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Maryland eases some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor recreation, allowing golf, boating and more

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland remains under a stay-at-home order with schools and many businesses closed, but Gov. Larry Hogan announced a slight easing of restrictions Wednesday on outdoor recreation and nonemergency medical procedures.

The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow for individual and small group sports — such as golfing and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating and horseback riding — starting Thursday.

Also, Maryland’s state-owned beaches and parks will open Thursday for walking and exercise. Local governments will have the flexibility to take similar actions at their discretion, Hogan said.

“I know how anxious people are to get outside, both for their physical and mental well-being, and we know that outside activity is safer than inside activity,” Hogan said during a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Annapolis.

He said his coronavirus advisory team had “much discussion” Tuesday on the issue of outdoor activities, and members ultimately agreed to allow “lower-risk outdoor activities.”[Ocean City to reopen beaches, boardwalk this weekend, as resort town sees first coronavirus cases] »

Hogan also announced that hospitals can resume nonemergency procedures, which had been barred in an attempt to keep inpatient populations low in case a surge of COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm them.

“Many Marylanders may have put off important procedures, screenings and other things that they really need to attend to,” Hogan said. “If there’s something that you have had to delay — like a PET scan or a biopsy, an angioplasty or an orthopedic procedure — you should now be able to take care of those time-sensitive procedures.”

The changes marked the first easing of Hogan’s strict statewide restrictions, imposed starting in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The governor has pushed back against a wider reopening, saying the state needs to reach a sustained decline in the number of hospitalizations for treatment of the illness.

The governor’s move to reopen golf courses followed lobbying by owners and operators of clubs. A Politico reporter even asked him about it in April during a live interview.

“I want to get you on the record on this critical issue,” Politico reporter Jake Sherman asked. “Will golf courses in your state open any time in the near future?”

“Is there particular golf course that you would like to have open?” Hogan responded, chuckling. Hogan went on to say that opening golf courses would be “one of the early things that we do” as part of reopening — a pledge he fulfilled Wednesday.

David G. Bannister, board member of the Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore County, said he thinks golf is an activity that can be done safely.

While some courses might reopen immediately, Caves Valley plans to take its time preparing the facility and open May 22.

“We need a couple weeks to get things ready to go,” Bannister said. “Caves is a high-end experience. In order to present it the way you want, it takes a little time to tidy up.”

Republican lawmakers also had pressed to allow golfing, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress. Though he’s not a golfer, Harris said as an anesthesiologist he understands how to control infections.

To read the entire article click here.

Safe Boating Campaign To Run Through Labor Day

SANDY POINT STATE PARK – Vowing to step up enforcement and outreach to protect Maryland’s boating public, the Maryland Natural Resources Police today outlined a campaign that will run weekends through Labor Day.

Seventeen people have died in boating accidents in Maryland so far this year, two short of the record reached in 2011 and 1996.
“The victims ranged in age from 7 to 63. They were boaters, crabbers, paddlers, anglers, casual passengers out for a fun day on the water,” said Lt. Col. Ken Ziegler, acting superintendent of NRP. “The vast majority of them were not wearing life jackets. They all had one thing in common: None of them thought anything bad was going to happen to them that day.”

Ziegler has authorized additional weekend patrols from now through Labor Day weekend to enhance our visibility in high-traffic and problem areas. These patrols —around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Ocean City and Deep Creek Lake — are dedicated to boating safety. Officers will be checking for life jackets and other required safety equipment, looking for reckless boaters and targeting alcohol- and drug-impaired operators.

NRP Joining ‘Operation Dry Water’ this Weekend to Nab Impaired Boaters


As the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the Maryland Natural Resources Police will join this weekend with the Coast Guard and other maritime law enforcement agencies for Operation Dry Water, a nationwide crackdown on alcohol- and drug-impaired boaters.

From Deep Creek Lake and the Potomac River, to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, NRP officers take part in saturation patrols beginning Friday, looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .08.

The goal of the three-day campaign that combines messages about the dangers of boating under the influence and an increased police presence on the water, aims to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.

“Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent. “Alcohol and drugs can have a profound effect on a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Operation Dry Water makes it clear that Maryland has no tolerance for alcohol- or drug-impaired boaters.”

Read More Here:  http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2015/06/25/nrp-joining-operation-dry-water-this-weekend-to-nab-impaired-boaters/

7 Ways for Maryland Boaters to Stay Safe

7 Ways for Maryland Boaters to Stay Safe

Natural Resources Police offer tips after deadly week on water.

7 Ways for Maryland Boaters to Stay Safe

Maryland Natural Resources Police urge safety on the water, particularly after two boaters died in Baltimore and Cecil counties this week.

