The Great Swamp Conservancy will hold an official dedication for its handicapped-accessible children's fishing area Aug. 26. The dedication will officially open the Gorman Children's Fishing Area's being open to the public.
Simpson Park, where the fishing area is located, is a wetland mitigation project regulated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers. Because the GSC owns and maintains the park, both agencies have agreed to allow public education and recreational opportunities on the site.
"Last year, a student intern from Morrisville State College took it upon himself to study the park and develop it as a children's fishing area," said Great Swamp Conservancy Executive Director Michael Patane.
Walker had learned it has been Patane's dream to create a child-centered fishing recreation program. A long-time outdoorsman and conservationist, Patane said as his life became more and more busy, he had to choose between hunting and fishing. He said he chose to hunt during his spare time but has missed fishing ever since.
That intern, Alvin Walker, obtained all the necessary permits, built a handicapped-accessible fishing dock, constructed a kiosk, researched the habitat to determine what fish could survive in the pond, stocked the fish and cleared an area to be used as a picnic area in the future.
"First, however, he had to fund the project, so he wrote a grant proposal and submitted it to the Gorman Foundation of Sherrill, requesting money to complete the project," Patane said.
The foundation accepted the proposal, Patane said, which is why the nature center board members decided to name it after the foundation.
"We had some problems opening the park this spring as we had planned to do," Patane said. "It seems that last winter, an otter and a mink found the freshly stocked pond to be easy pickings and ate most of the 200 largemouth bass that were stocked. We have restocked the pond and will continue to monitor the situation until we have a good, constant population of fish."