Here is the letter we submitted for one of the two upcoming public meetings (June 18 at Laurel Library; June 19 at the Izaak Walton League in Mt. Airy; both meetings start at 7:00 pm - try to attend!)
Patuxent Watershed Study
c/o EA Engineering, Science and Technology
15 Loveton Circle
Sparks, MD 21152
To: Patuxent Study Team:
I am the Vice President of the Maryland Horse Council, which is the trade association representing Maryland's equestrian farms, businesses, interest associations and enthusiasts. Together, our membership represents over 30,000 Marylanders, many of whom live, own property and/or ride in the Patuxent Watershed.
We are aware of the recent actions taken by the WSSC to restrict public access to its watershed lands. We are very interested in your study and welcome the opportunity to express our views on its scope and conduct, as well as on the historic importance of the watershed to equestrian users - and, we would argue, on the importance of equestrian users to the watershed.
Horse back riders and other recreational users have had access to these lands for generations. They have in many cases taken on the role of volunteer stewards of the land and water, and it can be said that their routine presence as eyes and ears “on the ground” has contributed vastly to the security of the water, the land and the public at large.
In this time when citizen confidence in government and public institutions is at historic lows, it is imperative that the conduct of this study be transparent, objective and grounded in observable fact and provable data. If adverse impact by recreational users including horseback riders cannot be proven by clear and verifiable facts, the recently imposed restrictions should not continue.