“To clean up a river, somebody has to get dirty!”

Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman

Located on a rural site in Upper Marlboro, MD, there is a Visitor’s Center operated by the Patuxent Riverkeeper. Along with offering maps and sundries for visitors, the Visitor’s Center is home to the river caretakers who provide security to the remote site and help with the work that is required to keep the river clean. The caretakers are an essential part of the Patuxent Riverkeeper organization, which is a grass roots nonprofit that conserves and protects the Patuxent River, Maryland’s longest and deepest interstate waterway and a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Last July, the Patuxent Riverkeeper Center applied for a grant through Community Forklift’s Community Building Blocks (CBB) Program and received a free gently-used Whirlpool stackable washer and dryer unit for its caretaker’s residence.

The man behind this organization is Fred Tutman, a Riverkeeper and also the CEO. He is a Prince George’s County native and the only African–American Waterkeeper in the nation. He currently lives on an active family farm and his ancestral home near the Patuxent river. Fred didn’t always just work as a riverkeeper. Fred had spent years as a journalist and television producer, providing media and mass communication services internationally. In 2004, Fred joined the Waterkeeper Alliance and founded the community oriented watershed protection organization called Patuxent Riverkeeper to advocate for clean river water. (Fred was featured in the Waterkeeper Magazine, click here to read!)

In addition to cleaning up the river, this organization works to protect the environment and resolve environmental inequities through advocacy and policy change. “I was inspired by the idea of having a career that involved helping people with water related problems because I think water is fascinating and I think people are fascinating too. So, I wanted to do work that helped and mentored activism in my watershed because I knew from a lifetime of unrequited government promises that nobody really had a solid plan or movement specifically to clean up the Patuxent River… Patuxent Riverkeeper is a place where we invest ourselves in the work of protecting water and building strong communities around the idea of the cleanest possible water,” Fred said.

We’d like to thank our 2020 CBB Grant Recipient and community partner for protecting our river and empowering local communities to improve our water quality!

“We operate on the basis of community-based donations. Since we don’t really seek or receive that much corporate or foundation support for our very localized grassroots work, we feel this reality keeps us anchored and very accountable to the communities we engage with. Community Forklift has actually made it possible in various instances for us to acquire goods that we need to operate on favorable terms — sometimes donated, but we’ve also purchased things from Community Forklift. We love Community Forklift, which is an extraordinary place that brings great value to the communities it serves and they are great partners of ours because I think they also share our values by virtue of their very community-based approach, their commitment to protecting the environment, and they are very much about service to the community.

Fred Tutman, Founder & CEO at the Patuxent Riverkeeper

The Patuxent Riverkeeper is a nonprofit that offers guided tours and boat rentals during warmer weather months. It also supports education and scientific program partners in a variety of ways. Currently, the Patuxent Riverkeeper Center is closed to public and group activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit www.paxriverkeeper.org or their Facebook page to learn more and stay updated so that you can visit once the visitor center reopens!

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Every time you donate or shop at Community Forklift, you’re helping us lift up local communities through reuse.  We turn the construction waste stream into a resource stream for communities in the DC region – by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs.