Anne Arundel County's River Days are a new way to connect the community to the water, employing boat rides and a close-up look at a fire boat. Photo: Anne Arundel County

MD County’s River Days Brings Public Aboard to Enjoy Water Access

As part of a county-wide push to improve public water access, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, hosted the first River Days Festival at Quiet Waters Park over the weekend, and more River Days are being planned.

The festival focuses on providing water access opportunities for residents through fun recreational and educational events on Anne Arundel County rivers. Led by County Executive Steuart Pittman, the event offers boat rides, tours of the Fire Department’s Fireboat 19, environmental education, free lunch and live music. Plenty of people from the community turned out and the boat rides were sold out well in advance.

“When I envisioned River Days, I wanted to create an opportunity for residents from all across our county to get out on the water, celebrate our local rivers, and learn about how to protect them,” said Pittman. 

Arundel Rivers Federation was at the event and their mission is to advocate for new policies and ensure enforcement of existing laws to protect waterways of southern Anne Arundel County, according to their site.  

The Waterkeeper organization wants locals to value and respect the natural environment, including the river and the living resources that depend on it.  

Matthew Johnston is executive director of the federation and was at the event over the weekend, in charge of the boat rides on Harness Creek where he talked about environmental issues like oyster restoration and nitrogen that is in many of our yards. 

“Getting our communities out of the parks and down to our waters is how we are able to connect to the Chesapeake Bay restoration,” Johnston said.  

The Anne Arundel County Fire Department’s Fireboat 19, also called the Lady Anne, was open for tours. The fireboat was built by MetalCraft Marine in 2003 and protects approximately 400 miles of shoreline, 300 marinas and around 12,000 private boat slips. 

Anne Arundel County has 533 miles of tidal shoreline and 14 rivers according to the Department of Recreation and Parks and borders the Chesapeake Bay. The Department of Public Works works to educate residents, which is critical to preserving and improving the water quality in the county.  

“Educating and motivating students, homeowners, and other stakeholders to take positive personal actions and work together for greater impact is our goal,” the agency says.   

Pittman encourages all Anne Arundel County residents to learn about celebrating the local rivers. The next River Days are scheduled for Aug. 27 and Sept. 23. The website will soon be updated with a chance to reserve boat ride tickets at the next events. Check back at aacounty.org/riverdays.

-Dorothy Hood