Ask Outdoors Girl

March 19, 2011

Dana Ely of Fulton writes: I will be forced to purchase $200 dollar rubber-soled wading boots because the state of Maryland used its regulatory power to ban felt soles. I don't think there was enough time for comment and wonder why this occurred since Didymo is already in the Gunpowder and Savage rivers. I think this was done far too quickly, without much comment from the stakeholders. The Department of Natural Resources could have emailed all trout stamp holders of a possible change in regulations. I think this was done in the dark of night and through the back door. I also wonder about Trout Unlimited. Couldn't the leadership have sent out a "heads up" email? Was there any discussion? What is the point of belonging to an organization that is silent on an issue that directly affects its members? That is worse than no organization at all.

Outdoors Girl responds: On Monday, Maryland will become the first state to ban felt-soled footwear in an attempt to slow the spread of Didymo, an algae that can coat a river bottom like a wet blanket and smother trout habitat. Vermont will become No. 2 in April, with Alaska joining the club next year. As someone who attends countless government meetings, I can tell you that DNR had plenty of discussions on banning felt soles last year and I wrote about it. It is true that Didymo, nicknamed rock snot, has been detected only in the two rivers you mention. But there are other rivers, such as the Casselman and Youghiogeny, that are still pristine. I, for one, would like to stop it dead in its tracks. The longer we keep it bottled up, the more time we have to find a solution. In 2008, Trout Unlimited asked manufacturers to stop producing felt-soled footwear by 2011. I can't speak for Trout Unlimited chapters everywhere, but I know that the one closest to my home had several discussions about it and the TU website has a lot of chatter on the issue.

If you have an outdoors question in search of an answer, send it to candy.thomson@baltsun.com.

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