FEATURED LISTING- 4792 Friendsville Road

Looking for an amazing custom home close to Deep Creek Lake?

Check out my listing on Friendsville Road. This home is directly in between the lake and I-68 making it incredibly convenient.

10+acres! 5,000+sf, indoor heated pool. Uber-efficient compound constructed w/ Polystyrene poured concrete. Radiant floor heat, hardwood, granite, central vac, stone fireplace & accent walls, spacious rooms, massive walk-in closets in every room, skylights-contact for FULL feature list.

7 add. acres avail. UNZONED recreational paradise.

Must see to appreciate!

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE.

Wisp Resort- a Flashback to Snowier Weekends

With the Wisp Resort opening this weekend, we decided to celebrate with some flashbacks to snowier winters.

First, let’s take a look at this old school video of Wisp Resort.

And some photos…

 

Now lets take a look at how much fun we’ll be having this weekend…

Can’t wait to have a great weekend!

See you on the slopes!

PRICE REDUCTION- 440 Ben DeWitt Road

 IMMACULATE 4BR home in a country setting! Built for entertaining, the massive rec room & custom bar lead out to a loaded backyard with swimming pool, outdoor lounge & fireplace.

Virtually every square foot of this custom home is tastefully improved. Custom everything – gourmet kitchen, tiled baths, multiple master suites, sun room, 2 car garage.

Contact for even more pics. $500k+ invested in home.

for more information, click here.

 

Maryland fracking regulations could serve as a model to other states

It is a challenging time to be the president of the Garrett County Farm Bureau, especially as a young man working his way through college.

Garrett County is a rural community. I have grown up on my family’s farm, helping to produce the hay and raise the goats and vegetables that are currently funding my tuition.

The farmers that I represent are hardworking people who deserve to be able to use their land as they choose — this includes using the resources it contains. However, we are experiencing an increased influx of people from urban and suburban areas of the state trying to dictate and legislate what is best for us.

Fifteen years ago, the issue was windmills; today, it is fracking.

The Garrett County Farm Bureau has been advocating for our farmers’ ability to safely and responsibly drill for gas on their own land for over 10 years and now we are at a turning point. It is critical now that we do not completely ban hydraulic fracturing in Maryland and cut off a tremendous amount of opportunities for residents of Garrett County.

People often want to know why farmers like hydraulic fracturing. From our perspective it isn’t about hydraulic fracturing at all. It is about accessing and producing natural gas from resources on our own land.

For everyone living in urban and suburban areas, fracking is making your air cleaner to breathe, slashing the costs of natural gas and products made from natural gas, improving the national economy and allowing us to export gas to foreign countries.

For my farmers, it does all of that as well as enable them to recover the value of the gas they own.

The farm community has been quietly accommodating the impacts of residential development around Deep Creek Lake on our community for a long time now. If our gas production requires the Deep Creek community to accommodate a little, we expect the same courtesy we have been extending to them.

There are certainly people in the community who love recreational industries and are passionately opposed to gas production. They believe it will somehow inhibit their ability to use and make money off tourism at Deep Creek. But there are also people in the community who would love to produce gas and have no interest in recreational industries. All of them have the same constitutional right to use their own property in the way they choose. The state does not have the right to arbitrarily allow some to choose and others not. The trick is to find a path that is respectful of everyone and asks everyone to compromise some.

That was the precise goal of the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative and the protracted negotiations about regulations among the various stakeholders that have taken place over the last five years. The goal of the Farm Bureau has been to establish regulations that protect our farms as well as the surrounding community. We think the proposed regulations do that.

There is nothing like them anywhere else in America. If someone shows you a drilling practice in another state you don’t like, there is a strong possibility it is prohibited here in Maryland.

We have been producing and storing gas here since 1955, and the gas industry is a valuable part of our economy. We would like that to continue and grow with the addition of jobs, royalties and taxes from shale production in Maryland.

