Proposed Md. fracking regulations are too restrictive

As president of the Garrett County Farm Bureau and the Energy and Property Rights Coalition, I would like to express our concerns about Maryland’s proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations and ask that they be placed on hold for further consideration.


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NRP officers to test new ‘iceboat’ on Deep Creek Lake

Ice Boat

From the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

There’s a new boat on Deep Creek Lake that rises above it all — literally.

Maryland Natural Resources Police officers are training on a 32-foot airboat, capable of skimming above winter’s ice to quickly reach an emergency to provide comfort and assistance.

NRP 149, purchased a little more than a year ago with a federal grant, is one of the law enforcement agency’s largest vessels and one of its most specialized. It has a top speed of well over 100 mph and it takes a delicate touch to make it run straight and true.

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Fracking, and the workers it draws, change a region’s cultural landscape

People muster data, facts and studies to support their positions about using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract previously inaccessible oil and gas deposits. The number of scientists standing on one side of the debate over whether it’s harmful to the environment rarely convinces anyone on the other side to switch camps. It appears to be a stalemate.

Md. Senate OKs speed limit boost to 70 on state highways

The Maryland Senate has voted to raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on state highways.

The Senate voted 39-7 for the measure on Thursday.

Senate approval marks a milestone for the bill, which passed the House of Delegates last year, but stalled in a Senate committee. A similar bill is pending in the House this year.

Sen. George Edwards, a Garrett County Republican, is the sponsor of the measure. He says other states have a speed limit of 70 mph, and that the increase would not be mandatory statewide.

But opponents say it’s dangerous. Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, says raising the speed limit will cause some drivers to push it to 80 mph. Brochin says he thinks that’s too fast.

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Maryland Hunting Guides Sentenced for Violating Black Bear Hunting Regulations

……According to their plea agreements, between 2008 and 2010, Harding who operated Harding’s Wild Mountain Herbs, Inc., and Harward, who operated Timber Creek Services, engaged in commercial hunting activities for American black bear, mostly in Garrett County. Hunting for black bear is highly regulated in Maryland. Restrictions included a prohibition on the use of bait to attract the bear, as well as requirements that hunters associated with each other on the same hunting permit remain within view of each other while hunting.

During the course of an undercover investigation by NRP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, law enforcement discovered that Harding and Harward were using bait to attract bears to locations where hunters – who had paid Harding and Harward to be guided in their pursuit of the bear – could more easily kill one of the animals. The undercover officers also learned that the defendants were violating the Maryland regulations that required a sub-licensee on a black bear hunting permit to remain in visual contact with the licensee.

During the course of the investigation, undercover officers posed as clients, paying Harding and Harward for guided bear hunts. Their investigation found Harding and Harward were illegally baiting bears for paying clients, some of whom came from outside Maryland to hunt.

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Bill would mandate 8-year moratorium on fracking

ANNAPOLIS — Environmentally stringent and costly drilling regulations are not enough to protect the public’s health from hydraulic fracturing’s pollutants, according to a coalition of legislators, environmental groups and health professionals who rallied Thursday in support of a moratorium bill.

Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, is sponsoring the Protect Our Health and Communities Bill that would delay hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Western Maryland for the next eight years in order to provide more time to investigate health and environmental ramifications.

At the end of his term, former Gov. Martin O’Malley established costly permit regulations to drill for natural gas in Maryland that reflected a December analysis by the state’s environment and natural resources departments, said David Venko, chair of a commission charged with studying safe drilling in the state.

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Hunting guides fined for baiting black bears in Garrett Co.

Two hunting guides who pleaded guilty to illegally baiting black bears in Garrett County were fined thousands of dollars and ordered to do 25 hours of community service on Thursday, prosecutors said.

 Larry Eugene Harding, 57, of Friendsville, and Wallace A. Harward, 58, of Forest Hill, were ordered to pay $8,000 and $5,000, respectively, in fines and restitution for violating strict state black bear hunting regulations, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Undercover officers from the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posed as clients of the two hunting guides and discovered that they were illegally using bait to attract the bears for clients to shoot and violating regulations that require a sublicensee on black bear hunting permits to be in view of the licensee, prosecutors said.

Fracking opponents propose 8-year moratorium

…..Marcellus Shale is found underneath all of Garrett County and parts of Allegany County. A Towson University study finds that tapping into it could infuse billions into the local economy, providing farmers the opportunity to negotiate mineral rights to their property.

“That money stays in the counties, stays with the local people, enables farmers to buy new tractors, paint their barns, maintain the farm, keep the farm,” said Delegate Wendell Beitzel, R-Garrett County.

But interest in drilling is waning because state officials have been reluctant to give the green light. Health risks and environmental horror stories fueled the delay. Examples include stories of fracking causing flammable water and mini-earthquakes.

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Pinot Noir — extremely versatile wine, specialty in Deep Creek


………In Maryland, Black Ankle and Elk Run produce Pinot Noir wines, but it is a specialty only further west, at Deep Creek Cellars.

“The lower humidity and cooler nights, due to our higher elevation, makes the difference,” says Paul Roberts, co-owner and winemaker. “Chesapeake Bay once lapped up on these ridges, leaving marine fossils and calcareous rock. We’ve pioneered five vintages showing central Allegany County is the place for back-country Pinot. These are not baked West Coast wines, but rather more traditional, Burgundy-inspired Pinot Noirs of subtlety and finesse. Connoisseurs compare ours very favorably.”

Roberts teamed up with Michael and Barbara Hutton in 2008 to plant the couple’s property southeast of Cumberland with about 3,500 vines.

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Ice safety comes before winter recreation and productive fishing

In recent years, new cold-weather clothing technologies and reliable ice fishing gear have made the sport easier and more comfortable, attracting a growing number of ice anglers and their families. But in the same ways that hunters understand the risks of their sport and often talk afield about hunting safety, anglers should be aware of the inherent dangers of ice fishing. They should bring the proper safety gear and talk about the condition and thickness of the ice and the weight it can hold. They should be aware of the conditions of the water below, the spacing of holes and what to do if the worst happens.

“My wife talks about ice safety before we go, but we don’t talk a lot about it when we’re out,” said Jason Redinger of Bedford, Bedford County. On Jan. 24, he and several friends pulled a dozen fish through the ice over Deep Creek, Md., including Redinger’s 21-inch walleye.

“We usually wear life vests. I made some ice picks from dowel rods, nails and rope, and we usually put holes about 25 feet apart for tip-ups,” he said.

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Long ride opens at Blackwater Falls

DAVIS, W.Va. — State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette says he wasn’t too old to enjoy a new attraction at one of the state’s most popular state parks Wednesday. Burdette was one of the first to go down the sled run at Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County.

“It was a very cool experience. I got to go up and ride down a couple of times and didn’t break any bones,” the 59-year-old Burdette joked. “I just had a great time. It’s a real great addition to West Virginia state parks.”

The run has been tabbed the longest sled run on the East Coast. It’s more than a quarter-mile long. The Wonder Carpet conveyor system that takes sledders back up the mountain is also believed to be the longest in the region.

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