By Stan U. Paddleboard
For the past few weeks, several locals from Kent County protested for changes to be made to the Chester River.
Many Maryland residents, including Erie Powell, said that the Chester River, once an endless, open natural wonder of possibility, is now a traffic-infested nuisance.
“I haven’t been able to even get my boat out of the dock there’s so much holdup,” Powell said. “It’s prime fishing season, and everybody’s scaring all the good fish away by honking at each other. And yes, boats have horns, too.”
Others, such as Linda Stream, have also complained that the Chester River itself is “beyond difficult to navigate” after having experienced it firsthand.
“I went kayaking a little over a month ago and, of course, I got lost,” Stream said. “There are just so many trees and houses that all look the same. I thought for a moment I was going around in circles. Wasn’t until about a month in of constant paddling that I figured out where I was and headed back.”
Stream said that unnecessary paddling has left her arms in a permanent state of circular motion and demands answers from the town.
“All I’m asking for is maybe a few signs telling you where you are, and maybe a Coast Guard member or two to help direct us if and when we get lost,” Stream said. “Not even a question of ‘if,’ just whenever we get lost.”
For local fisherman Gillian Trawler, even being near the wildlife of the Chester River can prove hazardous — and fatal.
“My partner, both in fishing and in life, Surf’n’Turf, was leaning a little too close to the edge of the river, thinking they spotted a real whopper. Algae just pulled them right under, no questions asked,” Trawler said. “Their whole body was just covered in the mossy, green offspring of that beast, and dragged them right under. That River is dangerous.”
Upon hearing similar stories from locals across Kent County, Trawler said she was inspired to get involved, especially for Surf’n’Turf.
“I just want to help others feel they can go to the Chester River and do what they love most —whether it be fishing, paddleboarding, or kayaking — without fearing that at any moment they or their loved ones will be dragged under by algae, or something worse,” Trawler said. “I know it’s what Surf’n’Turf would have wanted.”
Throughout the next several weeks, Kent County residents will hop aboard their respective boats, boards, and other water-bound vehicles and stand in — or rather, wade in — the Chester River for a moment of silence in remembrance of the fallen. Protestors will then engage in several hours of non-stop honking, embodying the consistent pain these and other residents have felt just being in this unpredictable body of water.
According to Stream, she and other protestors hope that this headache-inducing noise will somehow catch the attention of governmental leaders, so they can begin the “second phase” of their plan.
“We hope to then read off our list of demands, which include, but are not limited to: better signage letting visitors know where they are at all times; warning them to be cautious of any potentially dangerous wildlife; and better lanes to navigate traffic,” Powell said.
According to Stream, if this protest works, residents will hopefully be one step closer to their overarching goal.
“We’re not asking for much — just for further rights to use the Chester River whenever we please and for our own personal gain,” Stream said.
Photo by Mal Capone
Featured Photo Caption: Notable for its consistent boat traffic, the Chester River has also become notorious for leaving several Kent County residents scarred for life.