It’s unfortunate to see the current backlash to the Monocacy Scenic River plan. I believe those involved in developing the plan have made an honest effort to accomplish a difficult task. It’s important to remember that 89 percent of Frederick County voters believe we need to protect our water supply to ensure access to safe drinking water.

There are clearly some very strong reactions to this plan. As I look at what is actually in the plan, it seems possible that people are reacting to rumor and making presumptions rather than looking at the facts of the recommendations. It is also important to remember that these are recommendations and much further review will occur with opportunity for public input before any final decisions are made. I hope everyone can take a deep breath, as it is much easier to work out solutions when people are calm and thoughtful.

Veronica Poklemba


(13) comments


Water is a valuable resource and should be protected. In fact, I believe it will become the next huge environmental crisis impacting the human race in a decade or so.


Or food


water is the new oil


If it were not so easy to recycle water, I would agree. However, we seem to make many simple activities into partisan problems. So you may be right.


I drink Monocacy water and want to keep it safe for all of us. Why not?


Keep it safe. Safe from who? How does the plan "keep water safe"? Drawing 2 squiggly lines on a map keeps water safe? Do you even know how or where runoff water enters the Monocacy?

My property along the Monocacy contains a draw that drains over 600 acres of land. When the runoff water flows through this draw the water is about 15-20 feet wide. 99 percent of the water entering the river off my property comes off this draw. Yet the river plan proposes incentives to reforest the entire length of my property. Why do this when the water is entering in an area only 20 feet wide.

Why not go up the draw through a few properties and require the urban areas up there to fix there runoff problem? Or why not address the draw on my property to filter the water? Attacking the runoff at these areas would clean much more water at a lower cost.

As nutrients are sucked up by the filter strip they will need to be removed. Otherwise the vegetation will eventually die, decompose and return the nutrients to the soil. Overloading the soil and leeching out into the river and the ground water. The more effective way to manage the nutrients is to harvest the vegetative strip through selective harvesting of trees or the harvest of hay off grass waterways. Through this the nutrients are removed from the filter strip and hauled off. The nutrients are cycled back through our economy as either food for animals or lumber for homes.

This is called sustainably. We capture the nutrients and cycle them back through civilization. Instead of letting them wash into the river harming water quality and ecological.


I can't follow what you are saying at all and I'd like to understand it. What is a draw? A pipe, a small creek, a cistern? Where is and what kind of filter are you describing? How would selective harvesting of trees help stop nutrient runoff? What is the vegetative strip? Sorry for the questions, but I can't picture what you're describing.


A draw is a depression in the land. It has ridges on each side and when standing in a draw the land is higher then you on 3 sides. Similar to a valley but on a smaller scale. They occur naturally all over the landscape. Because water runs downhill most of the water drains through the draws and into the waterways. The entire length of a river does not receive water equally along is length. It primarily runs in at this draw areas. Some draw area may encompass several thousand acres of drainage. Some much smaller.

There are various filter strips but they should be built up the draw. So the filter strip follows the depression of the draw. The filter strip to be most effective doesn't need to follow he river, but it needs to follow up the lay of the land where concentrated amounts of water flows. This would obviously be much more effective.

The trees or grass needs to be harvested to remove the nutrients from the strip. You see all the vegetation does is capture the nutrients. The nutrient laden water flows into the filter strip. The vergatstion slows the water down helping it to soak into the ground. Then the vegetation sucks up water and nutrients.

So now the nutrients are in the plant, not the dirt and not the river. All is well until the plant dies. Which they all do eventually. As the plant decomposes almost all of its nutrients that it took up will again be released. Over time there will be massive nutrient build up in the strip and the cations of the soils will become overwhelmed. At this point the soil will not be able to hold anymore nutrients. It will be leached out.

If we harvest the filter strip we remove the nutrients from the strip. If we harvest a tree and make lumber. Those nutrients are removed from the strip and stored in your house. If we harvest a crop that is used to feed a person or animal. Or some crops are used for fuel or paper or whatever. But my point is the nutrients are removed from the bufferstrip. Hauled away from the river. All the while being put to good use.


It sounds like your describing what I've typically heard referred to as a swale, or something similar. I think I get what you're saying. It gets technical with considerations of the nitrogen cycle and the CEC of the soil. I'm assuming the vegetation strip is collecting nitrogen runoff from the cropland and the concern is the soil CEC in this concentrated area can't absorb all the nitrogen deposited in it. I'm not arguing with what you're saying per se, but the vegetative strip sounds like it's inadequate to handle the N load and that it requires maintenance. I don't think you'd have that problem with a buffer like the plan is proposing, but I'm not a scientist and it depends on a soil test to determine its CEC. I do disagree these draws are a natural part of the landscape. The entire landscape in this region was 100% covered in dense hardwood forest. There's not much natural about ag land. These draws sound like they are either manmade to some extent or have been carved out by runoff over the years. You sound informed, but what you're talking about may or may not be efficient in controlling N leachate These are the discussions I wish the board or DNR would have with landowners like you to determine on a parcel by parcel basis what is working and what's not.