A 22-year-old canoeist and a 40-year-old sailor perished in separate incidents on Maryland waters, their bodies located over the weekend.

No matter what nature does, there are ways people can protect themselves before heading out, or when deciding whether to step aboard at all. Here are some boating safety tips from Candy Thomson, spokeswoman for Natural Resources Police:

  • Wear a life jacket. That’s number one. Nothing else is even close when it comes to protecting yourself. And it can’t help you if you’re not wearing it. Make sure that the life jacket has a whistle so you can call for help.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather. If there’s a small craft advisory and you’re in a small craft, think twice about going out.
  • Never go out alone.
  • Have enough safety gear for everyone on board.
  • Carry a phone in a plastic bag or dry bag.
  • If you’re going to be out at night, carry flares and a light.

Natural Resources Police will be patrolling the state’s waterways and parks. Over the Memorial Day weekend, its officers reported they were out in force—they issued 386 tickets; gave 1,104 warnings; found seven boaters driving under the influence; responded to nine boating crashes, including one fatal in Calvert County; and handled one fatal swimming incident involving a teen in Garrett County.

Read More Here:  http://patch.com/maryland/belair/7-ways-maryland-boaters-stay-safe

National Safe Boating Week!

NRP Steps Up Patrols As Boating Season Gets Underway

With the Memorial Day holiday approaching, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers will be stepping up enforcement of state maritime laws as part of National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22.

Late May begins the annual boating boom and the four-month stretch in which the majority of boating accidents in Maryland occur.

Last Memorial Day weekend, the state recorded eight boating accidents and two fatalities.

“For many people, Memorial Day weekend marks the first time they’ll be on the water since last fall,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent. “It’s important to review procedures, do a bow-to-stern inspection, and make sure all required safety gear is on board and in good working order.”

From today through Memorial Day, NRP officers along with allied agencies will be conducting saturation patrols to intercept impaired boaters and educate the public about best practices.

Maryland boasts a flotilla of more than 178,500 registered powerboats and sailboats, and countless smaller watercraft that ply the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic coastline, and lakes and rivers.

Read More Here:  http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2015/05/15/nrp-steps-up-patrols-as-boating-season-gets-underway/

In the wake of two deaths, 28 accidents, police stress boating, swimming safety

Michael A. Sawyers

Cumberland Times-News

— MCHENRY — A boater or swimmer or water skier is just as dead whether he or she drowns in the Chesapeake Bay or Deep Creek Lake and Maryland Natural Resources Police officials say there is too much of that going on.

Thursday morning NRP and Maryland Park Service representatives gathered at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis to point out the problem as well as the solutions.

Two people drowned in Maryland during the July 4 weekend. Twenty-eight boating accidents were reported during the past two weekends.

At Sandy Point, water users were told how to avoid accidents and how to deal with them should the need arise.

During 14 years of dealing with the same issues, but on Mountain Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake, if Sgt. Jeff Sweitzer hasn’t seen it all he has come pretty close.

“So far this year there have been nine reportable accidents at the lake, one involving a capsized boat, one a boating collision and the others involving injuries to water skiers or tubers,” Sweitzer said on Thursday.

The capsizing took place May 24 when three adults and one 4-year-old were on a rental boat that overturned. There were no injuries.

The collision was between a pontoon vessel and a motorboat. There were 11 people aboard the two vessels and none was injured.

A 48-year-old female broke a shoulder bone when she was thrown from a tube being towed and struck the water.

“It’s common for a group of kids to be towed on a tube and the tube hits a wake or other rough water and one child’s knee strikes another child in the head, things like that,” Sweitzer said.

No matter the size of a boat, there must be one wearable life jacket for each passenger. Boats of 16 feet or greater must have a qualifying throwable life preserver as well.

Although there is no speed limit on the main body of the lake, U.S. Coast Guard rules require an operator to be able to stop the boat within half the distance that can be seen ahead.

“Obviously at night you can’t see very far ahead and that’s when speeding is a real danger,” Sweitzer said.

A number of years ago, Sweitzer was on night patrol when a speeding boat came dangerously close to a fishing boat. Sweitzer began a pursuit.

“The boat was going so fast that it became unsafe for me to continue at that rate,” Sweitzer said. “So I kept on course, but slower.”

Pretty soon Sweitzer heard a man in the water screaming for help.

“It was one of the people who had been on the boat and had fallen without the others knowing it,” he said. “I picked him up and found out that there were nine family members on the boat and they had been drinking heavily. In fact, the man was so intoxicated that he couldn’t recognize where we were on the lake even though he had been coming there all his life.”

Sweitzer said he operated the boat along the shoreline until the man recognized the family boat at a dock.

