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by Mary C. Corddry | 2007

From air quality to zoning, Maryland groups address environmental issues close to home

Following is a roundup of activities and issues of the nine Sierra Club Groups in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Catoctin, Eastern Shore, Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland. A link to each group’s webpage appears on the Chapter’s site,  If you have information to contribute to future “Roundups” for Chesapeake, please contact Mary Corddry at 410-248-0423, or at

The local Groups of the Sierra Club are active with the Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities” initiative, encouraging local governments and citizens to take action for addressing global warming.  They are involved with local land use issues to promote agricultural preservation, retain and expand the forest canopy, protect waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, and promote Smart Growth.  They lobby and plan for important local environmental issues by participating at hearings and meetings, making telephone calls, and writing e-mails and letters.  They volunteer for service outings to eradicate invasive plants, plant native species, maintain trails, and clean up streams.  They mingle and socialize at dinners, picnics, slide shows, movies, and speaker series.  They enjoy the great outdoors by hiking, biking, kayaking, tubing, camping, and backpacking.  There is something for everyone.


Anne Arundel Group

Chair: David Prosten, 410-263-6341,

By David Prosten

- We held our 13th annual Anne Arundel Sierra Club Earth Day 5K Run (and Walk) at Quiet Waters Park on April 21, drawing about 150 participants and netting $3,000 in this, our major yearly fundraiser to help support publication of our bimonthly newsletter and other projects.  Area merchants purchased sponsorships printed on the race T-shirt and donated goods and services for prizes.

- The Group held its first juried photography show on March 31 at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.  There were 128 entries in six categories, judged by two professional photographers.  The top three winners received cash prizes.  A lively reception opened an exhibit of the winners the following day at the Quiet Waters Park gallery.  Deede Miller coordinated the show, with assistance from Michael Murdoch and many other volunteers.

- A New Member Social on April 21 brought 30 new members and veteran activists together for an evening of desserts and talk.  We called and sent letters to members who had joined the group during the preceding few months. Also, we published a notice in our newsletter inviting all new members as well as veteran members who wanted to get more involved.  Several of those attending have since become more active in the group.

- We have an active Cool Cities Committee, meeting monthly, led by Joan Willey.  They had Cool Cities displays for an April 20 Step It Up event in Annapolis and on April 21 for Earth Day.

- The Group was represented at a public hearing in the city of Annapolis on Adequate Public Facilities legislation designed to control growth in the area.

- Seven group members paddled in the Blackwater Refuge on April 28 for the first paddling trip of the season.  Many eagles and a huge eagle nest were spotted.   The group is working to revitalize its outing program, to attract more participants and leaders.

 - Reservations are filling up rapidly for this year’s Patuxent Sojourn, set for June 14-19 on the upper part of the river.  The Anne Arundel Group is one of the sponsors, along with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and a number of other local government and non-government organizations.  Call to see if space is still available.

- The group presented the first annual Anne Arundel Sierra Club/Mike Rixham Memorial Award at the county’s public schools Regional Science and Engineering Fair.  The $100 gift card for Eastern Mountain Sports was the top prize from the club, and two Certificate of Merit winners received $50 EMS gift cards.  Ten club members, coordinated by group vice-chair Judy Mauriello, helped in the judging.


Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Chris Hodge, 240-388-6446,

By Kim Stenley

The Sierra Club Catoctin Group has been working to raise awareness about plans to build a joint municipal solid waste incinerator or two individual facilities in Carroll and Frederick counties. The Sierra Club opposes these facilities as stated in its municipal solid waste policy: “Effective waste management should be based on communities, industries, and individuals taking responsibility for their own wastes. ... Management plans should include, in priority order: waste reduction, reuse, recycling, materials recovery, composting and landfilling.  Municipal incineration is not considered acceptable because of its adverse environmental and health effects and the destruction of materials that could be conserved while saving energy through other management methods.”

 The Catoctin Group’s Kim Stenley has been working with Frederick resident Sally Sorbello and Neil Seldman of the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) to educate people in both counties about the benefits of diverting materials from the waste stream. Nearly 75 percent of the municipal solid waste stream contains recoverable material that can be reused, recycled, or composted. When resources are burned or buried, materials must be replaced by virgin material. Studies show that “three to five times more energy can be saved by recycling materials than by burning them. For every ton of material destroyed by incineration, many more tons of raw materials must be mined, extracted, processed or distributed to manufacture new product to take its place. … The environmental costs of landfilling and incineration become magnified when the environmental costs of extracting virgin materials and producing goods in the first place are taken into account” (ILSR).