Before Gov. Martin O’Malley created the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission, he weighed the same question that is before the Maryland Legislature right now: Ban fracking or regulate it. His assessment was that as a state with a small amount of producible reserves surrounded by states with a large amount of producible reserves upstream from Maryland, it would be in Maryland’s best interest to create the tightest possible regulations and then use our influence and our power as a consumer to move our regulations into the surrounding states. He was right.

If we bury these regulations now with a ban, we will be wasting millions of dollars that have been spent developing the regulatory process and denying landowners the right to develop their gas resources. But the real cost will be to the environment, because we did not have the courage to pursue his vision to the end and influence the people who produce gas for Maryland in other states to do it to in a way that Maryland finds acceptable.

Aaron Lantz is president of the Garrett County Farm Bureau.

 

for more information, click here.

 

Organic Farmers Don’t Want Drilling on Their Doorstep

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP).

Story by Mary Greene of the Environmental Integrity Project. Photos by Karen Kasmauski and Garth Lenz of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Note: this story is part of a collaborative photojournalism project, “The Human Cost of Energy Production,” about the threat of expanded fracking for natural gas to rural areas of Pennsylvania and Western Maryland, which readers can view byclicking here.

Walking the Backbone Food Farm, located in Oakland, Maryland, with Katharine Dubansky and her two youngest children, it’s easy to see the appeal of organic farming.

Alongside field after field of vegetables, there are pens and pastures where pigs, goats, sheep, and cows while away their days. The wind turbines on Backbone Mountain that produce kilowatt after kilowatt of clean power stand sentinel over the property, as though in tribute to and guardian over the Dubansky’s production of sustainable, safe food. When they are new to the farm, little piglets slip the fence and run loose. Eventually, one of the many free-roaming Dubansky dogs will scoot the piglets back under the fence, squealing, toward their mothers.

In a way, Backbone Food Farm is emblematic of the appeal of western Maryland. Although most farms in this valley are not organic, there are very few factory farms or other large-scale, industrial farming operations in this part of Garrett County. The terrain is rugged and mountainous and doesn’t always yield easily to a plow. According to Katharine, most of the farmers in the Oakland area are reformed Amish. Like her Amish neighbors, Katharine is strong and hearty. She has capable, intelligent eyes and walks with an easy confidence.

She and her husband, Max, came to organic farming quite naturally. Max’s father was an organic farmer in Grantsville and he was working another organic farm in Flintstone, Maryland when he and Katharine were introduced through mutual friends. Young and unafraid of hard physical work, their interest in organic farming grew as their relationship blossomed. Katharine, who had recently graduated from college, gave up her intended career as a teacher to pursue their mutual dream.

As she attends to chores, Katharine explains that an energy company may construct a compressor station – a large, industrial complex used to transmit compressed natural gas through a pipeline – just a mile and a half from their farm. If the fracking ban is lifted, private property leased to oil and gas companies will be drilled. Once production begins, more and more compressor stations and other infrastructure, like pipelines, storage tanks, impoundments, processing plants, and ugly elbows of pipe that protrude from the ground called “pig launchers” will litter the landscape. As has happened in western Pennsylvania, small towns will be overrun with railcars and endless lines of trucks carrying explosive natural gas liquids.

It’s hard to imagine what the threat of fracking means to these hardworking, earnest people. Katharine and Max’s entire lives are bound to their 106 acres of land. Their oldest daughter, recently graduated from high school, bought sheep with her graduation money and intends to stay on and manage the livestock. Even their beloved but departed milk cows remain fixtures in their lives and on this farm, their sun-bleached skulls adorning the red-picket fence that runs alongside their farmhouse. As the two youngest girls, Tessa, 6 and Iris, 9, show off their new litter of bunnies, Katharine whispers her concern. “How can …flares and diesel fumes work here?”

A supporter of Citizen Shale, she is opposed to fracking and doesn’t want to see western Maryland ravaged in pursuit of a finite quantity of natural gas. She considers herself an environmentalist and understands the risks that fracking poses to both her financial livelihood and health. She is not a NIMBY (“not in my back yard” ) person who objects to any kind of energy development near her farm. For example, she had no problem with the construction of the large wind turbines on the ridge over their property a few years ago.  But she is worried that the oil and gas industry would introduce more intense disruption of their lifestyle – with pollution, noise, and truck traffic.

