The national outdoor magazine Field & Stream has recognized Doug Hutzell of Hagerstown as a Hero of Conservation for his restoration efforts on behalf of Beaver Creek as part of the Beaver Creek Watershed Association.
On Saturday, Field & Stream will join the restoration association and local volunteers at Beaver Creek to help with the restoration work as part of the magazine’s Hero for a Day program.
“We need to take care of our streams because they are a living organism,” Hutzell said. “If we don’t take care of our waters, it’s going to be devastating because we drink this water, and everybody lives in a watershed.”
Hutzell, 62, was one of three people recognized in Field & Stream for the month of March for the work the Beaver Creek Watershed Association did to restore wild trout to Beaver Creek. He said he learned that there were wild brown trout in the creek after spotting them in 1999 and contacting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to investigate it.
After learning about the brown trout, Hutzell said he began working to help clean up the water so there would be a “self-sustaining population of wild trout.”
“All the impervious areas from roads, the interstate, development, and agriculture, there’s a lot of different things happening within the watershed that deteriorate the quality of the water,” he said. “We decided that we would get an organization like the Beaver Creek Watershed Association started, and we would then be able to establish maybe a wild trout fishery.”
The association formed in 2003, and has taken various steps to clean up the stream, including fencing it off, putting in watering troughs for cattle, planting trees and shrubs along the stream, and raising awareness within the watershed to the quality of the water in the stream.
Hutzell said the association also worked to cool down the stream by working with the Maryland State Highway Administration to keep hot road surface water from running off of I-70 directly into the creek through a concrete channel and removing an irrigation pond that was at the Beaver Creek Country Club.
He added that in addition to clean water, trout need cooler temperatures as well.
“Trout are affected by higher temperatures around 70 or 72 degrees,” he said. “Now we have cool, clean water coming back into Beaver Creek, where we had a lot of sediment issues.”
As part of Field & Stream’s “Heroes of Conservation” program, Hutzell will receive a $500 conservation grant from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., which he said will go toward matching efforts to restore 1,800 feet to the stream to provide more habitat for the trout and stabilize the banks. The association is also applying for a Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant of $30,000 to go toward that project.
The event Saturday will be the first of 10 projects throughout the Spring in Field & Stream’s Hero for a Day program. The magazine will have a film crew there to shoot video of it for a webisode that will go on its website at www.fieldandstream.com May 30, Kristyn Brady, the magazine’s assistant editor, said.
Brady described Hutzell as an “extraordinary volunteer” with “great leadership qualities.”
“At one point in time, that fishery was only sustaining stocked fish,” she said. “Now it’s sustaining wild fish, and he’s played a huge role in making that happen.”
Brady, who lives in New York, said that she was once fly fishing at the creek while visiting friends in the area and that she was struck by the community around her.
“There were little kids playing around the creek, people were out on their porches, and everything seems to back up to that creek,” she said.
Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Tom Riford added that the county is “truly blessed” to have the creek and Hutzell.
“Beaver Creek is Maryland’s only limestone influenced trout stream,” he said. “Hutzell has done a heroic effort to save and recover something that is unusual and important.”
Riford also talked about what Hutzell’s recognition meant for the county.
“To have a national magazine recognize the good works of one of our citizens while at the same time acknowledging this amenity and asset in Beaver Creek speaks volumes for Hagerstown and Washington County,” he said. “The event Saturday is recognizing a local hero in a national sense.”
The event will last from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and is open to any volunteers, Field & Stream said in a release. Everybody is asked to meet at the Beaver Creek Fly Shop at 9720 Country Store Lane.