Clyde Bernard Fowler (born March 30, 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland), is a former Maryland State Senator (1983–1994) and County Commissioner (1970–1982) from Calvert County, Maryland. Fowler is best known for his advocacy for the cleanup of the Patuxent River, the largest river to be found entirely within the State of Maryland.
Prior to being elected to public office, Fowler was an avid fisherman who would wade into the Patuxent River and make note of the clarity of the water. After noticing the clarity of the water slowly diminishing, Fowler chose to run for Calvert County Commissioner in 1970 and make the health of the Patuxent River a key issue. After serving over a decade as county commissioner, Fowler was elected to the Maryland Senate, where he remained in until his retirement from public office in the mid 1990s.
Fowler, as an early-1970s Calvert County Commissioner, led the way in a lawsuit filed by downriver Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties against upriver counties. The lawsuit forced the state, the upriver counties, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enact pollution control measures. The 1985 total of 200,000 tons of sediment reaching the Chesapeake Bay annually was reduced to 130,000 by 2004. The Patuxent River is a rarity among Chesapeake watersheds in that most of its harmful phosphorus and nitrogen nutrient overloads come from its ever-increasing areas of urban runoff, and less from its other two largest contributors, point sources (industrial, sewage, etc.) and the declining agricultural areas.
Each June at Broomes Island, Maryland, Fowler holds a “wade-in” into the Patuxent River at Broomes Island, where he and others will walk into the waters of the Patuxent River until their feet are no longer visible. Fowler does the annual tradition in order to bring awareness to the water clarity levels of the Patuxent River. In recent years, the “wade-in” has become a noteworthy public event, with numerous public officials joining Fowler in the walk, including Maryland Governors Martin O’Malley and Robert Ehrlich, Democratic Party congressional majority leader Steny Hoyer and U.S Senator Barbara Mikulski. The “wade-in” has been an annual tradition since 1988.
In 1994, Fowler was named as the candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor under State Senator “American Joe” Miedusiewski during the 1994 Democratic primary gubernatorial election. (However, the party’s nomination and eventually the governor’s seat would go to Parris Glendening that year.)
In 1997, U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner declared “Bernie Fowler Day” in recognition of Fowler’s lifelong efforts to clean up the Patuxent River.
In 1998, a laboratory building at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland was dedicated in Bernie Fowler’s honor.
Fowler currently lives in the community of Dares Beach, Maryland near Prince Frederick, Maryland.