Stalled Bishopville Pond Project Gets Funding Boost

BERLIN – The Bishopville Pond project might be back on track with the recent assignment of about $500,000 in state funds to complete the project.

Project organizers learned of the additional funds last week.

“It looks like we’ll be able to proceed with it,” said Dr. Roman Jesien, science coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP).  

County Commissioner Linda Busick, whose district is home to the pond, confirmed that reality.

“We will be seeing the project moving forward. It will be done,” said Busick. “I’m very excited about that.”

The Bishopville Pond project will remove the dam, create a two-acre offline pond, and add a fish ladder for spawning to be used by fish that live in saltwater but spawn in fresh.

“It’s not an easy project. It’s something that is needed in the area. It took a lot of thought and negotiation,” said Jesien. “It’ll be a real enhancement for the area.”

With the remainder of the funding promised, the project, which has waited about a decade to get underway, could break ground next summer or fall.

“We’ve already got $500,000 in hand from the Fish and Wildlife Service,” Jesien said.

The state will now provide the other half a million dollars needed to move on the long planned project.

Money apparently became available from old grants that were not used and some realignment of funds, Jesien said, and was made available for a project in the area.

“Bishopville dam is one of our priorities … we’ve always thought it was an important project for habitat and water quality so we’ve never really given up on it,” Jesien said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Promises of funding have been made in the past and not materialized.

“I’m being cautious about it. On the one hand we’re really excited about it. On the other hand, in this economy, anything can happen,” Jesien said. “Until we see checks written we don’t get really excited about it.”

Currently, MCBP is concentrating on seeking permits from state and federal agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, necessary for the work. Permitting should require only small changes, if any, to the plans for the Bishopville pond habitat work.

“We’re proceeding as though the money is there. About all we can do is just keep moving,” Jesien said.

“It will be done. It is in the very near future,” Busick said.