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BLOG: The Killing Pond—Friend's Park Pond

How many animals will die before this Friend's Pond restoration is completed?

Renovations and Improvements coming to Friends Park Pond-  That's what the headline of the March 25, 2011 news release proclaimed.

The full text release, located here, said:

(Bel Air, MD) - - The Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, in cooperation with Harford County Department of Public Works, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are preparing to upgrade and improve the existing Friends Parks Pond.  This project will improve the overall water quality of the pond and the stream that is fed by the pond.  The work will improve the pond to current environmental standards and will include a new boardwalk and fishing pier.Parks and Recreation anticipates the work to begin after April 15 and the project will take five to six months to complete.  During the construction period, there will be no access to the pond and the immediate surrounding area.  The athletic fields and larger parking lot, which also serves the Ma & Pa trail, will remain open.  The Department of Parks and Recreation looks forward to the improvements to the pond that will better serve the community from both an environmental and recreational standpoint. 

This restoration project was slated to cost taxpayers $500,000 per the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report dated June 30, 2010 

The Department of Public Works describes the project as-  Drain pond, reshape pond contours for aquatic planting bench & safety bench, improve spillway, install new outfall pipe & riprap, install fencing & railings, plant aquatic & general landscape plants, and install Fire Truck drafting hydrant. 

Then came the draining of the pond, home to thousands of fish, turtles, ducks and other pond dwelling creatures.   

Brian Goodman of Susquehana Wildlife writes about the pond draining on their website:

It wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t the most well-oiled machine, but a team of more than a dozen volunteers, got the job done nonetheless – braving seemingly-bottomless mud, snapping turtle-infested water, and the constant threat of downpours to rescue seven ducks, several turtles, and more than 330 pounds of fish from Friends Pond in Forest Hill on May 14.....Susquehannock Wildlife Society organized and coordinated, in conjuction with the Harford County Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the effort to rescue the reptiles and waterfowl, and make sure the fish which weren’t able to be saved, didn’t go to waste.....At the end of the day, thousands of fish had been removed from the pond by some combination of net, hand, and kayak and loaded into coolers on the shore. By order of DNR, the fish could not be relocated or released into another natural body of water.   

Thousands of fish were killed as part of the improvement to the pond. Some species had to be diverted to keep them from crossing nearby roads. Without the volunteers of Susquehana Wildlife many other species would have surely perished had they not been relocated.

Fast forward to January 2012

The pond now has water and waterfowl have quickly found it and made it their home. But there is a new danger lurking for them. Fishing line! Wood stakes with miles of fishing line at the shore and 10 feet into Friends Pond has been intentionally placed in the pond and it is now entangling waterfowl who cannot see the lines. An observant citizen called Animal Control this week to free a duck who would surely be dead if not for this citizen.  

Why would anyone intentionally place this danger in the pond?

The Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) contracted BayLand Consultants & Designers, Inc. to take on several aspects of the Friends Park Pond Rehabilitation Project. BayLand, whose slogan is  “Integrating Engineering and Environment”, developed the rehabilitation design, performed permitting, topographic surveys, H&H analysis and bid documents. BayLand acts as Engineer-in-Charge during construction.

BayLand is required to follow the EPA requirements and guidelines and this dangerous condition was set up by their specifications. Per the EPA, they are required to replant all the water grasses along the edges of the pond and then have to shield it from the waterfowl eating it and killing it off for a year, or until the EPA signs off on it (which could be longer).   

What kind of environmental specialist puts waterfowl at such high risk with such an obviously dangerous setup? The animals that make the pond their home are part of the environment! Why not use something the waterfowl can see and avoid, or net off the entire area in a way waterfowl cannot get in. As it is they get in by swimming under or flying into the openings and then getting caught in this mass of clear fishing line—trapped, injured and surely to die if not seen by someone who calls for help. The photos shown here do not begin to capture the massive amount of the fishing line that has been strung.   

As an animal loving member of the community I am at a loss as to why this was done this way, other than to not be unsightly to humans. If this continues to stay this way as much as a year or more, how many more waterfowl will be injured or die? This could also become a dangerous situation for a child or a pet who wanders away and falls or jumps into the pond.    

If you don't want to see more waterfowl injured or dying in this fishing line trap, please contact the Harford County Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works, 410.638.3570, pr@harfordcountymd.gov and Bill McKean, 410-638-3547, bmckean@harfordcountymd.gov, of the Harford County Department of Public Works , and County Executive David Craig 410.638.3350, CountyExecutive@harfordcountymd.gov, and Bayland (410) 694-9401, bayland@baylandinc.com, to express your concern and ask for a more humane and visible way of keeping waterfowl away from the grasses.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

HarfordLassie January 23, 2012 at 06:08 PM
The correct link for the Susquehana Wildlife piece is http://www.susquehannockwildlife.org/author/brian-goodman/
Karl Schuub January 24, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Unfortunately they've chosen the cheapest, easiest tool. There are other ways to discourage wildlife...one would be for humans to stop messing with everything in the first place. Do we really need a fishing pier here? You think people will actually fish or just walk out there and throw nonsense in the water...I'm thinking the later.
Nick January 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Actually many people fish this pond as it is stocked with trout every year. Most trout fisherman are very environmentally conscience. There are exceptions however but I take my children to this pond to fish occasionally as most of the waterways i typically fish for trout are not accessible to children. We always remove trash from friends pond while there.
Ellen January 25, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Oh my goodness here are so called experts messing with nature again. Put something there the birds can see...what a horrible way for a bird to die, you fools.
Karl Schuub January 25, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Nick - I can tell you are the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of humans would just as soon throw the MacDonalds wrapper and the cigarette butt out the car window. It pains me, but it's true. Sensitivity to the environment without being an environmental whacko is rare. Truly wish there were more like you.
Grand Dad January 27, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I also have fished the pond for many years and most recently with my grand kids. It is a relaxing place to go and unwind. I have been environmentally conscientious all of my life, in fact, over 40 years ago I was a member of the National Wildlife Federation, and the Animal Protection Institute. As a Custodian of Nature I have taught my kids and my grand kids to not only respect Nature but leave it as you found it, or unless you could clean up a mess that someone has left behind. I am truly sorry to hear about the fish line incident. There certainly must be a better way to prevent the waterfowl from eating the water grasses.
HarfordLassie January 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I hope everyone is contacting all of the parties I listed in my blog to express your concern, as well as passing this blog on to your friends and relatives. These animals will continue to be in danger until those grasses are established and that could be a year or more! Thanks!

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