December 6, 2022

Maryland DNR Tells Landowner To Remove Gate And Take Down Signs

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has told the owners of the Savage River Lodge to remove the gate blocking public access and take down their signs.

Sid TurnerI just received a heads up from Sid Turner, one citizen who has been actively concerned about the Maryland DNR giving away public land for private business, that the DNR has told Michael Dreisbach, owner of Savage River Lodge, to remove the gate that blocks entrance to public lands inside the Mount Aetna Track. These public lands surround the Savage River Lodge.

I covered this story earlier this fall. You can scroll down for links to all previous posts.

According to Turner, he received a letter from the MDDNR with instructions for Dreisbach.

I have received a copy of a letter dated 11/21/06 from the md. dnr to the lodge owners. (T)he letter states the lodge must remove the gate blocking access to the state land, remove the no parking signs that allow the access road to the state land and the private road signs. (T)he contract with the lodge for trail cutting and clearing on state land will be terminated 12/31/06 as well.

Savage River's gate blocking entrance to Mount Aetna Track

The owners of Savage River Lodge were granted a permit to cut trails throughout the public lands that surround the property. He also had posted the lands all around the trails making them virtually unhuntable, only to Lodge guests. Local citizens became outraged and went to work to get something done about it. Public meetings were held to examine facts and to receive public comment.

I assume as a result of the actions of concerned citizens, the DNR either decided themselves or were told by the state, to fix it. But it appears that even though the letter has instructed Dreisbach to remove the gate and signs, dated 11/21/2006, the signs and gate are still there. Turner, in his email to me, states that as of today the gate and signs remain.

Turner also stated that local newspapers have reported the Savage River Lodge owner, Michael Dreisbach as saying he will not obey the orders of the DNR.

(T)he lodge owner has stated in the local times news newspaper he is not inclined to follow the instructions in the letter! (T)he dnr states (M)ike the lodge owner does not have the option to delay these matters or legal action will be taken.

It appears that Turner is correct in his statement. According to an article in the Cumberland Times-News dated December 28, 2006, Dreisbach did say that.

In a November letter, Mike Dreisbach and Jan Russell, the husband-wife owners of the lodge, were told to remove the illegal signs and to discontinue locking a gate on the edge of Savage River State Forest. The letter was written based on advice from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

“They have kept the gate open, but Mike told us he is not inclined to remove the signs,” said Mike Slattery, assistant natural resources secretary, Wednesday.

The DNR has stated that if the owners do not remove the signs, forestry staff will take them down.

Some of the signs say “No Weapons” which is being contested as to whether Dreisbach and the state have the right to determine the public lands weapons free. The issue concerning the “safety zone” around the trails cut by Savage River owners remains in debate.

Dreisbach successfully requested the no-weapons zone in an effort he has said in the past is to protect guests at his lodge from the hunting public.

He said his guests have been approached and intimidated by unruly and sometimes inebriated hunters. Several Garrett County hunters said they have been approached by Dreisbach in a confrontational manner and ordered off public land. The Maryland Natural Resources Police was unable to document such claims by either side.

Slattery said that by February, the agency will determine whether to allow the safety zone to remain. It has been protested strongly by local hunters and is opposed by Senator-elect George Edwards.

I will continue to follow the story.

*Previous Posts*

Savage River Hunting Land Appears Useless To Hunters As State DNR Panders To Private Lodge Owners
Savage River Hunting Land Up For Debate
Maryland DNR Giving Away Public Lands For Private Use??

Tom Remington