Katharine is also torn over how vocal she can be. She and Max sell their meat and produce, including beautiful mushrooms grown in the wooded portion of their farm, mostly at the local farmers markets. Many of the patrons come from Deep Creek Lake, the wealthiest community in Garrett County. “Those folks make the drive because they know they’re buying safe, healthy, locally grown food. Fracking will destroy that,” Katharine explains as she shows off the rustic cottage on the property they rent to cross-country skiers in the winter. “But at the same time, I risk alienating the relationships I have now with customers and other vendors if I get too mouthy about it.”

Most of the elected officials in Garrett County are pro-drilling, and for the most part, the county is more conservative than the rest of the state. As lawmakers and citizens continue to debate the pros and cons of opening western Maryland to fracking, people like the Dubanskys will need to decide where they stand, and how strong their voices will be. For now, Katharine is watching, listening, and boning up on her research.

As she walks back toward the farmhouse, where she finds Max taking a break to give Tessa a piggyback ride and twirl her around, she contemplates her next move.

With earth-stained hands on hips and feet firmly planted on the ground, she admits: “I may have to jump into this thing whole hog. But I have to be careful. I can get quite passionate.”

Support the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers by donating at this link.

for more information, click here.

Property Owners’ Association: State Money For Garrett County

February 7, 2017

Folks,

The State (DNR) owns approximately 90,000 acres of land in Garrett County which is not subject to property taxes for the county due to state ownership.  The current means to recoup some of the lost property taxes is to provide the county with 25% of the revenue obtained from the sale of timber on this land.  For the last several years, however, very little timber has been harvested so the revenue coming to Garrett County has been very low.  This process currently exists throughout Maryland for all counties in which the state owns land that cannot be taxed.
To remedy this situation and insure a fair amount of revenue, consistent with the amount of acreage owned by the state, this bill will provide a more equitable reimbursement of funds to Garrett County for land owned by the State of Maryland. The proposed bill breaks down the acreage into “units” of 10,000 acres and would mandate $250,000 per unit income to the county annually.  SB273 will make the County’s reimbursement approximately $2 million annually. SB273 is being heard by the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. Please send written testimony to George.edwards@senate.state.md.us by February 14, asking the Budget & Taxation Committee to give SB273 a FAVORABLE REPORT, and indicate if you plan to testify in person. Senate Bill 273 (SB 273) may be seen here. The existing system related to timber would no longer be used.
Your POA supports this bill because it is a fair way to reimburse the county for taxes that currently cannot be collected, and asks that you consider sending a written testimony  of endorsement.
Thanks very much in advance for your support on this bill which, if passed, will insure Garrett County is fairly reimbursed for uncollectable tax revenue.

  Cheers,

Bob Hoffmann

President

For more information, click here.

State Panel Puts Fracking Regulations on Hold in Maryland

A panel of lawmakers in Maryland has reportedly asked the state Department of the Environment (MDE) to delay implementing rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

According to reports, the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) sent a letter to the MDE last Thursday. Lawmakers on the committee said they wanted more time to study the agency’s proposed rules, which were scheduled to take effect the next day.

Only two western panhandle counties in Maryland — Allegany and Garrett — overlie the Marcellus Shale, a basin which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates could contain as much as 2.383 Tcf of technically recoverable natural gas.

The Maryland General Assembly, which meets for 90 days during its regular session, is scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 11 and adjourn on April 10. The session could also be extended until May 10.

The MDE submitted its proposed fracking regulations to the AELR last September. The proposed rules included a 2,000-foot setback for well pads from private drinking water wells and the surface water intake of public drinking water systems and springs; one year of baseline water monitoring; well integrity and pressure testing; and requirements covering air quality, emergency response, wastewater management, well plugging and bonding.

Fracking opponents are pushing for an outright ban. A two-year moratorium on the practice, which took effect after lawmakers passed SB 409 in 2015, is set to expire on Oct. 1.

