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by Mary C. Corddry | 2008

There is something for everyone! 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 to address 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.

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 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, paddling, 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.  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,


Beginning a spring tradition, the Anne Arundel Group had a spring picnic on May 31 at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, with about 50 people in attendance.  Prizes were awarded for the best locally grown/raised (within 100 miles) contribution to the picnic, encouraging members to shop for and consume locally grown foods.  Planned activities included Tai Chi stretches, a nature walk, and an invasive plant removal session, but the last two events were rained out.

Nearly 200 runners participated in the Group’s 14th annual Earth Day 5K Race and Walk at Quiet Waters Park on April 19.  There were plenty of prizes and treats, including drawings for several hundred dollars of giveaways from local businesses.  Among the runners and walkers were a wide array of strollers and family dogs.  The Group had an information table following the race at the Earth Day event in Quiet Waters Park.  This is the Group’s big annual fundraiser.  Runner entry fees and T-shirt sponsors help pay for the race’s expenses and the shirts that go to each participant, with the remaining funds helping pay for the Group’s work over the year.

Various outings are sponsored by the Group, including hikes and paddle tours, even caving in West Virginia.  An outing to Kinder Farm Park, to which children and dogs were welcome, was scheduled.  There was a tour of the Waste Management Inc. Recovery Facility in Elkridge, the nation’s largest recycling facility.  The Group participates in the annual Patuxent Sojourn, scheduled for June 19 – 24.  Paddlers will travel from Kings Landing Park in Calvert County to the Chesapeake Bay.  Call Liz at 410-267-9009 or check out for detailed information.

The Group publishes a newsletter The Sierra Log, every two months, and uses an e-mail list for members who want to participate in the e-mail alert program.


Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Chris Hodge, 240-388-6446,

By Gregor Becker—The Maryland  Heartland Sustainable Living Fair was held May 24 at the Carroll County Farm Museum.  This community event was planned and organized by local residents who are interested in promoting environmental awareness and the development of a sustainable economy in Carroll County.  The fair included green building materials and methodologies, renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, sustainable agriculture and local agriculture products, and sustainable living practices that aim to forge a healthier relationship with the natural world and its resources.  Speakers conducted educational sessions for various topics.  This fair was sponsored by the Maryland Sierra Club Catoctin Chapter and endorsed by the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council.

Over 900 people attended.  Approximately 35 paying vendors and 14 nonprofit groups had displays.  Related activities for children throughout the day were popular.  There were segments on green investing, LEED certification for homes, heirloom gardens, day lighting, shopping for electricity in Maryland, and putting up produce for the winter.  People came from all over Central Maryland into southern Pennsylvania.  Sorry you missed this event?  Come next year!

INCINERATOR: In April, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 to join Frederick County in seeking final best proposals for an incinerator, despite overwhelming public opposition and strong recommendations from Carroll County’s Environmental Advisory Committee to pursue aggressive waste reduction and resource recovery policies first.  This vote essentially authorized the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority to proceed with next steps and elicit final proposals from Covanta and Wheelabrator.  These two companies responded to a request for proposals to build a 1,700-ton-per-day facility to burn trash and generate electricity.

Residents in Frederick, where the facility would be built, continue to question aggressively the need for such a facility and to research other options, so as to bring democracy and balance to the issue. One resident went so far as to organize a Zero Waste field trip to Boulder, Colorado, for county officials and interested residents.  Commissioners and staff from both counties are to attend the June event.  Residents are planning to give presentations to the public upon their return.  “Shutting down incinerators and phasing out landfills through recycling would have the same impact as closing one-fifth of the nation’s 417 coal-burning power plants, according to a study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Eco-Recycle.”

BRUNSWICK: We will be presenting “Cool Cities” to the Brunswick Town Council in July.  This is the U.S. Mayors’ Agreement on Climate Protection.  We need support from local residents.  Please e-mail Gregor Becker at for information on how to help.  Just a letter or phone call could make a big difference!

The Catoctin Group communicates with our members electronically for the most part.  Our website is OR just go to, and then select Maryland Chapter and Catoctin Group OR e-mail us at to receive alerts on actions, hikes, or meetings.


Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore counties)

Chair: Howard Bedlin, 410-643-3283,


The Eastern Shore Group has formed a temporary Executive Committee to serve until elections are held this fall.  We encourage members of the nine-county Eastern Shore group to submit nominations for the permanent committee. 

