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OP committee looking at South Pond improvements

Image courtesy Debbie Donahue
New signage to deter feeding animals should be installed soon around the South Gate Pond in Ocean Pines.

The Ocean Pines Environment and Natural Assets Committee is looking at ways to increase the buffers and native plantings along the South Pond.

The committee invited Billy Weiland, communications manager for Assateague Coastal Trust, to speak to them last Wednesday about realistic options and best practices for completing the project.

“We have a lot of erosion and it’s going to have to be addressed at some point — if not now, soon,” said committee chair Sharon Santacroce. “He had a presentation that helped us to visualize and see what native plantings we could utilize around the pond that would suffice and help deter the erosion and be attractive at the same time.”

“Our goal is … also to deter wildlife. If we have plantings around the ponds that are 12 inches or taller, then the geese just don’t feel comfortable walking through them because a predator could be lurking somewhere.”

As for native plantings, Santacroce said they haven’t made any selections yet. The committee was preparing a presentation to give to the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors.

“We have to get their approval to move forward on this project,” Santacroce said. “We haven’t spent time making selections of indigenous pantings yet until we get the go-ahead. Once we get the green light, we’ll start making selections.”

The committee also discussed plastic bag contamination, which Santacroce said largely deals with old newspapers that aren’t picked up off yards and driveways.

“It’s a discussion we’re having,” Santacroce said. “We’re trying to do some research on that as well to find out if we can eliminate the plastic bags that are filling up our ditches. There are a lot of people who are here part-time and the papers just pile up and get blown away. We’re trying to come up with a better plan than just having the newspapers thrown into the driveways where they wind up in the ditches.”

Bay Day, which occurred on May 15, was a “real success,” Santacroce said. Attendance was high and several committee members participated prominently in the annual event held in partnership with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

“We were just delighted with the turnout and the information and questions that people were asking,” she said.

The committee is also keeping tabs on its “Keep Our Wildlife Wild” signs, which the Ocean Pines Public Works Department told them is working on installing around the ponds. The department has been behind in all their projects due to covid, Santacroce said, but expects to have them installed by Memorial Day.

The signs will deal with reasons why wildlife shouldn’t be fed.

“Waterfowl want to hang out here because it’s a beautiful place and they’re well-fed,” Santacroce said.

The Environment and Natural Assets Committee is scheduled to meet next on June 13.

This story appears in the print version of Bayside Gazette on May 26, 2022.