In May, Kim Stenley presented the Club’s position to the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council and highlighted communities throughout the nation that enjoy materials recovery rates of over 50 percent.  It is estimated that Carroll County’s residential recycling rate is only 15 percent and its commercial rate only 17 percent, for a combined 32 percent. Kim suggested the county hire a firm to audit the county’s waste stream to help determine the true costs of any waste management program, including incineration. A resource management analysis would provide information about what materials are being trashed, what is recoverable, the most effective way(s) to recover them, and how much those materials are worth.  The EAC voted to recommend the Board of Carroll County Commissioners pursue this type of study. The board approved $15,000 for such a study and moved to issue requests for qualifications/proposals.

For more information or to help with this campaign, contact Kim Stenley at


Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore counties)

Chair: Howard Bedlin, 410-643-3283,

Due to the large geographic area covered by the Group, the meetings are by conference call.  The Group needs participation by representatives from all areas.  The Group is looking for a Membership Chair, Outings Chair, and Outings leaders.

This fall the Eastern Shore Group will hold an election to choose individuals to serve on our executive committee.

The Eastern Shore Group consists of the nine counties east of the
Chesapeake Bay:
Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester. Members residing in any of these counties are eligible to serve or to nominate candidates.  Interested members should contact Jan Graham at 410-648-5476 or e-mail at


Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Ron Henry, 410-838-9119,

- The Group is gearing up for involvement with Baltimore County’s comprehensive zoning map process this year in collaboration with the North County Institute and other citizens’ organizations.  Existing zoning is being researched to identify environmentally significant or ecologically sensitive areas that are at risk under current zoning.  In June, Richard Klein is holding four workshops for citizens and community association leaders to learn about options for preventing adverse effects on property and preserving quality of life in neighborhoods.  For more information, call 410-654-3021 or send an email to

- The Group is involved with planning activities related to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process that will have extensive impacts on the region, particularly in Harford County and the surrounding area.

- During the past two years, the Group has been involved with the Greater Dundalk Alliance LNG Opposition Office and others in public opposition to a proposal for a liquid natural gas off-loading terminal and storage tanks at Sparrows Point in Baltimore County, a pipeline crossing Baltimore and Harford Counties into Pennsylvania, and dredging to accommodate the tankers.  Now the Greater Sparrows Point Peninsula communities have retained pro bono attorneys to represent them in bringing a class action lawsuit for remediation of the residents’ alleged ill health effects from cumulative exposure to an array of pollutants and toxins over several generations.

- Several Group members are participating on workgroups providing recommendations for a Master Plan for the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.  The Master Plan will present land use, public policy, and maintenance recommendations for the area; identify potential funding sources; and specify an implementation strategy and timetable.

- For the “Cool Cities” campaign, signatures are being collected to encourage Baltimore County to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement to fight global warming.  Since Baltimore City has signed the agreement, the Group and petitioners are encouraging the City to take steps to implement the agreement.

- The Group publishes a quarterly newsletter, “The Baltimore Sierran,” which is mailed to members and also is available on its web site

- Check the Group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.  The Group has numerous hikes of varied lengths and difficulty levels, many of which are suitable for children and are dog-friendly.  The Group also has happy hours, kayak outings, tubing trips, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, invasive plant removals, and bike rides.


Howard County

Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306,

By Lee Walker Oxenham

What a difference a change in administration makes!  In his first Executive Order, County Executive Ken Ulman declared Howard County a “Cool County,” and in his second he set up a Commission on the Environment and Sustainability – to which he appointed Lee Walker Oxenham, Conservation Committee co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Howard County Group.

The Commission divided into Committees, and Lee is chairing the Committee on Air and Water Quality.  This Committee has a broad mandate to identify new policies and legislation, and is even redrafting subdivision regulations.  Please send any ideas/suggestions/complaints to Lee at by June 5 for inclusion in the Committee’s work.

Over the last month, our Group participated in a downtown Ellicott City Step-It-Up event with Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) – see the photo and write-up posted to the Group’s website.  Earth Day was celebrated at Howard County Community College and by tree planting with Howard County Recreation and Parks.

Our ongoing campaigns are focused on riparian buffers/stream buffer protection and toxics.  Our toxics work has paid off, with Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson taking the lead to ensure comprehensive chemical testing prior to redevelopment at the Turf Valley Golf Course.  Our Pesticide Campaign is gaining new force in concert with Clean Water Action, Environment Maryland, and the Maryland Pesticide Network. 

In May the Group hosted a free program open to the general public on Global Warming and Transportation Issues in Central Maryland.  The presentation focused on transportation alternatives, the InterCounty Connector, and the nexus between climate change and air quality issues.

The Howard County Group has a very active outings program, including frequent backpacking trips.  Check the Group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.  You can ask to get on an email listing of outings and events by contacting Ken Clark.


