To Whom it May Concern, 06/04/2020 I am writing this letter regarding the plan by Robert Thacker to log 7621 Stewart Hill Road and an adjoining lot in Adamstown, Maryland. Mr. Thacker is my closest upstream neighbor. Aside from the previous logging by neighbors and the incumbent stress incurred by the local wildlife, flora and fauna, I have concern for the watershed that is servicing both Cub (my backyard stream) and Bear Branch streams. My understanding is that Frederick City has established and capped a wellhead within this white rock watershed for future use. When Mr. Law Watkins logged a few years ago across Stewart Hill Road from our residence, I had to install a water softener to counteract the increase of minerals and the lessening of water purification by the removal of local older growth trees. When Stronghold logged more recently on this side of Stewart Hill Road, the water became harder and more salts were needed to keep the minerals from continuing to affect our pipes and water quality. It is well known that trees store water, purify water, and sustain ground water. Does Frederick City know of the impact on this watershed and the future water plans? The pond on our property is 13-15 feet deep and approximately half an acre. The pond is serviced by Cub Branch which flows down from Mr. Robert Thacker’s property and through our property, and into Bear Branch Stream. The local reproductive amphibian population has been drastically reduced by at least ninetyfive percent during the last twenty years. This disastrous reduction of the amphibian population has been significantly impacted by the health of the local macro ecosystem of the Sugarloaf Conservancy in our area. When my wife and I moved to 7605 Stewart Hill Road in 2000, the local forest and streams were intact. Five healthy herds of deer lived in the local area. Now there is only one herd. Within the logged areas the sunlight reaches the ground, encouraging invasive stilt grass overgrowth. The advent of the stilt grass, a form of bamboo, is now growing in the area and the consequent loss of indigenous browsing plants has become pervasive. Within the logged areas the sunlight reaches the ground, encouraging the stilt grass invasion. Once established the stilt grass grows to two feet in height in late summer then wilts and disappears. The indigenous grasses die on the root from the competition and mud is what is left for most of the winter and springtime. This clearly impacts plant diversity. All animals that eat ground level plants have been impacted from the mice, to rabbits and to foxes on up the line. The local bear population now appears to have left as well.
The plan to log the remnant woods spells disaster for the local ecosystem and natural resource base. There is a local bobcat that uses the last remaining intact woods corridor almost nightly. What will the bobcat and the other predatory animals use if Mr. Thacker logs his acreage? There is a small buffer planned between the logging and the stream part of which is already cleared for a powerline. On a hillside such as this, with stilt grass turning the area to mud, the stream and pond which are already stressed and unhealthy will be impacted disastrously by the logging. I have contacted the DNR Fisheries for a consult to see if they can help in any way with the alarming health of our pond and the streams due to degradation of the water quality in this watershed.
Since this area is zoned “Resource Conservation” the local entities responsible for maintaining the zoning need to thoroughly understand the impact of continued logging on this sensitive and important rural environment. It is our opinion, that at the very least, logging of this terrain should be curtailed until The Sugarloaf Area Plan has been completed. Also, specifically the impact of logging within the white cliff watershed be understood within the larger context of the degradation of the Sugarloaf Area Ecosystem its plants, animals, and watershed. At this point the remaining intact White Cliff Ecosystem relies on the smaller landowners. The designation of “Resource Preservation” which manages smaller acreage lots should be reassessed, in light of, the current predicament.
The Sugarloaf Area’s importance is evident since it is the first location being investigated within the Livable Frederick Master Plan, by the Livable Frederick Planning and Design Office, a Division of Planning and Permitting, within the Frederick County Government. It is possible that the Sugarloaf Mountain Conservancy falls under Maryland’s Natural Resources Protection Act because it is of “recreational, cultural, historical and environmental value to present and future benefit for the citizens of the state, and that the current uses are causing the rapid degradation, and the destruction of critical resources, thus producing adverse environmental impact.”
The loss of our heritage is being assailed from all directions as people are trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the nature and our larger public. We believe the impact of continued logging needs to be considered thoroughly within the present needs of our community. That Sugarloaf’s conservation of natural resources and environmental sustainability be thoroughly considered before continued logging happens within the Sugarloaf area and its White Cliff watershed.
Sincerely, Thom Shenk and Lil Kilgallen