Article submitted to The Republican Newspaper for submission in the October 11, 2012 issue

Friends of Deep Creek Lake Board has launched a  Save the Lake petition campaign drive asking Governor O’Malley to change his policy of non-investment in Deep Creek Lake and to immediately commit to funds for lake restoration and effective watershed approach to lake management.

Brian Greenberg, from the Friends of Deep Creek Lake Board, says” In the recent Republican Editorial we found out that Department of Natural Resources Secretary Griffin says there are no state fund available for the critically important task of removing sediment from the lake. This position is unacceptable since the state owns the lake and has legal and stewardship responsibilities for its well-being.  In the same Editorial, Griffin said he “does not believe that the lake is currently in serious trouble”.  Yet later in the same conversation, Griffin informed the Editor that “fixing the problem of sediment build up is some of the lake’s coves will be a monumental perhaps impossible task”  Greenberg stated, “ As a lake property owner, Griffin’s statement is sure serious to property owners impacted as well as the lake as a whole. “

Volunteers from Friends of Deep Creek Lake will begin circulating the Save the Lake petition during Autumn Glory events this coming week.

“Griffin says there are no funds for Deep Creek Lake. This is a state policy decision by the current administration, reflecting how the State has operated since it purchased the lake in 2001” says Barbara Beelar, Director. When the state purchased the lake for $17 million is 2001, it turned around and sold large portions of the buffer strip along the lakefront to abutting property owners, yielding about $14 million, “This was a real deal for the State and a disastrous precedent set by property owners” claims Beelar. Since 2001, State policy has been to put the costs of managing, research and monitoring the lake on private property owners.  Only a very few programs have been implemented and no restoration efforts undertaken.

According to DNR sediment studies and direct reports from around the lake, there are 24 areas which are suffering from sediment accumulation, reducing recreational uses during the season.  Four of these areas are where major commercial activities take place around the lake. This process is easily view off Rt. 219 just before Arrowhead.  Sediment accumulation is a natural process for man-made lakes, and is the sign of “aging”. Accumulation starts in the coves, farthest away from the dam. As waters become shallow, lake water temperatures warm providing setting for algal blooms. If lake management does not remove this sediment, areas of the lake will return to wetlands and small streams.

Editor Sincell informed the Secretary “ the majority of county residents also realize the importance of the lake”.   Why should Garrett Countian care about the State writing off sections of the lake? The fact is over 50% of the County tax revenues and local jobs are directly or indirectly related to the lake property values, tourism and investments which support the property owners and tourists. Any decline– perceived or real– will impact the “branding: of the lake, tax revenues and local jobs.

The Save the Lake petition campaign also calls for effective watershed approach to lake management. Paul Weiler, from the FoDCL Board, has undertaken a review of  recommendations for steps to be taken  in the DCL Recreation and Land Use Plan developed when the State took over the lake in 2001.  Of the ______recommendations which were rated in terms of level of action taken, Weiler has found “ The average for action on all recommendations is falls some where less than ‘ little action taken”. The Plan set out a coordinated  lake management team  of DNR, the Policy and Review Board ( appointed by the Governor to oversee lake management) and the County. Eleven years later many important recommendations made in 2001 go undone and a whole range of challenges have emerged.

The goal of the Save the Lake petition campaign is to gather signatures to present to Secretary Griffin when he comes to Oakland to attend the Board of County Commissioners meeting on November 14. “ Most lake property owners and users do not live in the area and will not be able to attend a meeting on a work day, no matter how much they are concerned about the future of the lake” says Beelar. The purpose of the petition is to convey to the Governor that no one in Garrett County can afford to let the lake decline. The current State policy allows this decline, which will impact lake residential property owners, commercial businesses, and all Garrett Countians with resulting decline in tax revenues and jobs. “ The State has chosen to commit to saving the Bay” says Greenberg “ it is also critically important the State commit to saving the lake. In Garrett county, a lot of our taxes and fees go to Bay restoration. We want the State to recognize we too are Marylanders and deserve financial investment in our future, too.”