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April 21, 2013

Garrett OKs funding to help stabilize banks of Savage River

OAKLAND — The Board of Garrett County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to appropriate $3,200 to the Savage River Watershed Association’s stabilization/restoration project, slated for this summer, with several conditions, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator.  

Over the years, flood events have caused the banks of the river to erode and sediment is being carried downstream, which could impact native brook trout spawning beds. There is also potential for floodwaters to compromise a septic system.

“One of the important things for us about working on the Savage River is that it is such a great trout stream,” said Todd Miller, an aquatic restoration director with the Canaan Valley Institute. “So, that’s important from a habitat and fishery perspective.”

The $3,200 appropriation allots $1,600 for each parcel and the per parcel amount is consistent with the Garrett County Shoreline Stabilization and Erosion program for Deep Creek Lake property owners. Commissioner Gregan Crawford recommended that funding be provided consistent with the program, which funds have already been designated for.    

Commissioners voiced their disappointment that the Metz family or someone from the watershed association wasn’t in attendance at the meeting, Pagenhardt said. Commissioners also voiced their disappointment that property owners Fred and Susan Metz were not required to co-share in the project.

“I guess the way we think of it is, they’ve tried. They’ve done what they could in terms of trying to plant things and stabilize the banks,” said Miller during an April 2 commission meeting where the funding request for the project was made. “They are not contributing cash to the project, they are certainly the impetus behind this. I think their support has been critical in getting the grants.”

The Metz family has lost about 40 feet of bank and has tried to stabilize it by planting vegetation on it. Since the banks are so eroded and undercut, the roots of the vegetation that Metz planted didn’t go down deep enough to keep the vegetation in place, Miller said.

Metz has signed a maintenance agreement to maintain the vegetation, said William Postlethwait, Canaan Valley Institute stream restoration specialist

During the April 2 meeting, Canaan Valley Institute requested $10,000 in funding that could include a cost share on material or other in-kind services. About $197,000 in a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant will be used toward construction activities. Grants for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Environment and Chesapeake Bay Trust will also be used for the project and the $10,000 is needed to match the project, Postlethwait said. The project on the Metz property will cost about $275,000.

The project for the Metz properties requires a final permit approval from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency through a conditional revision for the flood insurance rate, flood boundary and floodway maps. One of the commission’s conditions is that the project must secure final permit approval.

In 1996, a storm caused erosion and private property damage to portions of the Savage River and the county had to move a road and clean up the debris from the river, said Dwight Emory, county Department of Engineering. Some work was done on the Metz property following the storm.

“Just over time the river seems to wander back and forth between the mountains in the valley,” said Dwight during the April 2 meeting.

During the project, J-hook rock structures will be used to redirect water flows from the outside bend of the river and a planting project will be done.

The commission also approved/discussed the following:

• A recommendation from the county LEAN Committee to amend the Reimbursable Travel Policy.

• A contract amendment, contract awards, contract extensions for the county Purchasing Department.

• Heard an update on Deep Creek 2014 and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Slalom World Championship.  

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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