State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund projects identified

From The Garrett County Republican

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will undertake restoration projects at lakes throughout Maryland under the new State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund, which provides $1 million for each of the next three years to improve state-owned lakes.

Gov. Larry Hogan approved the total $3-million fund in May 2018, and the department was tasked with determining priorities and a work plan for the funding. Five public open houses were held around the state in the fall of 2018 to solicit project ideas, and the department’s lake managers also helped identify the most pressing needs to protect and restore the water bodies under their care.

“The input we received from local governments, organizations and citizens was very valuable to the department as we made decisions about the first year of funding,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “We are pleased to announce maintenance and restoration projects at all 16 state-owned lakes.”

To read the full article click here.

More Active Oversight Planned For Deep Creek Lake

July 28, 2014 6:49 AM

MCHENRY, Md. (AP) — A draft management plan for the Deep Creek Lake watershed seeks better coordination among government agencies and private parties whose interests converge at the western Maryland vacation destination.

The Department of Natural Resources and the Garrett County Commissioners released the plan Friday for public comment through Aug. 9.

It was developed by a local steering committee amid concerns that factors including residential development, natural-gas exploration, agricultural runoff and failing septic systems threaten the lake’s quality and recreational value.

The plan calls for the state and county to jointly develop an agency to coordinate activities within the watershed.

Read More Here:  http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/07/28/more-active-oversight-planned-for-deep-creek-lake/

 

 

 

 

Maryland building 30 miles of new trails in Garrett County parks and state forests

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 22, 2014 – 4:19 am EDT

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says it’s building 30 miles of new trails connecting state parks and forests in Garrett County.

The agency said Wednesday that the project’s first phase includes five miles of new trail at Deep Creek Lake State Park.

The DNR says all the new trails will be open for hiking, biking, running and horseback riding in 2018.

More here.

State, County Partner on Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan

Agreement announced at annual State of the Lake presentation

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Garrett County have partnered to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan for Deep Creek Lake.  DNR Secretary Joe Gill announced the agreement in concept – through which guidelines to protect the popular area will be established – at the third annual State of the Lake presentation at Garrett College. The draft agreement will be available for public comment until August 13.

“The Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan will serve as a comprehensive, best practices guide to ensure that one of Maryland’s most visited, revenue-generating sites is protected far into the future,” said Secretary Gill.  “In addition to protecting the lake’s sensitive natural resources, the plan will address water quality and recreational activities like swimming, fishing, boating and scenic viewing.”

The plan, which will be developed with input from stakeholders, will prioritize policy changes, restoration actions and public outreach needed to achieve both immediate and long term benefits.  It will identify existing water quality and environmental conditions, survey future conditions, assess pollution sources and determine restoration opportunities.

“The Board of Garrett County Commissioners is pleased to partner with DNR as co-sponsors of a plan that will maintain and enhance the lake and its surrounding habitat,” said Monty Pagenhardt, County Administrator.

A Steering Committee of seven to nine members – that will include representatives from State and local government, the agricultural, forestry, business communities, recreational interests, residents and the power plant – will lead development of the plan. The committee will be supported by staff from Garrett County, DNR, and other State agencies, and will be professionally facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Individuals wishing to serve on the Steering Committee should email a letter of interest and resume to mpagenhardt@garrettcounty.org no later than August 2, 2013. An official appointments  announcement will be made at the Board of County Commissioners Public Meeting on August 13.

In his State of the Lake address, Gill also shared good news about the lake’s water quality and its diverse living and natural resources.

“Thanks to the park’s managers, supporters and conservation-minded citizens and visitors, the lake continues to exhibit good water quality, a robust fishery, healthy wetlands and wildlife, and extensive opportunities for recreation,” said Gill.  “We are confident that the watershed management plan will help us protect and enhance this tremendous asset even further.”

DNR conducts continuous monitoring efforts that provide citizens and resource managers a better understanding of threats to the lake’s health, so that they may take the appropriate actions to lessen these impacts. The most recent data confirms that the lake continues to support diverse and healthy fish, plant and wildlife populations, and is experiencing low algal levels due to low phosphorus concentrations.

Located in western Maryland, Deep Creek is one of the State’s largest and most popular lakes, providing recreation (including year-round fishing) for hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors annually. The reservoir is owned and operated by the Maryland Park Service, with additional help and support provided by Garrett County.

More here.

DNR close to living up to trail promise

Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Two years after closing a pair of off-highway vehicle trails on state forests in Western Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources is close to living up to a promise to replace one of them with a loop in eastern Garrett County.

