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Arsenic to Zoning, Groups Work for Cleaner, Greener Maryland
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by Mary C. Corddry | 2007

The most effective step that China could take to reduce emissions and energy demand would likely be to improve energy efficiency

Following is a roundup of what’s happening with 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.  If you have information to contribute to future “Roundups” for the Chesapeake newsletter, please contact Mary Corddry at XxDiTz4LyFxX at or at 410-248-0423. 

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 survey and interview local candidates for public office, and make endorsements in collaboration with the State Chapter.  They are involved with local land use and environmental issues.  They volunteer for service outings to eradicate invasive plants, plant native species, maintain trails, and clean up streams.  They enjoy the environment by hiking, biking, kayaking, stargazing, camping, and backpacking.  They mingle and socialize at dinners, picnics, slide shows, movies, and speaker series. 

There is something for everyone.  Contact your Group to get linked with your favorite issue or activity.  The Maryland Chapter’s home page has a link to each Group’s website at


Anne Arundel Group

Chair: David Prosten, 410-263-6341 or 410-703-0847, dprosten at

By David Prosten

  • The Anne Arundel Group testified on behalf of legislation proposed for Annapolis that would ban plastic checkout bags in the city, and has been working with the sponsoring Councilman, Sam Shropshire, to rally support for the measure.  Group Chair David Prosten testified at a public hearing that the Sierra Club’s preferred supermarket solution is the use of reusable bags, but that, ultimately, paper bags were a less harmful alternative than plastic.  Plastic bags are found throughout area’s waterways, killing vegetation and wildlife and forming “sandbags” that create havoc with runoff.
  • With the assistance of volunteer Minerva Rivera, the group is establishing an e-mail alert list, attempting to sign up as many as possible of the group’s 1,400 members.  Participants are being told that the list will be used on an as-needed basis, on pressing issues only.
  • The group helped organize, and several members participated in, the June 14-19 Patuxent Sojourn 2007.  In all, about 75 people signed up for the event, in which canoers and kayakers spent days on the river and nights camping out, with a lot of nature talks and related activities throughout.  The Sojourn’s main sponsor and coordinator is the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The group’s Cool Cities program is continuing apace.


Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Chris Hodge, 240-388-6446, mdhiker2 at


Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore counties)

Chair: Howard Bedlin, 410-643-3283


Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Ron Henry, 410-838-9119, RonLHenry at


  • The Group participated with the Baltimore City League of Environmental Voters and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters to survey, interview, and endorse candidates for Baltimore City Mayor and County Council in the September primary elections.  One of the key environmental issues is the Cool City campaign initially signed by Governor O’Malley as Mayor.
  • Baltimore County’s Comprehensive Zoning Map Process is underway, during which residents and civic organizations may propose any property for rezoning in the open filing period, September 4 – October 15.  The County Council will vote on the rezoning issues late next summer, and new zoning maps will be issued next November.   Group members participated with the North County Preservation to develop a Geographical Information System (GIS), and are now assisting civic organizations and residents with using the GIS to identify properties for downzoning to a more restrictive rural conservation classification.  Users of the GIS select layers of information from State and County databases for mapping and analyzing County properties to make the case for preservation.
  • 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, bike rides, star-gazing, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, trail maintenance, and invasive plant removals.


Howard County

Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306, kenclark7 at

By Ken Clark

Green Building Legislation: On July 30, the Howard County Council unanimously approved landmark legislation requiring green building design for building plans that are filed after July 1, 2008.  Publicly funded buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to reach a LEED-Silver rating (except for jails and schools, which would require State regulation for such a requirement). Non-publicly funded buildings over 50,000 square feet must meet LEED-certified level.  In addition, new and existing buildings that meet higher LEED ratings are eligible for property tax credits, up to 75% for platinum-level.

The County government is considering making an Office of Environmental Sustainability, which would report to the County Executive.

After years of delay, Turf Valley Golf Course, now undergoing redevelopment, has divulged soil test results that revealed arsenic contamination levels 60 times the level considered safe, and lead levels also exceeding standard.  County Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson told developers of the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center that cleanup is required before housing could be built there. The Sierra Club has been pushing for legislation requiring testing of all golf courses slated for redevelopment, due to contamination caused by now-banned pesticides.

