Boating Safety Cutbacks at DCL!

Boating Safety Cutbacks at DCL! 

The Lake Lowdown – Issue 1

 

In the 2012 season at DCL there will be a reduction of Natural Resource Police (NRP) “manpower” of 30% under 2010 funding levels—see chart below:

Year   2010 2011 2012
Total  – Watercraft Accidents(reportable)   37 37  
  Collision with Boats 6 2
  Collision with Objects 2 4
  Personal Injury 29 31
 
Violations Detected   1,630 1,073  
  Citations 435 409
  Warnings 1,195 664
 
Boating Related Deaths (Maryland) 12 24
Boating Related Deaths (Deep CreekLake)   0 0  
 
Officers Assigned to Garrett County (not including supervisors)   12  10 7 (+2 temp.   re-assigned from Al. Co.)
 
Manpower Loss -17% -30%

 

Is there a boating safety problem?

More folks are raising concerns about boating safety.  Some report they do not go out on the lake on busy summer week-ends; others focus on the dangerous boat exodus after the 4th of July Fireworks.  Recently citizens have requested action on boating safety issues at the Policy and Review Board and the POA.  We do not know what the response has been to these requests.

What’s the data? The Carrying Capacity Study

The last capacity assessment was done in 2003 and concluded:  “there are times when the lake’s recreational carrying capacity is exceeded and additional law enforcement may be required.  . .  There are a few areas of the lake that are routinely crowded and may pose safety concerns. .  .Greater law enforcement may be required in these areas.  There are also certain events (e.g., 4th of July fireworks display) where large numbers of boats assemble that may also require additional law enforcement to maintain safe boating conditions.” (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/irc/docs/00015716.pdf)

Changes since 2003

Casual lake observers know there are 1) more boats on the lake; 2) more boats are allowed at each dock; 3) there are more boats which create very large wakes; 4) changes in recreational activities have led to increased wakes– tubing, wake boarding and wake surfing; and 5) there are more rental boats operated by users with insufficient boat handling experience.

There is a tie between number of boats, level of NRP staffing and boating safety—this is just logical. What are the policy issues?

Does the number of boats on the lake create an unacceptable risk?  Does the risk fall on the State as owner of the lake which made the NRP cutbacks, knowing risks would increase? What will happen to boat insurance premiums? A local agent assured FoDCL premiums will not go up but did warn that we will see “increase speeding on the lake as well as the increased risk”.  Should new boat slips and additional rental boats, both currently allowed by Lake Management, be suspended during cutbacks in NRP staffing?   Should boating levels be tied to NRP funding levels?

Who is in charge at DCL—NRP, Lake Management or both?

Who do we call? Will it matter? We know many incidents go unreported.  Are other financial resources available? Have creative alternatives been explored, such as training volunteers for a Courtesy Patrol, like the sailing association uses during races.

Upcoming events of interest:

June 23, 2012:

Acting Lieutenant David Marple will be making a presentation about the NRP cutbacks at the upcoming POA meeting  at 8:30 at Garrett Eight Cinemas.

July 23, 2012:

The Policy and Review Board meets at 6:00 pm at the Discovery Center.

Resources:

Lake Manager Carolyn Mathews: cmathews@dnr.state.md.us
NRP Dave Marple: dmarple2@dnr.state.md.us

For more information, contact Friends of DCL at contact@friendsofdcl.org

Documents: