Fred Tutman guided a motorboat across a wide expanse of water fringed by trees in southern Maryland.
“So we’re on the Patuxent River, roughly the central portion of the 110 mile linear watershed,” said Tutman, 57, a former television reporter and producer turned environmental advocate. “This is called jug bay, which is basically a big nature preserve.”
A field of lily pads slid past, their heart-shaped leaves floating on the shallow water. Bright yellow blossoms on long stalks winked just beneath the surface.
Tutman is a seventh-generation farmer who grew up beside the river. For the last 11 years, he’s devoted his life to running a nonprofit organization, called Patuxent Riverkeeper, that is dedicated to cleaning up the waterway.
“My job is to protect water quality,” Tutman said, as a great blue heron flew overhead. “And the way I do that is through community organizing, rallying people, building enthusiasm, and empowering people to fight for the river.”
As he spoke, between the trees at the far end of the lake-like widening of the waterway, the smokestacks of Maryland’s largest coal-fired power plant rose. The Chalk Point Generating Station looked almost like the City of Oz – but a dark Oz -- looming over the field of yellow lilies.