trumbauer, the West/Rhode Riverkeeper, led a wade-in on the West River south of Annapolis - making it just 28 inches deep there before losing track of their feet.  Afterward, they visited a nearby shoreline restoration project and rescued some stranded horseshoe crabs.

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