Monthly Archives: December 2014

Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® Year End Holiday Wrap Up

Sunny morning along the Gunpowder River in Gunpowder State Park
Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER 2014 Year End Holiday Wrap up:The Gunpowder River is a drinking water source for over 1.8 million residents in the Baltimore-metro area. It is recognized as a world-class wild trout fishery and is an important boating and swimming destination.

Our legal projects, outreach and advocacy are strengthened by your support. The winter solstice allows us to reflect on the past year. We are especially thankful for three notable gifts. Support from our volunteers, legal support provided to the organization. Generous donations from our new and renewing members are also vital to our efforts! In 2015, communities in the lower River that have been impacted by polluted runoff and sediment pollution will be represented by the RIVERKEEPER®.

Flowers in Gunpowder State Park

Legal Projects: GRK is faced with many environmental challenges in the watershed that must be argued in a legal context. GRK cannot afford a staff attorney so the organization has leveraged pro-bono legal counsel to protect the Gunpowder River. At a conservative estimate of $250 for each hour donated, GRK has realized over a half million dollars in free legal support in the past four years to protect the River.

The GRK appeal of the FERC Certificate of Public Need and Necessity is now before the second highest Court in the United States. The Certificate allowed Columbia Gas Transmission/NiSource to exercise eminent domain on residential properties in Harford and Baltimore Counties before 17 plans, permits and approvals were finalized for the project. GRK has also petitioned the Harford and Baltimore County Circuit Courts for judicial review of the Maryland Department of the Environment 401 Water Quality Certification and related Wetland and Waterways Permit for the project because it was not protective of water quality. In 2015, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals will hear the Baltimore County MS-4 Stormwater Permit. GRK appealed the permit because it failed to incorporate a compliance schedule and representative monitoring to protect the Gunpowder and its tributaries.

Gunpowder River Streamwalk and Service Project

Outreach: The Organization has lead community, office, school groups and Scout and Brownie troops on stream walks and service project along the River to discuss the sources of City drinking water and the importance of wild trout; Since 2010, GRK has maintained 14 wader wash stations to prevent the spread of the invasive algae Didymo. The organization sponsored an Eagle Scout Project across the 7.2 miles of catch and release managed water that provided fishing regulation signs at each of the eight access points along the Upper River. This year Environmental mapping has a helped us identify impacts to the river and its watershed from industrial activities.

Advocacy: GRK served as a public interest member of the State Water Quality Advisory Committee; Created awareness that current management protocols of Baltimore City DPW that manage Pretty Boy Reservoir at full pool impacts the River with widespread flooding during heavy rainfall events, is counter to the Baltimore City Watershed Agreement and the Loch Raven Total Maximum Daily Load (Pollution diet) and can be prevented with proactive management that allows the reservoir to fill rather than spill during Hurricane Season; Worked with Maryland Park Service staff on trail closures and clean-ups; Informed Maryland Natural Resources Police on poaching complaints; Provided regulatory comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment on Water Quality standards for cold water streams in the state.

Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER service project

GRK Sign-Ons:
GRK supported a comment letter to the Maryland Department of the Environment on general discharge permits NPDES# MDG01 for animal feeding operations concerning unregulated animal feeding operations that contribute to surface water pollution and measures that should be undertaken such as inspections of animal waste storage facilities, water quality monitoring, reporting requirements, and public participation in order to make progress towards restoring land and water quality and the Chesapeake Bay. GRK also supported a Maryland house Bill on the prohibition of storage, treating, discharging or disposing of flow back or other wastewater in the state resulting from Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. GRK upported a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Management and Budget urging the publication and revision of more effective regulations for chemical dispersants used in oil spills. GRK also joined other Waterkeeper Alliance member organizations in supporting more protections and to waterways under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.

Float the Upper Gunpowder River

GRK Testimony and Letters:

“Le Gardeur’s group and 17 other environmental and community organizations believe potential effects on the region’s drinking water system have not gotten the attention they deserve. Of 70 waterways the pipeline would cross, 39 are sources of the region’s drinking water. ‘They’re not looking at the cumulative impacts,’ said Le Gardeur, who is also a fishing guide and tackle shop owner in Baltimore County. Le Gardeur said more phosphorus and sediment could be flushed into the reservoir by construction across the streams and by disturbance of 305 acres of land as the pipeline is laid. Even if the project must go forward, he said, Columbia ought to be required to minimize disturbance of streams and banks by drilling the pipeline under the beds.” ~Pipeline may affect drinking water, activists fear by Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun; January 1, 2014.

Fly fishing the two fish a day stretch on the Gunpowder River

“Le Gardeur said he believes the entire notification process is flawed, because the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers focused its notices on impacts to trout waters, as opposed to drinking water. The ads in the newspapers announcing the public meeting made no mention of drinking water… Le Gardeur said many more residents from the region would have testified at the hearing had they known about the drinking water connection….’The drinking water supply aspect has not really been discussed in a public forum,’ Le Gardeur said. ‘One hundred percent of the drinking water in north Baltimore and Harford County are dependent on these surface water streams. They are only being given a cursory glance.’”~Proposed natural gas line threatens trout stream, drinking water: Groups, official object to Columbia Gas plan to run pipe through pristine valley in Baltimore County by Rona Kobell of The Bay Journal; January 23, 2014.

