“The Deep Creek Watershed Foundation has just completed its inaugural projects,” announced Foundation president David Myerberg this week. “And we have our website at www.deepcreekwatershedfoundation.org.”
“The Deep Creek Watershed covers a huge area,” Myerberg said. “It has farms, single-family homes, roads, woods, hotels, retail businesses, creeks and a lake. All of it has to work well together, and that’s what the Watershed Foundation has set out to do.”
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 donations ranging from $100 through $2,500, and recently received $10,000 contributions from two other generous donors. These donations have allowed the Foundation:
• To give $10,000 a year to help maintain MDE’s doser that remediates acid mine drainage from abandoned mines into Cherry Creek, a major tributary into Deep Creek Lake.
• Along with Brookfield Renewable Power, to pay for DNR’s study of the suitability of DCL as a habitat for zebra mussels
• In cooperation with the University of Maryland Extension programs on to how property owners in the watershed how they can manage stormwater runoff; and
• 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.
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 for most 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 Hoffman, Marie Dray, Paul Weiler, Ian Smith, Doug Mohler, Nina Beitzel, and Elizabeth Georg. Advisors to the board are Susie Crawford, Pat Franc, Lulu Gonnella, Nicole Christian, Morgan France, Ashley Bodkins, Steve Green, Kristen Skeweris, Barbara Hafer, Lee Ann Knapp 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.