Former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler saw his white sneakers through 34.5 inches of water at his 23rd annual Patuxent River wade-in on June 13. Though this was a 9-inch improvement from 2009 and the highest level since 2004, it is still far from the 60-plus inches Fowler could see his sneakers through during his youth.
Fowler, members of the community and environmental leaders from throughout the state this year welcomed the annual Patuxent wade-in to its new permanent home at Jefferson Patterson Park. Fowler has hosted the wade-in near his childhood home on Broomes Island since 1988.
Fowler hosts a wade-in on the second Sunday of June each year to draw attention to the muddy, polluted waters of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay. He speaks of the days of his youth when he could wade up to his shoulders in his beloved Patuxent and still see the river's bottom, teeming with crabs and fish swimming among the grasses and oyster shells.
The "sneaker index" is a measurement of the deepest point at which Fowler can still see his white sneakers as he wades into the Patuxent River.
The Patuxent River wade-in has spawned community wade-ins on many creeks and rivers throughout Maryland. To find out about a wade-in on your local river, visit Maryland DNR's tributary teams website.