Preservationists, industry argue logging, city reservoir management plan


Preservationists who want a logging ban on city reservoir land argued last night with industry representatives who favor cutting trees under careful supervision.

At issue at a public hearing at Loch Raven High School was a task force report on watershed management at three city-owned reservoirs: Loch Raven and Pretty Boy in Baltimore County, and Liberty, which straddles Baltimore and Carroll counties. The report recommends that logging be phased out over five years, except for diseased or damaged trees that are a threat to safety.

Logging by private companies under contract to the city was halted nearly three years ago after complaints that the cutting was damaging to the environment and the city's drinking water. The 10-member task force appointed by the city includes environmentalists, officials and community leaders. Created in February 1991, the panel is to make recommendations on ways to protect the water quality of the reservoirs and increase the diversity of plant and animal life in the watersheds.

Hunters and fishermen were heavily represented among the approximately 250 people at last night's hearing. The hunters want the Loch Raven watershed opened to bow hunting of deer. The fishermen want boating to be allowed again on the lakes, which supply water to 1.6 million people in the city and parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Howard counties.

The city allows bow hunting at Pretty Boy and Liberty, but bans it at Loch Raven because of heavy residential development around the watershed area. While the task force report indicated that over-population could result in damage to the forest habitat, it recommended the deer hunting policy be continued until a solution is found.

Boating on the reservoirs was banned by the city earlier this year because it was feared that zebra mussels would be introduced from the hulls of the boats. The mussels breed rapidly and clog intake valves.

The city is working on barriers to protect the valves if the mussels show up.

Typical of those opposing logging was Michael DiFilippi, who lives on Manor Road near Loch Raven: "Timber harvesting has no positive impact on water quality."

Other speakers referred to erosion they said is caused by logging, and a fisherman said some parts of Loch Raven were silting up because of the cutting.

But Robert H. Rumpf, general manager of Glatfelder Pulp Wood of Spring Grove, Pa., said that carefully controlled cutting is more beneficial to a forest than uncontrolled growth.

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