"The watershed is private land. It's not a park," Hudson said.

WSSC, established in 1918, supplies 1.8 million residents of Prince George's and Montgomery counties with drinking water. It is responsible for maintaining the Rocky Gorge Reservoir, as well as the Triadelphia Reservoir near Brookeville.

"The primary purpose is to protect the source water in the reservoir," Hudson said. "We're trying to strike a balance between that number one concern and recreational activities in the watershed."

Moving forward


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Hudson said that the new horseback riding regulations came after "eight months of extended outreach to TROT and other riders," and that there was "a lot of give and take."

"We can't look back at how things were a couple of years ago. We need to move forward," he said. "In the past we haven't done as good of a job working to protect the watershed, and we recognize that."

Hudson said WSSC plans to work with community members and legislators to create a long-term watershed protection program that will combat erosion, sediment buildup and other problems.

"There doesn't have to be tension," he said.

Sollner-Webb said the equestrian community has made efforts to maintain the reservoir by reporting issues, and she wishes WSSC would acknowledge their involvement and work to collaborate with them.

"They should encourage this sort of caring and observation," she said.

MacNab had similar thoughts.

"They will have meetings and listen to us, but there's no discussion about what we can do," he said. "I in no way want to demonize the WSSC, I just would like to have more of a conversation."

The new regulations will go into effect on March 15, when the watershed season begins.

"We have done a lot of listening with a variety of stakeholder groups, and while not everyone is happy, we did make compromises, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders as we move forward." Hudson said.

Dan Singer is a journalism student at the University of Maryland.