Department of Natural Resources Highlights Deep Creek Lake Partnerships; Announces $2.2 Million in Additional Funding

Sep 7, 2021

Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio Presents ‘State of the Lake’ Address

Photo of Secretary Riccio speaking at a podium

Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio discusses updates and issues related to Deep Creek Lake. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio on Tuesday delivered a “State of the Lake” to homeowners, officials, and stakeholders with interest in Deep Creek Lake. The secretary also announced $2.2 million in additional funding for dredging as part of her presentation.

Speaking to the group at Garrett College, Secretary Riccio discussed the state’s long-term commitment to water monitoring at the lake, ongoing efforts to prevent and combat aquatic invasive species, and work to protect and expand the lake’s freshwater fisheries. 

Above all, the secretary commended the partnerships between the state and local stakeholders and elected officials that support these efforts and help advocate for the resources to achieve these goals.

Photo of Deep Creek Lake during the summerMonitoring indicates that the lake is healthy, with low nutrients levels at mainstem sites and clear water throughout. The state continues to follow the comprehensive watershed management plan for Deep Creek Lake, developed in 2015 by DNR and Garrett County to recommend guidelines to protect the popular area, balancing environmental and economic needs.

Secretary Riccio provided numerous updates to the activities at Deep Creek Lake, including:

  • Governor Larry Hogan just released $2.2 million in new funding for pilot dredging projects in Deep Creek Lake, including $1.2 million for the Arrowhead Cove pilot dredging project.
  • The State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund, approved by Governor Hogan in 2018, provides $1 million a year for three years for state-owned lakes including Deep Creek Lake. This money has supported invasive hydrilla control, fish habitat installation, shoreline erosion control, and dredging.
  • The Deep Creek Lake Launch Steward Program, a cooperative effort between Garrett College’s Natural Resource and Wildlife Technology program and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Stewards conduct voluntary boat inspections and educate the public about aquatic invasive species. Since 2016, the Stewards intercepted 29 vessels that carried aquatic invasive species, including zebra mussels, a species found in other nearby waters, thwarting their expansion into Deep Creek Lake.
  • Further, more than 20 different species of mostly native submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) are flourishing; oxygenating and providing natural filtering of the water, reducing wave energy to help stabilize shoreline, and providing critical habitat for fish, and,
  • The Department of Natural Resources is helping build fish structures at 125 locations to be installed in the next few years, leveraging $60,000 in funding from the State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund.

Deep Creek Lake is a manmade impoundment that is Maryland’s largest body of freshwater. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources manages the lake, shoreline, and adjacent Natural Resource Management Area and State Park. The Maryland Department of the Environment manages the water level and lake bottom. Brookfield Renewable owns and operates the hydroelectric dam, construction of which formed the lake in the 1920s. Garrett County manages the lake’s 40,000-acre watershed.

Stakeholder groups that meet regularly with DNR staff are the Deep Creek Watershed Foundation, Property Owners Association of Deep Creek Lake Inc., Friends of Deep Creek Lake State Park, and local elected officials.

The Deep Creek Watershed Foundation organized Tuesday’s address.