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Carroll County to build new boating launch sites as part of 28 miles of ‘water trails’

Brad Rogers, Carroll County bureau chief of parks, takes a canoe out on Big Pipe Creek about four miles east of Md. 194 in Keymar. Carroll County will gain 28 miles of water trails with the construction and improvement of four boat launches.
Brad Rogers, Carroll County bureau chief of parks, takes a canoe out on Big Pipe Creek about four miles east of Md. 194 in Keymar. Carroll County will gain 28 miles of water trails with the construction and improvement of four boat launches. (Carroll County Government)

Later this year, Carroll County residents will likely have increased access for boating on 28 miles of waterways.

Jeff Degitz, director of Carroll County Recreation and Parks, came to the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday to detail progress on four boat launch sites. Degitz said his department has been looking for ways to develop more “water trails” in the western part of the county.

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A water trail is not like a hiking trail that needs to be carved out, Degitz said — the route is already there, but what’s needed is access to the water.

Plans are in place to improve two existing boat launch sites and add two more. The launch sites are intended for nonmotorized boats such as canoes and kayaks, according to Degitz. Two or three of the sites might be ready for boaters as early as this summer.

A new boat launch site will be built on Little Pipe Creek, adjacent to the town of Union Bridge’s sewage treatment plant, according to Degitz. The county will enter into a license agreement with Union Bridge for the site, adding 11 miles to the water trail.

Degitz said in an interview there is a natural launch at the site already, and so the county intends to define a small parking area and perform maintenance on an existing service road to make it easier to access the water. County staff will complete the project, which Degitz expects to finance with Park Legacy Fund donations. He also plans to reach out to local businesses for donations of stone to put gravel in the parking lot. The cost and date of completion have yet to be determined.

Carroll partnered with Frederick County to construct a new launch site in the community of Bridgeport, where Md. 140 crosses over the Monocacy River between Emmitsburg and Taneytown. In 2014, the counties jointly acquired seven acres, with Carroll investing $26,500, Degitz said. The Frederick side of the river was determined to be the best location for the launch, and Frederick County has agreed to fund the construction and maintenance, according to Degitz. Funding for the project becomes available July 1.

Degitz was unsure when the project will be complete, as the construction schedule will be dictated by Frederick County. The distance from Bridgeport to the Double Pipe Creek Park boat launch is six to seven miles via the Monocacy River, according to Degitz.

The existing launch at Double Pipe Creek Park in the community of Detour, near Keymar, is scheduled to get a face-lift this summer. Degitz said the plan is to build a concrete boat ramp with stairs on either side leading down to the water, replacing the existing steps that sit at a steep angle. Trees and brush have already been cleared to make way for construction, which the Maryland Department of the Environment said cannot begin until after June 1 because of fish spawning.

Degitz said about $88,000 is budgeted for the launch site, $6,000 of which came from the county’s general fund. The state funded the remaining cost through Program Open Space. Design work is complete, Degitz said, and he is hopeful the project will conclude quickly so locals can use the site this summer.

The Hapes Mill Road boat launch, which is 10 miles by water from the Double Pipe Creek Park launch, will gain a small parking area. The county bought a two-acre parcel there for less than $2,000 two years ago, Degitz said. He’s known people to set sail from the natural launch already, but the county wants to make it an official boat launch by improving access to the water and defining parking. County staff plans to complete the work, and Degitz said funding will be sought through the Park Legacy Fund and business donations.

He was unsure of the cost or when the work will be finished, but he said the goal is to have the Hapes Mill Road and/or the Little Pipe Creek launch sites done by spring so they can be used this summer.

“It’s nice for people in the county to know they have a place to do this," Degitz said in an interview.

The county will also add signs to all of the launch sites that depict the water trail and provide information on safety and wildlife. Boaters will also be able to check the water level online through the parks department’s website before venturing out, Degitz said.

The briefing on the boat launches did not require action by the commissioners.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, praised the parks department for its effort. He said he liked that the projects are inexpensive and will have little impact on the environment.

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“There’s also an economic impact factor to this as well," he said. "We’re going to draw tourists into areas such as Union Bridge, which could really use the tourism and attraction to their community ... people from outside our jurisdiction will come into our county and patronize our local establishments. I am all about this.”

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