Thurmont area state park properties are being marked for sale by the Department
of Natural Resources under a plan by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) to save
expenses and raise funds for the state.
But despite the small amount of acreage involved in the northern Frederick
County area, some said this week they are concerned about the potential sale.
One of the Thurmont area properties possibly up for sale - the 4.4-acre
Frank Bentz Pond - is no surprise to town residents, who are actively seeking
to acquire the pond.
The pond is considered an important part of the town's identity, and
Thurmont's mayor and board of commissioners are working to accept
responsibility for it after its failing dam is repaired. There are no plans for
the town to pay the state for the pond, however.
The proposed sale of 26.8 acres of Cunningham Falls State Park has surprised
others in the area. The park counts nearly 5,000 acres in its borders.
Elizabeth Prongas, founder of the New Forest Society, said this week that she
is deeply concerned about the sale of the parkland, even though it represents a
small fraction of the park's land.
"I just feel that it would be a mistake to let any forest land go because
once it's gone it's just gone forever," she said. "Our forest areas are being
depleted all over the country and every little place we can save is important."
Prongas said she did not think selling the land would save much money, if
any. She believes there must be careful thought and weighing of facts without
confrontation before making such an important decision.
Acting independently of her position with the New Forest Society, which is
not a political organization, Prongas said she plans to communicate her
concerns with the governor's office once she has completed her research on the
matter, she said.
Mayor Martin Burns of Thurmont has a similar concern about losing parkland.
"To the best of my knowledge, God only made so much land, and so... it would
concern anyone that they are selling off some of it," he said Tuesday.
He also has concerns about how the land would be used once sold. A
low-growth proponent, Burns said he wants to know if the land will be used for
Cunningham Falls State Park was created in 1954 when roughly 10,000 acres
were divided between the national park Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham
Falls. The park is known most for its 78-foot waterfall about a half-mile from
the lake in the William Houck Recreation Area. The lake is also a popular
summer destination for families, swimmers and fishers.
Information cited on the Maryland Department of the Environment's Web site
indicates the 26.8 acres in the park's 4,944 acres was chosen for possible sale
because the location of the acreage is isolated, making management difficult.
In addition, the land was reportedly considered to have minimal natural
The land earmarked for potential sale is located between U.S. Route 15 and
Md. Route 806 south of Thurmont, according to the Web site.