Bishopville Pond Work Survives State Funding Cuts

SNOW HILL – The Bishopville Pond restoration project has retained state funding despite a recent round of cuts from state government, Bishopville’s County Commissioner Linda Busick said this week.

“We have retained that funding,” Busick confirmed.

Originally slated as part of the Route 113 dualization mitigation plan, the Bishopville Pond project has been delayed for one reason or the other for a decade. Money and design issues have made the project seem distant if not impossible at times, despite strong local support for the initiative.

With mitigation accomplished elsewhere, Busick said the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has less motivation to pursue the restoration.

The Lizard Hill portion of the project, a habitat restoration on a gravel borrow pit site, is already owned by SHA and is a less complicated prospect, according to Busick. Those 28 acres would also cost less.

“This is an act of stewardship. They don’t feel as pressed, because that’s not their main thrust,” said Busick.

Earlier this month, county Comprehensive Planning Director Sandy Coyman reported to the County Commissioners that SHA was getting cold feet over the project. He urged officials to continue lobbying for the work.

Bishopville Pond still needs restoration, and Busick said she would continue to pursue it.

State delegates are pushing for the project as well, Busick said.

The work is particularly necessary because of the deteriorated condition of the St. Martin River, which has the worst water quality in the county.

Restoring Bishopville Pond and rehabilitating the Lizard Hill area would go far towards filtering run-off before it reaches the river, Busick said, which would in turn help the coastal bays water quality.

Recent delays on the project related to design work have been resolved. Construction could begin this summer, if the permitting process goes smoothly and funding remains in place. The work itself should take only a few months.

Work at the pond will range from the addition of a fish ladder, which will be used by white perch, river herring, and eels to reach spawning grounds, to dredging the waterway. Native plants will be added, and a dam will be removed.

The Lizard Hill site will become a white cedar wetland area, a habitat once common locally but now nearly gone.