My testimony in favor of approving the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan

Last year, some friends and I paddled down part of the Monocacy River and saw it for ourselves. Some areas look wild and scenic, but mostly there’s not enough natural vegetation or buffer to prevent runoff, or mitigate evaporation in summer, or hold back rushing water during storms.

Karen Russell testifying at the February 28th public hearing on the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan.

Sixty-four percent of the land bordering the River is farmland; only 7% is urban. There’s a map, from the Chesapeake Bay Program, attached to this testimony that shows Frederick County agriculture contributing the most nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake, of anywhere west of the Bay. A recent article in the Frederick News Post reports that the city exceeds its wastewater permit by twice the allowed amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. This evidence belies the claims of the Farm Bureau and the farmers along the River that they are good stewards of the land.

We need this plan to protect our environment for the good of all, including those lucky enough to own land along the Monocacy. It is not fair for those most responsible for the pollution and degradation of the River to claim that their private property rights are being violated. First of all, it’s not true. Secondly, if you buy into this argument, you allow this pollution to continue.

If the landowners along the river and the Farm Bureau get their way, how are the interests of people who don’t own river front property served?

Furthermore, as average temperatures increase and we experience longer periods of drought, what happens to the water in the Monocacy? By protecting it now, we could perhaps forego that question, but we’d have to work together to do it.

The Monocacy river is not private property. The city gets 27% of its water from the it. Fish and wildlife that depend on it for survival are not private property. The plan recommends human and financial resources for transitioning to land practices that protect public health and ensure a future for wildlife.


Frederick City was settled and the county has become what it is because of the existence of the Monocacy River. I would like to thank those who worked on the River Plan and recommend its approval.