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Paddlers Speak Up for Maryland's Upper Yough

Posted: 01/29/2016
by Charlie Walbridge

Paddlers made a great showing at the January 28th Deep Creek Watershed Planning Meeting in McHenry, MD. Releases from Deep Creek Lake that support paddling on the Upper Youghioghenny River have been under attack by homeowners on backwater lots who are left high and dry during droughts. Friendsville town councilman Jess Whittemore and Upper Yough outfitter Roger Zbell have been ably representing whitewater paddlers for years. They know the river and dam inside out! Their goal has been to see that upstream and downstream interests are fairly treated, and that in low water periods the pain is shaired fairly by all stakeholders.

Jess told me that the presence of so many boaters, especially those who own property in Garrett County, made a strong impression on the County Commissioners. They were also impressed by the many thoughtful emails recieved from paddlers throughout the East. This will put us in a good position for the 2019 relicensing. Thanks to Friendsviller paddler and attorney Bob Allen for representing American Whitewater Jeff Macklin was there and snapped this photo.

Comments will be taken until February 6th

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Garrett County Commissioners
Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan
Use heading: Deep Creek Water Management Plan

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Here's a link to the plan; see Goal #12 on page 44, which calls for fair treatment of all users:

Some talking points

Start by telling who you are, your profession, connection to the area (property ownership) and what the river means to you. Then:

1) The Upper Youghiogheny River is the most popular advanced to expert whitewater run on the East Coast thanks to regular summer whitewater releases

2) Garret County's outdoor recreation goes beyond the lake to paddling, hiking, climbing, biking, hunting and fishing all over the region. There is plenty of water for lake boating even in times of drought except at seasonal backwater lots.

3) The lake is almost fully developed and we need to spread the economic benefits to other areas like Friendsville. Many paddlers have bought homes in the Garrett County; we all patronize nearby restaurant and lodging establishments.

4) We strongly support Goal 12 in the new management plan, which treats all stakeholders including lake boating, fishing, and whitewater paddling. AW supports the plan and the work of Friendsville residents Jess Whittemore and Roger Zbell to represent whitewater interests.