DCL at 92– no in-lake management plan

The following is a Letter to the Editor written by Barbara Beelar after attending the ceremony announcing the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan and formation of the Advisory Council.

At the macro level the North American Lake Management Society promotes an in-lake management plan functioning within the broader watershed approach. This framework is comparable to that advocated by former  DNR Secretary John Griffin. As enacted, the DC Plan does not reflect a priority for in-lake management, Lake Management Office and the Policy and Review Board.

At the lake/watershed level, the DC Plan and Advisory Council does not integrate the cast of characters which already are involved in DCL. The LTE highlights the issue of herding the “cast of characters” through the lesne of just one threat to DCL health– shoreline erosion.

At 92 years old, DCL suffers from absence of a lake management plan and investment. Recently there was a step forward. DNR Secretary Belton and MDE Secretary Grumbles signed the Deep Creek Watershed Plan and announced creation of the Advisory Group of County, DNR and MDE staff.

There are challenges ahead. A major one is lack of coordination among the myriad of “actors”.  Shoreline protection, a critically needed project, provides an illustration.

Early in the boating season, erosion is observable problem as high water levels and boat wakes combine to create shoreline erosion, turbidity, sediment accumulation and water quality impairment around the lake.

High water levels result from 2011 MDE Water Management Administration decision to amend Brookfield Power license to keep lake levels at upper limit through July. Now defunct SaveDeepCreek pressured MDE and Policy and Review Board for this change.  I failed to convince MDE to monitor impact, possibly because this responsibility lies in another unit, MDE Biological Stressor Identification Division.  

The Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan recommends continuation of these high levels, unfortunately.

In 2011, advocates defined the problem as “water levels” and solution was retention of high levels to support recreational enjoyment in shallow coves. Today, we know the problem is water depth reduction due to sediment  accumulation, lessening recreational uses and impairment of water quality; the solution is dredging and prevention of further shoreline erosion.  

For 10 years, shoreline stabilization has appeared on PRB agenda, awaiting a plan from  Lake Management Office.  Today there is only an “approach”:  abutting property owners maintain and stabilize the state-owned Buffer Strip, if they choose. Numerous owners and HOAs have paid thousands for shoreline stabilization—though public funding for such projects– Living Shoreline and 2010 Trust Fund—are available for the Bay. DCL property owners’ taxes support these Bay projects, not available for state-owned DCL stabilization!

A LMO Plan could include: 1) no-mowing zone along the shoreline; 2) set priorities–points and southern coves; 3) County tax incentives or deductions; 4) increase No Wake Zones, needing action by PRB, Boating Act Advisory Committee and the General Assembly; and/or 5) County DCL Zoning Ordinance to control runoff from private Buy-down easement lands and properties.

I have listed just some of entities involved in one problem. Needed is a focus on “In lake” protection and restoration within the watershed plan supported by state sustaining funding to ensure success for our state-owned lake.”    Barbara Beelar, Oakland MD



Lake Protection and Restoration


The State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund bill was heard in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Feubrary 14, 2017. Senator Edwards ( left position on panel) gave overview of bill and need for a Fund for the 15 state owned lakes. Commissioner Paul Edwards,( next to the Senator) gave the Committee the support for the bill from the Garrett County Board of Commissioners.

The Friends of DCL Panel provide in-depth rationale for the Fund. Brian Greenberg ( blue shirt) spoke of the dynamics of lake aging and decline as seen at Deep Creek Lake and manifested in all state owned lakes. Tony Fuller and Joe Zamoiski ( next to Brian) talked of their experiences living in Green Glade Cove, one of the 10 sediment impaired coves at DCL, with Joe highlighting the economic impacts of aging including loss of property value, tax revenues and threats to lake-related businesses.  Richard Matlick spoke representing A CLEAR DCL and the growing responses from lake owners, the formation of an alliance of the 500 plus HOAs, businesses, neighborhood groups and individuals in the impaired coves. He reported about meetings of this group, the recent Community Forum on models of lake dredging and recent decision to hire an environmental firm to conduct water quality sampling in the 10 coves, since DNR is not doing this monitoring.

Barbara Beelar, no in photo, spoke of the necessity for state financing of these lakes. Only DCL has lake property owners. The lake remediation are big ticket items– for dredging and retention mechanisms to slow additional sediment accumulation; shoreline and riparian stabilization, control of run off and storm water, prevent of introduction of aquatic species and installation of cleaning station, and upgrade of the aging sewer and septic systems. The state owns these lakes and are ultimately responsible for their sustainability.

The last presenter was Kristen Harbeson, Political Director from the MD League of Conservation Voters. She expressed her organization’s support for the bill and the need for state action for these important water bodies. Both the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy provided letters of support along with the Garrett County Board of Realtors, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. the Town of Friendsville, the DCL POA and close to 50 lake property owners.

The next hearing is on the House side on 2/22 starting at 1 p.m.

To learn more about the issue, please view the PowerPoint presentation prepared for the EHEA hearing SB396Presentationfinaluse as well as the statement from Friends of DCL Board submitted to the public record. SB396FoDCLstatement.