“Our neighbors talk about putting their properties on the market if fracking is permitted,” Friends of Deep Creek Lake, an environmental group opposed to fracking, told the AELR at a hearing last month. “Such actions would be devastating to the local economy and in the long term would not be offset by fracking-related revenues.”

Supporters of oil and gas development in Maryland aren’t thrilled with the MDE’s proposed regulations, either.

“We are an industry that has a proven record of providing environmental and economic benefits,” Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, said last month. “As written, a number of the proposed regulations are overly restrictive and would undermine our proven track record on safety proven through the development of millions of wells.

“We need policies that protect jobs and investment in Western Maryland, and these new regulations would take us in the wrong direction.”

For more information, click here.

 

Extend the fracking ban

Marylanders have long held serious misgivings about the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas, and we have shared those concerns. Under the administrations of both Gov. Larry Hogan and his predecessor, Martin O’Malley, there have been efforts by the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt what Democrats and Republicans alike have vowed would be the strictest fracking regulations in the country. Yet over and over again, there have been doubts about whether the protections involved — to ensure clean drinking water supplies and preserve Western Maryland’s scenic resources — would be adequate.

The most recent rules, as drafted by the Hogan administration and now under review, are no different. And as the nation’s natural gas glut continues — to the extent that even oil industry advocates doubt that Maryland is likely to attract much drilling even if a temporary ban on fracking is lifted — many are asking, why risk fracking at all?

We agree. It’s a bad bet. When members of the Maryland General Assembly reconvene next month, high on the agenda should be making permanent the temporary moratorium on fracking that is set to expire next year. Fracking advocates have failed to make the case that the economic value of recovering gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits outweighs the potential economic and environmental harm that accompanies it.

And it’s highly likely that a majority of Maryland residents agree with that position. That was the conclusion of a recent poll conducted by OpinionWorks for the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition, which found support for a fracking ban even in Western Maryland. In all, the survey determined that state residents favored a ban by a 56-28 margin with 16 percent undecided.

This is not a position we take lightly. Western Maryland has an unemployment rate above the statewide average — between 4.4 and 5.2 percent by county compared to the statewide average of 4.0 percent. But it is also highly dependent on tourism, with scenic attractions like Deep Creek Lake, the Youghiogheny River, Swallow Falls State Park, the C&O Canal and many others that are a key part of the state’s $16.4 billion visitor business. Even if fracking doesn’t cause immediate harm to any of those attractions, how might public perception of the region change?

Still, it isn’t just a matter of image. The risks posed by fracking are real. Often, the problem is the method of disposal for wastewater from well injection sites — the technology involves forcing a mixture of water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into underground rock to release trapped gas — and its impact on local groundwater. In neighboring West Virginia, for example, the U.S. Geological Survey found Wolf Creek in Fayette County contaminated with sodium, chloride, strontium, lithium and radium traced to a nearby underground well.

But that’s not all. The potential adverse impacts include damage to human health, clean air and water; excessive noise pollution and even microearthquakes. That doesn’t mean fracking can’t be done relatively safely compared to, say, coal mining or logging, which have also operated in Western Maryland, but it does mean that the potential for adverse impacts, even accidental ones, is quite high — the sheer volume of water required (as much as 7 million gallons to frack a single well) practically dictates that.

And even if Maryland dropped the moratorium and adopted the MDE rules, it’s unlikely there’s going to be any gold rush to purchase or extend gas leases. That’s what makes an outright ban the safest possible wager — the resource won’t be going away; it will remain buried in those shale deposits like a savings account. If at some future date, the risk is more manageable and the demand for the resource is more robust, perhaps the moratorium can be revisited. In the interim, Maryland will learn more from the mistakes of neighboring states.

That makes a ban on fracking a win-win for everyone, except perhaps the U.S. oil and gas industry. But even they may not complain too much given the multitude of more pressing problems from falling demand and low prices to high production from Middle East competitors. If Maryland earns a national reputation for being ultra-cautious about its precious water resources, so much the better.

For more information, click here.