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Maryland Sierrans Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
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by Mary C. Corddry | 2008

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

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

Sierra Club groups are planning for the upcoming State legislative session, identifying local priorities. They have been involved with recent elections, making endorsements in collaboration with the state chapter and campaigning for endorsed candidates. Groups are active in 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 and environmental issues, following local government activities, serving on advisory committees and participating at hearings. They volunteer 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. Links to all the groups appear on the chapter’s website at www.maryland.sierraclub.org.

 

Anne Arundel Group

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

 

By David Prosten—The Anne Arundel Group endorsed and lobbied for an impact fee measure before the County Council that will more than double the fees paid by developers for road, school and public safety construction. The meaure was ultimately approved 4-3. The chapter supported even higher fees, but went with the compromise when it was clear the status quo would be maintained unless the compromise was enacted.

A number of members volunteered to help the election campaign of Frank Kratovil (D), candidate for the First Congressional District seat long held by Wayne Gilchrist (R). Gilchrist, a friend of the environment, lost his primary race to Andy Harris, a State Senator with a 9 percent League of Conservation Voters rating. Kratovil was declared the winner several days after the Nov. 4 balloting, beating Harris by about 2,000 votes in a race that came down to the counting of absentee ballots — a result that made it clear how important our work was. We phoned our members and canvassed for Kratovil, who had been endorsed by the chapter in part because of his strong support for the Chesapeake Bay.

The group had its own election, electing (or re-electing) five of ten members of our Executive Committee: Liz Vanden Heuvel, Sue Youngs, Joan Willey, Steve Satzberg, and newcomer Jan Hoffmaster.

Our group is working with the county to help develop Homeport Farm Park, an open piece of land near the South River that will include hiking trails, a community garden, a canoe and kayak launching area, and other features.

     We are examining the possibility of offering our bimonthly newsletter, The Sierra Log, online as well as in print. Every member opting to receive the newsletter online would be helping the group save postage and printing costs.

Our outings program continues to meet with success, with leaders taking folks on hikes, kayaking trips, and tours of the huge recycling plant in Elkridge.

 

Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

Chair: Dan Andrews, 410-857-4129, dooze@qis.net

 

By Gregor Becker

No Incinerator

The Catoctin Group continues to work on the “no incinerator” option in Frederick County. This is a zero waste solution that some companies now pursue, notably Volkswagen and Toyota. Volkswagen has sought to make automobiles with recyclable components, and Toyota proclaims a zero waste goal for all their operations. Even GM has saved millions turning lights off and thermostats down to 66 degrees at night.

Zero waste is the goal, not the practice at present. The waste-to-energy industry tries to characterize zero waste as a pipe dream and no incinerators as a pro-landfill movement.This overlooks waste recovery, an extensive recycling program that yields substantial profits, but more importantly prevents mining of virgin materials.

Unfortunately, landfills are still needed at present. One tenth of incinerator waste concentrates into bottom ash that should be land-filled. Some cities now recycle over 70%. Zero waste looks at what isn’t recycled and asks why not? Or where and how can we reclaim this?

Locally, there’s one bright spot. Sykesville in Carroll County has just initiated a pay-as-you-throw program. This makes residents who don’t recycle pay more, while rewarding those who do with lower bills.

 Locally, waste to energy faces significant obstacles in these tight times. The project’s $350 million price tag gives some politicians pause. Unfortunately, health effects don’t. Increased cancers around the Dickerson plant in Montgomery County are easily dismissed as they are added into county statistics. The finer nanoparticles that modern incinerators emit just contribute to the toxic soup we all ingest, raising the levels of toxins in our bodies.

On the 2nd Tuesday of each month, the group has a social at Café Nola on East Patrick Street in downtown Frederick, 6:30 – 9 p.m. Come meet and have good conversation with fellow outdoor lovers and environmentalists.

The group runs a number of hikes in and around the three-county area yearly. We are looking for new outings leaders who are interested in leading hikes, boat trips, or other activities.

The Catoctin Group communicates with our members electronically for the most part. Our website is http://maryland.sierraclub.org/catoctin/ ,OR go to sierraclub.org, and select Maryland Chapter and Catoctin Group, OR email us at mdhiker2@yahoo.com to receive alerts on actions, hikes, or meetings.

 

Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore counties)

The Eastern Shore Group is urging members from all parts of this nine-county region to help build an active group. A temporary executive committee has been formed until formal elections are held this fall. We are currently accepting nominations for board positions. Also, the group particularly needs a membership chair, an outings chair andoutings leaders. The temporary excom meets in person every other month at places throughout the region, and by conference call in other months. If you are interested in assisting to reactivate and reenergize this group, contact Alana Wase, Chapter Conservation Coordinator, at301-277-7111or  Alana.Wase@Mdsierra.org.

