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



Watershed Plan not approved

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.