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July 25, 2013

State, County Partner on Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan

by Martha

Photo of Deep Creek Lake

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.

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