“We walked up to the house and they were still partying and still didn’t know the man was missing,” Sweitzer said. “In fact, a couple of them argued with me that I hadn’t actually rescued the man.”

Charges followed.

The weekend of June 27-29, known as Operation Dry Water, was one of intense water safety patrol on lakes and rivers throughout the United States.

At Deep Creek Lake, on those dates, officers contacted 436 boats, made 320 safety checks, responded to three accidents, issued 32 citations and 119 warnings. There were no arrests for operating a boat while influenced by alcohol.

That changed on the July 4 weekend when there were 18 alcohol violations and two accidents.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police has investigated nine water-related fatalities so far this year. The total for all of last year was 19 fatalities. Those numbers do not include deaths handled by local jurisdictions, such as the two swimming fatalities in Ocean City last month, or accidents that occurred at private establishments.

This year, the victims range in age from 22 to 56. They include a commercial waterman, three swimmers, four men boating in protected waters and an inexperienced kayaker on a miles-wide stretch of the Potomac River.

Thursday at Sandy Hook, Col. George F. Johnson IV, superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, offered these safety tips for swimmers.

• Obey lifeguards and law enforcement officers. Heed warning signs and flags.

• Insist that young children or inexperienced swimmers wear a well-fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket in and the around water.

• Make sure an adult watches children and the elderly when at water’s edge. Keep young children within arm’s reach. If more than one adult is in attendance, take turns being the “Designated Kid Watcher.”

• Swim sober and never swim alone.

• Stay alert and check local weather conditions. Carry a cell phone.

• Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.

Sweitzer offered a couple tips of his own for users of Deep Creek Lake.

Tip 1 — Follow all the safety rules for water users.

Tip 2 — NRP considers enforcement of those rules a high priority for the popular mountain lake.

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

More here.

>Stay dry

>It’s illegal and unsafe to go boating and drinking
The Cumberland Times-News Thu Jun 23, 2011, 09:26 PM EDT

There may be people who actually believe that while it’s inadvisable to drink and drive an automobile, it’s OK to drink and operate a boat.

Well, it’s not.

Not only is it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence, it’s dangerous. In Maryland, alcohol and illegal drug use were contributing factors in 8 percent of the state’s 219 reportable boating accidents during 2010. In 2009, alcohol contributed to 16 percent of boating fatalities nationwide.

Warm weather brings the boating season, and Maryland Natural Resources Police recently charged a Pennsylvania man with operating a vessel under the influence on Deep Creek Lake.

Just as police are on the lookout for drunken drivers, they’re also trying to keep the boating public safe from drunken boat operators.

Today through Sunday, Maryland’s Natural Resources Police will be participating in the nationally coordinated Operation Dry Water, in which officials across America — including the U.S. Coast Guard — will be trying to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking in a boating environment.

The situation becomes even worse in waters that are comparatively crowded, like those of Deep Creek Lake.

Also, NRP officials say, boaters are subject to increased fatigue from sun, wind and water, and alcohol use magnifies this fatigue and impairs judgment and can can lead to arrest, accidents and death. The maximum penalty for operating a boat while impaired by alcohol is a $1,000 fine and a year in jail for first offenders.

As NRP says: Boat safe, boat smart and boat sober

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Man arrested after crashing boat into 2 docks

Posted: 08/24/2010

GARRETT COUNTY, Md. – Maryland Natural Resources Police have charged William Stewart Bender, 48, of Frostburg with negligent operation of a vessel, failure to keep proper lookout to avoid collision and speed too great for conditions.

Bender faces these charges after he was involved in a boating accident that occurred on August 21st. At 8:00 a.m. officers were notified by Caryn Gill of Beckman’s Peninsula Road that a boat had struck her dock during the night and that there was damage to her dock and the boat that was moored there.

Gill told officers that the striking vessel was sunk at her dock.

Natural Resources Police determined the striking vessel was operated by Bender, and an investigation revealed a 2007 22-foot Correctcraft pontoon boat, was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck a dock owned by David Klueter.

Read the rest here.

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Their treat: Cops to give free desserts to kids in life jackets

From the Outdoors Girl blog:

From Deep Creek Lake to the waters around Ocean City, kids wearing life jackets while boating this summer could win a free dessert for putting safety first.

Following the worst season for boating fatalities in more than a decade, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers will be giving away coupons for Rita’s Italian Ice as part of a stepped up education and enforcement program. Also, coupons will be given out wherever the colorful “Wear-it, Maryland” truck is on display.

The coupons are good for a free Italian ice at any of Rita’s 80 Maryland shops.

Last year, Maryland had 16 fatal accidents, resulting in 17 deaths–the highest number in more than a decade. Sixteen of the 17 victims were not wearing life vests.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350