News for anyone who camps in Maryland or who likes alcohol.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says it is banning alcoholic beverages from state forests.
http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/2...-state-forests

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says it is banning alcoholic beverages from state forests.Maryland Forest Service Director Steve Koehn (kane) said Tuesday that the agency began phasing in the ban this month. Drinking in state parks became illegal last year.
Koehn says alcoholic beverages will still be allowed at pavilions in the Green Ridge and Potomac-Garrett state forests with a permit that is currently free but will eventually cost $35.


He says the state aims to ban alcoholic beverages on all its public lands because those who drink excessively sometimes ruin the outdoor experience for others.


The Cumberland Times-News first reported the state forest ban. The newspaper also reports that similar regulations are in the works for wildlife management areas.
But wait, it ain't over yet
Lawmakers want suspension of state forest alcohol ban
http://times-news.com/local/x9934816...st-alcohol-ban
Cumberland — CUMBERLAND — Numerous state senators and delegates, including the District 1 delegation, have written to the Maryland Forest Service asking Director Steve Koehn to suspend a policy that prohibits alcoholic beverage consumption within state forests.

Although the ban has been in place for about four months, its existence just recently came to public attention by way of articles in the Times-News. Koehn said the ban was enacted administratively and did not require a public meeting process.

In a March 25 letter, the elected officials wrote to Koehn, “It is problematic, to say the least, that we must become aware of such a broad and sweeping policy change through media reports rather than an open dialogue with your office.

“Although we agree that there is good intent behind the alcohol ban, we are concerned that your department did not feel it was necessary to hold public meetings ... Further, such a policy may have a chilling effect on the sale of licenses and other related fees.”

The representatives go on to request a suspension of the ban until public meetings are held to discuss it.

Koehn said Monday morning via e-mail that he had not yet received the letter and, thus, could not react to it.

There are 138,288 acres of state forest in Maryland, 83 percent of which lie in Allegany and Garrett counties, according to numbers posted on the agency’s Web site.

Alcoholic beverage merchants such as Bill Schoenadel of Bill’s Place in Little Orleans and industry representatives such as John Stakem of Frostburg have objected to the new prohibition.

Stakem, who is president of the Allegany County Liquor Dealers Association, said he will travel to Annapolis on Wednesday in an attempt to be heard.

Sgt. Art Windemuth of the Maryland Natural Resources Police said Monday that during 2009 officers dealt with 12 incidents in Savage River State Forest and 59 in Green Ridge that are categorized as criminal and/or alcohol. An exact breakdown of how many definitely were related to the consumption of alcohol was not available.

Windemuth said alcohol-related incidents can range from underage drinking to assaults and other violent crimes.

The average number of officers who are available to patrol state forests along with their other duties is five in each of Allegany and Garrett counties, he said.

A little over a year ago, the Maryland Park Service prohibited strong drink in day-use areas, and in November expanded the ban to campgrounds. According to an online statement by the Department of Natural Resources, the ban is also in place for wildlife management areas.
Although the ban has been in place for about four months, its existence just recently came to public attention by way of articles in the Times-News. Koehn said the ban was enacted administratively and did not require a public meeting process.
It's nice to know that government bureuacrats can make sweeping changes without the inconvenience of asking for any public input.


For what it's worth, we went camping two weeks ago and drank a boat load of beer. The rangers came by, but we saw them coming, so we stashed our beers and we chit-chatted with them for ten minutes. They told us that they were just learning of the ban and that it was a law they didn't need, as they had numerous other laws already on the books to deal with unruly drunks. We were cool, they were cool, but it's still fucked up that four adults can't openly enjoy a case of beer, or three, after a long day in the woods.


Going back again this weekend to get muddy and drunk.