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New DNR secretary to visit region

Cumberland Times-News

MCHENRY — Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz plans to visit Allegany and Garrett counties on Monday.

Kurtz has been acting secretary of the organization since Jan. 18, and became secretary on Feb. 17.

DNR Media Relations Manager Gregg Bortz on Sunday said the visit to the region does not include public events, and Kurtz will conduct internal meetings with area employees.

“He’s making an effort to do that around the state since taking office,” Bortz said via email and added that Kurtz will make time for a media interview.

‘Fight like h***’
A big question for the secretary surrounds the future of $4 million allocated last year by the Maryland General Assembly in DNR’s critical maintenance program for trail development along the state protected Wild Youghiogheny River.

The proposal has been opposed by numerous area property owners and elected officials who want the money to be used for other projects in Garrett County.

“I’m gonna fight like h***,” Sen. Mike McKay said on Sunday of working to keep the funds in Garrett County and added that he believes he has support from the governor’s office. “Right is right.”

In a letter to Kurtz last month, the Board of Garrett County Commissioners asked the state to abandon the trail proposal, and give them control of the money for other trail projects.

Friendsville’s mayor and town council also formally opposed the trail development.

“My goal (for) the Yough is to support what the community wants,” McKay said.

The money trail
The way the money made it into the budget, signed by Gov. Larry Hogan last year, was convoluted at best.

In September 2021, Hogan announced the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, within DNR, and the hiring of J. Daryl Anthony to serve as its first executive director.

Records show that before the $4 million was allocated, meetings that included Anthony, then Del. Wendell Beitzel, and Garrett Trails were held to discuss funding for the development in the Wild Yough corridor.

Beitzel would later say he pushed for the financial allocation “to provide some economic opportunity and to provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation” for the area.

In January 2022, Anthony, in an email to Beitzel’s chief of staff, said, “While I have not asked for specific funding dedicated to the Yough Canyon Trail, I am very hopeful that funding will be available to support outdoor recreation opportunities … the Yough Canyon trail is a high priority for investment.”

In June, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who was DNR secretary at the time, said the appropriation was neither part of the department’s capital budget request nor the governor’s fiscal 2023 budget submission.

Now, legislators will again determine the fate of the funds.

“The General Assembly can move the money from one pot to another,” McKay said and added that he’s “been clear from day one” that he wants the cash to be used in Garrett County.

“I’m 100% sure there will be transparency going forward,” he said. “I can guarantee you that there won’t be any firm decisions that are made without (public) input.”

‘Preserve and protect’
John Bambacus, a former state senator and mayor of Frostburg, has been a leader of the community that opposes development of the Wild Yough.

On Sunday, he said Kurtz’s visit to the area is “extremely important” and talked of valuable resources, including state parks and forests in Garrett County.

Bambacus hopes Kurtz will follow a decision outlined in a 2014 letter written by then DNR Secretary Joseph Gill.

At that time, Gill responded to a letter from Beitzel and former Sen. George Edwards requesting to develop a segment of the Eastern Continental Divide Loop Trail through the Youghiogheny Scenic Corridor.

Gill rejected the idea because it would involve reconstruction of an old rail line and replacement of several bridges.

Environmental regulations would preclude such construction and flooding along the river, he wrote.

“The policy of the state is to preserve and protect the natural values of these rivers, enhance their water quality, and fulfill vital conservation purposes by wise use of resources within their surrounding environment,” Gill wrote. “We are unable to approve development of this area for numerous reasons.”

Teresa McMinn is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or tmcminn@times-news.com.

To view the article click here.

Outdoors Maryland Set to Return for its 33rd Season on Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Southern Maryland News Net

Maryland Public Television’s (MPT) award-winning original series Outdoors Maryland returns for its 33rd season on Tuesday, November 9 with four new half-hour episodes airing throughout the month. Produced in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Outdoors Maryland presents thought-provoking stories that capture the state’s beauty as well as its diverse collection of ecosystems, people, and places.

Outdoors Maryland airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on MPT-HD and via MPT’s livestream at mpt.org/livestream. Episodes are also available to stream on-demand at video.mpt.tv and on mobile devices via the PBS Video App.

