Ban the busses on the Gunpowder and tubing will return to its pastoral pleasure

August 01, 2011

Great article Sunday on tubing on the Gunpowder ("Tubing tiff," July 31). As both an avid fly-fisherman on the Gunpowder and someone who utilizes it during the hot summer months to take a tube down, I can appreciate the conflicts that occur between residents, fisherman and the business owners renting tubes and shuttling folks to and from various access points. Just last weekend, I was among the 600 folks per weekend who take a tube down the Gunpowder River. A couple of thoughts:

•If the shuttles did not exist, I think everyone can agree the alcohol levels would decrease exponentially considering most folks would not want to walk a cooler full of beer 20 minutes up the bike trail only to float back down.

•Banning tubing would be a huge mistake. It is really great seeing parents getting their children out of the house and away from video games and television to spend time together (normally in close proximity, considering tubes are regularly tied together). Children in the video game generation rarely spend time in the outdoors even though time away from the computer and Playstation leads to lifelong hobbies among friends and families because folks are much more likely to have an annual fishing or hunting trip than an annual video game tournament.

•Earlier articles this year have described in detail the amount of tickets passed out for swimming at Loch Raven and Pretty Boy Reservoir. That article gave me a good laugh because I was just imagining the amount of tubers on the Gunpowder floating down and walking in the river. The state's biggest argument for banning swimming is because of the cleanliness of the drinking water. What the state does not address is the fact that the Gunpowder flows directly into Loch Raven Reservoir and swimming in the river is no different than swimming in the lake. All the water goes to the same place. Additionally, if the state is intent on passing out tickets to anyone that wants to jump in the lake, what are their intentions with all the geese, deer and other animals who regularly take refuge in the reservoir? As a result, the state's argument must suppose that folks who swim in the lake are less clean than the tubers who float down the river, and the animals that take refuge in the lake.

In summary, I would make the argument to ban the busses, as these promote the ability to take large amounts of alcohol up to various access points. Additionally, I would open up Loch Raven for swimming. This past summer, as illustrated repeatedly by Dan Rodricks, Baltimore City continues to close or limit hours on city pools. Why not utilize the lake for swimming opportunities? Not everyone can afford a nice pool in their backyard, but most folks can drive to one of the parking areas surrounding Loch Raven. Instead of five or six full time ticket issuers (as illustrated in The Baltimore Sun's article on illegal swimming in Loch Raven) hire a couple of lifeguards to ensure safety and rope off a large swimming area.

Vince Grey, Linthicum

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