ALERT: Logging on Upper Yough Planned

Posted: 01/18/2001
By: Jason Robertson
American Whitewater recently learned of plans to log sections of the Upper Yough's river bank near Friendsville, MD. Our volunteers mailed the attached letter to the Maryland DNR on January 18th, 2001. If you are concerned about the aesthetic and environmental impacts of logging on the Upper Yough, we strongly encourage you to write similar letters and mail them before January 25th.

While logging is permitted under the Wild & Scenic River Management Plan for the Upper Yough, we are concerned that the proposed logging plan does not include a strong riparian buffer zone, allows logging of relatively small trees with 12" diameter breast height (DBH), and appears to allow logging directly on the river bank.

American Whitewater's volunteers are suggesting alternatives that include working with the logging company to develop a true buffer zone between logging operations and the river, possibly moving the buffer zone into a conservation easement, and other cooperative alternatives.

{January 18, 2001}

Messrs. Paul Durham and Dave Baker
Deep Creek Lake
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
898 State Park Road
Swanton, MD 21561

Re: TAZ Hardwoods Permit Application for Timber Harvest at Coal Run (Youghiogheny)

Dear Sirs:

American Whitewater has learned of the above referenced application in just the past several days. While we respect and understand that the land owner has every right to pursue a permit for timber harvest on private land owned within the Wild and Scenic River Corridor and its related management plan, we must take this opportunity to convey our serious concerns about the proposed logging operation on the banks of the Youghiogheny. Further, we feel our concerns would be shared by hundreds, if not thousands, of other citizens who have historically and will prospectively recreate along this beautiful and critical stretch of river for years to come if only they were also aware of this proposal!

It is our hope that you will accept our comments as constructive input as you consider the conditions which you place on any permit which you may approve. We are aware, and indeed thankful, that DNR has an interdisciplinary team which reviews such permits from various perspectives and interests (fisheries, wildlife, heritage, forestry). However, we hope to raise our voice to emphasize the public's significant interest in ensuring that the proposed operation be subject to and compliant with the most stringent precautionary measures as are appropriate for such a critical tract in the Wild and Scenic Corridor. We represent an active organization of whitewater enthusiasts who highly value the environmental, aesthetic and recreational qualities of this river corridor. In fact, for many Eastern boaters the Upper Yough is THE crown jewel of all U.S. rivers. We know we would be joined by many other varied organizations and individuals including fishermen, bikers, hikers, photographers, conservationists, etc.-- who are concerned about the potential negative impacts such a harvest on the banks of the Yough could create.

What Concerns AWA and Others?

    Environmental Degradation of a key location in the Yough's Wild and Scenic Corridor:
  • Loss of forest canopy, especially near the river

  • Loss of bank stabilization as well as silting and run-off

  • Disturbance unleashing seed banks of exotic invasive flora, changing natural character forever

  • Fertilizer potentially used in remediation efforts

    Recreational and Aesthetic Degradation:
  • For at least a couple generations there will be a significant visual impact to losing a mature forest

  • Such impact could be permanent given the likelihood of invasive species responding

  • For hikers/bikers/fishermen coming up river into the gorge, this logging operation and its aftermath will be their first impression of this wilderness area

  • For canoeists, rafters and kayakers, this view will be the lasting impression at the end of an otherwise incredible experience in a remarkably natural, beautiful river valley.

Specifically, we hope you insist on the highest possible standards in setting forth the requirements for the river buffer section of the tract. We are aware that there may be some room for interpretation in the proposed buffer, and that concerns us greatly, considering that we have seen many mature trees (stabilizing the banks, creating canopy shade etc) marked for removal right ON the banks of the river. The application states TAZ plans to remove about 20% of the basal area from the buffer. We hope you will be very sensitive to the fact that any non-compliance with the plan would not just be very apparent (and damaging) to the public, but also would be water under the bridge, regardless of any repercussions to the operator. Moreover, we strongly urge your review team to consider requiring a no-cut buffer for this tract!

Finally, we would like to constructively follow up with the landowner to investigate any possibility of foregoing the timber harvest all together in lieu of a potential conservation easement purchase. Again, since we just learned about this proposed timbering recently, we have not been able to explore this option yet. It is our hope that if the owner could be kept economically indifferent, there would be a tremendous opportunity to preserve a critical riverside tract in a mature forest condition forever. Nevertheless, this idea is as yet untested and perhaps a long shot. Therefore, we urge you to interpret the regulations guiding the protection of this area one of Maryland's greatest natural resources--by erring to the side of conservation when conditioning any permit in this especially sensitive case. Thank you.


Ken Gfroerer
Regional Coordinator

Jason Robertson

635 Joseph Cir

Golden, CO 80403-2349

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