Late in 2012 the East Bay Regional Park District and the Alameda County Water District (ACWD) reached two milestones: after ten years, they had officially collected and recycled over 1,000 pound of lead fishing tackle at Quarry Lakes Regional Park, the popular Fremont recreation area, where lead fishing tackle is prohibited.
“The Quarry Lakes Lead Fishing Tackle Exchange Program protects wildlife and our environment, and keeps a toxic metal from potentially entering the water supply,” said Park District Fisheries Program Manager Pete Alexander.
Believed to be the first of its kind on the West Coast, and the only on-going exchange offered at EBRPD lakes, the program has received great support from local anglers.
“The ACWD and the Park District established a partnership to provide an exchange of lead fishing tackle and educate local anglers on the hazards of using lead fishing tackle. The water district provides lead-free split-shot weights and sinkers, and park district staff exchange the lead items for similar non lead tackle, one for one, at no cost to the angler,” said Alexander.
“Practicing and promoting good environmental stewardship is an important component of each agency’s core mission.”
Concerns regarding lead toxicity in the environment prompted ACWD to evaluate the potential adverse impacts of lead fishing weights at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area which is an important groundwater recharge reservoir system for ACWD. The program was introduced at the park back in the summer of 2002, following the opening of the park to the public. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) in 2003 awarded ACWD the Theodore Roosevelt Environmental Award for Excellence in Natural Resources Management.
Lead is toxic to animals and humans when ingested. Birds are particularly susceptible to ingesting lead fishing tackle lost by anglers. Some birds may eat the lead weights which they mistake as snails. Other waterfowl, searching for material to swallow to help grind their food, may mistake lead weights for small pebbles. Once ingested, acid in a bird’s stomach or gizzard dissolves the lead, which then enters its bloodstream and is carried to vital organs. Health impacts can range from loss of weight to the inability to fly or walk, and may even result in death. Predators and scavengers who then eat these birds are also at risk for lead poisoning. In addition, since the water in the Quarry Lakes filters down into the Niles Cone Groundwater Basin, an important water supply for the Tri-City area, any lead in the water might eventually find its way to the tap.
Inexpensive and ecologically friendly alternatives to lead fishing tackle include tin, steel, bismuth, glass, ceramic, rubber, and plastic -- all work just as well as lead and are not harmful to water or waterfowl.
The exchange program is operated by EBRPD staff from the Quarry Lakes entrance kiosk when time permits.
Visit www.ebparks.org/parks/quarry_lakes or call (510) 544-3130 for more information, and the brochure “Quarry Lakes Lead Fishing Tackle Awareness.”
Contact: Lt. Lance Brede, Accreditation Manager, (510) 690-6501
Contact: Carolyn Jones, Public Information Supervisor, (510) 544-2217