City of Frederick Municipal Forest / Watershed User Survey

Are you familiar with the Frederick Municipal Watershed? Though well known to its neighbors, and widely used by others for a variety of outdoor activities, this increasingly popular and large natural area is not well known to many or most city or county residents, despite it size and proximity to the city.


The Frederick Municipal Watershed is not in the City of Frederick, but it is owned by the city. Altogether it is comprised of 7,022 acres of thickly forested slopes, broken only by rocky outcroppings, scattered ponds and a few open meadows, and drained by fairly pristine trout streams.

Known best simply as “the watershed,” it stretches along the east side of Catoctin Mountain, a short distance northwest of Frederick, bordering Cunningham Falls State Park at one end and Gambrill State Park at the other.


(You can download a much larger version of this map here, as a 9MB PDF file.)

The watershed is managed as a cooperative wildlife management area with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (the Forest Service and the Wildlife and Heritage Division). Among other things, the “watershed” protects the watershed for the Fishing Creek Reservoir (which provides a portion of the city’s water supply).

Even if not as well known as the various state and federal parklands in Frederick County, the watershed is the largest tract of public land in the county. And it isn’t just big. It is also a richly diverse, beautiful and significant natural area.


But this special area is also faced with a growing list of problems and threats. In no particular order, they include unsanctioned and/or poorly maintained trails, illegal dumping, invasive species, overuse in some areas, off-road vehicle use and damage, erosion along poorly maintained unpaved roads and a lot more.

The challenge for the city and the DNR is to better protect the natural resources of the watershed, while managing the range of human activities in a fair and effective manner.


With that goal in mind, Mayor Randy McClement appointed nineteen members to a new ad hoc committee earlier this year. The committee was selected from interested applicants, with an effort made to include representatives from different interest and user groups, such as hikers, bikers, hunters, runners and horseback riders, as well as a mix of city residents, a county resident, and a few local business owners and operators.

The AD HOC Watershed Advisory Committee met for the first time in August, and has met a few times since. The committee is comprised of (in alphabetical order): Sheldon Barron, Mark Boggs, Justin Collins, Ryan Delaney, Dave Diehl, Sally Fulmer, Clyde Hicks, Anthony Iacovelli, James Johnson, Dave Kalt, Mark Lawrence, Darius Mark, Paul Nichols, Jr., Pat Oliva, Kevin Sayers, John Switzer, Edward Trey, Philip vanWerkhoven and Joe Whitehair. Alderman Kelly Russell serves as the Aldermanic liaison to the committee.

From the committee’s page on the city website:

“The Ad Hoc Watershed Advisory Committee was formed to recommend revisions to the existing Forest Stewardship Plan in order to bring better definition to allowable recreational uses; assist with the development of a City-sanctioned trail network system that preserves water quality, environmental habitats and sensitive areas while providing multi-use, sustainable recreational trails; and to assist with the development of a long-term Trail and Watershed Forest Maintenance Plan. Sub-Goals of the Committee include enforcement, public information, parking, signage, funding, etc.”

The efforts of the committee will be bolstered by an an online survey, entitled Frederick Municipal Forest / Watershed User Survey being conducted by University of Maryland graduate students. The survey is gathering public input about about how the watershed is used now and will identify some of the primary concerns and priorities of watershed visitors.

Wherever you live, if you care about and visit the “watershed,” please take a few minutes to complete the survey:

And then, when you’ve done that, please consider sharing the link with friends who may visit the watershed and/or neighboring parks and natural areas.

Thank you!


AD HOC Watershed Advisory Committee page on the City of Frederick website

The agenda for the first meeting of the AD HOC Watershed Advisory Committee (held on August 14, 2014).

DNR page: Frederick City Cooperative Wildlife Management Area

Monocacy & Catoctin Watershed Alliance

Frederick Municipal Watershed Management Update (Fall 2013)
(this is a 358KB PDF file)


Frederick News Post
City’s watershed committee holds first meeting
Friday, August 15, 2014
By Sylvia Carignan

EXCERPT: Local hikers, bikers, scientists, planners, runners and activists lent
their voices Thursday to a long-standing local issue: the Frederick
municipal watershed.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement set the tone for the Ad Hoc Watershed
Advisory Committee’s first meeting.

“The ultimate goal really is to protect the watershed,” he said

Frederick News Post
Committee would aim to protect watershed
Sunday, April 27, 2014
By Sylvia Carignan

EXCERPT: The deep forests of the Frederick watershed conceal a secret network of paths seven times as large as the trails marked on official maps. To the state and the city of Frederick, those miles of rogue paths could be a threat to local life.

The paths total 84 miles through steep downhill slopes, over logs and rocky outcrops, and are known to a select few who bike, hike and walk the trails. Only 12 miles of trail are officially recognized and maintained, according to Larry Maxim, a watershed forester with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement is calling for an ad hoc committee that would discuss ways to protect the watershed while keeping it open for recreational use. The city issued the call Monday.

“My main concern with the watershed is to make sure that it’s there for its sole purpose, which is really the ability to provide drinking water as a resource for the city,” McClement said.

The ad hoc committee’s tasks are to define allowed recreational uses, develop a forest and trail maintenance plan and an official trail network. The city is seeking residents and local interest group members for the yearlong committee.