Summer Flounder Survey Continues

OCEAN CITY — State Natural Resources officials this week reported a strong showing and positive response at the halfway mark of the summer flounder survey, a new initiative aimed at getting a better handle on the number of flounder caught in and around Ocean City.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the private sector Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA) have partnered this year on a summer flounder survey in and around the coastal bays and have reported positive results thus far. Beginning in July, MSSA volunteers began working “Flounder Alley,” a popular fishing area in the Isle of Wight and Sinepuxent bays behind Ocean City to explain the program and distribute survey cards.

“We have a 43-percent mail-in return rate and all of the responses have been accurate, legible and 100-percent useful,” said Dr. Linda Barker, DNR’s lead statistician on the project. “This great feedback could help fisheries managers better interpret the data used in determining the overall catch of these fish.”

At the midway point, more than 300 cards have been handed out. About 80 percent of the responses have come from anglers who access “Flounder Alley” from private launching locations such as community marinas and private docks.

Sunfest Earns National Honor

OCEAN CITY — The annual Sunfest celebration was once again rated the No. 1 traditional art and craft show in the nation this week by a popular trade magazine.

America’s Premiere Show and Festival Magazine this week announced Sunfest, held in Ocean City each year on the third weekend of September, is the publication’s top arts and craft show in the country for the second year in a row. One of Ocean City’s most popular and longest-running festivals, Sunfest celebrates the start of the fall season in the resort.

The magazine’s annual rankings are based on audit reports, reader surveys and anecdotal reports from participating vendors. Sunfest’s sister festival, Springfest, a season kick-off event held each May, moved up to number 10 on the magazine’s annual “200 Best” list.

“We are very pleased to have both Sunfest and Springfest continue to receive this national recognition,” said Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department Director Tom Shuster. “This is a tremendous honor for the town.”

Record Numbers In Cover Crop Program

BERLIN — State officials this week announced a record number of farmers across the Eastern Shore and throughout Maryland are now participating in the state’s cover crop program.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, agricultural leaders, local farmers and elected officials gathered on an Eastern Shore farm this week to announce a record number of Maryland farmers are now participating in the environmentally friendly cover crop program. Cover crops are planted in the fall after the autumn harvest to help farmers control soil erosion and reduce the amount of nutrients washing into the bay over the winter.

Once established, cover crops recycle unused plant nutrients remaining in the soil from the previous summer crop, protect fields from wind and soil erosion and help improve the soil for next year’s crop. Maryland Cover Crop Program provides farmers with grants to plant cover crops on their fields immediately following the summer harvest.

“Not only is Maryland’s cover crop program a very attractive and flexible program, it has the potential to do more for the bay than ever before,” said Hance. “Maryland farmers are on track to exceed the Phase I watershed implementation plan milestone with a record number of approved acres.”

O’Malley announced Maryland has approved a record number 550,000 acres of winter grains to date in the cover crop program, which were requested by a record 1,767 farmers across the Eastern Shore including Worcester and Wicomico. The record number of acres represents 155 percent of the plan goals for cover crops in the state.

Eagle Scout Completes Assateague Project

ASSATEAGUE — Salisbury resident and Eagle Scout candidate Brennen Dover recently completed improvements to the hiking and biking trail on Assateague Island, a public service project needed to complete his bid for the prestigious honor.

Dover’s Eagle Scout project included improving the trail as a venue for physical fitness by marking distances along the route. Dover’s project included adding distance markers to the trail and repainting the safety and directional messages.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of Brennen’s project and hope the trail will receive even more use now that cyclists and walkers can track the distance traveled,” said Superintendent Trish Kicklighter.

The trail begins at the new Visitor Center at the base of the Verrazano Bridge and ends at the Life of the Dunes Nature Trail parking lot, a distance of 4.5 miles.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.