The Lower Shore district (Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset counties) has been meeting regularly for the past six months.  Meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of each month at the Wicomico County Library in Salisbury.  Sierra Club members living in the three Lower Shore counties are encouraged to attend meetings and to become involved as participants and/or leaders in group activities and environmental issues of particular personal interest.  For more information, please contact Barry Spinak (, tel. 410-742-0348) or Jan Nichols (

The Upper Shore district (Cecil, Kent, & Queen Anne’s counties) sponsored a picnic in May for current and prospective members, and further organizing efforts are currently underway.  Please contact Mike Burns at 410-392-4483 or

Efforts are also underway to organize in the Mid-Shore district (Talbot, Caroline, & Dorchester).  Please contact Alana Wase at the Chapter office,

See for more information.


Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Ron Henry, 410-838-9119,


By Mary Corddry—In preparation for the upcoming primary and general elections, the Group analyzed the 2008 legislative session’s voting records of the region’s State Senators and Delegates.  This information is available on the Group’s website.

Group members are collaborating with other local environmentally minded organizations to promote “Cool Cities” initiatives in Baltimore City and County.  Patrick McMahon was appointed to Baltimore City’s new Commission on Sustainability, which is developing a Sustainability Master Plan.  Chris Yoder is participating on the Baltimore Climate Action Network to fight global warming.

The Group has been involved with the Greater Dundalk Alliance and with State and local government officials to oppose the proposed liquid natural gas terminal, storage tanks, and pipeline at Sparrows Point.

The Group has hikes of varied length and difficulty, including outings that are child- and dog-friendly.  The Group also has happy hours, kayak outings, bike rides, stargazing, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, trail maintenance, and invasive plant removals.  The Group obtained a right-of-way permit from Baltimore City to maintain the old Prettyboy Trail around Prettyboy Reservoir in Baltimore County, in collaboration with the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance and the Mountain Club of Maryland.

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.


Howard County

Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306,

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,

By David Hauck—On April 22, 2008, the Montgomery County Council passed seven bills that have put the county on the path of aggressively addressing global warming.  The legislation contains a mix of new actions and the establishment of a Sustainability Working Group, charged with finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the county by 80 percent by 2050.  The bills are the next step in Montgomery County’s participation in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Counties” initiative, launched in July 2007.

The Montgomery County Group worked hard to push back against some home builders, who sought to strip out important sections of the bills.  At one point, the requirement that new homes built in the county would have to meet the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star standards for greater energy efficiency was removed from the draft legislation.  Prospects looked bleak for getting this requirement put back in when the bill came before the full County Council.

This is when the strength of the local Sierra Club with members throughout Montgomery County proved its worth.  An active Sierra Club volunteer let us know that the city of Gaithersburg had already passed a law in October 2007 requiring new homes to meet the Energy Star standards.  We brought this to the attention of Council members, who were not aware of what Gaithersburg had done six months earlier, and argued that if Gaithersburg could require higher levels of energy efficiency in new homes, so could the county.  Several Sierra Club members also emailed the Council voicing their strong support for putting this new home energy efficiency requirement back into the bill.  On April 22, the Council voted unanimously to do so.

Our feelings of accomplishment were confirmed when the Washington Post in a May 3rd editorial wrote that “the crown jewel of the (Montgomery County) legislation is the Energy Star provision for new homes.”     

Our Group newsletter is available on the web.  Go to and click on “Newsletter” in the left hand column when our web page opens.)


Prince George’s County

Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920, or

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

By Chip Reilly—We will hold our annual social on Saturday, June 21 from 3-6 pm. The location is Buddy Attick Park, 555 Crescent Road, in Greenbelt.  We will come together, eat, have fun, celebrate our victories, discuss our challenges, and informally strategize our objectives and future goals. RSVP today to Alex Hirtle at  

During the event, the group will present the 2008 Maloney Environmental Public Service Award to Carmen Anderson.  For 40 years, Carmen labored ceaselessly to ensure that ordinary people’s views and the public good were considered in decisions about land use in Prince George’s County. “In our choice, we acknowledge that Carmen has played a singular and unsung role in defending our quality of life over decades. She has been a mentor and an inspiration to many of us,” noted Chip Reilly, Group Chair.

The Cool Cities/Cool County team remains active, working with the County Council and municipal leaders. Contact Alana at the Chapter office for more details. 

The Prince George’s Environmental Knowledge Web team continues its development of a central online resource for county environmental activists. We need volunteers to write brief summaries of key environmental and land use issues and solutions.  We also need someone with an eye for web design (using easy site-tweaking software).  Please contact Chip Reilly at (301) 218-3920.


Join Us for a Fun-Filled Weekend on the Potomac!

