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Western Md. wildlands proposal hits opposition

SWANTON — The Garrett County Planning Commission is opposing a state plan to strengthen protection of land along the Youghiogheny River in far western Maryland.

The Cumberland Times-News reported Monday on the dispute over the state’s proposal to designate the nearly 4,000-acre Youghiogheny River Corridor as a state-protected wildland. It would be among the largest of 10 new proposed wildlands statewide, totaling 27,000 acres.

A 21-mile stretch of the Youghiogheny was designated as Maryland’s first and only “wild river” in 1976. It is managed by the state to preserve scenic and ecological resources.

A wildlands designation would prohibit bicycling, among other uses. Garrett County Planning Director John Nelson says the designation would prevent development of a proposed Eastern Continental Divide Loop trail that would connect to the Great Allegheny Passage.