With the seasonal dredging of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal and its approach channels completed in March, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close off public access to the Pearce Creek Dredge Material Containment Facility, according to the latest announcement from Town of Cecilton, Maryland.
Prior to the efforts over the last few years by a coalition of state and federal partners to reopen the Pearce Creek DMCF for dredge spoil disposal, the inactive site was favored by locals for hunting, hiking, birding and other outdoor recreational activities.
USACE closed the site to hunters in November 2015, citing the safety liability of construction to seal the site.
“What we will most likely be doing with Maryland Fish & Wildlife is opening up the Stemmers Run boat ramp that goes into Pearce Creek Lake for recreation, such as fishing and hunting,” Gavin Kaiser, USACE project manager for the C&D Canal, told members of the Pearce Creek Implementation Committee last week.
“I don’t want to close off the whole site. I want to be a good steward of federal lands, but we also want to protect the access we have here, especially with the liner that’s been put in and all of the associated work.”
The greatest concern at leaving the 260-acre site open to the public during non-dredging months is that its remoteness presents a safety concern, Kaiser said. If someone got hurt inside the DMCF and there isn’t anyone around to get help, the ability to call for first responders and for them to find the victim would be more difficult.