Park vehicle ban still planned

July 17, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

BIG POOL - Despite objections from some campers, Fort Frederick State Park plans to ban vehicles from its riverside camping area.

The move is on hold indefinitely because of state budget cuts. But if the 29-site campground floods, most likely it would not be rebuilt, said Neal Welch, western regional planner for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

When there is money, the state will develop a new drive-in camping area above the floodplain with new bathrooms, showers and utility hookups.


Having vehicles park close to the river harms the environment. During storms, dirt and oil washes into the river, state officials say.

When state officials proposed the change a year ago, about 20 people signed a petition against the move.

Brenda Resh, who was camping there with her family Friday, said she probably won't come back after the campground is moved.

Resh, of Cearfoss, said she likes the convenience of being close to the Potomac River for fishing. At night, she fishes for catfish and during the day she goes to nearby Big Pool to try for bass.

Members of the public will still have access to the river, but they will have to walk in with their gear because there will no longer be parking.

"I wish they wouldn't move it because it's a nice area. I sit and watch the river," said Sandra Marcum of Hagerstown, who was relaxing under the awning of her pop-up tent Friday.

Park Manager Ralph Young said he is disappointed there is no money in the state budget for park improvements for at least another year.

The campground move is part of a larger plan to improve the park when money becomes available.

Before the fort's 250th anniversary in 2006, Young said he would like to see the officers' quarters rebuilt. The building was the site of an important alliance between Cherokee Indian Chief Wahachey and the Colonial government, he said.

The campground flooded twice in 1996. Damage from the first flood cost $90,000 to repair and damage from the second flood cost about $30,000 to repair, Young said.

No objections have been voiced to the rest of the development plan, which calls for relocating roads that intrude on the historical interpretation of the French and Indian War fort.

The plan also calls for:

  • Historic reconstruction of the fort.

  • Elimination of roads leading from Md. 56 to the fort and the picnic grounds, and construction of a new access road west of the Visitors Center.

  • Construction of a new restroom, with showers for re-enactors, near the historic area.

  • Expansion of the Visitors Center.

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