A new law could have impacts on Maryland paddlers and other stream users. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is banning felt soles in Maryland waters beginning March 22, 2011 to protect and preserve native wildlife and habitats.
The new regulations are intended to combat didymo, an invasive form of algae which thrives in cold flowing waters such as trout streams. Didymo infestations, also known as rock snot, can result in masses of yellow-brown algae that may dominate sections of a river. The thick mats of algae can harm wildlife and make fishing virtually impossible.
"Felt is porous and can remain damp for weeks, keeping harmful microscopic organisms alive and making it virtually impossible to disinfect," said Jonathan McKnight, head of DNR’s invasive species team.
According to Maryland DNR, rubber soled footwear for use in streams is readily available at most outdoor retailers.
Maryland also advises kayakers, and stream lovers to remove all debris and water from their boats, clothes and gear before leaving a stream.
For additional information on didymo, the felt ban and how to equip boots or waders with new rubber compounds, visit http://dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/pdfs/felt_sole_faq.pdf