Commission delays decision on livestock access to streams

June 03, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County's Agricultural Commission declined to make a recommendation on limiting livestock access to streams yesterday, saying it needed more information from the county commissioners before making a decision.

"As a group representing agricultural concerns, I don't think we should be out front on this," said Donald Essich, agricultural commission chairman.

"I'm not sure it will benefit farmers," he said.

The county commissioners asked the Agricultural Commission whether such regulations would be necessary after Richard E. and Patricia M. Geyer of Amberly Drive in Mount Airy complained that a neighbor was planning to allow his cattle to cross Gillis Falls and graze in a small wooded area.

The neighbor, whom the Geyers did not name, keeps about 80 head of cattle as a hobby and is planning to expand his herd, Mr. Geyer said.

No cattle have been allowed to cross the trout stream in the past 15 years, Mr. Geyer told the commission.

Mr. Geyer said it appears that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will grant the neighbor permits to build the fences across the wetlands, even though department officials say it will harm the stream and the fish.

However, the Geyers said they are not seeking a countywide regulation, just a statement of support for their position from the county commissioners.

"We're not environmental extremists," said Mr. Geyer, who works for the federal Food and Drug Administration.

"We're not asking the county to adopt regulations, nor are we asking to apply a general restriction [for allowing cattle in streams]. We just want to enjoy the property we bought the way we bought it," he said.

Agricultural Commission member Maggie Rhodes volunteered to meet with the neighbor and suggest options, some of which are eligible for matching federal grants, that would protect the stream.

For example, he might build a bridge over Gillis Falls that would keep the cattle out of the water, said Ms. Rhodes, who works for the county soil conservation service.

The Geyers said they would be satisfied with that solution.

"This is a voluntary thing, so if he tells me to go away, I'm going to go away," Ms. Rhodes said. "But, after you present the options, most farmers go with it."

The Agricultural Commission also elected Frank Feeser chairman and James Steele vice chairman of the group.

Mr. Feeser, a Taneytown hog farmer, has been vice chairman of the group and led the committee looking into dead animal disposal in Carroll County.

Mr. Steele manages Shamrock Farms, a horse farm in Woodbine, and has chaired the committee that developed right-to-farm legislation.

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