Watershed Plan was not approved– Opportunity for County Commissioners to consider lake management approach instead of the DNR Plan. Letter to the Editor, Republican Newspaper, 8/14/15.
During their visit, the DNR and MDE Secretaries were informed the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan was not approved by the previous Commissioners as DNR and others understood. The Commissioners wisely deferred plan consideration to the new Board. DNR-County watershed plan Memorandum of Understanding has lapsed as well as the Watershed Planning Committee.
In the process of plan development, the Commissioners were absent. Deborah Carpenter was lead County staff doing an excellent job, creating a strong relationship with DNR staff which continues today.
In contrast, the DNR Secretary and other top staff actively engaged in shaping the final plan and deferring consideration of a management entity or funding mechanism- both fundamental to any plan implementation.
It is now up to the County Commissioners to undertake consideration of the DNR-framed plan. They must get on with this complex task immediately. Friends of DCL has laid out for the Commissioners the many connections of lake management plan and other items on their “to do” list. In the interim, Commissioners must be very clear there are those operating as if the plan has been adopted. DNR staff referred to the plan as justification for purchase of the Yacht Club Road public access property, for example.
I am confident the next steps will be guided by the goals they Commissioners set for themselves when assuming office. We can expect an open, transparent and inclusive process with full involvement of all who contributed thousands of hours to the plan creation (not just the appointed Committee members), and, mindful that many legitimate watershed stakeholders were excluded from the process.
The review is an opportunity because it is no longer constrained by the DNR plan. The Commissioners now have the recommendations from by the professional association of lake managers for their consideration. These lay out the need for adoption of an effective, cost-saving lake management approach for the core of any plan. This approach would require active participation and investment financing from the State as owner of DCL and lead partner in any watershed approach. An aging, impaired lake like DCL, needs management focusing efforts and resources on the challenges—sediment accumulation, decline in water quality, invasive species and reduction of recreational uses- with best management practices. This approach does not ignore broader watershed issues but efficiently targets best management practices directly to the threats to the lake as a natural, recreational and economic resource for all.