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by Mary C. Corddry | 2007

Across the state, chapter groups think globally, work locally.

The 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 aol.com or at 410-239-4590.

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 discuss environmental issues 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. See the Maryland Chapter’s home page,  www.maryland.sierraclub.org, for a link to each Group’s website.

 

Anne Arundel Group

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

 

By David Prosten—About 50 people gathered at the Annapolis waterfront November 3 for a Step It Up rally organized by the Anne Arundel Group’s Cool Cities program and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Included in the crowd: an Asian elephant, a coral reef, a Komodo dragon, and a Siberian tiger...well, at least that’s how some students from Broadneck High School’s Environmental Club were dressed, while others wore t-shirts reading: “I’m here to Save the Planet!” Annapolis Alderman Sam Shropshire spoke to the crowd at the rally in Newman Park coordinated by volunteers Cherie Yelton and Joan Willie. A group photo was submitted to Step It Up for streaming to Congress and all Maryland legislators, asking for passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act.

 

- The Anne Arundel Group continued its support for passage in the City of Annapolis of a ban on plastic point-of-sale bags, of the sort typically found at supermarkets. The Club’s position is that reusable canvas or string bags are the ideal. Plastic bags are a particular problem because of the area’s proximity to water and marine life. The Group helped pull together an October 24 news conference of two dozen city merchants who came out to support the ban.

 

- The group continues to successfully use its new e-mail list for members who want to participate in the e-mail alert program.

 

- Plans are underway for the group’s annual birthday potluck dinner celebration, scheduled for January 26. The dinner features a noted speaker — prior speakers have included Governor Parris Glendening and Speaker of the House Mike Busch — and award presentations to environmental activists in the county.

 

- Executive Committee members Earl Bradley and Joan Turek are representing the Group on the newly-formed, countywide Growth Action Network, which will monitor and attempt to influence county policy on growth issues.

 

Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Chris Hodge, 240-388-6446, mdhiker2 at yahoo.com

 

By Gregor Becker—The Sierra Club Catoctin Group, which includes Carroll, Frederick and Washington Counties, generally communicates with our members electronically. Visit  our  website  at

http://maryland.sierraclub.org/catoctin/ OR just go to sierraclub.org, and then select Maryland Chapter and Catoctin Group OR email us at mdhiker2 at yahoo.com to receive alerts on actions, hikes, or meetings.

 

- Great news on waste. Frederick County has decided not to import trash, that is, not to partner with Carroll County to build a joint incinerator. Frederick County will hold a public hearing on proceeding with an incinerator on the banks of the Monocacy River. Frederick is waiting to see what Carroll will do. The Catoctin Group requested a Freedom of Information Act disclosure regarding the county and Northeast Waste Authority Director Kim Davindov. Carroll County is left with the option of building an incinerator alone, a far less financially attractive option. If either county builds an incinerator, it may need to hold down resource recovery rates from recycling and/or consider importing waste from other jurisdictions in order to feed the incinerator. Suddenly, prospects are brighter for significantly raising recycling rates and rejecting an incinerator. A huge part of the success of the Catoctin Group’s campaign to increase recycling rates before considering incineration is due to the efforts of Sally Sorbello in Frederick County and Kim Stenley in Carroll County. A huge thank you to Sally and Kim for your amazing efforts!

 

- Also great news on local global warming efforts. Two of the three Carroll County Commissioners voted to approve the National Association of Counties (NACO) Cool Counties Agreement. The Catoctin Group’s Energy Chair, Dan Andrews, is now in charge of a county committee to examine and reduce energy usage in the county office building. Last year Dan won a county environmental awareness award for his local energy efforts. Dan has also recently been appointed to the county Environmental Affairs Committee, which advises the commissioners on environmental questions. Three Carroll County towns—Sykesville, Mt. Airy and Westminster—have signed a Cool Cities document or something similar. One Frederick County Commissioner said he expected the county to pass the new NACO official standard Cool Counties agreement, which would supersede the already passed unofficial version. Frederick City has been cool to approaches so far. Brunswick Mayor Carroll Jones has failed to respond to phone calls or email on the subject. Kudos to Ken Eidel for his efforts to make the city consider energy efficiency and global warming.

 

- While some members congratulate us, others ask why we haven’t done more—been to their town council meetings or done presentations in their town. It’s an old story—over 900 members are in our group, but only a handful are really active. General membership meetings will be held every other month (in even numbered months like December) at 11 a.m. at the Community Room in the Common Market in Frederick. Any Sierra Club member, or non-member who is interested in learning about the club’s activities or possibly joining is welcome to attend. We’d also like to see you on a hike or at a Tuesday night social in Frederick—see our web page.