Citing environmental damage caused by improper use, the agency in April 2011 closed an 18-mile trail on the Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County and another along Poplar Lick on the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County.

“The Green Ridge closure cost business in Allegany County $1.6 million,” said Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine.

Valentine spoke at a meeting Monday in the county office complex.

The Maryland OHV Alliance organized the gathering that was attended by the District 1 legislative delegation, county commissioners from Allegany and Washington counties, and DNR staffers, including Secretary Joe Gill.

Paul Peditto, who heads the DNR effort to establish new trails, said a 13-mile trail in the St. John’s Rock area is approaching approval.

That site is just south of the Finzel exit on Interstate 68.

Slightly behind in the process are two trails in Washington County proposed for a wildlife management area and a natural resources management area on Sideling Hill.

“There is a lot of energy around this effort,” Gill said. The secretary urged participants to study successful trail programs from other states.

Peditto anticipates a public comment period about the St. John’s Rock trail by late summer. A 12-month construction period would be required for completion.

Allegany County Commission President Mike McKay asked alliance spokesman Ken Kyler to come to a county work session to explain the search for new trails.

“Be prepared to answer all the tough questions,” McKay said. “There will be property owners up in arms because of anticipated noise levels.”

Although the proposed new trails are on public land, substantial discussion took place Monday about establishing them on private land, as well.

“The first question that has to be dealt with is the liability issue,” said Delegate Kevin Kelly.

Delegate Wendell Beitzel said he is concerned about trail users leaving existing paths and wandering on to adjoining private lands that are not part of the established routes.

Much discussion centered on the possible placement of trails on reclaimed strip mine operations.

Sen. George Edwards said he hopes with the thousands of acres owned by DNR in Allegany and Garrett counties that a couple of trails could be established without using private lands.

Kyler, a Middletown resident, said the Hatfield-McCoy trail in West Virginia generates $20 million annually for businesses there.

Development of trails in Maryland could include links that establish larger systems, he said. He said an economic study of a trail in Minnesota discovered that each user spent an average of $190 per visit at local businesses.

Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. urged the group to assure that small towns become part of the trail loops so that businesses would prosper.

Peditto said a private campground near the proposed St. John’s Rock trail should benefit economically once that project is done.

The use of OHVs is the fastest-growing form of recreation in the country, according to Steve Carr of the DNR.

Peditto said it is likely that OHV trails on public lands would be closed during peak hunting periods such as the deer firearms season.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

Man fled boat by smashing window

Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News

DEEP CREEK LAKE — A Maryland Department of Natural Resources boat operator had to knock out a window to escape from the 23-foot work vessel that capsized and went to the bottom of Deep Creek Lake on the afternoon of May 15, according to a Watercraft Accident Report filed by Natural Resources Police Cpl. Robert Mayles.

The docked vessel began taking on water through an open dive door and then capsized when the operator, accompanied by an attendant, attempted to quickly drive it to a shallow area.

Both men swam to safety and neither was injured.

In his report, Mayles said that Lake Management employees Maxwell N. Anthony, the operator, and Seth M. Metheny were docked at the Discovery Center for about 20 minutes at about 4 p.m. as they were updating their iPads via the center’s WiFi service.

“… During that time the strong winds were causing the waves to break over the side of the boat where the removable dive door is located,” Mayles wrote, describing the waves as being as high as 2 feet.

“After noticing the water filling the bilge, the bilge pump was activated but was unable to keep up with the amount of water coming through the dive door.”

Anthony told Mayles the decision was made to back away from the dock and try to get the boat on plane to allow the water to drain off.

“Noticing the boat listing to the port side and the engine sitting very low in the water, they decided to try and get as close to shore as possible,” Mayles wrote. “Mr. Metheny was attempting to replace the dive door when the vessel capsized.”

Mayles said that Metheny immediately swam free of the boat. That’s when Anthony knocked out a cabin window to escape. Anthony and Metheny were wearing personal flotation devices, according to the report.

The boat went down in Meadow Mountain Cove in about 12 feet of water. The following day, NRP divers and Lake Management personnel used air bags to float the boat and it was pulled to shore. Mayles’ report indicates the aluminum vessel sustained $2,000 in damage.

