CAMDEN — There may be a good chance of severe thunderstorms this evening and a flash flood watch in place for Knox County until 8 p.m., but Camden Snow Bowl officials feel cautiously optimistic that they are ready for it, and getting more ready every hour.
"We are in good shape," said Snow Bowl Facilities Manager Bill "Fitzy" Fitzcharles Wednesday afternoon. "We have cleared out and installed new water bars up and down Spinnaker and installed temporary water bars on Northeaster, with jute being installed in the water bars in both locations as we speak."
Fitzcharles was halfway up the Spinnaker trail on a tractor, moving piles of new woodchips delivered earlier in the day. Spinnaker runs closest to Hosmer Brook, which travels down between the rental and maintenance buildings, along the back of the parking lot and ultimately empties into Hosmer Pond.
"We are also in the process of cleaning sediment out of and around Hosmer Brook and that too is ongoing as we talk," said Fitzcharles.
More than 300 bales of hay were in the parking along with several pallets of sediment logs, or booms, all of which was due to be applied to the mountain this afternoon and early evening.
Cleaning sediment out of the brook, and keeping that brook clear of more runoff has now been mandated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, according to Fitzcharles. It is likely just one of many remediation measures the DEP is going to require of the town in the coming days and weeks.
And Camden Parks and Recreation Director Landon Fake added Wednesday afternoon that he is organizing a working group to pick up where the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Group left off, now that the Redevelopment Group's visioning, concept and fundraising work is complete.
"Everybody thinks there is a big master plan to work off of, but it was really a concept until now so there are lots of decisions to be made, and nuts and bolts to put together," said Fake. "This group of experience community members can provide important local input and financial expertise on this project and they will help me and Fitzy make decisions as the project goes forward."
He added the proposed members of the working group he is hoping to assemble include Frank Morong, Sonny Goodwin, Sam Appleton, Abby Leonard and Brian Robinson.
“They are all highly qualified in a variety of ways and fields,” said Fake.
The Snow Bowl came under fire Monday from state officials with the Bureau of Land and Water Quality Monday after Camden residents complained about continuing, and worsening erosion from recent logging work that sent mud and silt into Hosmer Pond, turning it brown - twice.
On June 13, 3.3 inches of water fell at the Maine Water Mirror Lake measuring station in Rockport. That rain event turned Hosmer Pond a murky brown, and Fake, who also manages the Snow Bowl, moved to shore up the erosion control measures.
Overnight June 25 into June 26, another 2.41 inches of rain fell on Camden and Rockport, and the erosion control measures put into place 12 days prior failed.
On Monday, Fake told DEP Licensing and Compliance Manager Dawn Hallowell and Field Services Enforcement officer Jen Harris that as manager of the project, he had been relying on the forester to oversee the logger. That management was supposed to include ensuring adequate erosion control measures. When it became obvious erosion control measures were inadequate, Fake said the town stepped in and took over. He said he had a meeting June 26 with the forester and the logger and laid down ground rules for moving forward. Those included the forester managing every foot of ground the logger was working on, additional erosion control measures during the logging work and daily inspections and shoring up of disturbed erosion controls – regardless of the weather forecast.
"After I made the demands on the forester and the logger, the logger said, 'I'm out of here,'" said Fake. "That was not unexpected."
The first erosion control failure was hotly discussed at the June 24 Camden Select Board meeting, and the community was assured then that erosion measures had been taken care and that it would not happen again. But it did, and that second failure was two too many for everyone concerned.
Fitzcharles said Wednesday that since the last rain, there is "so much more in place" to help stave off further erosion and incursion of silt and mud into Hosmer Pond.
"We are doing the best we can with the resources we have," said Fitzcharles.
Fake said that he hoped to get lights on the mountain to allow crews to work spreading hay and installing berms and water bars.
The $6.5 million redevelopment of the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area got underway in March 17, when forestry and logging crews moved onto the mountain for timber harvesting. Proposed work includes expanding and widening trails, adding two new lifts, creating a new tubing hill, relocating some utility buildings and constructing new ones, expanding snow-making capacity and installing new lighting.
The project requires permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (wetlands impact, stream crossing and storm water runoff), as well as from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands fill.
Editorial Director Holly S. Edwards can be reached at email@example.com or 706-6655.