For those of you who have read the following;
from the North County News,
No Fines in River Incident, Canoeists get Warnings for Cutting Down Trees,
by Robbie Wheelan.
and from the Washington, (DC) City Paper,
Field & Stream & Chainsaw, Boaters Wreck Maryland Fishing Haven,
by Dave McKenna
and are still interested in this topic…
The initial call to MD Natural Resources Police, (NRP) about these illegal activities was placed on November 4, 2007 describing 3 adult subjects with chainsaws and a young person that were seen cutting downed trees in the Gunpowder River downstream of the Falls Rd. Bridge. On November 5, 2007 a written statement, pictures of the subjects engaged in the activity, vehicles at the scene, and names and phone numbers of two witnesses were provided to Natural Resources Police. Concurrent with this activity, members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club posted information on a club bulletin board that indicated that individual members took credit, and in fact, celebrated these illegal acts.
On November 19, 2007, I testified on behalf of my retail shop Backwater Angler, the seven guides that work with me, as a DNR license agent and a DNR Nature Tourism Partner before the Sport Fish Advisory Comission, (SFAC). I testified at that the time that I felt that the Maryland Natural Resource Police and Gunpowder State Park Officials were being non responsive in enforcing illegal activities that had recently occurred in the Hereford Area of Gunpowder State Park.
Most of my guides, and customers not only fish but also float the river. I have paddled kayaks and canoes AND have fly fished since I was seven. We routinely give directions and advice to folks planning a fish or float along the river and are happy to share this great resource with those that have an interest in protecting it.
However, we have no interest in sharing this resource with and do not support any user group that conducts illegal activities in a designated Maryland State Wildlands area.
So I’d like to relate that I’m not anti-boat just anti-chainsaw.
Wildlands are the closest lands designated “in a wilderness state” that we have in Maryland. No user groups should alter, destroy or modify Maryland’s Natural Resources in designated Maryland State Park Wildlands to suit their own recreational pursuits at the expense of Maryland’s Natural Resources.
Here is an abbreviated description of the Gunpowder river from Maryland DNR’s Gunpowder Falls State Park Hereford Area Trail Guide.
The Big Gunpowder Falls is a favorite paddling destination for canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Spectacular views of the park’s undisturbed forest and impressive rock outcroppings promise to inspire river users… …The river encompassed within the Hereford Area offers recreation opportunities for both advanced and novice paddlers, ranging in difficulty from Class l to lll… …Solid paddling skills are required on this stretch to negotiate potential hazards, such as fallen trees that can block passage on the narrow stream.
Following are links outlining activities in State Wildlands:
Comprehensive list of rules for State Wildlands.
.06 Restricted and Conditional activities—State Wildlands Preservation System
Members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club willfully and without proper permissions, or permits destroyed parts of a designated Maryland State Wildlands area. These activities described on the club’s own website show intent, malice and disregard for laws that were put in place to protect Maryland’s Natural Resources.
Here are a few choice quotes from members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club, under the following threads that have since been removed from their very own bulletin board:
Title: What Strainer
“A GBCC group removed the strainer on 11/4 Sunday by cutting all of the logs in pieces less than 2’ long. when the water comes up, the pieces will wash downstream. This is standard operating procedure for cutting large wood in rivers. We have intentions of cutting all strainers from Falls Rd to Masemore or Bluemount.”
Title: Strainers on the upper Gunpowder, (not the Gorge)
“I have already planned to run this section at lower water level with two chainsaws…We will also hit the GPG logs and go as far as we can plan in one day. Chainsaws are sorta my thing so it’s no big deal.”
“We did indeedy already get the one that was in between York and Big Falls, we just got it Tues.”
“I will do the work project anyway as there will be numerous trees throughout both sections anyway. When I am done trees will be gone.”
“Finally there is a riverwide strainer 100 yds below Corbett Rd. One tree, One trunk-needs a chainsaw or a very patient person with a big saw.”
While dissent existed among bulletin board members regarding the topic of strainer removal, a link submitted by a member that provided American Whitewaters take on the issue, titled: Large Wood Debris Removal Ecology and Ethics describing the benefits of these features was ignored.
I remain very concerned about the response of NRP and Gunpowder State Park Officials to these recent illegal activities undertaken by members of the Greater Baltimore Canoe Club in an area designated as a Maryland State “Wildlands”. I also feel that these activities, had I not testified before the SFAC, would have gone unchecked by NRP and Gunpowder State Park Officials, in part because of the Gunpowder State Park Officials’ self described, “good relations” with this club. With the investigation now closed, with 4 warnings issued, I still find it hard to believe that the witnesses were never contacted by NRP for statements.
I’d like to leave all of you with a few more words from MD DNR’s Wildlands Preservation System Web Page:
What activities are permitted in a wildland?
In general, those activities which are consistent with the wilderness character of the area; including hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, horseback riding, nature interpretation, bird watching, research, and appreciation of natural processes.
I find it curious that boating is not on this list.
We would like to hear from you on this issue.
Drop us a line at email@example.com
Greater Baltimore Canoe Club Members Illegally Cut Trees in Wildlands Area Of Gunpowder State Park
Update: December 7, 2007,
A few words on fair use and providing links…
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