Edited by Mike Tumbarello, with contributions from Grant Callery, David Myerberg and various other sources

July was officially Lakes Appreciation Month and we in the Deep Creek Lake watershed have a lot to appreciate.  From the beauty of the lake, to the serenity of our mountain area, to the numerous activities on and near our lake, we truly have a lot to be thankful for.  This Cover Story is intended as an informational piece and an effort to acknowledge the efforts of those individuals and organizations that have taken it upon themselves to help nurture and preserve our great ecosystem.

While there are too many individuals to mention and also a number of worthy for-profit and non-profit entities dedicated to preserving and protecting Deep Creek Lake, Deep Creek Times has chosen to feature a few here.  In fact, parts of this Cover Story were submitted by the organizations profiled, and at our request. Other material was “pulled” from available information on the Internet and elsewhere.

So here goes our small token of appreciation and acknowledgment to all those dedicated to protecting Deep Creek Lake and its watershed.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources/Watershed Management Plan (source: DNR website, with edits and additions):

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Garrett County have partnered to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan for Deep Creek Lake. The Plan recommends guidelines to protect the popular lake-area. Click here to review the agreement establishing this partnership. The Plan development was announced at the 2013 State of the Lake meeting on July 24th at Garrett College in McHenry.

The intent of the Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan is to serve as a comprehensive, best practices guide to ensure that one of Maryland’s most visited, revenue-generating sites is protected far into the future. In addition to protecting the lake’s sensitive natural resources, the plan addresses water quality and recreational activities like swimming, fishing, boating and scenic viewing.

The plan has been developed with input from stakeholders and proposes recommendations for policy changes, restoration actions and public outreach needed to achieve both immediate and long-term benefits. It identifies existing water quality and environmental conditions, looks at future conditions, identifies needs to assess pollution sources and proposes strategies for addressing identified concerns.

While there has been some discussion and debate around this plan and its implementation, along with the roles and responsibilities of the state, it is important to note the formal and important role the Maryland Department of Natural Resources plays in the lake area.  Here’s a link to the Maryland DNR’s website for more insight on their mission and their scope of responsibilities and programs: http://dnr.maryland.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Deep Creek Watershed Foundation (source: Deep Creek Watershed Foundation):

“The Deep Creek Watershed Foundation is moving full speed ahead,” Foundation president David Myerberg declared this week.

“The Deep Creek Watershed covers a huge area,” Myerberg said. “It has a lake, farms, single family homes, roads, woods, hotels, retail businesses, and creeks. All of it has to work well together, and that’s what the Watershed Foundation is helping to make happen.”

Working in public-private partnerships, the non-profit Watershed Foundation is joining with the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environment (MDE), Garrett County, and Brookfield Renewable Power (which owns and operates the dam on Deep Creek Lake), to preserve and protect the watershed now and for generations to come.

The Watershed Foundation was created by a group of concerned Garrett County residents and homeowners to help realize the unfunded needs set out in the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan. The plan, developed by DNR and Garrett County in 2014, was approved in 2016 after months of meetings, fact-gathering and open discussions.

“The generous financial support we were given from the very start has let us hit the ground running,” Myerberg said.

Begun in 2016 with a $100,000 grant from Ted Giovanis in memory of his wife, Jayne Koskinas, and managed by an all-volunteer board of directors, the Watershed Foundation has received other contributions ranging from $100 through $10,000 from generous donors.

These donations have allowed the Foundation to give $97,000 to hire a private engineering firm to develop a technological approach to allow MDE, DNR and Brookfield Renewable Power to anticipate and equitably allocate water that comes into Deep Creek Lake from the watershed and other sources; $10,000 a year to help maintain MDE’s doser that remediates acid drainage from abandoned mines into Cherry Creek, a major tributary into Deep Creek Lake; and $6,000 to help pay, along with Brookfield Renewable Power, for DNR’s study that so far has assured that zebra mussels are not in Deep Creek Lake; as well as sponsoring University of Maryland Extension programs on how property owners in the watershed can manage stormwater runoff.

About the doser, Myerberg said, “This partnership supports MDE in the work that’s needed to keep the water running without the devastating acidity that flows out of those old mines.” Describing the water allocation effort, he said, “Having an independent, experienced business assemble all the available information about environmental factors on the watershed, and data on water-flow was important to us.” The goal, he continued, was to be sure they would have a reliable tool for giving the state agencies and the power company real-time information on how much water the lake will have, and allow them to confidently provide for its use.

The Watershed Foundation was led by Pat Franc as president during the first years of its existence. “Pat did a yeoman’s job guiding the Foundation through our developmental phase,” said Myerberg. Other members of the Board of Directors are Monty Pagenhardt, Bob Hoffmann, Marie Dray, Paul Weiler, Doug Mohler, Nina Beitzel, Karen Smith, and Elizabeth Georg. Advisors to the board are Susie Crawford, Pat Franc, Lulu Gonella, Nicole Christian, Morgan France, Ashley Bodkins, Steve Green, Kristen Skeweris, Barbara Hafer, and Barry Weinberg.