“Polite conservationists leave no mark save the scars upon the Earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground.”   —David Ross Brower

 

The Catoctin Group is conducting its election for delegates to the group excom. The ballot appears on the inside of the last page of this newsletter, just above the ballot for the chapter excom election.

 

The candidates have submitted the following statements. Catoctin Group members are asked to read the statements and cast their ballots!

 

Chris Hodge:  I have been an active hiker, camper, and environmentalist for most of my life. I have been a Sierra Club member for many years, an Outings Leader with the Catoctin Group, on the Catoctin Group excom for the past two years, and the Chair of the Catoctin Group excom for the past year. I am also on the Maryland Chapter excom. I am passionately committed to preserving our natural areas and preventing sprawl.

 

Dan Andrews: Having hiked over 700 miles of the Appalachian trail, I have high regard for the natural world, as well as for future generations. I am greatly concerned, especially for the future of my daughter, about the effects of environmental destruction and climate change.

 

Ken Eidel: Our quality of life is linked to environmental quality and growth control, but also to a strong business climate locally. I was active in the Catoctin Group about ten years ago and joined the Ex Com again four years ago. The Sierra Club works nationally and locally to protect quality of life.

 

 

 

Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore counties)

Chair: Howard Bedlin, 410-643-3283, Howard.Bedlin at ncoa.org

 

Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Ron Henry, 410-838-9119, RonLHenry at msn.com

 

By Mary Corddry—The Group is involved as part of the Alliance for Global Warming Solutions with a Climate Action Campaign, to convince Governor O’Malley to commit to reducing 80 percent of our global warming pollution by 2050. The Maryland Chapter hired two field organizers through Green Corps, Claire Miller and Annie Sanders, to help local citizens organize and take action. After a kickoff community planning meeting, there have been media events, two town hall meetings, and a campaign to send postcards to the Governor, write letters to the editor of local newspapers, and distribute petitions for signatures at community events.

 

u    The Group joined the Baltimore County Climate Coalition of 19 local environmental organizations, faith communities, and businesses. The Coalition wrote Baltimore County Executive James Smith, encouraging him to adopt a comprehensive climate protection plan for the County government and to lobby the Governor and State legislature to adopt and implement statewide, science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

 

u     Baltimore County’s Comprehensive Zoning Map Process is underway. During an open filing period in the fall, residents and civic organizations proposed properties for rezoning. 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), assisted civic organizations and residents with using the GIS to identify properties for downzoning to a more restrictive rural conservation classification, and are now helping to review the properties proposed for rezoning and provide information to community groups, the County Zoning Department, and County Council about environmental issues related to the proposals.

 

u     Two meetings have been held with Harford County residents about forming a Harford County subgroup to encourage more proactive involvement with issues impacting the County. The Group is part of planning groups for revising the County’s zoning code and preparing for the impact of BRAC (Defense Base Closure and Realignment) on the County.

 

u     The Group partnered with the Greater Dundalk Alliance to oppose a liquid natural gas terminal and storage facility at Sparrows Point and related dredging in the Patapsco River. It is also working on a class action lawsuit about the adverse health impacts of the area’s past industrial activity.

 

u     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 hikes of varied lengths and difficulty levels, including outings that are child and 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 comcast.net

 

By Kim Birnbaum—The following are the Howard Group’s upcoming events:

Friday, Dec. 7, 7:30 pm Polar Bears, “Where’s the Ice?” Back by popular demand, club member Sue Muller will give an encore presentation on her Nov. 2006 adventure to Churchill, Manitoba in search of polar bears. Learn how global warming is affecting these magnificent creatures. At the Howard County Recreation & Parks headquarters building, 7120 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Brownies provided; feel free to bring your own drink (no alcohol) or snack. RSVP appreciated to sonicsue at verizon.net.

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 7:00 pm Town Hall Meeting on the Environment at Howard County Rec & Parks, 7120 Oakland Mills Rd, Columbia. We need a big turnout for this meeting, so please mark your calendars. Details will be posted on our website in January.

 

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 maryland.sierraclub.org

 

By David Hauck—On October 28, the Group’s Executive Committee, key volunteers, and other Sierra Club members held a half-day meeting to help identify the goals we will work on over the next two years. As a jumping off point, we took the national Sierra Club’s three conservation initiatives—Smart Energy Solutions, Safe and Healthy Communities, and America’s Wild Legacy—and considered how these initiatives could be furthered at the county level.

