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South River Federation Tackles 'Problem Pond'

Volunteers will be needed in March at the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary to help finish the project.

An $80,000 restoration project by the South River Federation is underway at the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary where a pond on the property is getting a major overhaul.

Soon the project will be complete and that's when the community can help with the finishing touches.

"We're hoping to get various school groups or other various volunteer groups to do planting, hopefully starting by early to mid-March," said Jennifer Carr, volunteer coordinator for South River Federation.

The work on the pond isn't a beautification effort—it came out of necessity to improve environmental conditions in the area.

"This project was identified in a study five years ago as the highest, single source of pollution in Beards Creek," said Kirk Mantay, South River Federation's restoration manager. 

Mantay explained Beards Creek runs from its headwaters near Homestead Gardens to where it meets the South River at Mike's Crab House. The pollution on the property stems from a few causes.   

First, the sanctuary provides shelter for orphaned and injured wildlife—as well as frequent visits by animals/waterfowl that weren't invited. Their excrement, which isn't good for the environment, flows from the grounds (pond) of the sanctuary into Beards Creek, without benefit of the necessary filtration. 

And then there was another problem—the cutting down of trees by Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) in 2008.

"They cleared trees in the high tension line right-away, which accelerated the runoff into the pond," said Mantay. 

The high tension lines are at the back of the property.

"Our belief is that most of the pollution originated from the erosion and sedimentation from over-grazing in the area adjacent to the pond," said BGE spokeswoman Rachael Lighty.

BGE/Constellation Energy provided some of the funds for the restoration, according to Mantay.

"We've got a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust ($50,000), a community grant from Constellation Energy ($25,000)—Constellation owns BGE and we have about $5,000 from Maryland DNR Forest Tree Service," Mantay said.

There are many goals with the project.

"We're creating a sand seepage wetland, which is a forested wetland system that performs several environmental functions for us," Mantay said. "Just by stabilizing the site and making something it's not, we're removing the pollution source."

A total of about 200 tons of sand will be used, according to Mantay, and the design of the pond itself will be changed. 

"Instead of one big pond, it will be several pools of water scattered around," said Mantay. "It helps in the filtering process—it's continually filtered as it goes through."

According to Mantay, filling in the pond with water is something Mother Nature will take care of. 

South River Federation hopes to have the major part of the construction complete by the end of the week, with minor wrap-up work continuing through next week, all of which is weather-dependent. 

Then comes the need for community help.

"The way they're going to plant it and everything—it's just going to be great," said Sandy Carr, director of the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary.

If you'd like to assist in the planting, contact South River Federation at 410-224-3802 or visit their website for more information.

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