Michael A. Sawyers
MCHENRY — By October 2014, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Garrett County commissioners will have jointly developed a plan that will guide decisions about Deep Creek Lake for years to come.
An announcement about the collaboration was made Wednesday night at Garrett College by DNR Secretary Joe Gill during the third annual State of the Lake Meeting.
Gill called the lake a special place.
“You are driving south on (Route) 219 and there is the water and restaurants and the pastoral setting. It provides wonderful serenity,” Gill said. “There’s just something about the water and we know you love the lake. We do, too,” Gill said, addressing the audience.
Gill said this is the first lake meeting conducted in the summer, a decision made to include seasonal visitors and property owners in the discussion.
The DNR will pay 60 percent of the $50,000 tab to create the management plan with the county picking up the remainder.
Although the bulk of the meeting was an explanation of the planning process that will take place, some information was provided about the lake’s condition.
“The water quality is good, meeting clean water standards,” said Bruce Michael of the Maryland Department of the Environment. Increased rainfall this spring and summer has made the lake more turbid and reduced clarity by three feet.
Various environmental parameters continue to be monitored, including water quality and vegetation. Good plants such as native eel grass and pond weed are more prevalent than invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, according to Michael.
This has been an excellent year for yellow perch, Michael said, with many fish measuring 12 to 14 inches. The lake holds more and larger largemouth bass than before, Michael said, with many fish greater than 15 inches.
Michael said there are 10 coves with sediment greater than 12 inches. Strategies to prevent or reduce sediment deposition will be part of the lake’s management plan.
Another MDE spokesman, John Grace, said efforts to reduce lake leakage at the power plant during times when electricity is not being generated have not been noticeably successful.
Grace said when 18 cubic feet of water per second is being lost from the lake that the surface will drop about four inches in a month.
Catherine Shanks, DNR, said it is beneficial that 50 percent of the lake’s watershed is forested. Another 20 percent is agricultural land. Development covers another 20 percent and the remaining 10 percent is water or wetlands.
A steering committee of seven to nine members who will direct the development of the management plan will be named Aug. 13. Individuals wishing to serve should email a letter of interest and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Aug. 2.
County Commissioners Jim Raley and Gregan Crawford each expressed thanks that the state would include the county as a lake management partner. Crawford praised the upcoming process as proactive and pragmatic.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at email@example.com.