  • Sat. Sept. 29 12-2:30, Howard County Sierra Club Fall Social: At the Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Old Frederick Rd., Woodstock. Rain or shine.  This event is for members or prospective members and their significant others and/or family members.  Meet other Sierra Club members, meet the Executive Committee chairs, check out the new John L. Clark Honors Garden, and explore the beautiful grounds.For more information please visit our website,, or contact Kim at 410-379-1075 or Kim.Birnbaum at RSVPs appreciated but not required.Directions to the Conservancy:
    From Rt. 29, go north until it ends at Rt. 99. Turn left onto Rt. 99.  Mt. Pleasant will be on your right in approximately 3.5 miles.  It is between the Still Ridge Herb Farm and the snowball stand at Woodstock Road, and it is across the street from the Waverly Woods Development.
  • Mon. Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m., Program Topic: Green Weddings: at the Howard County Recreation and Parks Headquarters, 7120 Oakland Mills, Rd., Columbia.*  Free and open to the general public; walk-ins are welcome.  For more information, call 410-379-1075.
  • Wed. Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m., Program Topic to be announced: at the Howard County Recreation and Parks Headquarters, 7120 Oakland Mills, Rd., Columbia.*   Information will be posted on our website once available at, or contact Kim at 410-379-1075 or*Directions to HCRP
    From Washington: I-95 north, exit to Rt. 32 west, exit to Broken Land Parkway north, take first right onto Snowden River Parkway, at 3rd light turn right onto Oakland Mills Rd. Just before RR crossing turn right into parking lot.
    From Baltimore: I-95 south, exit to Rt. 175 west, turn left to Snowden River Parkway, at 3rd light turn left to Oakland Mills Rd. Just before RR crossing turn right to parking lot.

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 may contact Ken Clark about getting on an email listing of outings and events.


Montgomery County

Chair: David Hauck, 301-270-5826; david.hauck at

By Anne Ambler

  • The Cool Cities Campaign, now joined by Sierra Club’s “Cool Counties” of which Montgomery County is a founding member, continues to light volunteers’ fires.  Over the summer, volunteers distributed 50 compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) door-to-door along with factsheets about CFLs and about how individuals can cut back their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Putting our new volunteers’ enthusiasm to work, the group continues its successful “Happy Hours” series.  On August 21, Happy Hour was in Takoma Park.  On September 18, it will be in Rockville.  For information about this series, contact Stephanie DeMoss at skdemoss at or 202-494-3511.
  • A new series of house parties, “Putting Your Home on a Low-Carbon Diet,” will begin in September.  These show-and-tell discussions aim to demonstrate greenhouse gas emission economies that may be made at home and also to get commitments from participants to make them.  The first will be September 20 in Takoma Park, followed by September 27 in Rockville.  For more information, contact Barbara Newland at or 301-926-5922.
  • Other activities:  Unusual for this time of year, the Montgomery County Group has interviewed and endorsed candidates to be selected by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to fill legislative slots vacated mid-term in Districts 39 and 16. 
  • The fall session of the County Council promises to be hectic as the Council attempts to revise our forest conservation law, decide on Agricultural Reserve preservation measures, and redesign Growth Policy so that it both reflects reality and prepares the county for the challenges of our century.   Sierra Club members have provided input on all these issues, either through testimony or as task force members.  All the issues will require close attention as they move through the Council’s committees.  ExCom member Pamela Lindstrom has been appointed by the County Executive to the County’s Housing Opportunities Commission.  Pam’s international experience with how other cities provide affordable housing while preserving trees and open space will be invaluable to the Commission and the county.  Pam can be reached at

Finally, the Montgomery County Group welcomes new ExCom member Susan Eisendrath.      Susan is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, who for 20 years managed health promotion and medical education projects.  She is a mover/shaker in the Green Schools Program and was attracted to the Sierra Club by the Cool Cities Campaign.  Susan ‘s e-mail  is  susan.eisendrath 

Prince George’s County

Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920, chipreilly at

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


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

Chair: Frank Fox, 301-884-8027, ff725 at

  • Mattawoman Creek - A Remarkable Resource at Risk: The Group has been urging that an Environmental Impact Statement be developed related to Charles County’s proposal for a four-lane highway through a forested, lightly populated region of the Mattawoman Creek watershed, that is important for fish spawning.  This Cross County Connector Extension would bring massive sprawl from development, engender longer commutes, stimulate additional traffic, and irretrievably harm Mattawoman Creek and the environment.
  • The Group has been monitoring the recommendations of the Tri County Council of Southern Maryland and the Charles County Board of Commissioners for construction of a western Waldorf bypass and limited upgrade of the most congested U.S. 301 intersections.  A $5 million State-funded Draft Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared after public workshops in March.  The alternatives being studied are essentially the same as in a previously discarded study, with all alternatives moving traffic congestion to La Plata by a western bypass of Waldorf, rather a U.S. 301 upgrade through Waldorf.
  • On September 14, the Group is sponsoring a showing of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” at the Government Building Auditorium in La Plata. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the film will begin at 7:00.  After the film, Chester and Donna Joy from Al Gore’s Climate Project will answer questions, and light refreshments will be served.  The Charles County Commissioners permitted the use of the building and equipment without charge.
  • In late May, the Group partnered with the Chapman Forest Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust to sponsor two days of field trips to Chapman State Park for Charles County school children.  They were immersed in Bay ecology and also pulled invasive plants and picked up trash along the river.
  • 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, sam.white at or cedarrockcs at

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

> 2007 Table of Contents


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