Booze Banned at Campgrounds

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Camping season is upon us and for some Maryland camp goers, they will be getting a different experience this year. As of November 1, 2009 the state of Maryland put a ban on alcohol consumption on campgrounds.

According to the Maryland Park Service they have stated the reason for this prohibition on alcohol is "to maintain and ensure a safe, family-oriented outdoor recreation experience for all park guests" and are hoping to reduce the "incidence of undesirable behaviors of park patrons who consume alcohol to excess". The only time alcohol can be consumed on Maryland campgrounds, is through park approved, designated shelters that have a permit for $35. Guests who break this rule will have to incur a $55 fine.

This ban is a sigh of relief for families who seek a peaceful outdoor experience but are often disrupted by loud neighbors who've had too much to drink. But for the campers who are looking to unwind with a beer in hand, they will have to find refuge elsewhere.

According to Woodall's Campground Management, Maryland Park Service official Chris Bushman, this ban has made state parks quieter and safer since it took effect last year. Bushman has also reported that there has been a sharp decline in fights and disorderly behavior in campgrounds as well as decline in the number of alcohol-related drownings and near-drownings at state parks.

Although the ban on alcohol has had some positive outcome, it could consequently have negative impact on local businesses and tourism in Maryland. USA Today states that John Boal, sales manager for Western Maryland Distributing Co "the forest service ban is likely to have a widespread local impact" especially to stores that are located near state parks. Most recently, a group of 40 campers decided to change the location of their annual trip just so that they can have a beer by the campfire elsewhere.

Alcohol is currently banned in 19 state park systems according to the Maryland Park Service:
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