Receptacles for used fishing line installed in North Park

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Fishing enthusiasts at North Park Lake now have an environmentally friendly alternative for discarding their monofilament fishing lines, which pose hazards for waterfowl and take 500 years to decompose.

Friends of North Park installed 17 receptacles for discarded fishing line in April around North Park and Marshall lakes. 

“Birds get caught up in the fishing lines, injuring wings or even getting killed,” said Robert Habegger, communications director for Friends of North Park. Discarded lines have been found throughout the park’s lake and creek areas, he said, and don’t even belong in garbage cans. “These fishing lines must be recycled.”

Mr. Habegger submitted a proposal to the Allegheny County Parks Department in February to install the receptacles, which are made of plastic pipe. He said more receptacles may be installed along the lakes in Deer Lakes Park, another popular fishing spot.

Dawn Miller of McCandless and her 7-year-old son, Logan Southwick, have volunteered to collect, document and recycle the fishing lines, which are being sent to the Berkley Conservation Institute in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Berkley, a fishing tackle company, transforms monofilament fishing line, line spools and other materials such as milk cartons and soft drink bottles, into artificial, underwater habitat structures called Fish-Habs. The 4-foot cube Fish-Hab structures attract fish and encourage plant growth. 

Logan and his mom often help Friends of North Park by collecting garbage at the park, and they were excited to take on a new project.

“Looking for garbage is fun because we always find cool stuff in the park,” said Logan, noting that one unusual find was a guitar in the middle of the creek. “We also see lots of animals — some dead, some living and a lot of golf balls.”

The first collection yielded 10.8 ounces of fishing line, which Mr. Habegger said would stretch about 1.2 miles

“Since this was our first collection, we put the contents of each bin into its own bag,” he said, explaining that this was done to create a baseline for compiling statistics. Data collected will be recorded online and as part of the national statistics with the BoatU.S. Foundation, an organization that promotes safe, clean and responsible boating.

“I hope more people will begin looking for fishing lines and putting them in the receptacles,” said Logan, who is looking forward to collecting the contents of the receptacles. “It’s good for the environment, and anyone can do it.”

Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer:

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