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(Enlarge) Paula Staats walks in Burba Park with her daughters Shania, 4, and Shanise, 5, who both guide their cycles along the path. (Photo by Brendan Cavanaugh)

Now that summer is here, the Fort Meade community can fully enjoy the amenities at Burba Park and its lake.

For more than a year, various renovations have been made and equipment added to enhance the site and improve the lake's water quality.

Two weeks ago, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. finished replacing lamp posts surrounding Burba Lake to conform to the look of lamp posts on the rest of the installation and add extra lighting.

In the spring, two bathrooms for the Burba Park picnic areas were renovated. A new tile floor was installed in Burba Cottage, followed by the purchase of new chairs.

In January, members of the Fort Meade Chief Petty Officers' Association volunteered to put fresh paint on the interior walls of the cottage.

Last year, additional aerators were installed in Burba Lake in an effort to improve the water quality for the overall health of the lake. The aerators help put oxygen in the water.

Stacy Echard, manager of Outdoor Recreation for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said some renovations over the past few months were made in response to suggestions from the Fort Meade community.

The cottage is reserved for a wide range of activities, from weddings and family reunions to military unit organizational days. But the facility was beginning to "show the wear and tear," Echard said.

"We do listen," she said. "We are trying to keep it nice."

Among the community observations, said Echard, was that aging floor tiles were coming up. Others suggested that money be invested in the park for general repairs.

Mick Butler, chief of Fort Meade's Environmental Division at the Directorate of Public Works, said the division is in the process of removing several green metal poles from around the lake.

The poles once had mesh netting attached to them and were installed to prevent people from going into the lake and disturbing, at the time, newly planted aquatic vegetation that improved the habitat for smaller fish, Echard said.

To ensure safety at the lake, DFMWR is considering posting a "no swimming sign."

Unauthorized swimming in the lake has not been a problem, Echard said, but the directorate is in consultation with the Installation Safety Office to review Army regulations to determine what, if anything, should be done.

Another issue that Burba Lake faces is what to do about bird feeding, said Echard. Many families do not realize that feeding the ducks and geese is prohibited by Army regulations.

Although the birds are migratory by nature, "they have developed a home here" because they are being fed, said Echard. As a result, duck and geese dropping are dominant around areas of the park and lake. When families resist the urge to feed the birds, it cuts down on unsightly waste left along the walking trails.

Fishing continues to be allowed at Burba Lake, but individuals 16 years or older must obtain the proper fishing license for a nontidal, freshwater lake from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Active-duty Soldiers home on leave do not require a license to fish in the lake.

Butler said people will most likely find largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish and catfish in the lake.

They should refer to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website to determine which fish are in season and if there are any restrictions on the size of fish that are permitted to be kept and not caught and released.

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