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Ayres Creek Kayak launch closer to reality

Construction of the Ayres Creek Kayak launch is expected to start in November or December and will consist of a shoreline launch, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compatible ramp/walkway to the water, and a parking facility.  The site will provide public water access along Ayers Creek, a tributary of Newport and Chincoteague bays.

The 37-acre site, accessible from Lewis Road, has approximately 450’ of shoreline. Public water access will be at a 40’ section of shoreline consisting of constructed marsh and the kayak launch.  

The site is owned by the Town of Ocean City and was used as a municipal and rubble dump from 1954 to 1980.  From 1980 to 1989 the area was used as a police shooting range. It’s since been cleaned of toxic materials and was cleared by the Maryland Department of the Environment in 2007.

Use of old landfills is becoming increasingly popular as sites are closed and remediated.  There may well be more than 1,000 landfills such as the reclaimed Ayres Creek space thatare now parks, according to a report “From Dumps to Destinations” by the Trust for Public Lands, San Francisco, CA.  Landfill parks go back to at least 1916, many years before the word “landfill” was coined, when Seattle created 9.5 acre Rainier Playfield from its former Rainier Dump.  

There are some famous converted landfills too. The 1,225-acre Flushing Meadows in New York was the site of two World’s Fairs and Shea Stadium.  Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach, 162 acres and 60’ high, is considered to be the most popular park in Virginia Beach. It consists of a skate park, hiking trail, baseball diamonds and hosts a variety of events including bike races and marathons. Fresh Kills, NY, at 2,200 acres is the largest landfill in the world and is currently being restored to 5 parks.  Amenities will include horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, kayaking and large scale public art.  

The Ayers Creek Kayak Launch site will be part of the Assateague Water Trail. This interpretive trail is designed to educate tourists and local residents about the rich nature and heritage of Maryland’s coastal bays. The site at Ayers Creek is an important addition to the trail because it will provide the only public water access in upper Ayers Creek and connect this area to already established paddling areas.  

Expanding our water trails enhances water based recreational opportunities in the area. In addition, it will also help local environmental organizations protect the water quality of Newport, Chincoteague and Sinepuxent bays where clean water with living resources is a huge draw for the millions of vacationers who support the region’s multi-million dollar nature-based tourism economy.

The water access will provide a route for paddlers to travel along picturesque Ayres Creek and Newport, Chincoteague and Sinepuxent bays. Starting at the new launch site on Ayers Creek one can paddle approximately six miles to the Worcester County public boat ramp at South Point on Chincoteague Bay. From there, paddlers can go to the canoe launches at Ferry Landing Road and Bayside Drive on Assateague Island National Seashore, or they can travel along Sinepuxent Bay approximately four miles to the Assateague State Park boat ramp at the Verrazano Bridge.  

In addition to friendly float trips, other potential activities for the site that would encourage tourism to the area could include triathlons and kayak regattas, which are increasing in popularity throughout the country. We hope to see you out there in the spring.

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