- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

HARNEY, Md. About two dozen paddlers and a Labrador retriever set out early this week on a six-day trip to promote conservation of the scenic Monocacy River, the main source of drinking water for the city of Frederick.

The canoe and kayak tour was organized by a local conservation group and funded largely by Pittsburgh-based aluminum maker Alcoa, which has a Frederick County plant. The tour's message is sustainability, a waste-not, want-not approach to water management given added weight by the continuing drought.

"It is very important that we develop a water conservation ethic, and not just during drought periods, because there are more people and more demands for water all the time," said Robert M. Summers, director of water management for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Mr. Summers and David E. Hess, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, spoke briefly at a launch ceremony near the river's headwaters, the confluence of Rock Creek and Marsh Creek at the state line. Mr. Hess passed Mr. Summers a wooden canoe paddle, symbolizing the states' shared interest in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"Water doesn't recognize political boundaries," Mr. Hess said.

The paddlers will follow the Monocacy's 58.2-mile route from Maryland's northern border to the Potomac River. Each day, organizer Community Commons will provide speakers at luncheons, dinners and forums aimed at educating people about the importance of conservation methods, such as streamside buffers that prevent erosion and chemical-laden runoff from farms, factories and parking lots.

"Despite the fact that it's a very scenic and quiet river, as soon as you get off the banks, you realize how close you are to development, especially in the Frederick area," said Hilari Benson, executive officer of Community Commons.

Some of the paddlers were more excited about the trip despite rainy weather forecasts than the message.

"I used to float the Monocacy when I was a kid. I went on a trip last year, but I have never canoed this stretch," said Robert Cook, an employee training consultant from Frederick who was traveling with his dog, Cal.

Frederick massage therapist Kathleen Doyle was paired in a canoe with Tim Goodfellow, principal planner for the Frederick County planning department. He was preparing to speak later in the week on the benefits of enlightened planning. She was ready for fun: "I just love to paddle."

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