What can you do to help promote a healthy Sassafras?
Learn more about simple behavior changes that you can start today that have a positive impact on the river! The following links provide hundreds of ideas on ways to clean up the river and contact info for people who can help in your county. Change your habits—and clean up your River—today!
How to help the river on the boat, at home, and on the farm!
On the boat
- Fuel cautiously
- Fill only 90% to avoid spillage and don’t “top off” tanks!
- Use oil absorbent material to catch drips from the fuel intake and vent overflow.
- Do not use soap to disperse a spill, it only sinks fuel.
- Report spills to the U.S. Coast Guard at 800-424-8802.
- Handle oil with care
- Properly dispose of oil absorbent materials.
- Replace oil absorbent materials at least once per season.
- Replace damaged fuel lines with alcohol resistant hoses.
- Clean gently
- Use detergents sparingly and use phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaners if necessary.
- Collect paint chips, dust and residue and dispose as trash if non toxic.
- Bring used solvents and waste gas to local hazardous waste collection. Here's a link to Maryland's Hazardous Waste Information page.
- Dispose of sewage properly
- Never discharge raw sewage.
- Use restrooms on shore when docked.
- Pump out and rinse holding tanks regularly.
- Avoid holding tank products that contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) and formaldehyde.
- Boat Responsibly
- Protect sensitive habitat by avoiding submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and do not disturb wildlife.
- Watch your wake – it can cause shoreline erosion.
- Proceed slowly in shallow areas.
- Looking to landscape your home? The University of Maryland Bay-wise program can provide you with guidance for landscaping your lawn or garden in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner.
- Check out the Bay-wise website for ways to improve your lawn or garden to improve the health of the Sassafras River and Chesapeake Bay!
- Best Management Practices (BMPs) to manage your stormwater
- Install a rain barrel to your gutters to both conserve water and mitigate the impact of stormwater runoff. Click here to learn how to build a barrel!
- While landscaping, plant native grasses or other plants that don’t require watering or fertilizing. Plant bushes or trees along shorelines and stream banks to help stabilize banks and prevent erosion.
- Take a soil test before applying fertilizer at all, to ensure that excess nitrogen and phosphorus are not running off your property.It’s easy to test your soil. Click here to view a video from the University of Delaware’s Soil Testing Program
- Install a denitrifying septic system
- Minimize use of household chemicals
- Instead of all purpose cleaners, use baking soda or borax and hot water to clean everything from toilet bowls to pots and pans to laundry.
- Purchase “green” cleaners that are non-toxic, biodegradable and phosphate-free.
- Conserve Water
- Takes shorter showers and turn off the water while you brush your teeth, wash hands or do dishes.
On the farm
- Stormwater management
- Plant buffers along stream banks and shorelines to help stabilize banks and prevent erosion.
- Create a Sediment pond
- Use a low flow irrigation system
- Install wetland
- Nutrient treatment
- Fertilizer application techniques
- Plant cover crops on any acreage not in a winter commodity crop. Cover crops effectively hold excess nitrogen in plant material through the winter and prevent leaching during the wet winters and early springs. Cover crops are also effective at holding soil in place during heavy precipitation and wind events, which reduces sediment and phosphorus (which is tied to the sediment) from entering adjacent streams and waterways.
- Develop and implement a conservation plan for your farm through the local county Soil Conservation District. A conservation plan will set goals and steps to maintain your farm’s productivity while minimizing pollutant loads from the operation and increasing critical habitat and your property’s value to wildlife.
- Remove marginal ground from production and restore wetlands, native grasses and trees. Many farms contain low lying, marginal soils which rarely produce yields that warrant the expense and time involved in planting and harvesting the crop. There are several programs available through the Soil Conservation Districts and NRCS that pay farmers to discontinue working these unproductive areas and create pockets of valuable habitat.
- Consider reducing pesticide usage through IPM management and/or going organic! Despite the fact that they are approved for use through USDA and the EPA, many pesticides have detrimental impacts on native vegetation, insects and aquatic life. Integrated Pest Management programs allow farmer to utilize non-chemical measures to prevent and treat insect problems, but also encourage farmers to monitor for thresholds that warrant pesticide application to prevent major economic damage.
Demand for organic produce and products has increased dramatically over the past several years, and programs exist to help farmers transition smoothly through the three year process to become certified.
- Stay informed on the latest and greatest developments in the world of nutrient management and precision agriculture. Next generation tools such as Greenseeker technology, poultry manure injectors, variable rate application linked to yield or infrared data, PSNT, and stalk nitrate sampling not only save the farmer money on fertilizer application, but also provide data and information that facilitate better informed management decisions. More precise and better timed fertilizer application translates easily into reduced N and P leaching and runoff.