Prettyboy Spillover
“Over the past three years of flooding, we’ve seen a dramatic loss of healthy banks, a riverwide decrease in the population of trout and less woody debris” where the fish can find shelter, said Theaux Le Gardeur, the Gunpowder Riverkeeper….Le Gardeur and some others say what they worry about now is too much water spilling over the dam, making it more difficult and even unsafe at times to wade into the river to fly-fish. Flows have consistently been well above average, and on a couple occasions this spring after deluges soared to 1,000 cubic feet per second, flooding the valley. But Le Gardeur said he believes the weather-driven surges could be mitigated if the city would lower the level of the lake behind the dam a bit to hold the runoff from at least modest amounts of rain falling on the 80-square-mile watershed that drains into the reservoir. …An added concern comes in spring and summer, Le Gardeur said, when warmer water spilling over the dam from the surface of the reservoir heats up the river. Trout do best in cold water and become stressed when water temperatures rise into the high 60s and 70s. But Le Gardeur called that ‘short-sighted.’ He pointed out that New Jersey officials ordered water levels in four drinking water reservoirs in that state drawn down in an attempt to mitigate predicted severe flooding as superstorm Sandy swept up the coast in October 2012. Besides potentially affecting the Gunpowder’s trout and recreation, LeGardeur said high flows are washing extra sediment into the Loch Raven Reservoir, reducing its capacity to hold water. The erosion also brings phosphorus, a plant nutrient that feeds algae blooms and affects water quality.” ~High flows on Gunpowder stirs debate by Tim Wheeler, Baltimore Sun; June 23, 2014.

This year GRK received a challenge grant from a local foundation of $40, 000 –but the funding is dependent on raising the same! Please consider an annual donation of support or year-end donation via PAYPAL on the Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER website, walk in a donation at the counter during operating hours or drop a check in the mail to GRK, at P.O. BOX 156, Monkton, MD 21111

The protection of the Gunpowder River is a gift worthy of your support.

Theaux M. Le Gardeur

GRK is a Nonprofit 501(c) (3) EIN # 27-1517453. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Brook Trout

Fly Fishing the Gunpowder River on New Year’s Day

The Gunpowder River is clear and flowing at 77 CFs. Water temperatures in the catch and release section dropped today from 43.5 to 42 degrees F. Small traditional feather-winged and buck-tail streamers have been moving a few fish from Masemore through Bunkerhill. These patterns work best when paired with a sinking leader and a short trace of tippet in the 5x or 6x range. Nymphing has been tough in the fast water. Zebra midges behind a red butt or small rubber legged stonefly have been working in slower moving water along the banks. The big boulder pools are still holding a few large fish but these areas often look better than they fish this time of year. A Griffiths Gnat in the #16 range or tiny Blue Winged Olive no larger than a #22 fished blind in the flat water is a good bet.

Please note: The shop will be closed on December 31st and January 1st and will reopen on Friday, the 2nd at 10:00 AM.

If you need a license over the next few days please visit COMPASS to obtain a license online. You’ll need a non-tidal (freshwater) license and a trout stamp to fish the Gunpowder.

Fly Fishing near Baltimore and D. C. during the Holidays

Gunpowder River Rainbow
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 77 CFs, is gin clear and 44 F. The River is in good shape. The trails are greasy so plan on bringing along a wading staff. Now is the time to put in studs in your wading shoes. With highs forecast in the low 60’s by the end of the week, plan on seeing a few stoneflies in the #14-16 range and olives in the #20-22 range along the River. Rabbit strip streamers and zonkers are an effective way to cover larger stretches of water.

Thanks to Josh for the stream report and photos.

Fishing small midge patterns behind a pheasant tail or hare’s ear has been the most productive way to fish a double nymph rig. Dead drifting smaller streamers through deep holes is also a good bet. The river water is cold and the slower tailouts have been holding more fish than the riffles.

Please Note: The shop will be closed on the 24th and 25th and will reopen on the 26th at 10 AM.

Gunpowder River Brown

Sweetgrass Rods Day with Jerry Kustich

Sweetgrass Bamboo Fly Rod
Please join us on Saturday December 13th for a Sweetgrass Bamboo Fly Rod Demo Day with Jerry Kustich. Jerry will be in the shop from 11 AM till 1 PM and will have plenty of samples and stories of steelhead, permit and life on tap. Thanks to Sweetgrass for the use of the following bio of Jerry from the Sweetgrass Rods website:

Jerry Kustich has been a part of the “Boo Boy” team for the past twenty years learning the many intricacies of rod building. Always found on a stream testing anything from flies to waders to pentagonal bamboo designs, he has become an outspoken advocate for public access to Montana’s rivers. Author, writer, devoted environmentalist, rod designer, and dedicated angler, he spends much time on the road as a fly fishing ambassador lecturing on and representing the ideals for which all serious fly anglers stand.

Related post:
Sweetgrass posts from Backwater Angler

Tiger Trout in the Gunpowder River

Tiger Trout on the Gunpowder River
The Gunpowder River is up from 75 CFs and is flowing at 117 Cfs. The water is clear, a little green and is 46.5 degrees F. The wind might make it difficult to fish the tiny BWO’s reported earlier this week during the gloomy wet days. Give the games a break, put some gloves and hit the River. Stay warm by nymphing with bead head stoneflies in the #10-14 range with soft hackles like red butts trailing in a #14. With the River up, streamers on sink-tips are still a good bet-especially around the log jams and chute runs in the boulder pools. Try midge cluster patterns in the flat stretches-especially along shelves that turn into riffles. Thanks to Stefan for the stream report and photo of a tiger trout from the Gunpowder River.

Got him in a little riffle. Amazing colors. Had no idea there were Tigers in the Gunpowder.