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Our View: New, improved water trails good for Carroll County

It’s hard to get unanimity of support for anything done by the government. Surely, it’s far easier for officials to spark widespread outrage than universal approval in these hyper-partisan times. But, using the decidedly unscientific barometer of social media, it seems pretty much everyone is a fan of increased access for boating on 28 miles of waterways in and around Carroll County.

By the end of last week, the story we did on this topic had been shared some 400 times on Facebook, received nearly 500 “likes” or “loves” with nary an angry emoji. It had drawn 58 comments with not a single of them being negative. Commenters called the development “great news” or “awesome” and one summed it up with: “Finally Carroll County understands what [its] back woods peeps really want!” No wonder Commissioner Eric Bouchat popped on to declare, “I am your kayaking Commish.”

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Jeff Degitz, director of Carroll County Recreation and Parks, briefed the Board of County Commissioners on Jan. 16 on the progress of four boat launch sites, noting that his department has been looking for ways to develop more “water trails” in the western part of the county. He explained that a water trail is not like a hiking trail that needs to be carved out — the route is already there, but what’s needed is access to the water.

Access is generally lacking locally. Which is why this particular Rec and Parks project has been such welcome news. Especially since the costs to Carroll are minimal. Plans are in place to improve two existing boat launch sites and add two more. The launch sites are intended for non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks, according to Degitz, who said two or perhaps three of the sites might be ready for boaters as early as this summer.

The director told the commissioners 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 told us 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.

As for the other new site, Carroll partnered with Frederick County to construct a launch site in the community of Bridgeport, where Md. 140 crosses the Monocacy River between Emmitsburg and Taneytown. In 2014, the counties jointly acquired 7 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. The distance from Bridgeport to the Double Pipe Creek Park boat launch is six to seven miles via the Monocacy River.

Additionally, the launch at Double Pipe Creek Park in the community of Detour will be getting an upgrade, the plan being to build a concrete boat ramp with stairs on either side leading down to the water. 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

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

In this case at least, we have to agree with the online commenters. We also “like.”

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