Segments premiering during the November 9 episode are:

  • A Family Affair (Dorchester County): Eastern Shore trapper Justin Aaron demonstrates the long legacy of muskrat trapping in his family as they prepare for the 2020 National Outdoors Show, a celebration of survival skills and crafts. DNR biologist Donald Webster outlines the trapping program in Maryland and educates viewers on the lifecycle and habits of muskrats.
  • Feel the Burn (Allegany County): For the first time in decades, fire is being used for forest management at the Sideling Hill Creek Nature Preserve in Little Orleans. With eyes towards the future, DNR and Nature Conservancy experts observe and share the ecological benefits of the introduction of flames to the landscape just months after a carefully controlled burn.

New segments airing on November 16 are:

  • A Much Anticipated Emergence (statewide): Millions of cicadas took to the skies of Maryland and the East Coast during the spring of 2021. University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp and Baltimore artist Michael Brown, creator of Cicada Parade-a, offer their unique takes on the Brood X spawning through science and art.
  • To Catch a Catfish (St. Mary’s County): The invasive blue catfish is threatening the delicate balance of life in the Chesapeake. While DNR researchers work alongside the U.S. Geological Survey in tracking these fish to manage their population, officials are encouraging greater fishing of the invasive species to help curb its rise.
  • An Epoch Unearthing (St. Mary’s County, Calvert County): Dr. Stephen Godfrey from the Calvert Marine Museum has discovered several fossils of ancient marine life in the area of Calvert Cliffs, hinting at a different Chesapeake than people know today. Meanwhile, in Laurel’s Dinosaur Park, paleontologist JP Hodnett has uncovered the fossil-rich area’s latest find: Astrodon, Maryland’s State Dinosaur.

Segments premiering during the November 23 episode are:

  • Off the Beaten Path (Garrett County): Designed with both recreation and stewardship in mind, the newly formed Wolf Den Run State Park has breathed new life into a swath of land affected by mining and logging. Off-road vehicles are encouraged on the trails while other areas are cordoned off so certain species – such as the endangered Allegheny Woodrat – can return.
  • A Fledgling Enterprise (statewide): As the arrival of an exotic bird – the Painted Bunting – excites birders and scientists with its colorful plumage, it sparks conversation about the future. As rising sea levels and temperatures cause birds to change their nesting and migration habits, the Maryland Bird Atlas – a years-long effort that enlists bird watchers as citizen scientists – aims to catalogue the state’s avian population.
  • Iron Mountain (Frederick County): Adjacent to picturesque Cunningham Falls State Park lies the ruins of a booming iron foundry called Catoctin Furnace. The furnace heavily employed the use of slave labor and has now become a landmark for preserving Black history. Through research, historians understand more of the culture brought by enslaved Africans and have even reconstructed the visage of some of those who were buried on the property.

The fourth new episode of the 33rd season, airing Nov. 30, will feature fan-favorite classic content including profiles of landscape painter Kevin Fitzgerald and photographer David Harp as well as students raising horseshoe crabs in their classrooms.

In January 2022, Outdoors Maryland will deliver two more new episodes highlighting topics from the mysterious Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay to the continent-spanning migration of birds and more.

Since debuting in 1988, MPT has produced more than 700 Outdoors Maryland stories on topics ranging from science-oriented environmental issues to segments about unusual people, animals, and places around the state. The series has earned more than 50 awards over more than 30 years of production, including several Emmy® Awards from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

DNR black bear den survey proves productive

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — Last month, as he does every March, Garrett County resident Harry Spiker checked on black bear sows and their cubs as they slept in their dens.

Spiker is a game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is also Maryland’s principal black bear biologist coordinating bear research and management activities statewide. Since he lives and works in Garrett County, he also helps with bear management and nuisance issues locally.

“We maintain a sample of radio-collared sows (female bears) to track population growth and the overall health of the bear population,” Spiker said. “We try to maintain approximately 20 bears with radios across the four western counties. Since bears give birth every other year, that usually has us working about 10 bear dens per year but there are fluctuations as some bears may die, move away, den in unreachable places, etc.”

To read the full article click here.

Deep Creek Lake Residents Opposing New Public Access Plan

SWANTON, Md. (AP) — A homeowners group is asking the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to suspend a pending land purchase that would create more public access to the state’s largest lake.

