about south river federation

Welcome to Bob O’Dell, the Federation’s Newest Board Member

Over 40 years ago Bob was introduced to the Chesapeake Bay and has been passionate about its beauty and welfare ever since. After he and his wife, Lynn, moved to Hillsmere Shores in 2009, he soon learned about the Marylanders Grow Oysters project and volunteered to keep oyster cages on their own dock, and now has recruited other neighbors on their street to participate as well. In addition, he has long been a volunteer for the Federation, participating in the river snapshot days and in stream cleanup.

Why did you move to Annapolis?

I wanted to live close to the water because I had grown up on the water. Annapolis is very appealing, everything about it.

As a residential builder, how have you seen your industry change in regards to the environment?

The permitting is so much more stringent now. The permitting office really scrutinizes what you are going to do and requires you to manage your stormwater in ways they never did before. Definitely, everyone is more concerned about the environment now.  Back in the 70’s we didn’t even put in silt fences.  We didn’t have any consideration for sediment run-off when we were building.  When backfilling, people even used to bury the construction trash on site. No one would do that today.

You have lots of choices of organizations to support, why South River Federation?

What got me involved in Federation was the oyster growing program, and once I met the staff and fellow volunteers, I was very impressed. I felt the Federation’s mission, which is essentially to get clean water into the South River, was crucial for the health of the Chesapeake Bay.  Their restoration efforts really seem like a sensible approach to the problem.

Did you have a turning point regarding your thinking on environmental issues?

I was from upstate NY and really didn’t understand the Bay back then.  I moved here at age 18 and started going out on boats on the Bay. When I was in my 20’s, I read the book Beautiful Swimmers, by William Warner, about the nature of the Chesapeake and its environmental challenges, and was hooked. Well, that and picking crabs and eating oysters!

You’ve been a board member for 2 months now, what have you learned?

I really understand now the significance and the impact stream restoration projects have on the natural systems.  It is amazing to see the changes in vegetation and wildlife. I have also learned that the Federation is a trusted partner in the community and highly regarded.  When I say I’m on the Board of the Federation, most people’s responses are complimentary—they say, “They’re a good outfit.”

What are your thoughts about the Federation’s future direction?

I’d like to see the Federation continue on the path it is currently on. I think the Federation has received a lot of good advice in the past and I want that input to continue. I want to help the Federation keep up the good work it is doing.

Do you have a favorite South River memory?

One of my favorite memories is when I first moved into my house on Duvall Creek.  We had a chicken dinner and I put the leftover scraps in my crab pot off my dock. The next night we had caught enough crabs for dinner! I thought that was so cool.

Just this summer, I had my 14-year-old nephew staying for a week. I took him tubing behind the boat near the mouth of the river and came upon a huge pod of dolphins. As we slowly drove along, at that point, they were coming up right next to him on the tube. That’s a memory he will never forget. The South River is a great place, just wonderful!