Planning and coordination is more difficult in such a long, less populated stretch of Maryland east of the Chesapeake Bay from Cecil County down to Worcester and Somerset Counties. We have a vast and precious portion of our land and waterways to protect and preserve. The group has a special need for a membership chair to coordinate membership, and for an outings chair and outings leaders. Whatever your specialty, concern, or interest, we have room for you and various resources (financial, personnel, and technical assistance) at our disposal.

 

News from the Lower Shore

By Sharon Spinak—Members from the “Lower Shore” campaigned for Frank Kratovil in Congressional District 1, and we are delighted that he was successful. We had a sign wave on Rt. 50, made calls and canvassed the local neighborhoods. We hope these efforts made an impact.

We contacted the Salisbury mayor to encourage her to sign on to Cool Cities. She was enthusiastic and assigned the newly formed Environmental Task Force to examine the initiative and make a recommendation. We are currently waiting to hear results. A letter to the local newspaper was printed urging the mayor to make Salisbury a Cool City.

A Cool Cities Symposium is in the planning stage to educate the community about the many benefits of Cool Cities. If the mayor signs the document, we can begin with green projects and get the community involved. If the mayor does not sign the document, we will try to get the community to encourage her to do so.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, December 16th, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 4 at the Wicomico County Main Library, 122 S Division St, Salisbury, MD 21801. Contact Sharon Spinak, sharonks@comcast.net.

Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

Chair: Chris Yoder, 410-466-2462, cncyoder@comcast.net

 

By Mary Corddry—Nominations are sought for upcoming elections of the group’s executive committee.

On December 2, the Greater Baltimore Group and Baltimore County’s Office of Sustainability will co-sponsor a public forum as the debut of Baltimore County’s sustainability program—the path to a greener county. The purpose is to increase the visibility of both the climate change challenge and the role of the county and its Sustainability Network in meeting that challenge. After refreshments at 6:30 p.m, the program will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Towson Unitarian Universalists Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.

The group is sponsoring a nature photography contest and exhibit. Entries may be submitted from February 1 through April 30 for an exhibit at the World Trade Center in Baltimore City’s Inner Harbor during the month of July. Entries will be judged in five categories: landscape, flora, fauna, environmental issues, and people in nature.

Baltimore City’s Office of Sustainability and its Commission on Sustainability are developing the City’s Sustainability Plan. After meetings during the summer by six working groups and a large forum for public input in October, the draft plan will be unveiled at a public meeting on December 3 at 6:30. The plan may be viewed at www.baltimorecity.gov/sustainability/ .

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, stargazing, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, trail maintenance, and invasive plant removals.

The group publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Baltimore Sierran, which is mailed to members and is available on our web site. Also check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.

 

Howard County

Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306, kenclark7@comcast.net

 

Manitoba: Polar Bears—On December 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Howard County Recreation and Parks Headquarters, group member Sue Muller, back by popular demand, will give an encore presentation on her November 2006 adventure in Churchill, Manitoba in search of polar bears. Learn how global warming is affecting these magnificent creatures. The presentation will be followed by a discussion of global warming and how every person can make a difference every day. Feel free to bring ideas to share! Homemade brownies will be provided, and you can bring your own drink (no alcohol) or snack. For information, contact Sue Muller, sonicsue@verizon.net, or at 301-498-8462 .

 

Wild Utah: America’s Redrock Wilderness—On January 22 at 7:15 p.m. at the Howard County Recreation and Parks Headquarters, there will be a presentation about Utah’s Redrock Wilderness. The campaign to protect these canyonlands is the only truly national wilderness campaign except for that to protect the Arctic Refuge. The Utah Wilderness Coalition (led by SUWA and the Sierra Club) is working to pass America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, introduced into Congress by Sen. Durbin (IL) and Rep. Hinchey (NY). Maryland is important to the effort, as many of its Representatives and Senator Mikulski are not currently cosponsors of the bill. The legislation would designate 9.5 million acres of public lands as wilderness, the largest remaining undesignated network of wild lands in the lower 48 states. For information, contact Brigitte, 240-506-8976, or bfzaidan@safe-mail.net.

Our rain barrel sale in April was such a huge success that we have a waiting list of about 100 people for our next event. We can get the parts and build our own, but we need a volunteer to coordinate the activity and more volunteers to help with the assembly. If you can help, contact Brigitte at 240-506-8976 or bjzaidan@safe-mail.net.

Box turtles and other critters were recently rescued and relocated in North Laurel Park, where bulldozing is about to begin for new ball fields and a community center. Thanks to the many club members turned out on short notice for several search-and-rescue sessions.