Looking for a weekend summer adventure relatively close to home but far enough out to escape the suburban jungle?  Want to cool off in July and enjoy the company of fellow Sierrans and other like-minded folks?  Then join us as the Prince George’s Group of the Sierra Club partners with the Patuxent Riverkeepers on a two-day tubing trip down an unspoiled section of the Potomac River on July 26th and 27th.  On Saturday morning we’ll meet at the Route 95 Park & Ride lot near College Park. The Riverkeepers’ River Bus will make the 90-minute drive to base camp near Little Orleans, Maryland, a tiny town next to the C&O Canal Towpath and near Green Ridge State Forest.  The area is bounded by mountains and rolling hills, and is a relaxing year-round destination for hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, naturalists, hunters, and fishermen. 

We’ll inflate and launch our inner tubes a few miles up-river and make a gentle float over mild ripples and through placid pools.  The mountain water of the 10 Mile Run section of the Potomac River is startlingly clear. Kayaks will be available for those who want to go on paddle excursions near the camp, and others can walk or bike into Little Orleans for ice cream or libations.  The evening will feature a hearty meal, and a campfire next to the crystalline river.  

All equipment, including tents, chairs, firewood,  inner tubes and kayaks will be provided, as well as all meals and snacks.  Transportation is included from the I-95 Park & Ride; just bring your sleeping bag, mattress pad, and personal gear.  Cost for the entire weekend is $125, which covers the trip expenses and also supports the non-profit work of the Patuxent Riverkeeper. 

Interested?  Don’t delay!  RSVP by July 18th to Alex Hirtle at 301-952-5349 or email at  Please place “Sierra Club trip” in the subject line for identification purposes.  See you on the River! 


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

Chair: Frank Fox, 301-884-8027,


Charles County is one of the fastest growing counties in the State, and Southern Maryland is Maryland’s fastest growing region.  According to the recently published 2006 Planning Commission Annual Report, the county approved more lots than the target rate necessary to meet housing demands for the next 20 years.  The county’s elected officials should reevaluate the county’s attraction to sprawl development and the decisions that they make which facilitate sprawl.  While we certainly agree with the Charles County Commissioners’ support of the principle of protecting Mattawoman Creek, they also support the proposed Cross County Connector Extension and have not authorized a full study of the possible impacts.  This fully county-financed highway would be a huge trigger for sprawl, increase vehicle miles traveled, and result in loss of forests and wetlands. 

The Group is embarking on a campaign either to change the mindset of our local elected officials or to change our officials.  We are looking for candidates who are endorsable by the Sierra Club.  If you want to help in this endeavor, contact Donna Cave at or 301-932-7249.

The “Preserve” at Green Spring, a proposal for a subdivision in Pomfret, Charles County, would blanket almost 1,000 acres of very sensitive Mattawoman Creek watershed with 600 houses, six stream crossings, tennis courts, athletic fields, roads, and parking lots.  A 2006 zoning text amendment “restores” zoning in this (RC-D) Zone from one unit per 10 acres to one unit per one acre, if stream valleys are maintained in a natural state and the site falls within certain sewer and water categories.  The developers want to benefit from the ordinance and are proposing to upzone seven percent of the RC-D Zone.  There will be public hearings at which the County Commissioners consider the Green Spring proposal and another proposal, Millard’s Mill.  To receive updates and find out what you can do, sign up for alerts at and identify yourself as a Sierra Club member.

The Calvert County Commissioners endorsed the proposed third (Unistart Inc.) reactor at Calvert Cliffs, with little public discussion.  In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission received public input on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement that it will prepare.  Residents expressed concerns about increased traffic generated by the estimated 2,000 temporary and 300 permanent workers moving or commuting into the county; about the subsidies of an  additional 50% tax credit, worth about $300 million over 15 years, to a mature industry; about the public services such as health care and schools that the new installation and new workers will require; and that alternative clean energy sources and better conservation should be promoted rather than more nuclear power.

Invasive plant removals are being conducted two Saturdays per month at Swann Park and two Sundays per month at Chapman Forest.  Trash is being picked up, and water quality is being sampled at a wetlands meadow tributary to Mattawoman Creek in Swann Park.  These removals have been conducted since 1999 with volunteers from the Sierra Club, Maryland Native Plant Society, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  For more information, contact Marc Imlay at 301-283-0808.

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 publishes a newsletter, “Nature’s Advocate of Western MD.”  The Group has an email discussion group/Listserv at, for members to discuss conservation issues pertaining to Western Maryland.  The Listserv is also used to announce Group meetings, outings, and other events.  To join, go to the website and click the “Join the list” link. 


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