Thank you for sharing.


Draw or swale can be used interchangeably. Even in a permant forested buffer nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the soil will build up over time. We can't make or destroy any nutrients in the cycle. We can only displace them. So as the trees soak up nutrients they store them. When the tree dies it will release them as it decays. Granted some will remain in organic form as soil organic matter rises. The same thing happens on farm fields. That's my many are now recommending harvesting the trees in the buffers. Obviously not clear cutting them but selectively.

Grass or other crop buffers are good at soaking up nitrogen during the growing season. They do little other then trap sediment during the winter. Tree roots extend deeper into the soil pulling up nitrogen that has leeched deeper then crops can reach.

Draws and swales are natural parts of the landscape. This is the reason why the area was not a big swamp but a forest. Not many draws are man made here. Now in the Midwest many areas had lots of dirt moved for surface drainage. Many parts of the Midwest where essentially swamps before we got there. Farmers drained them and still do to this day. Almost every town in the flat corn belt states has a local drainage district to assist in moving water.

If the report spoke to the real problems with the Monocacy we would all know its sediment. The clay particles will carry phosphorus with them as phosphorus normally bonds with clay.

I would guess most of the sediment in the river is coming off the red clay soils in the northern part of the county. These soils are highly erosive. Also because of the high clay content and poor water percolation these soils are more difficult to no till. I would like to see a study on this. Many of the soils in that part of the world are planted to hay because they are not highly productive. So that does limit erosion off them.

The old timers will tell you when they plowed the soil it washed terriable. Gullys so deep the tractors would get stuck in them. So good farmers of the area would farm smaller fields alternating crops to reduce erosion.

Then with the use of herbicides farmers didn't have to "turn the dirt black" to control weeds. The herbicides of the early era where very toxic and persisted in the soil a long time. Great strides have been made since then. Although I will admit there are a few herbicides still in use that threaten water quality.

But like anything else it's a compromise. Less erosion versus safety. Food production is obviously important. So is water quality and nature. A excellent plan would be to weigh all this.

I purchased a farm that was and had been eroding badly. It takes time for the soil tilth to return but with careful planning it will. Just from changing the farming practices I have no more washouts. No till, cover crops and rotating it thru a hay crop a few years made a big difference. Plus it has increased it productivity.

In the next 50 years we need to grow as much food as we have since the beginning of mankind. Productive farmland is just as much a vaulabe resource as water and air. Look at all the trouble we have gotten in over oil. Imagine how much trouble we would be in if we had to rely on South America for food.

Matt I appciciate your open mind. I would not dare group you with the environmental wackos. You seem to have a real passion for being part of real world worakable solutions. It's should be a comprise. It should be what's right and what works. You seem to be looking for that. You should try to get on the river board and maybe I will too. I think you and I could bring a lot to that table.




Thanks for the LTE Veronica.

It's actually in the farmers' best interest to improve habitat along the river. It keeps ground water and soils in place, & protects their land from floods. If we had buffers like the plan recommends across the Bay watershed, we could create a microclimate to cool things off and lessen the extent of drought. Per DNR, central Maryland was under a drought watch at 12/31/16. It's since been lifted.

But more concerning is the news released just this month from the US Fish & Wildlife Service placing the rusty patched bumble bee on the endangered species list. This is the very first bee species in the USA to be listed as endangered. Per USFWS report in the federal register, as recently as the mid 1990s the bee was found in 31 states and parts of Canada. It's now only in 13 states - including Maryland for now - and Canada. It's declined by an estimated 91% in less than three decades.

So what, right? Native bumblebees are more efficient pollinators of crops than non-native honey bees, and they are one of the best pollinators for certain crops like tomatoes. The value of bee pollination to agriculture runs in the billions of dollars annually. They are invaluable to ag. Losing this bee would hurt all maryland ag - the inland and the river farmers. Putting some trees back where they belong would be a small price to pay for keeping this bee around. This is one of many canaries in the coal mine telling us something is wrong with our ecology. This is the leading edge of the slippery slope - collapse of keystone pollinator species - that people should be worried about, not the slippery slope of government intervention. There's a big difference bewtween not trusting the government and being paranoid. The science will save us form our selves if only people would have an open mind. I swear, Jesus Christ himself could descend from Heaven and support the plan, but obtuse pols like shrelauter would tell Him to go away.

Pride and ignorance are killing a plan that's really an exercise in self preservation. Not only will it benefit farmers in the long run, but it will improve drinking water quality for tens of thousands of people, which our politicians have a responsibility to protect.

This plan is radioactive to them and I have yet to see a politician muster the courage to say that they'd like to consider it. They'd rather play it safe and let the river continue to rot than risk their political future. What a shame.

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