Savage River Trail Progress

On the 27th of July, DNR held the ORV Stakeholders Meeting at Rocky Gap State Park. At the meeting, they showed the 30% design plans for the new Savage River trail system. Friends, I have to admit I’m impressed! DNR has definitely been listening to us and took to heart the lessons from the NOHVCC workshop last year.

For the rock crawlers, there will be a dedicated section roughly 50′ wide by 250′ long. Preston Stevens from the United Four Wheel Drive Associations, and Doug Dobrynski from the FJ Bruisers, provided input to add a bypass lane beside the rock crawl as well as other additions to make that crawl an all-day affair for the wheelers.

The campsites will have drive-through access for those of us pulling trailers. They will also be installing a water-less ADA-compliant toilet. There will be 4 group sides with a 40×40 pad and 4 family sites with a 20×20 pad. The pads are for tents and tables. For the kids, DNR will create a kiddy trail between the campsites. There is a trail head near the camp sites for families that want to go hike the Savage River Trail.

We suggested that the lower section, which traverses a long hill, be made narrower to slow down riders, increase enjoyment as well as reduce the cost of construction. Most bike and quad riders want a narrow twisty trail and DNR listened. It looks like roughly 30 miles of trail, using the loops as well as going all the way out and back, will be constructed. At the end furthest away from the campsites, we suggested an area be established for a pavilion for folks to take a break or have a picnic. We will be donating a picnic table for their use.

The next stage requires permits from the Department of Environment. This is where our meeting earlier with DNR Secretary Belton will pay off. He promised to engage with MDE to expedite the required permits.

Standby team! I think you will like the new trail system.

Meeting with DNR Secretary Belton

On July 20th 2015 we met with Mark J. Belton, Secretary of Natural Resources, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Land, Darryl Anthony and Paul Peditto, Director of the Wildlife & Heritage Service. Assistant Secretary Anthony’s appointment was quite a surprise and was literally announced minutes before the meeting. Prior to his appointment, Assistant Secretary Anthony was the DNR Parks Manager for western MD. He is a off-road enthusiast as well as a dirt bike rider and a mountain biker. We are extremely excited about his appointment.

We had a very positive meeting with the Secretary and Assistant Secretary. We focused on OHV recreational tourism and the economic benefit to rural counties, and public/private partnerships using reclaimed coal mines. We specifically asked him to ensure that the Savage River trail opens next year. Our community has waited almost 5 years for the promised establishment of a public OHV area and it is time to deliver. We also briefed him on the need to have a certified trail builder assist with the trail layout. Construction of sustainable and safe trails is not a job that anyone can do. The State needs to get this right the first time. He promised to engage other departments and remove roadblocks as well as push to ensure a trail builder is part of the construction team.

The DNR has been evaluating for acquisition 3,000 acres near Kitzmiller, MD. We have been discussing this with DNR for several years. We asked him to purchase the property and ensure it is operated as an OHV park. This needs the support of Garrett County leaders and we have been discussing that with them as well.  This could be the southern anchor to a joint public private riding area similar to Hatfield-McCoy. The Savage River trail would be the northern anchor. In that regard, we asked Secretary Belton to engage with the Department for Economic and Business Development to request a Joint DNR/DBED working group to look at OHV recreational tourism state-wide.

As I mentioned, it was a very positive meeting and the Secretary thought what we asked for was reasonable and he saw no show-stoppers.

The next year looks to be quite exciting!

Willderness Designation Meetings

This just in – I did not get it in time to go to the Frederick meeting.  Please attend if you can!

From: “Karis King” <KKing@dnr.state.md.us>
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2013 11:40:27 AM
Subject: DNR is Gathering Public Input on Possible Designation of Additional Wildlands

You are receiving this message because of your interest in Maryland’s natural resources. Starting today, the Department of Natural Resources will be holding public meetings in nine counties across the State to collect comments on designating additional Wildlands in Maryland’s Wildlands Preservation System. Click here for more information.

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DNR wildlands land-grab

FYI folks – can someone attend and report back? You can bet DNR won’t view wildlands as OHV friendly.

October 18, 2013
DNR wildlands proposal gets mixed reactions

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County Planning Commission members have mixed emotions about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlands Proposal that is up for review, according to county commission chairman Robert Gatto, who is a non-voting member of the planning commission.

Wildlands are state-owned natural areas preserved for their wilderness character or sensitive natural resources. The nine areas proposed in the county, both new and expanded wildlands, total 9,000 acres. The largest wildlands proposed is 3,993 acres of the Youghiogheny Corridor, Maryland’s only “wild” river.

“People definitely like to see the land preserved and protected for future generations, but at the same time there is the concern of are we protecting it too much and we aren’t able to do the things we want to do on that property,” said Gatto during the commissioners’ public meeting. “Some on the commission felt that it’s already protected because it has endangered species and so why protect it even more and limit potential down the road.”

Hunting and fishing are permitted on state wildlands, subject to existing laws, regulations and administrative policies.

“At any time, those designations could be changed where you wouldn’t be able to (do those things) depending on who is in office and what their intent is,” said Gatto.

