In an eBlast dated April 10, 2018, we provided you with the three important points covered in the bill that passed the State Senate and House of Delegates. To repeat those:
The bill provides for $1M per year;
The money becomes available in July of 2019;
And will continue for four years after which (or before) the law must be modified or it will cease to exist.
Before I go on, I want to be sure to thank our elected representatives Senator George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzell for their tireless efforts in getting this bill passed. For some period of time it was on "life support" but was brought back to life and was passed by the Senate and the House of Delegates and now only awaits signature by Governor Larry Hogan to become law. I also want to thank our own Garrett County Commissioners and County Administrator for the work they did in supporting passage of this bill, realizing it is good for all lakes in Maryland, Deep Creek Lake in particular, and Garrett County as well as its residents. Our Chamber of Commerce leadership and staff, as well as their great lobbyist, Dennis Rasmussen, are also to be congratulated for the fine work they did supporting the passage of these bills. I want to recognize the Friends of Deep Creek Lake organization as well for what it did to get the legislation approved. Lastly, to all of our POA members who wrote letters to Senators and Delegates at our request to seek passage of the bill, a great big THANK YOU AND JOB WELL DONE!
I followed this bill closely and wrote my own letters. I fully realize we would have preferred to have it pass with the $3M that was in the bill when introduced, but politics is the art of compromise. As Wendell Beitzel wrote to me, we achieved a "partial victory". I will take a partial victory ($4M) because it is a lot better than a loss which would have been nothing at all. It is my opinion this bill clearly acknowledges the state has responsibilities for "Protecting and Restoring" state lakes beyond just funding the budgets for DNR and MDE every year. I have spoken to several DNR officials and to a person they are excited and look forward to having the $1M per year to work on problems and issues in Maryland's lakes.
Since roughly 2012, as a community, in collaboration with state agencies we have:
Collectively developed a Watershed Management Plan (WMP);
Completed an MOU with the County, DNR, & MDE which created the Administrative Council with a Watershed Coordinator to help with the implementation of the WMP;
Created the Deep Creek Watershed Foundation (DCWF) in 2016 which, through private-public partnerships, is assisting in the implementation of the WMP (see deepcreekwatershedfoundation.org);
Established the State Lakes Protection & Restoration Fund in 2017 then successfully generated state funds in 2018 to allow DNR to address some issues in all 16 state-owned or managed lakes.
My opinion is that we have made significant progress over the past few years in doing things to protect and restore our watershed and lakes. Are we done, No. Can we afford to stop working to make things better for the future, No. However, we have made, and will continue to make, progress! I am optimistic about the future of our watershed and DCL!