Wicomico County Council Considers Proposed Balloon Release Ban - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Council Considers Proposed Balloon Release Ban

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SALISBURY, Md. - Wicomico County may soon become the second county in Maryland to ban the mass release of balloons. The Wicomico County Council heard from people Tuesday, who support the county executive's proposed balloon ban.

The proposed balloon ban is similar to one in Queen Anne's County. Commissioners in Queen Anne's approved a balloon ban in August. It prohibits the mass release of non-biodegradable helium balloons into the air.

"It is a death sentence for any animal that gets caught up in balloons," said Jay Falstad, Queen Anne's Conservation Association executive director.

Supporters say the ban protects a crucial part of what makes Delmarva special: its wildlife.

"What happens is these balloons don't biodegrade," Falstad said. "So once they're out and in the environment, they're there for hundreds of years and the ribbons themselves get tangled in wildlife, and with farm animals and so on."

Local photographer Ann Richardson has captured many photos of balloons found along the beaches. She also captured the string of a balloon hanging out of a horses mouth on Assateague Island, seen below in her picture. Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver's proposal says it would help protect wildlife and waterways.

"So that's not Jimmy if he loses one at the circus. This is an intentional organized release. They do them for weddings, funerals, sporting events," Kerrie Bunting, who has helped push this initiative along, said. "Just passing this law really isn't about adding another law to the books or getting money. It's about education."

Alongside Bunting and Falstad at the council meeting was Salisbury Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Chambers, who gave a quick remark. Bunting said the ban is backed by the business community.

"It's not just a litter problem. They find no reason to not have this put in place. And they're all for it," Bunting said. "Wicomico should be green. Salisbury should be green, and this is just another way to make that happen."

Supporters hope these bans will turn the state green as well. A state senator from across the bridge, Clarence Lam, announced that he plans to introduce a similar ban for the entire state during the upcoming legislative session.

In Tuesday's work session, council members wanted to clarify a few words in the legislation. Supporters of the ban say they expect a vote from the Wicomico County Council in the coming weeks.




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