Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

March 15, 2014

The answer my friend ...

It’s time to make it illegal for the wind to blow in Maryland

Recently, the Times-News published

a photograph of sea gulls that had

landed on the parking lot at Braddock

Square Shopping

Center in LaVale

My first thought

was, “If those sea

gulls landed in the

Gunpowder River or

Big Hunting Creek

on their way here

from the ocean I

hope they didn’t have

felt soles on their

feet, otherwise they

will spread rock snot

to our trout streams

in Allegany and Garrett counties.”

Educated speculation continues to

mount about why rock snot or didymo

— an obtrusive algae — is found in

cold water streams and it has nothing

to do with felt-soled waders, which

were outlawed by the Maryland Fisheries

Service in 2011.

Back in August I told you about the

study indicating that didymo is native

to North American streams and

becomes active when phosphorous

reaches a certain level in the water.

Now comes an article in Live Science

with a lead paragraph by author

Elizabeth Howell that says, “A pesky

species of algae — sometimes called

rock snot due to the way its tendrils

attach to rocks in waterways — is

infiltrating parts of eastern Canada

due to global warming and not accidental

introductions from humans

tromping around, a new study suggests.”

Howell writes, “One lake studied in

the Gaspésie region of Quebec

showed fossilized Didymosphenia

geminata (one species of didymo)

dating back to about 1970, or 36 years

before the first official reports of an

outbreak were recorded in the


The research behind these findings

was done at Queen’s University in


But you heard it here first, back in

2010, when we called the decision to

prohibit felt soles in Maryland illadvised,

unscientific, knee-jerk, feelgood

and do-nothing.

Look at us, the Maryland Fisheries

Service seemed to say, we really care

about our trout streams so we are

going to make your $200 chest waders


Apparently, a few years ago, the

banning of felt soles was being offered

by the Regulation of the Month Club

and Maryland subscribed.

Have other states prohibited felt

soles? Yes.

Alaska, Missouri, Nebraska, Rhode

Island, South Dakota and Vermont

have done so. But the fervor forbidding

felt seems to have fizzled. Other

states considered such bans, but it is

becoming clear that their wait-and-see

approaches were appropriate.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia

have not prohibited felt soles. Is it possible

that resource managers in those

states don’t care about trout? No,

that’s not possible.

Montana, Wyoming and Colorado

still allow felt soles. Do they not have

trout fishing in those states?

When Maryland banned felt soles

because they were SUSPECTED of

transporting didymo, the state did not

ban other things that go in the water

such as lures, lines, boats or the feet of

sea gulls.

Read this from the article in Live


Diatoms (single-celled algae such

as didymo) typically are present in

many ecosystems because they’re

easily transported by the wind

between different lakes. “If there’s a

bucket of water on the roof left

overnight, it will be colonized by

diatoms,” researcher Michelle Lavery

told Live Science.

If Maryland Fisheries Service reads

the Live Science article I anticipate a

regulation being enacted that makes

wind illegal.

Maryland Fisheries should revisit

this regulation regarding felt soles and

consider eliminating it for 2015 or

sooner, for that matter, based upon an

emergency declaration.

Then the agency should reach into

the piggy bank and reimburse those

anglers who put their waders in the

closet or retrofitted them to make the

footwear legal.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

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Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
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