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Rafting Boom Has Pros, Cons For Friendsville

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Aug. 26, 2010

Outdoor enthusiasts are flocking to Friendsville to enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Youghiogheny River. The town’s mayor and council met with the Garrett County commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the positive and negative aspects of this issue.

“Friendsville is very fortunate to have the Youghiogheny River flowing through our town,” Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle told the commissioners. “And over the years it’s continued to grow, as far as the whitewater rafters who come into the county in spring, summer, and early fall.”

He said that is a “good” problem, but it is also a problem that needs to be addressed.

The mayor noted that the Maryland Department of the Environment recently allowed rafters to be on the Yough on Saturdays, in addition to Fridays and Mondays. This allowance, coupled with low water levels on other rivers and the recent growth of rafting, means that hundreds of people are now pouring to Friendsville on weekends.

Local rafting companies reported they have more than 3,700 whitewater customers per year, according to Schlosnagle. The mayor stressed however, that this figure does not include numerous other kayakers and rafters who enter the Yough and other area streams on their own.
While this should be an economic boon to the town, it receives little of the county’s 4.5 percent admissions and amusement tax that rafting companies collect from their customers. That is because the official “put-in” or access site to the Yough River is located in the Sang Run area, which is several miles up stream from Friendsville. Rafters and kayakers park in the town, ride in company or private shuttle vehicles up to the put-in site, raft/kayak down the Yough, and get out of the river anywhere they can in Friendsville, rather than traveling another 30 minutes to a take-out point at the community park.

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