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Ask an Expert: Fall 2018

Are you looking for a trail to hike with your pup? Wondering why dam removal is beneficial? Our experts have the answers! 

Man and woman admiring mountain view with their dog

Swallow Falls State Park; by Ink Byers

What are some good, dog-friendly trails? (Emmett in Emmitsburg)
The days are getting shorter and cooler as the leaves begin their dramatic, seasonal change. With thousands of miles of trails in dozens of parks, you’ll find one that is perfect for a weekend hike for you and your furry friend! If you’re ready for some exercise and bonding time with your pooch, grab your leash and head out on an adventure!

What dog wouldn’t like romping with their favorite person through the rugged hills of Western Maryland? Beckman’s Trail at Deep Creek Lake State Park blends history with your hike, introducing visitors to the sad tale of George Beckman and Delphia Brant, who were the ill-fated partners of Brant Mine—the ruins of which are located inside the park. The 2-mile loop passes large rock outcrops as it traverses the lower slopes of Meadow Mountain.

Longer-legged guests might extend on to the Indian Turnip Trail for a 6-mile circuit to the top of the mountain. The bay views from White Banks Trail at Elk Neck State Park are arguably some of the best in the state, but you and your dog will have to earn them! This is not an easy hike, but the rewards make it worthwhile, with fantastic vistas that are teeming with wildlife. This
is one of the less-traveled trails in the area because it takes some determination. The solitude makes for a quiet and peaceful hike, but make sure that both you and your dog are up to the challenge!

The Tuckahoe Valley Trail at Tuckahoe State Park offers something for everyone, with upland areas that dip down to bogs and wetlands abutting a creek. This is a splendid trip through the unique coastal plain ecosystem that dominates Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Consider taking a detour into Adkins Arboretum to learn more about the forest that you and your dog are exploring!

As always, please remember to wear proper gear, bring plenty of water and check for ticks before you leave.

—Dan Hudson, Maryland Park Service Trail Planner

Bloede dam before removal

Bloede Dam; by Stephen Schatz

What is the benefit of removing dams? (McKenzie in Kensington)
The construction of dams has played a significant role in the development of our nation. Dams in Maryland were originally constructed to impound water to turn gears, which would power grain, lumber and textile mills. They were also built to provide electricity, store water for irrigation, store drinking water for nearby towns and for recreation.

However, the benefits of dams often come at a cost to the environment. They block migratory fish like herring, salmon and shad from reaching spawning waters. These species migrate each spring
from the ocean to freshwater streams. Dams break this cycle and force fish to spawn in poor areas. Dams are recognized by biologists as a leading cause of the decline of these species in Maryland and beyond.

Other organisms are also affected. Dams slow down the water behind them, which causes sediment that was being carried by the river to sink to the bottom and cover up preferred habitat for aquatic insects. The slow-moving water behind dams is often warmer, especially on the surface. Warm water has less dissolved oxygen than cooler water, and can have negative impacts on sensitive species like trout.

By taking down dams deemed for removal, the department will improve stream connectivity for fish and aquatic organisms, improve fish passage, complement upstream restoration work and improve overall public safety.

—Jim Thompson, Fishing and Boating Services Fish Passage Coordinator


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