To save the bay, ban dirt bikes, don't charge a rain tax [Letter]


I, like most everyone in the People's Republic of Maryland, have grown weary of "O'Taxes," which essentially translates to our esteemed governor taxing every aspect of our lives.

While he's probably hard at work trying to determine a new tax on the very air we breathe, and trying to find a back door into the White House, his last insult, the rainwater run-off tax is laughable at best. First and foremost, it will do absolutely nothing to cleanse the waters of Chesapeake Bay, which despite the billions already spent, is in worse shape now that it was when the first studies were done more than a century ago. Yep, that money went mostly for studies.

If O'Malley was really serious about preventing erosion from stormwater runoff he would have banned four-wheelers and dirt bikes from being sold anywhere in the state. Not only are they dangerous to the person riding them, they are among the most environmentally destructive devices on the planet when it comes to soil erosion, particularly in forested areas. Hey, they don't call them dirt bikes for nothing!

During the past two decades, it seems the number of  four-wheelers and dirt bikes has grown exponentially. All summer long we now hear the roar of their engines as they rip through the woodlands, plowing deep ruts into the forest floor and destroying understory vegetation that is vital for soil retention. Keep in mind, most riders are not doing this on their property - they're trespassing and destroying someone else's property. And, it seems as if most are teenagers and younger adults who are the worst offenders.

While the offenders are breaking the law, it seems that despite numerous complaints, those laws are not being enforced. Granted, it's difficult for enforcement officers to chase down someone ripping through the woods on a four-wheeler or dirt bike, but they have to exit the woods at one point, which is where they can be apprehended and charged with destruction of private property, and a half-dozen environmental crimes.

Now, lets take a close look at the recent rainfall runoff tax. It penalizes those of us who provide the most environmental protection and prevent the majority of the erosion from taking place - homeowners. Our lawns, especially those that are faithfully mowed and maintained, provide the best filtration system for both erosion and chemical intrusion into the streams and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay. And, if all agricultural lands, both tilled and non-tilled, were required to maintain a 30-foot, maintained, grass buffer zone around their farmlands, the agricultural soil loss would be well below acceptable levels. This was well documented many years ago, and the study results were provided to various state agencies. As usual, no action was ever taken by any county or state agency.

Instead of taxing Maryland homeowners for rainwater runoff, the state and counties should be giving those homeowners with well maintained lawns a tax credit for doing their part in preventing runoff and erosion. Although the paperwork would be somewhat of a burden, the Harford County Council should assess a tax of .01 cent per household for rainwater runoff management, then give that same household a $100 per acre tax credit for maintaining their lawn as a stormwater management system. It's only fair.

Heaven help us if this fool gets into the White House.

Gary Diamond

Forest Hill

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