The Board of Commissioners for Garrett County has been a supporter of a long-term plan to map 150 miles of trail through Garrett County. The working title of this project is known as the Eastern Continental Divide Loop (ECDL): a series of trails to connect Maryland's largest wild forests with state parks, our municipalities, and ultimately the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).
The Board continually supports the overall ECDL effort as it emphasizes the importance of trails and outdoor recreation to impact economic development.
Along this vein, the funding for a study to look at an improved trail along the Youghiogheny River was approved by the Maryland state legislature. After taking a closer look and weighing the overall community sentiment with the unique Wild and Scenic designation of the area, The Board has formed an opinion on that funding allocation.
A formal written letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requests that the funding for the improved trail project along the Youghiogheny River be reallocated to fund other trail initiatives and connectors in Garrett County.
The letter, to Maryland DNR Secretary Josh Kurtz, and sent to Senator Mike McKay, and Delegate Jim Hinebaugh, reads as follows:
Dear Secretary Kurtz,
The Board of County Commissioners for Garrett County has been a supporter of and funded portions of the Eastern Continental Divide Loop (ECDL), a series of trails to connect Maryland's largest wild forests with state parks, our municipalities, and ultimately the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).
While the Board of County Commissioners has supported the concept of the Youghiogheny River Trail, this proposed trail, although not even designed yet, has become controversial and created some division in the community. Given the current regulatory environment, we have doubts that a trail in the proposed location will ever be constructed.
The Board of County Commissioners has spoken with many of the stakeholders, and based upon feedback received, we respectfully request that the Department consider withdrawing any further work or study on the proposed Youghiogheny River Trail at this time.
To continue our local overall efforts, we request that the $4.7 million dollars allocated for this project be transferred to Garrett County Government for the construction and maintenance of other trails and connectors within Garrett County – a worthy purpose of the original allocation. Should this require legislation to modify the original funding bill we would encourage the Western Maryland Delegation to introduce and support such a request.
Thank you for your time and consideration and please contact us if you have any questions.
Paul C. Edwards, Chairman
Ryan S. Savage, Commissioner
S. Larry Tichnell, Commissioner