Cumberland Times-News

December 20, 2013

Group wants non-native species laws strengthened

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— MCHENRY —  Barbara Beelar, executive director of local conservation group Friends of Deep Creek Lake, requested that the District 1 legislative delegation strengthen a law that gives the Maryland Department of Natural Resources control over transportation of non-native species.

“It’s basically to strengthen it. DNR is doing an excellent job with it; the problem is the current legislation doesn’t deal with the enforcement and compliance side of things,” said Beelar during the legislative meeting Thursday. “So we can’t effectively stop people from bringing invasive species into bodies of water in the state of Maryland.”

Hydrilla was discovered in two small coves Sept. 27 by DNR Resource Assessment Service staff as part of the subaquatic vegetation monitoring program. The weekend of Oct. 5 the DNR located more hydrilla.

“With hydrilla, now, in Deep Creek Lake it’s a really serious matter and we don’t want to have any more of that coming into the lake,” said Beelar.

It is likely that the hydrilla was attached to a boat or boat trailer.

Bruce Michael, director of the Resource Assessment Service, will provide an update on the hydrilla during a January meeting of the Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board, according to Beelar.

Also during the legislative meeting, Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, requested legislation that would support transportation, security and communication during the Deep Creek 2014 International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom World Championships.

“These are key areas to ensure that the event goes as planned, protects the athletes, the spectators and that it is a world-class event,”said Christian.  

Next year’s world championship will take place Sept. 16-21 in McHenry at Adventure Sports Center International, the world’s only mountaintop whitewater course, which was built to host it.

Last year Garrett County was awarded $1 million from the state’s capital budget for upgrades to ASCI. The proceeds will be used as a grant to the county commissioners for the planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction and capital equipping of ASCl. The project will also include upgrading telecommunications and building new and upgrading existing infrastructure and facilities.

Some of the other items on the chamber’s 2014 legislative agenda include a post-Labor Day start for schools, reinstituting hold harmless funding for education and to support rural transportation projects.

“With the hold harmless we are looking for anything that can help our schools to stop the bleeding so they don’t continue to receive reduced funding from the state,” said Christian.

The county commissioners voted Tuesday to conditionally give the Garrett County Board of Education $2.2 million to help with the state funding gap.

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