Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Management Watershed Coordinator Gary Aronhalt presented the Deep Creek Watershed Administrative Council’s annual report to county commissioners Monday afternoon.
“The 2018 focus included communication, education, marketing and renewal of the MOU,” Aronhalt reported. “The council continues to promote the watershed website (garrettcounty.org/watershed) as the authoritative source on information throughout the county.”
The council was formed through a memorandum of understanding between the county, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Department of the Environment, shortly following the adoption of the Deep Creek Lake Watershed Management Plan in October 2016. Its members are Department of Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter, DNR biologist Julie Bortz and Kenneth Shanks of the MDE.
The memorandum of understanding between the three agencies was renewed last month.
“This will allow the council to continue through 2020,” Aronhalt said.
He said the DNR recently launched a web page called “Eyes on Deep Creek Lake.” Information about water quality, based on DNR monitoring at certain locations, can be downloaded from the site.
Aronhalt said the council continued to work with its Educational Advisory Committee in 2018. The local volunteers represent a wide range of backgrounds: Willie Lantz, agriculture; Lauren McCann, business; Bruce Taliaferro, education; Ken Fisher, forestry; Sarah Duck, marketing; and Richard Matlick, Gary Shaffer and Bob Sutton, property owners.
“They provide feedback to the council regarding education issues in the watershed,” the coordinator said.
The EAC has identified six broad outreach topics: erosion, invasive species, pollution, recycling, safety and stormwater management.
Aronhalt reported the committee has also developed a logo to be used on educational and outreach materials. The emblem features a boater, large fish and an eagle at a lake, along with a slogan, “Beautiful Garrett County: Protect and Conserve, It’s Up to You.”
The EAC’s three “action plans” for 2018 were: establishing a sense of ownership in the watershed, establishing a uniform public message and establishing a funding source for educational outreach.
“I’m very impressed with the Educational Advisory Committee,” Carpenter said. “They’ve come up with some really good ideas. They really, truly care not just about the watershed, but the entire county. They’ve emphasized from the beginning that what’s good environmental practice at Deep Creek is good environmental practice in the entire county. I love that that’s their focus.”
In 2019, Aronhalt said, the Administrative Council plans to continue developing marketing strategies, interagency collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and financing strategies, including utilizing grant funding.
“The council has done a great job,” County Administrator Kevin Null said.
Three years ago, he noted, cooperation between the various agencies was “very difficult.”
“This group has been able to overcome that and bring everybody together,” Null said. “I think you’ll be seeing some good things moving forward.”
Aronhalt encourages the public to contact the council at garrettcounty.org/watershed with their questions and/or concerns.