Commissioner Jim Raley said that when the DNR purchases the properties, everyone becomes a landowner.

“Because each of us who pay taxes have put a little bit of money towards that purchase and it does concern me that sometimes in designations there are certain things they don’t want done,” said Raley. “My concern is that the state is going to continue purchasing land with our monies in our county. Then the citizens should be able to enjoy some economic benefit from that such as usage of those trails. Yes, there are limitations.”

For example, some off-road vehicle trails have been closed and restrictions have been placed on being able to consume alcoholic beverages in parks.

“The rules can change and that becomes my point of contention,” said Raley. “I think the folks in Garrett County need to make sure our state officials and DNR know those concerns. I want the lands protected but I want the citizens protected, too.”

Gypsy moth suppression can’t occur on wildlands, according to Commissioner Gregan Crawford. Swanton resident Marshall Stacy, whose land is surrounded by wildlands, stated, “My little patch is beautiful and green and everything around me is dead.”

“We invite people to see just how horrible the state has been as a steward of forest land by this gypsy moth mess,” said Marshall’s wife, Cindy Stacy.

The state owns $165 million worth of assessed value property in the county, which includes critical infrastructure, according to Raley. The state owns close to 80,000 acres in the county.

Local meetings regarding the wildlands proposal are scheduled Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at Deep Creek Lake State Park’s Discovery Center and Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at Allegany College of Maryland Continuing Education Room CE8.

More information on the wildlands can be found on the county’s website at http://garrettcounty.org/news/2013/10/dnr-beginning-public-input-process-on-wildlands-designation.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.
Link: http://times-news.com/local/x252031722/DNR-wildlands-proposal-gets-mixed-reactions

see this link

DNR Announces Results of Off-Road Vehicle Trail Review Process
by kking

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that of the three off-road vehicle (ORV) trails proposed for State-owned lands in Western Maryland, St. John’s Rock in Garrett County on the Savage River State Forest was the single property selected for ORV use. DNR made the decision based on comments gathered during the public input period this summer/fall.

“We are thankful to the citizens who took the time to share their input through the public process both at the meetings and through our online system,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “This is a great example of the department working with our professionals in the field to craft sound proposals and using public input to help guide the ultimate outcome. We also recognize the great work of the ORV Stakeholder Workgroup in helping lead us to this proposal phase and promise to continue coordinating with them to find alternative locations for this type of recreation.”

Ecologists and trail experts will work to establish paths and boundaries for ORV-use to develop the system for St. John’s Rock that would have minimal impact on surrounding natural resources. The system, slated for completion in the summer of 2014, will be managed, monitored, and its regulations enforced to ensure ecological best management practices.

“Our trails team is looking forward to implementing the new paradigm of ORV management on St. John’s Rock,” said John Wilson, manager of the Statewide Trails Development Office. “Working with our peers in land management, enforcement and information technology, we are confident that this trail, and all future ORV trails, can be well-regulated, safe and sustainable. We are committed to that end and look forward to demonstrating our plans for success.”

The other two proposals ─ Sideling Hill North and South trails, within the Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area near Hancock in Allegany County ─ have been withdrawn and removed from further consideration as ORV trails.

DNR will continue to fortify ongoing efforts to develop public/private partnerships on potential private land ORV trails, and further evaluate opportunities to acquire access to other private land locations for multi-use recreational facilities.

A number of ORV trails were developed within the State Forests in the mid 1980s, quickly becoming a popular, in-demand form of recreation. However, most of the trails had to be closed in 2011, as some of the activity began to threaten environmentally sensitive areas. With only a few small ORV trails still open, DNR began a comprehensive two-year study to assess its landholdings and develop a plan that would incorporate these trails in a manner that would have minimal impact on sensitive natural areas.

The DNR Survey is Open!

The long awaited Department of Natural resources survey is finally open.  Kudos to the OHVers among us that have been storming the Regional Stakeholder Outdoor Recreation Evaluation meetings with great enthusiasm.   It is very crucial the momentum continue and quantify the OHV users via the survey.

Get a vote in our OHV state lands, and help get a headcount of the OHV user community. Without your survey response, DNR won’t know how many of us need dirt under our tires.

There are at least 2 areas where you should watch for OHV inputs.  On the first page, ensure you mark OHV use, and also type a comment about lack of OHV access near the end of the survey.

Survey Link Here

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages Marylanders to share their thoughts on State parks and lands through a quick and easy online survey.

The survey asks a variety of multiple choice and open ended questions that will help DNR determine which outdoor recreation facilities, programs and services do and do not meet the needs of the community.

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Marylanders Asked to Provide Recreation Information

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking citizens for their input on State outdoor recreation facilities and services in areas throughout Maryland. The Department gathered information from those in Southern Maryland earlier this month and a meeting for the Western Region will be announced shortly.

We attended the first meeting and thought it went very well.  Over 50% of the attendees were OHV enthusiasts.  From that meeting, we created a set of talking points for your consideration.  Please see AGENDA-with-talking-points and attend the meeting nearest you! Continue reading