Environmental advocates criticize planned balloon release by UMES Nat’l Alumni Assoc.

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – This weekend so-called “Fallen Hawks” will be honored at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. It’s all part of a day of remembrance planned by the UMES National Alumni Association. But part of the ceremony planned isn’t sitting well with some environmental advocates.

Assateague Coastal Trust is taking aim at a planned balloon release just off campus to honor alumni who have passed. The UMESNAA is advertising an “environment-safe balloon release” to be held just off campus, before returning to campus for fireworks. The Trust is urging the Association to move to a more environmentally friendly tribute. Kathy Phillips, with ACT, explains that balloons not only end up polluting our waterways but can also potentially endanger our wildlife.

Phillips says, “It’s very disappointing to Marylanders that a State educational institution would be allowing an intentional balloon release.”

Starting October, Maryland’s intentional balloon release ban goes into effect. And while environmental advocates say the release planned is so small that it would still be legal under the upcoming law, they say that doesn’t mean it’s right.

“It’s more than just about this law; it’s about littering. It’s about endangerment to our wildlife and it’s just kind of disrespectful to our earth and all of us are trying so hard to make things better here so this is just very disappointing to everyone,” says Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastal Trust.

We reached out to the Alumni Association, but have not gotten a response. But the school itself did respond, saying the Association is separate from the University. The University Spokesman says, “The University of Maryland Eastern Shore National Alumni Association is a 501(c)(3) organization separate from the University. It has officers and an established structure that operates independently of the University. We welcome our alumni on campus at any time — and especially for Founders’ Week and annual Homecoming — and ask them to follow all state and university rules and regulations while here.”

The event is currently planned for Saturday in Princess Anne.

Categories: Local News, Maryland