Montgomery County

Chair: David Hauck, 301-270-5826;

By David Hauck

We have been working hard to increase the number of active Sierra Club members in Montgomery County through tabling events, a social event at my home, and our Environmental Career Evening in March.  Also, we passed out “Cool Cities” brochures at one of our member’s energy-efficient home, which was on Takoma Park’s House and Garden Tour.  It’s working, and we now have new volunteers helping us with strengthening our press relations, redesigning our website (July 1 launch planned), and planning new events for members.

April was a big month for our “Cool Cities” campaign.  In a letter to County Council members, we proposed that the Council commit to a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from all sources (businesses, residences, transportation, and government) by 2020.  On April 20, the Montgomery County Council announced its commitment to achieving that target and is now working on a package of legislation and incentives aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. 

Members of our Cool Cities Task Force are researching potential actions the county can take to incorporate greater energy efficiency into the building code, encourage energy efficient retrofits in commercial and residential buildings, and direct the county’s future growth into areas with higher density and improved access to rapid and reliable public transit. 

Other members of the Cool Cities Task Force are planning events to educate individuals and businesses on how they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  The events will  build grassroots support for actions the county will have to take to achieve its 25 percent reduction target by 2020.  For more information on the Cool Cities campaign or about how you can help, contact David Hauck or Anne Ambler at

Pam Lindstrom, vice-chair of our Ex Com, participated on a May 5 panel of business, developer, and community representatives discussing proposed changes to Montgomery County’s Growth Policy.  Although still somewhat nebulous, considerations of sustainable development are supposed to be incorporated in the final recommendations.  For more information on land use and transportation planning issues in Montgomery County, contact Pam at

Jim Fary, our Conservation Committee chair, continues his efforts to reduce storm water runoff into the Bay.  In addition to being a member of the Anacostia Watershed Citizens Advisory Committee, Jim and other volunteers have flagged several violations of storm water management procedures at building sites around Montgomery County.  Jim can be reached at


Prince George’s County

Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920,

Group’s office: 301-277-0600 or 301-277-7111

By Chip Reilly

Join us to work for the good of the county!

This fall the Prince George’s Group will hold an election to choose individuals to serve on our Executive Committee.  We are asking members living in the county to consider entering their name as a candidate in this election.  This is an opportunity to work with friendly people on one or more activities of your choosing, such as outings, newsletters, and organizing around issues.  You will be able to take a leading role in the direction of the Group.  Please express your interest in serving on the Committee by sending in your name now to Group Chair Chip Reilly at or call him at (301) 218-3920.


Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties)

Chair: Frank Fox, 301-884-8027,

-Join us for a fun-filled day of family-oriented educational activities at the 9th annual Lower Potomac Wade In at Mirant’s Morgantown power plant site on June 24, 2 – 5 p.m.  The Wade In is a unique, non-technical way of measuring water clarity.  Participants wade into the Potomac River and mark the depth when they can no longer see their feet.  Other activities include a raptor show, learning about oysters and sturgeon, information about local watersheds, and refreshments provided by the site host Mirant.  For more information, contact Mike Bilek at or 410-260-8988.

-The Group is a co-sponsor of the 14th annual Potomac River Swim for the Environment on June 2.  The event takes swimmers from Hull Neck, Virginia across the river to Point Lookout State Park in Maryland, where there will be a picnic hosted by environmental groups.  For more information or to volunteer to help, contact Cheryl Wagner at 202-387-2361 or

-On the first Sunday and the following Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., there is an invasive species removal at an 800-acre portion of  Chapman Forest (Sunday) and the 200-acre Ruth Swann Park (Saturday).  Check out or contact Marc Imlay at 301-699-6204 or 301-283-0808.  For more information about workdays at Hellen Creek Preserve and Myrtle Point Park, contact Bob Boxwell at  or 410-394-1300.  To join the Holly Arboretum Volunteer Crew at Warrior’s Rest, contact the American Chestnut Land Trust at 410-586-1570.

-The Group publishes a bimonthly newsletter, “News from Southern Maryland.”

-Check the Group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events. 


Western Maryland (Allegany and Garrett Counties)

Chair: Sam White, 301-264-4162, or

-The Group is donating DVDs of “An Inconvenient Truth” to any high school science teacher willing to show the film in class.

-The Group has an email discussion group/Listserv for its members at  To join, go to  The Listserv is used to discuss conservation issues pertaining to Western Maryland and to announce Group meetings, outings, and other events.

- In the winter 2007, the Group resumed publication of a quarterly newsletter, “Nature’s Advocate of Western MD.”    


> 2007 Table of Contents


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