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Potomac River, lakes are a draw for boaters

September 26, 2007

If a day on the water is your idea of paradise, Washington County has plenty of places for you and your boat.

The National Park Service operates a number of boat ramps along the Potomac River in Washington County, from Hancock to Dargan. Most of these ramps are available only for smaller vessels - larger boats may use the Big Slackwater ramp off Dam No. 4 road.

Other ramps include:

· Little Tonoloway, off Canal Street in Hancock.

· Fort Frederick State Park, off Md. 56 on Big Pool Road.

· Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area on Blairs Valley Road.

· Greenbrier State Park, 15 miles west of Frederick on U.S. 40.

· Four Locks, off Md. 56 on Four Locks Road.

· Taylors Landing, off Taylors Landing Road.

· Snyders Landing, off Md. 34 on Snyders Landing Road.

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· Dargan Bend, off Shinham Road.

· McCoy's Landing, off Md. 56 on McCoy's Ferry Road.

The town of Williamsport operates a Potomac River boat ramp at River Bottom Park off Salisbury Street.

If lakes are more to your liking, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources permits small vessels at three lakes in Washington County. Only electric motors are permitted on these lakes.

Boating is available in the western portion of the county at Blairs Valley Lake in the Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area on Blairs Valley Road, and in Big Pool at Fort Frederick State Park off Md. 56.

In eastern Washington County, boating is available at Greenbrier Lake State Park on U.S. 40.

Boating is regulated in Maryland by the Department of Natural Resources.

Boats must be registered if they are equipped with any kind of primary or auxiliary mechanical propulsion and are being used primarily in Maryland.

Boats must be registered within 30 days of purchase or being brought into Maryland. A 5 percent excise tax is charged, and the title fee is $2. Regular registration is $24. Other fees may apply; contact the DNR for details.

Children ages 7 and younger must wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (life jacket) unless a vessel is moored or anchored, or the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

As of this year, children ages 4 or younger or weighing less than 50 pounds must wear flotation devices that include a strap between the child's legs to secure the life jacket, an inflatable headrest or high collar to keep the child's head above water, and a web handle.

Operators born on or after July 1, 1972, must have a certificate of boating safety education to operate motorized vessels. Boating safety courses are offered across the state and online. For information, call the Natural Resources Police Safety Education Division at 410-260-3280.

For more information, call the Department of Natural Resources' Western Maryland Service Center, 3 Pershing Street, Room 103, Cumberland, MD 21502, at 301-777-2134, or go to the Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us.

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