On the horizon for the Watershed Foundation are ventures suggested by the combined state and county Administrative Council, DNR, MDE and projects highlighted by the Watershed Management Plan. “Giving to the Watershed Foundation is a terrific way for people who care about our wonderful watershed to make a difference in keeping it marvelous for years and years to come,” Myerberg said. He noted that donations can be made at the Foundation’s website, www.deepcreekwatershedfoundation.org and that these are tax deductible.

Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake: (source: Grant Callery, Editor Deep Creek Dispatch)

The Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake, Inc. was chartered by the State of Maryland in 1949 and grew out of ‘Deep Creek Lake Association’, founded sometime prior to 1938. The POA is the oldest and largest organization advocating for the interests of the stake holders of Deep Creek Lake. Membership fees are a “bargain” at just $30 per year and all residents, HOA’s and others interested in lake affairs are invited to join. Membership information can be found on the POA website at – www.deepcreeklakepoa.com.

The POA was formed to serve as the representative organization for lake residents. Over time that service has taken many forms including advocating for the members with county, state and federal officials, representing members’ interests on various community leadership boards, contributing to community initiatives and always maintaining communication with the membership on issues of importance for quality of life at the lake and the entire watershed.

As a tax-exempt corporation, the POA strives to be an open, transparent and responsive organization. Additionally, the POA goes to great lengths to assure that information passed on to members is vetted for accuracy and is timely. It holds general membership meetings twice a year that are open to the public as well as Board meetings that are open to the POA membership.

Directors volunteer their services, and 100% of the membership dues directly support the POA mission. The Board is elected by the members and over the years the leadership of the POA has forged long-term and close working relationships with all local, county and state entities having responsibility for issues impacting Deep Creek Lake. POA Board members currently serve in leadership capacities with a broad range of organizations including the DCL Policy Review Board, Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, The Deep Creek Watershed Foundation, Deep Creek Lions Club, Garrett College Foundation, numerous HOA Boards as well as other organizations throughout Garrett County. Throughout the years, the major function of the POA continues to be keeping our membership informed on issues affecting property owners. The POA publishes a newsletter, The Deep Creek Dispatch which they deliver electronically or in written form if members so desire. With the move into the information age technology has enabled the POA to provide ongoing communication beyond quarterly newsletters. They now send “eBlasts” to members for timely notices and updates and these communications can alert members on urgent matters as well as provide rumor control on others.

In addition to email communications, the POA has a robust website. The site contains answers to FAQs about lake use, regulations, resources and specific functions of the POA. The POA has been a sponsor of the 4th of July fireworks at Deep Creek Lake. The POA contributes to the After-Prom event for both Garrett County High Schools and participates in the Deep Creek Lion’s Club Boat Parade in support of the Lion’s Club Blind Skier’s program. They are dedicated to keeping their members updated on issues important to Deep Creek Lake property owners including wake surfing regulations, dock regulations and the State Lake Funding and Restoration Fund. The Winter 2019 issue of the Dispatch was dedicated almost entirely to educating members about the upcoming renewal of the Water Appropriations Permit. The POA is dedicated to supporting the long-term viability of the lake as a sustainable recreational facility for all property owners and others who enjoy the beauty of this treasured resource.

Friends of Deep Creek Lake (FoDCL) (source: Friends of Deep Creek Lake website)

Friends of Deep Creek Lake promotes stewardship, conservation and restoration of Deep Creek Lake and its watershed. FoDCL is a watershed organization reflecting the fact Deep Creek Lake is a component of an evolving watershed-wide eco-system.  Sustainability of the lake must be based on research, assessment, planning and program implementation using the broader watershed approach. MD Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin articulated the same perspective recently when he urged the County Commissioners to “adopt a broad watershed approach”.

Their work relies on volunteers, extensive contributions for their Working Board and an unpaid Director. Friends of Deep Creek Lake is incorporated as a non-profit organization with the primary source of financial support from individuals. Business donors have made direct contributions and have been generous with in-kind support as well. FoDCL have been successful in receiving various grants to support their work with grant sources including the Center for Watershed Protection, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Constellation Energy, Garrett County Civic Club, and Exxon-Mobil. To learn more about The Friends of Deep Creek Lake, including how to donate, please go to their Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfDCL/

While this was one of our longer Cover Story articles, it could have been much longer and included many more individuals and organizations involved in protecting Deep Creek Lake and its watershed.  We thank all of you and please, please, please, keep up all of your great efforts that benefit all that live or visit our watershed.