New booby traps in the Frederick watershed have revived confusion among city and county agencies about enforcing laws in the area.

On Monday, Frederick resident R.J. Stone found two traps made from sharp, razorlike blades sticking upright from two blocks of wood. They were buried slightly below the surface of a multi-use trail in the watershed near Fishing Creek Road, he said.

Sheldon Barron, a member of Frederick’s ad hoc watershed committee, said the traps were likely new, but it is unclear how long they had been in the watershed.

Traps have been a problem in the watershed since at least 2013. The city’s ad hoc watershed committee has a subgroup of members specifically addressing the issue of law enforcement. The watershed is under the county’s jurisdiction, though the city of Frederick is the property owner.

Signs recently posted in the watershed tell users to call the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to report violations, but confusion among users and law enforcement persists.

When he found the traps, Stone said he first called the Frederick Police Department, which then told him to call the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“I reported it to DNR, and within an hour they were at my house to pick up the blades,” he said.

DNR police told Stone they would forward his concern to city police.

Frederick Police Department spokesman Lt. Clark Pennington said Tuesday that the county, not the city, handles all calls related to the watershed.

The Frederick Police Department has handled calls in the watershed in the past. When users reported seeing spiked traps along bike trails in 2013, city police investigated the matter.

Barron said he found and removed about six traps from a trail above Fishing Creek Road, near Cold Deer Pond, in 2014.

Frederick Alderwoman Kelly Russell said in January that city and county law enforcement had clarified their roles in the watershed, and that the city knew county sheriff’s deputies had jurisdiction over the property.

Department of Natural Resources police had an officer in the area around the time Stone called in, so they stopped by, spokeswoman Candy Thomson said.

“We know that this is happening,” she said of the trap discoveries, “but it’s not in our jurisdiction.”

Thomson said DNR police send reports of warnings and citations in the watershed to the city’s Department of Public Works.

Marc Stachowski, deputy director of the Department of Public Works, said his department forwards reports of found traps to the sheriff’s office.

County sheriff’s deputies acknowledge the need for further discussion.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Amanda Hatcher said deputies will meet with city police “within the next week” to determine how to handle enforcement in the watershed.

“We should have some resolution after we have the meeting,” Hatcher said.

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(31) comments


All people seem to do around here is whine and complain. If you are so concerned about the trail then take some community responsibility. Crybabies in FredCo


This is basically terrorism. If you don't like the way the trails are being used find a legitimate way to take action.


Just kidding about that comment. I go up there to bike occasionally, but not on the trails. They are just too rough for my bike. But I do hike those trails with some dogs. You cannot imagine how angry I would be if they were injured by one of those devices.


By the time they figure out who's jurisdiction it is a group of cyclists will have already caught the idiot.


It would be nearly impossible for any Law Enforcement agency to actually catch someone planting these; they would need to investigate every vehicle they find parked on miles of roads and hike into the woods on trails that go in many directions. Only game cameras, or the vigilance of trail users themselves will put a stop to these crimes.


the keystone kop routine aside (and it is clear we have a complete failure of leadership with the Sheriff's Office AND the Board of Alderman), the real headline here is SOMEONE IS BOOBY-TRAPPING A PUBLIC TRAIL.

Get it together FNP, FCSO, FPD.


How about we raise the taxes in that area up and over 500%. They all seem to enjoy all the amenities of city life, at city expense while enjoying privacy and ability to do just any darn thing they like.
Raise all there taxes 500%, then we can hire to watch over the local yahoos doing this stuff.
There are plenty of stories told about the local people doing things up there as little as 1985.


Those things are frightening to look at. I can't imagine if a person or even an animal stepped on one of hose things. Whomever is responsible for this needs to be locked up.

garden whimsey

How much of the watershed is city property? Throughout my youth we picnicked up there. The city property included the reservoir, the dam, picnic shelters, and a few out-buildings. How much of the area surrounding area is the city's?


Time to conceal a lot of game cameras overlooking many trails and get photos of the criminals in the act so they can be locked up in prison.


They are already up there [wink]


If the city police can't police this, give the watershed back to the Weddle Family, which donated the area to the city years and years ago. That way the Weddle's will charge the city for the water, and they can hire their own security off the sale of water to the city. Problem resolved!!!


The city watershed, the foothills west of the city for those who aren't familiar, is owned by the city of Frederick and city police officers used to patrol the area back in the day when the city saw mill and such were located there. Some 30-40 years ago the city, which does maintain ownership today, handed the responsibility of overseeing the area to the DNR. The Dept of Natural Resouces is tasked with monitoring areas like the tow path, trails, lakes, etc. There are only a handful of DNR officers for the area so FCSO deputies assist with physically patrolling it. It's not a matter of passing the buck with who will handle the investigation. It's a matter of involving the people who have jurisdiction and are most familiar with the area, hence the DNR and FCSO. Yes there could be confusion to those not familiar but the agencies do work together on cases such as these, especially when one may have more information or resources than the other. The watershed actually has a very interesting history. Maybe the FNP could research and do an article on it to help inform its readers.


Kelly Russell, lobbyist for the FCPD is on the job. Not sure what her role has to do here besides protecting the PD.


So, basically no one wants to take responsibility for citizens that are trying to do harm to other citizens. Maybe someone in authority is actually putting down these traps.

Luke Cage

Sweet Christmas! "To protect and serve*" comes with an asterisk now?
Somebody just do the job that needs to be done, sheesh...

* only in our jurisdiction


I don't understand why the police would even argue about it, just get out there, find out who is doing it and arrest them. That is all want.


Locals in that area ? I realy dont think anyone not living up there would bother?. This is a form of assualt? Sure would be great to find out who so we could drag em thru the court system and take there possessions. Hint hint to the losers doing this. We realy would like to see you lose everything by your attempt at personal injury.


I thought at first it might be someone young, but then I am not so sure. I can see someone that is older and disgruntled might to that. It does seem to me that whomever it is, it would be someone that uses the area a fair amount.


To the gentleman ranting about cyclists. Since you did not find these traps it would behoove you to remain silent. These, amoung others have been found in the middle of mutlti use trails. Unless you placed these yourself, how in the world would you know their purpose? These were placed to cause injury to ANYONE who uses the trail system in the watershed.




Tell that to the families hiking in the woods with their little kids and the family dog who would encounter one of these traps. Most mountain bikers abide with the rules of the trail that say to yield to all hikers; I only see smiles and and mutual respect out there between the two groups, and I ride 4-5 days a week. There is no "destruction" as you put it, as caused by either group. The logging operations are causing erosion issues, with the runoff adding silt to the ponds. Only a coward would set traps such as these.


Coward and imbecile!


These were not intended for individuals. The razor blades, the orientation, the placement all make it obvious these were meant for bicycle tires. This issue never gets attention because Frederick is so bicycle-friendly but up in the watershed cyclists are destructive, inconsiderate, reckless, and pose a significant danger to hikers, hikers with dogs, hikers with children, etc.


What makes you so sure that it would be a bike and not someone stepping on it?


In the past they have been used to flatten bike tires.


Is the purpose of the traps only to injure someone?


That would really cripple you, if you step on it. Someone that is not wrapped to tight.


My thoughts exactly as I read this article.


So we have some nutjob leaving traps that could maim or kill and all we can do is argue over who's supposed to respond when somebody finds one?


Not a very informative article, that's for sure

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