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2021 Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling Project

The Friends of Waterbury Reservoir is committed to protecting and preserving the wildlife that shares this amazing resource with us. In recent years, we have noticed a lot of fishing line and tackle discarded carelessly at access areas, and in foliage along the shoreline. This material has the potential to cause injury or even death to our birds and aquatic mammals. This potential for harm became a reality in 2020 when a cormorant became entangled in discarded fishing line on the reservoir. The bird faced a slow and painful death by starvation, but our hero Ranger Chad Ummel managed to catch the bird and free it from its entanglements.

Visitors to the reservoir have been enthralled by our eagles, loons, herons, and more…each of which faces the same risks as the rescued cormorant. In Vermont, numerous loons have had to be rescued from fishing line in the past few years, and one recently was severely injured by a discarded lure. We looked for a way to prevent any bird or animal tragedies on the Waterbury Reservoir. We decided to take the approach of offering a safe and easy way for anglers to dispose of unwanted fishing line, and to institute a campaign emphasizing the dangers posed to wildlife by improperly discarded fishing line and tackle.


In other states, monofilament line recycling bins have been installed at popular fishing sites. BoatUS Foundation provides plans for such bins, as well as stickers and signage to be placed near their locations. (https://www.boatus.org/clean-boating/recycling/fishing-line-recycling/) FWR thought this might be a good project for us! We received approval from Vermont State Parks to install the bins at 3 locations, on a trial basis. We all had concerns about vandalism and improper use of the bins for trash disposal and agreed to check the bins a few times each week.

8 x 10 Weatherproof Plastic Signs above each bin

We designed signs that are colorful and informative to place near the bins, had informative stickers made for each bin, modified the standard design a bit, developed a more secure installation method than others use, and painted them a nice dark green with Krylon paint, as per requirements of the state park system.









Our president Eric Chittenden developed a top lid for

the bins, rather than the standard open elbow PVC pipe. He put the lid on an angle to limit how far it can open, thus making it more difficult to toss cans and bottles into the bin. We also added an artistic touch, with a colorful wooden trout or bass on each bin, to attract attention to the bins and the information attached.


The cost per bin (our design) station is approximately

50.00 to 60.00, including materials, hardware, labels, and signs. We added some extra cost items, but since many of the materials were donated/freebies, the actual cost was much less. Our plans, materials list, and directions for construction are available to any interested groups.


Per their request, we have provided the plans for the bins to Vermont State Parks, for possible use in other parks. We have also offered to provide any input or assistance to the Vermont Center for EcoStudies, as they consider placing such bins on other areas.

Compared to others we have seen in our region, our bins are more attractive, and more securely attached to posts with long torx screws, so the bins cannot be easily removed by unauthorized personnel (vs using plastic flex ties). The bins were first placed around July 4th and removed on October 18th. They were positioned at the Cotton Brook Paddlers’ access, Blush Hill boat launch, and the Waterbury Center State Park boat ramp. We tried to place them where they would best be seen by fishermen. Consideration was given to leaving them out for ice fishing season, but the potential for damage from rising water and ice, vandalism, and lack of use for much of the off-season led to our decision to remove them seasonally.

The bins were checked by Sheila Goss, Eric Chittenden, Francine Chittenden, Michael Bard, and other volunteers. Anecdotal reports, and some data (from Cotton Brook) were kept. In general, we found very little trash, and had no damage to the bins. The Blush Hill bin had the only chipped paint, a few specks where it appears someone may have placed a sticker that was then removed. The Waterbury Center State Park bin had fishing line, and occasionally lures deposited in it; its placement was right at the launch site, and next year may be better suited for placement near the fishing platforms along the shoreline.

The little trash we found was mostly small wrappers, pieces of plastic, and paper; there was only one dog poop bag deposited in a bin, at Cotton Brook. One day the Blush Hill bin was found full of gross trash. It is noted that Blush Hill launch has a long history of litter and trash, so finding such trash on only one day in over 3 months is a success. Next year, we plan

We plan to take it all to Dick’s Sporting Goods for recycling or donate to a local artist who want to create an artistic piece demonstrating the need to keep our waters clean.

Feedback from the public has been very positive. Folks have given us the thumbs upon our social media posts about the bins, comments have been made that reservoir users appreciate the effort, and a professional bass fisherman gave the program a hearty endorsement. We have also shared information about the program to local community groups, such as the Rotary. We have heard no negative comments at all and there were no animal entanglements on the reservoir this season! We consider this pilot project a success.

We would love to see the program expand to other access areas at the reservoir, including the dam access and the state park campground boat access.

Thanks to all the state parks staff who supported and assisted us, especially Sue Bulmer who had faith in us, Chad Ummel who assisted us with installing the recycling bins, and the reservoir public and anglers who recognized this as an opportunity to protect our wildlife.

We are a small non-profit organization, and dependent upon the generosity of others to develop and maintain our projects and activities. Please consider helping us in any way you can!


Report prepared by Sheila Goss, Vice-President of FWR.


Fishing Bin Report
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