The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to drain a popular fishing pond near Delaware City.

Plan to drain Delaware City pond upsets sportsmen’s group

Ken MammarellaCulture, Headlines

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to drain a popular fishing pond near Delaware City.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to drain a popular fishing pond near Delaware City. (Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association)

A pond just outside Delaware City is scheduled to be drained and eventually filled with dredging spoils, eliminating a popular spot for fishers and hunters.

The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association says that people learned about the plan in June from a handwritten cardboard sign stating: “Attention: area will be in the process of being dewatered/drained within the next few weeks. Please be cautioned. – USACE.”

USACE is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that owns the pond and the land around it.

The Corps is responsible for maintaining America’s waterways, including the nearby Chesapeake & Delaware Canal and the Delaware River. It plans to use site to dispose of dredging material from the canal and the river.

The association has appealed, without satisfaction, to multiple elected officials and agencies, including the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “No one really knows what’s going on,” Steve Kendus, hunting and fishing chair for the association, said in an interview. “Everyone is still trying to get details.”

The pond is off Cox Neck Road, north of the canal, just west of the municipal boundary of Delaware City and south of Dragon Run Park. Local residents call it “the dikes.”

It’s been a popular spot for at least five decades for anglers fishing for bass, pickerel and other fish, and hunters out for waterfowl, deer and small game.

“We’re asking for the Army Corps of Engineers and DNREC to hold public meetings and release additional details,” association President Jeff Hague said in a statement. “We’ve already contacted elected officials in and around Delaware City, and as advocates for sportsmen and sportswomen throughout Delaware, we’re hoping our common concern for the fishing and hunting public will provide clarity and possibly offer alternatives.”

“We would point out that this site has always been a dredged material disposal site – it just hasn’t received sediment in recent years,” said Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the Corps’ Philadelphia District. “We regularly evaluate our sites along the C&D Canal and the Delaware River to ensure that we have enough space to placed dredged material. These operations support maritime commerce and shipping on the River (including Port of Wilmington) and through the C&D Canal.

“I would also add that we are currently considering ways to mitigate impacts to the fish/wildlife in this area. We do anticipate this will be a gradual operation as the site wouldn’t receive dredged material for more than a year.”

“DNREC appreciates the challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faces in finding adequate and suitable sites for dredged material,” said Michael Globetti, media relations manager for the agency. “In Delaware, this challenge is not unique to the Corps’ New Castle dike project, but statewide as to ensure the channels in our waterways are navigable whether for commerce or recreational boating and fishing.”

Association members are concerned because it’s one of the rare publicly accessible freshwater bodies in that part of New Castle County, and hunters don’t need to register for access.

Hunting was recently prohibited in the easternmost sections of C&D Canal Conservation Area and the Grass Dale area, the association said.

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