By Kevin Rector, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:42 PM EST, November 10, 2011
Baltimore City officials have responded to a fiery Oct. 21 letter from State Sen. Jim Brochin — in which the Towson Democrat lodged complaints about city usage of fire roads in the forest buffer of Loch Raven Reservoir — by assuring him that action has been taken.
The forest buffer is owned by the city, but is in Brochin's district.
An aide to Brochin said the city's response — a two-page letter dated Nov. 3 from Rudolph Chow, head of the city's Bureau of Water and Wastewater — arrived at Brochin's Towson office Wednesday, Nov. 9, after being forwarded from the senator's Annapolis office.
Brochin called Chow's response "a good start" to what will hopefully be an on-going dialogue on the reservoir's health.
"The plan is to get them engaged in best practices, and understanding that there are some other concerns out there," Brochin said.
In his initial letter, Brochin had complained about two things in particular.
First, Brochin called on the city to stop allowing public works trucks and other city vehicles to use fire roads that cut through the forest buffer during rain, just as it prohibits mountain bikers from using trails during the rain. He said the roads had clearly deteriorated because of heavy usage.
Second, Brochin called on the city to remove two jersey barriers that had been placed in a stream bed that crossed a city fire road, which he called "clearly unacceptable."
Chow's letter said the city has "a firm policy of closing access to the woods roads during wet or muddy conditions," but that there are times when the roads need to be used, rain or shine.
The letter also said Brochin's view of the roads during a trail tour Oct. 14 showed particularly bad conditions that were created in part by maintenance crews that had used the roads in days prior to clear a "substantial amount of material" that had fallen during Tropical Storm Lee.
The letter said maintenance crews were working to repair the damages to the roads. It also said that the jersey barriers had been removed.
"This was clearly inappropriate use of the barriers, and the staff has been cautioned about placing any of these types of materials into a stream crossing," Chow wrote.
Brochin said he is happy that dialogue has been opened, but that there are still more problems to be addressed, first among them being the large amount of tree clearing that the city allowed BGE to do within the forest buffer near Dulaney Valley Road about 18 months ago.
"They must have cleared 700 or 800 trees," Brochin said. "Compared to the other stuff, it looks really, really, really bad."