After a facilitator-led discussion that generated several possible high-priority goals for the Group,participants voted for the three they felt were most important. Going forward, we will be concentrating our efforts on achieving the following goals:

u     Increase voluntary actions by Montgomery County residents and businesses to conserve energy and expand the use and development of renewable energy.

u    Encourage the adoption of “smart growth” principles that will result in new communities that are more energy efficient, use much less open land, and help improve air quality by expanding the use  of public transit.

u     Protect natural, critical spaces in Montgomery County including the Agricultural Reserve, forests, and local streams.

 

Over the next two months, the Executive Committee and key volunteers will develop strategic plans for each of these priority goals. These plans, and the specific roles that volunteers can play in implementing them, will be presented to the Group’s membership in February.

We continue to expand the number and kinds of events open to Sierra Club members and nonmembers alike. In October and November we held two Sierra Club Happy Hours; two “Putting Your Home on a Low Carbon Diet” energy efficiency house meetings; a “True Cost of Food” visit to a local farm; a talk by Ex Com co-chair Pam Lindstrom on lessons from the Netherlands that we can use in designing sustainable communities here; and a Saturday afternoon spent distributing CFL light bulbs and getting people to sign postcards letting Governor O’Malley know that Maryland citizens want aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets adopted for the State.

The majority of participants report that these events are the  first local Sierra Club events they have ever attended. Barbara Newland (bnewland at verizon.net), the very busy chair of the Group’s Membership/Volunteers Committee, faithfully records in HELEN (the Sierra Club’s central database) who’s coming to events and their interests, information that proves invaluable for identifying potential activists.

Stephanie DeMoss,  the chair of our Events Committee and the newest member of the Ex Com,  is also keeping busy.  Stephanie joined the Sierra Club in 1997 while living in Phoenix and witnessing the suburban sprawl engulfing the Sonoran Desert. Later, she received a master’s degree in Environment and Development from the University of Cambridge in England and moved to Washington D.C. After being an active volunteer for the D.C. Chapter for four years, Stephanie moved to Montgomery County and is using her enthusiasm and talents to help our Group grow and become even more effective.  Her e-mail address is skdemoss at hotmail.com.

 

Prince George’s County

Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920, chipreilly at mac.com

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 yahoo.com

 

Summarized from the Group’s newsletter:

u     A National Sierra report, America’s Wild Legacy, features Mattawoman Creek as one of 52 exceptional places in the country whose high environmental value makes them must-saves.The creek is threatened by growth in Prince George’s and Charles Counties. Charles designated much of Mattawoman’s watershed as a Development District, larger than the Washington, D.C. The county is promoting proposals for the Cross County Connector extension and the Western Waldorf Bypass that would crisscross the watershed. The Southern Maryland Group is working with the Maryland Bass Federation Nation, a bass fishers’ group, and the Mattawoman Watershed Society to bring lasting protection to Mattawoman Creek.

 

u     The Group is involved with the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland to encourage residents’ input to a Southern Maryland Transportation Needs Assessment. Three open houses were held to identify transportation goals, issues, and needs in Southern Maryland.

 

u     The Group sponsored a table at the 30th Annual Patuxent River Appreciation Days Celebration in October.

 

u     A showing of “An Inconvenient Truth” was sponsored in La Plata in September. There were tables for literature, food, and drink. Representatives from Al Gore’s Climate Change organization were on hand to answer questions from the approximately 80 attendees.

 

u     The Group publishes a bimonthly newsletter, “News from Southern Maryland.” Check the Group’s website for a schedule of outings and other events.

 

Western Maryland (Allegany and Garrett Counties)

Chair: Sam White, 301-264-4162, sam.white at maryland.sierraclub.org or cedarrockcsa at yahoo.com

 

By Sam White—The Western Maryland Group is seeking local volunteers to work on persuading the cities of Frostburg and Cumberland to join the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (aka Cool Cities). Also, there is a Garrett County subcommittee being formed. The subcommittee will work on Garrett County issues and have a representative attend the Western Maryland Group’s Ex Com meetings on a regular basis. For info on either of these, contact Sam White, Chair, at sam.white@maryland.sierraclub.org or 301-264-4162 .

 

The Group publishes a quarterly newsletter, “Nature’s Advocate of Western MD.”         

 

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