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OP Committee left cleaning up mess after fishing event

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

(July 28, 2022) The Ocean Pines Environmental Assets Committee is sounding the siren to get buffers around community ponds like the South Gate Pond as soon as possible following a fishing event a couple of weekends ago that they claim irreparably harmed local wildlife.

Local youth fish during a past Ocean Pines Anglers Club event. FILE PHOTO

The Ocean Pines Anglers Club’s Art Hansen Memorial Youth Fishing Contest, which occurred on July 16, left the grounds littered discarded fishing gear such as hooks, lines and bobbers, said Environment and Natural Assets Committee Chair Sharon Santacroce.

Among the wildlife affected was a goose with a hook caught in its knee and a bobber still attached, Santacroce said. One animal the committee encountered did not survive its encounter with abandoned gear.

“Last two events were deadly to our wildlife with the gear that was left behind,” Santacroce said. “We’re discussing how to address this and questioning if this pond should even be used for recreational functions — just for the fact that they’re not cleaning up after themselves.”

Anglers Club member Jack Barnes said that he was aware of the situation and while he doesn’t deny the likelihood that leftover gear came from the event, he and other club members would like to take a look at the pond themselves to assess the situation and determine how to make sure another incident like this doesn’t happen again.

“This is difficult because when lines get in trees… we take anything like that seriously and we are going to discuss it,” Barnes said. “One thing we can do possibly … is open a spot where kids can fish because over the years brush or trees or bushes have grown up over it, which tends to catch some of those (lines). We might be able to get with (Ocean Pines) Public Works (Department) to see if we can clear some of that.”

A balance will need to be struck between the fishing club and environmental committee, as the latter is working toward putting in the very kind of buffers that can snag a fishing line.

“We take anything like that seriously,” Barnes continued. “Again we don’t know at this point how serious it is. With the (environment) committee, we’re more worried about their recommendation — put a 15-foot buffer to prevent geese from (congregating), which would close up a lot of those open spaces and then there wouldn’t be any of those children’s events.”

In other news from the committee, Santacroce said they were “thrilled” that Public Works put up the “Keep Wildlife Wild” signs around the South Gate pond and more ponds will be sporting signs soon enough.

For the last few months, the committee has been looking into limiting newspaper waste — specifically, the plastic bags that newspapers come in that end up in Pines waterways. Santacroce said they’ll be keeping up with a supervisor from a Salisbury-based publication who periodically drives around the community to see which houses do not collect their newspapers.

They’re also looking into finding “reasonably priced” biodegradable bags.

The search for an alleged overgrown former kayak launch on the Route 90 pond has thus turned up nothing, Santacroce said.

“If that existed, it is long gone,” she said of the supposed launch that the committee hopes to revitalize. “We couldn’t find a sign of it anywhere.”

The Environment and Natural Assets Committee will next meet on Aug. 10.