Protection sought for pond, wetlands Panel seeks a refuge in Lake Elkhorn area

August 31, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

A Columbia wildlife committee plans to work with an Owen Brown village group on a proposal to protect a pond and wetlands at Lake Elkhorn as a refuge for swans and other wildlife.

The Columbia Association's ecologist and members of the Columbia Waterfowl and Habitat Advisory Committee have observed that the two native swans at Lake Elkhorn and blue herons, mallards and geese gravitate toward Forbay Pond, a natural, secluded habitat. Also, CA plans to create more wetlands around the pond to make up for pathway construction in other open space areas, said Charles "Chick" Rhodehamel, the association's ecologist.

"We want to piggyback on the wetlands activity," said Richard Diener, a waterfowl committee member who lives near the pond. "We want to recognize it as a preserve and to protect the species and habitat. The area is ideal for nesting and raising young in a safe environment."

The pond area should receive some measure of protection from fishing, debris, dogs and human activity that characterize Lake Elkhorn, a popular man-made recreational destination encompassed by a network of paths.

The pond was created to trap sediments from a tributary stream and keep the deposits from getting into the lake. The pond is near Oakland Mills Road at the east end of the lake.

The waterfowl committee's next step is to convene a group of residents who live near the pond and enjoy it, consider options and make recommendations to the Owen Brown village board, said Mr. Diener. Any decisions on restrictions for the area, such as prohibiting fishing or limiting human access, would be made by the Columbia Council.

At a village board meeting last month, several residents voiced objections to an initial proposal, saying it was too restrictive.

"Certainly I agree in protecting the waterfowl, but I didn't see that they were being harmed," said Sue Neri, who lives near the pond and is also a member of the waterfowl committee.

She said she wants more information on how the creation of wetlands will affect residents' use of the area.

"We don't plan on doing anything drastic, like putting up a chain-link fence or a sign saying, 'Stay Out, Wetlands Area.' That's not the idea at all," said Walt Burlingham, chairman of the waterfowl committee. "We just want to make sure it's preserved as a wetlands and wildlife habitat, but also for the enjoyment of people in Columbia."

Wilde Lake has three native swans and Lake Kittamaqundi has five. The white native, or trumpling swans with the long, thin necks are more amenable to an urban lake setting than swans that aren't native to North America, Mr. Rhodehamel said. The native swans are less aggressive and better suited for cohabitation, he said.

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