Besides the cabin window that Anthony dislodged, an engine cowling was broken and radio and other electronic equipment was damaged. The vessel, which is insured, was considered to be disabled, according to Mayles’ report. The report lists Anthony as a boat operator with more than 500 hours’ experience, though it cites inattention and inexperience of the operator as factors that contributed to the accident. No charges were filed.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

Unmanned DNR boat sinks on Deep Creek

Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News

SWANTON — A large Maryland Department of Natural Resources boat used on Deep Creek Lake sunk Wednesday afternoon but was floated to the surface with air bags Thursday and brought to shore, according to Eric Null, Deep Creek Lake State Park spokesman.

“There appears to be no major structural damage,” Null said.

Null said the 24-foot Ottercraft is a metal work boat with heavy lifting being one of its capacities.

He said two staff members were in a boating accident, but refused to supply other information until an official report is filed. There were no injuries, Null said.

“Our officers were returning from the firing range on Town Hill Wednesday when they got a call that a boat had capsized,” said Sgt. Brian Albert of the Natural Resources Police. “They were responding on heightened alert. A floating life jacket caused concern until it became clear that it hadn’t come off of a person, but had floated out of the boat.”

Albert said a passerby had noticed the moored boat sinking and went to the park office with the news.

“Someone from the office ran down, started it up and tried to get it up running on plane toward a shallow area, but it rolled,” Albert said.

Albert was uncertain why the boat initially took on water and Null would not discuss that matter.

“It’s a low-based boat so that buoys can be reached from it,” Albert said. “It has a dive door, so if that would have been left open, water would enter that way.”

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

Land Purchases Would Expand Md. State Forests

Posted: Apr 03, 2013 8:42 AM EDT

OAKLAND, Md. (AP)- The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering land purchases that would add about 600 acres to state forests in Garrett County.

Land conservation specialist John Braskey said Tuesday that the three proposed purchases may come before the state Board of Public Works for final approval this summer or fall.

The Garrett County Commissioners signed off on the offers Tuesday.

The commissioners’ meeting minutes indicate that a parcel owned by Mountain Maryland Minerals LLC would add about 315 acres to the Potomac State Forest near Altamont. It’s appraised at $615,000.

Two other parcels held by individuals would add a total of 287 acres to the Savage River State Forest. They include a 181-acre parcel near Grantsville appraised at $405,000. The price of the smaller parcel is under negotiation.

More here.

Deep Creek Lake Property Owner Incentives For Shore Erosion Projects

The Garrett County Commissioners have adopted a program whereby the County will grant to Deep Creek lakefront property owners a $1600 incentive for new completed shore erosion projects in fiscal year 2013. The program is designed to help property and real estate owners with the costs of construction of shore erosion structures along the lake shoreline. The funding applies to both structural (e.g. rip-rap) and nonstructural (e.g. vegetative) control measures.

DNR estimates that there are 8 to 10 projects that might be eligible for the funds. The project must be completed and inspected by both DNR and MDE in order for the property owner to be eligible for the incentive.

The program is part of a broader package of policies that the county is looking at for the protection of the watershed. This is a pilot year for the program and no decision has been made as to if it will be made available in the next county fiscal year.

More here.

Area Of Ice To Be Removed At Deep Creek Lake

Feb. 14, 2013

The Maryland Park Service (MPS) announced this week that, starting this Saturday, Feb. 16, ice along the shoreline of the Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park will be removed to open the waters for cold water rescue training. This area will remain unsafe for quite some time, an MPS spokesperson said, and will be marked with reflective buoys.

The water rescue training is for emergency services personnel of several Montgomery County fire and rescue companies and will include the operation of airboats during daylight hours.

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“The boats are very loud, and residents and visitors should not be alarmed by the sound,” the spokesperson said.

Ice fisherman, hikers, snowmobilers, and others on or around the lake should stay alert and be aware of potential safety hazards, many of which go unseen, especially at night. Snowmobilers are reminded that surface conditions under bridges are often particularly hazardous from falling salt, and snowdrifts or pressure ridges can act as ramps, causing sleds and snowmobiles to become airborne. MPS urges visitors to the lake to wear, or have handy, a personal flotation device.

Deep Creek Lake is a part of the designated off-road vehicle trail system open to registered snowmobiles only, which may operate at night if equipped with working head- and taillights. Permits are available by mail, at Deep Creek Lake and New Germany state parks, and at Savage River State Forest during normal business hours.

Visitors can access the lake at Deep Creek Lake State Park or with permission from a private landowner with a permit site.

To report people, pets, or wildlife that have fallen through the ice, persons are asked to call either 911 or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at 410-260-8888.

More here.