The Cumberland Times-News reports that the Property Owner’s Association of Deep Creek Lake has asked the department hold off on the $1 million purchase until it addresses concerns about whether the site is appropriate for public access


Read More Here – http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2015/08/10/deep-creek-lake-residents-opposing-new-public-access-plan/

Restrictions placed on use of jetpacks at Deep Creek Lake

MCHENRY, Md. (AP) – Officials say the use of jetpacks has been restricted at Deep Creek Lake.

The Cumberland Times-News (http://bit.ly/1KghIFO) reports that Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board spokesman Bob Hoffmann says the devices can be used, but not on weekends or holidays during the summer season.

Jetpacks are backpacks that use water to thrust a wearer into the air.

Read More Here: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/29587189/restrictions-placed-on-use-of-jetpacks-at-deep-creek-lake

NRP Urges Safe Boating During Busy July 4th Holiday

NRP on patrol on the Magothy River

After a weekend in which three people died on Maryland waterways, the mission for the Maryland Natural Resources Police this July 4th holiday is simple: fewer boating accidents.

The game plan is direct: officers will be going all-out on the state’s waterways, from the Atlantic Ocean to Deep Creek Lake.

“Maryland has seen eight boating fatalities so far this season and that’s eight too many,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent. “Our officers will be aggressively targeting reckless and negligent boaters, and those whose judgment is impaired by alcohol or drugs.”

Historically, more than half of Maryland’s annual total of boating accidents occur in July and August. Last year, Maryland recorded 130 boating accidents that killed 12 and injured 96.

As a dress rehearsal for July 4, NRP took part last weekend in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign to curb alcohol- and drug-impaired boating.

Read More Here:  http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2015/07/02/nrp-urges-safe-boating-during-busy-july-4th-holiday/#more-8804

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month with DNR!

Fun kicks off with National Trails Day June 6DNR Outdoors

June marks the last few weeks of school, the beginning of summer and the perfect time to get outside! The Department of Natural Resources makes celebrating Great Outdoors Month fun and easy with its network of beautiful state parks, a variety of educational programs and the AccessDNR mobile app.

From trekking the mountains of western Maryland, to swimming in Deep Creek Lake, to camping at Assateague Island, Maryland’s 66 State Parks offer recreation to satisfy all types of interests. And with the location-based AccessDNR app, users can easily discover and locate state parks, trails, boat launches and hunting lands, in relation to where they are.

For those in search of guided activities, DNR’s Calendar of Events lists a variety of scheduled opportunities including nature crafts, animal encounters, pontoon tours, educational hikes, stargazing, fishing trips and much more. Available throughout June, and all year long, most of these DNR-sponsored activities are extremely affordable, if not free. And don’t forget, June 6 and 13 (and July 4) are free fishing days in Maryland!

Read More Here:  http://smnewsnet.com/archives/310696/celebrate-great-outdoors-month-with-dnr/

Md. Dept. of Natural Resources tags black bears

SWANTON, Md. (WJLA) – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to keep tabs on the state’s black bear population.

Each spring, agents fan out to find bear cubs and their mothers to tag them for future monitoring. On Wednesday, they were out near Deep Creek Lake.

Deep in a hole in a hillside along a cold mountain stream, a black bear gave birth. State biologists have been tracking the 12-year-old bear with a radio collar for years. On Wednesday, it was time to change her collar and check her cubs. Biologists say their greatest concern is keeping the cubs warm.

It took two to pull the 230-pound adult bear from her den, before a veterinarian checked her.
Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2015/03/md-dept-of-natural-resources-tags-black-bears-112622.html#ixzz3VV5P41Nt

DNR Welcomes Public Input on State Forest Annual Work Plans

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the proposed 2016 fiscal year work plan for Potomac Garrett, Green Ridge, Savage River, Chesapeake and Pocomoke State Forests.

State forest annual work plans identify the work that is to be accomplished for the fiscal year within the scope of the forest’s long-range management plan. The plans address establishment, growth, composition, health, quality forest management operations, as well as maintenance and construction projects, and other required work.

Read More Here:  http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2014/11/05/dnr-welcomes-public-input-on-state-forest-annual-work-plans-3/

Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan

Tuesday, August 26th

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Garrett County have partnered to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan for Deep Creek Lake. The Deep Creek 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. 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.  For more information please visit the DNR Lake Management Plan website.

Read More here: http://www.garrettcounty.org/planning-land-development/deep-creek-lake-watershed-management-plan