ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reports about 5,000 hikers took advantage of sunny and mild weather New Year’s Day, joining the DNR in the state’s annual First Day Hikes initiative.
Hikers logged more than 10,000 miles on trails in parks and public lands all across Maryland, according to DNR.
Park rangers, staff and volunteers guided hikers of all experience levels ringing in the new year on the trail. With 43 hikes at more than 30 locations, the Maryland Park Service registered 3,834 hikers participating in guided hikes, while 1,152 people hiked 1,516 miles on their own — a grand total of 4,986 hikers, not counting many who didn’t check in with a ranger. Even more people hiked in Maryland’s state forests, wildlife management areas and other public lands.
DEEP CREEK LAKE —Deep Creek Lake marks its 94th anniversary this year. With that in mind, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce has provided the following information:
Deep Creek Lake is Maryland’s largest freshwater lake, covering 3,900 acres and 65 miles of shoreline. The man-made lake got its start in 1925 as the result of an effort undertaken by the Youghiogheny Hydro Electric Corporation to harness the power of Deep Creek, a tributary of the Youghiogheny River.
Large swaths of land were purchased, a 1,300-foot-long impoundment dam was constructed to stem the flow of water in Deep Creek, and thousands of trees were removed from the area so it could be flooded. In addition, 15 miles of primary and secondary roads were relocated.
Memorial Day marked the unofficial beginning of boating season in Maryland and elsewhere. Every weekend for the next few months, thousands of people will be out on the water across the state whether it’s Deep Creek Lake, the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic Ocean off Ocean City and Assateague Island. But the summer boating season is also certain to suffer its customary share of accidents and fatalities — most if not all of which are preventable.
This loss of life associated with recreational boating is surely among the most frustrating statistics in public health because it’s so avoidable. In many ways, it mirrors the daily carnage on the nation’s roads — with irresponsible behavior, including the boating equivalent of drunk driving and speeding, among the chief culprits. But arguably it’s worse. Americans take to the roads and expose themselves to the inherent risk out of necessity. Boating is a luxury. There’s absolutely no reason why people need to be placed in harm’s way if everyone behaves prudently.
Take, for example, life jackets, more properly known as personal flotation devices. Under Maryland law, children under the age of 13 must wear them while any vessel is underway, and that includes not just motorboats but sailboats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats. Yet in cases of drowning, what percentage of victims were found not to be wearing one? According to the U.S. Coast Guard, that would be 84.5 percent. That’s a problem, particularly given that about three-quarters of boating accident fatalities involve drowning.
DEEP CREEK LAKE — On Feb. 22, nearly 400 middle and high school students and staff participated in the first Cool Schools Dunk at Deep Creek Lake.
The event, which occurred the day before the annual Deep Creek Dunk, was established to raise money to help fund the Garrett County Public School’s unified sports teams and the Garrett County community Special Olympics teams. The event raised more than $23,000 in its inaugural year.
“We have schools competing against each other to raise funds for a worthy cause and it doesn’t get any better than that,” Garrett County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Baker said. “We are so excited that our students, our unified sports teams, and our partners at Special Olympics Maryland will all benefit from this event.”