Bernie Fowler Honored by Maryland State House and Senate

February 19, 2016

CBL offers our heartiest congratulations to Senator Bernard “Bernie” Fowler, who was honored by the Maryland House and Senate on Tuesday for his 50 years of service in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay!

Bernie Fowler, a former Maryland State Senator and a former Calvert County Commissioner, continues his service to the Bay today as a member of the tri-state Chesapeake Bay Commission. Throughout his career, Bernie has used legislative and legal actions, combine with grassroots efforts, to spearhead Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. Among his many accomplishments, Bernie joined with St. Mary’s and Charles Counties and utilized research and experts from UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) in a successful 1970’s lawsuit that required counties on the Patuxent upstream of Calvert to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants. In the 1980’s, Bernie’s signature legislation further required all wastewater treatment plants to decrease their nitrogen and phosphorous outputs.

Bernie Fowler has long been a great friend and partner of CBL, where in 1998 a laboratory building was rededicated in his honor. CBL’s Bernie Fowler Laboratory recognizes Bernie’s sustained efforts to restore and inspire passion for the Chesapeake Bay. Fittingly, the building houses for classrooms for graduate student education and environmental chemistry labs where scientists trace the abundance of natural and man-made chemicals throughout the environment and assess their impacts on aquatic animals.

Bernie is also well known for his annual Patuxent River Wade-In event, which uses a “sneaker index” to bring public attention to local water quality. During the Wade-In, linked arm in arm with a who’s who of state dignitaries and long time friends, Bernie walks into the Patuxent River to see how deep they go before losing sight of their sneakers to see how clear or murky the water is. Over the years, hundreds have joined him on his Wade-In, including Governors, members of the U.S. House and Senate.  U. S. Representative Steny Hoyer, CBL’s own Director, Dr. Tom Miller, and faculty member, Dr. Walter Boynton are regular attendees. The event is open to anyone who would like to attend and will take place on June 12th, 2016.

In the 1950s, Bernie remembers being able to stand chest deep in the waters of the Patuxent River and still being able to see his sneakers; that is his goal for the future of the Chesapeake Bay. Through his 50 years of dedicated service to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, Senator Bernie Fowler has helped to bring us closer to that goal.

Senator Bernie Fowler, pictured above at the 2015 Patuxent River Wade-In with CBL's Dr. Tom Miller and Dr. Walter Boynton.