OAKLAND — Friends of Deep Creek Lake, a Garrett County watershed organization, submitted a proposal for the creation of a Deep Creek Lake Restoration Fund at the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners.
The proposal came about in response to the aging of the Deep Creek Lake reservoir, which was created by the construction of the Deep Creek Dam in 1923. According to Friends of Deep Creek Lake, as the lake grows older, invasive vegetation and lower water quality lessen its recreational value and use as a natural resource. Friends of Deep Creek Lake believes that federal funding, state assistance and a more active role for Garrett County are necessary to combat this natural degradation.
According to Barbara Beeler, member of the Friends of Deep Creek Lake board, the degradation of the lake will result in economic consequences in impacted areas. The detrimental effects of aging could lead to decreased property and housing values and lower tax revenues for Garrett County. “All of us — county, users, beneficiaries — we’re all going to be impacted by the continuing decline of the lake,” said Beeler.
Friends of Deep Creek Lake’s proposal features three main components. The first is the creation of a Deep Creek Lake Restoration Action Plan. “We need to make a lake policy from the bottom up,” said Beeler. Friends of Deep Creek Lake suggests that the plan include a variety of restoration and maintenance programs for such tasks as fighting the existing impacts of lake aging, eliminating algae blooms, reducing sediment and nutrient runoff, and upgrading septic systems.
The second is a means of funding the restoration. One of the primary obstacles to a restoration project would be the lack of available funds due to the current economic climate. According to Friends of Deep Creek Lake, funding for the Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Management Division comes only from dock permit fees, and the majority of this money is spent paying operating fees and taxes. Friends of Deep Creek Lake believes that federal money is necessary for the project.
“Until the economic crisis goes away, we’re really stifled,” said Commission Chairman Denny Glotfelty. “It’s impossible to get the state to move right now.”
Finally, the proposal includes a call for leadership for the restoration effort. The proposal suggests the formation of a working group that would lay groundwork for the plan, raise funds, and lobby for Deep Creek Lake in state and federal venues.
Along with the lack of available funding, another obstacle to the proposal is the fact that the lake is owned by the state rather than Garrett County. This makes it difficult for Garrett County to create an action plan regarding the lake as Friends of Deep Creek Lake’s proposal intends.
“It’s Maryland’s water. Whether it’s private or state property, it’s their water. That’s the problem,” said Glotfelty, who added that action regarding the lake is necessary. “We’ve got an 85-year-old lady that we’re trying to give a face-lift to right now.”
The commission did not act on the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting. It will be discussed further at the next meeting of the Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board, beginning at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center.