An effort to determine community interest in opening Morgan Run Parkencountered a scheduling snag that frustrated both Department of Natural Resources officials and local residents.

Don Gaver, DNR's Northern Regional Parks Manager, apologized for the mix-up in dates which resulted in limited attendance at a meeting conducted at SykesvilleMiddle School Feb. 26. The meeting had been set for Feb. 28, a date published in several newspapers. The late switch made it almost impossible to alert the public.

In spite of the slight attendance at Tuesday night's meeting, several possibilities for staffing and opening Morgan Run were presented. Melinda Byrd, Administrator of Carroll County's Nature Centers, noted Carroll County residents always respond to appeals for volunteer help and interest in Morgan Run is high in the county.

Steve Sher, speaking for county Recreation and Parks Director John Little, who could not be present, said his department would support the re-opening of Morgan Run and that the Piney Run Recreational Council would take on Morgan Run as a special project.

Sue Ballas of Sykesville volunteered to serve as coordinator of volunteer efforts. She said the next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at Sykesville Middle School and said she hoped for a much larger contingent of volunteers.

While the meeting was proposed as a brain-storming session on ways to open the park with volunteer help, Steve Weidman of the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association questioned why the only two state parks in Carroll County -- Morgan Run and the McKeldin Area of Patapsco -- had been closed while other counties suffered no such loss of facilities.

Gaver said that in closing 12 selected sites, the department's intention was to close parks in areas where residents still would have access to other nearby facilities.

Gaver advised the group of the type of volunteer duties that would be required to open Morgan Run, such as cleanup, maintenance mowing and other chores.

He emphasized that volunteers would not be expected to assume law-enforcement duties or to collect park-use fees. Gaver also said he hoped Park Ranger Frank Ryan, who still resides in Morgan Run, would be available to assist with enforcement during fishing season.

Earlier in the day at a meeting in Annapolis, DNR Assistant Secretary James Dunmyer lauded the success of a volunteer group that has succeeded in opening Gambrill's State Park near Frederick. Torrey Brown, DNR secretary, said, "(If the parks are to be opened,) volunteer help is critical in these tight budget times."

Any individual or group interested in volunteering for Morgan Run may call Ballas at 795-3881.


Years ago, the Patapsco River swarmed each spring with herring and shadas the fish -- unobstructed by man-made dams -- made their way upriver to spawning grounds along the Carroll-Howard border

Today, eventhough the Patapsco is the most pristine of all major rivers in central Maryland, dams block 23 miles of spawning habitat, and the river's supply of migratory fish has been essentially depleted.

In an effort to re-establish natural reproduction of migratory fish and to enhance recreational fishing, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources is trying to once again make the river accessible to shad and perchby constructing fish ladders at dam sites. On the Patapsco, these structures will open the main stream as far as Liberty Dam.(Liberty Damitself will not, however, be laddered for fish passage.)

LawrenceLeasner of the DNR's Tidewater Fisheries Division said herring and shad require a special type of structure known as the Denil ladder.

"These fish do not have the ability to jump like West Coast salmon,"he explained. "The Denil ladder contains wooden baffles set at 40 degree angles to slow down the force of the current. V-shaped notches cut in each baffle supply sufficient water flow so that the fish can pass through even when water levels are low."

Leasner said the DNR expects to complete ladders at Bloede Dam and Daniels Dam this summer. A ladder at privately owned Simkins Dam is in the planning stage. The entire river should be open by early 1993.

In an effort to get a head start on natural reproduction, the DNR is releasing 2,100 free-spawning river herring at Ellicott City and Daniels Dam this spring.A survey will be conducted to determine the survival rate of juveniles from a similar release made last year.

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