Recycling in Howard County recently got a big boost with a significant expansion to the list of items accepted for recycling. Now most types of plastics are accepted, although still not Styrofoam or polystyrene foam or plastic clamshell packaging. Bags of plastic grocery bags are also accepted. Also newly accepted is aluminum foil, including disposable baking pans. For details, see www.co.ho.md.us/DPW/recycling.htm. The county is also providing large wheeled carts to all residents who have curbside recycling.

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@maryland.sierraclub.org

 

By David Hauck—Since our last update, the Montgomery County Group has successfully held several events that brought out local Sierra Club members who have not previously been active. The events are linked to our three high-priority goals—increasing home energy efficiency; restoring natural habitats; and, encouraging Smart Growth in Montgomery County.

On global warming, we continue to hold monthly “Putting Your Home on a Low Carbon Diet” house meetings, which focus on cost-effective actions residents can take to reduce home energy consumption by 20-40 percent. We also proposed and successfully lobbied for a county property tax credit of up to $250 a year to reimburse residents for energy-efficient retrofits (insulation, programmable thermostats, air sealing, etc.) they make in their homes. 

Sierra Club volunteers also serve on all six committees of the Sustainability Working Group, which is responsible for delivering a climate action plan to the County Council by January 15, 2009. The climate action plan, mandated by legislation passed in 2008, will provide detailed programs and policies necessary to achieve county-wide greenhouse gas reductions of 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Progress in meeting these reduction targets will be tracked by annual carbon inventories conducted by Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection. (Montgomery County was one of the first “Cool Counties” to endorse the Sierra Club’s global warming goal of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Legislation passed in 2008 codified the county’s commitment to these goals.)

In September and October, several new volunteers, who have completed Montgomery County’s “Weed Warrior” training, led two invasive plant removal outings. They also organized two outings that pointed out ongoing threats to natural habitats in the county as well as proven programs that restore damaged habitats. These events have attracted anywhere from 10 to 30 participants. Similar events are planned for the coming months.

Our “Smart Growth” team in October organized a community meeting in an area affected by Johns Hopkins University’s proposal to build a massive development on the 100-acre Belward Farm property that would contribute to sprawl in Montgomery County. It was the first public meeting held on this project and is the first step in raising awareness of the shortcomings of this proposal.

Our group newsletter is available on the web. Go to maryland.sierraclub.org/Montgomery and click on “Newsletter” in the left-hand column when our web page opens.

 

Prince George’s County

Chair: Chip Reilly, 301-218-3920, chip.reilly@mdsierra.org

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

 

By Chip Reilly—“Sprawl hurts us all” has been the cry heard around Prince George’s during a mobilization to pass a bill that will provide an income stream to preserve hundreds of acres annually in the county. The group has sponsored conference calls, sent out alerts, and lobbied county and municipal leaders in advance of the County Council’s vote in November. 

Through bill CB-80-2008, Prince George’s hopes to join other counties in the area in establishing a “transfer of development rights” program. Landowners, both in rural and developed areas, may volunteer to sell their rights to subdivide their property. They continue to own their land as before, but receive a decent per acreage cash payment. The monies come from fees paid by developers who seek to raise density on projects in urban areas (which they have always gotten for free). The bill will minimize the unfair diversion of public dollars for services and infrastructure in established areas of the county to new, far-flung subdivisions in our rural tier. Preserved green space will be created throughout the county, and the rapid build-out of our rural tier will be slowed. The TDR program, the first anti-sprawl measure here, is in line with our general plan. 

The Knowledge Web is seeking beta-testers. This online clearinghouse aims to strengthen coordination among people who strive to protect the environment and the “public good” in Prince George’s County and to ensure that the knowledge of civic leaders and environmentalists guides public decisions about the land, air, and water. We need people who are familiar with ecological, organizational, and legal issues involving land development and preservation. Contact Chip Reilly at 301-218-3920.

The Cool County group has been meeting with County Council members and the county’s newly hired energy manager. Anyone interested can contact Alana Wase at the Chapter office. 

 

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

Chair: Frank Fox, 301-884-8027, ff725@yahoo.com

 

The Southern Maryland Group joined with 14 other organizations to form the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County (see www.cbf.org/smartergrowth). One of the first priorities is to urge our members to contact the governor to intervene in the upcoming decisions concerning Charles County’s efforts to build its proposed “cross-county connector” across Mattawoman Creek watershed. Applications for state and federal permits are pending before the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In response to citizen activity (thank you all!) and the regulators’ need for additional information on the alternatives and cumulative impacts, MDE has been granted an additional six months to investigate the county’s wetland destruction permit application. This six-month period is an opportunity for us to continue our public education campaign and promote a 21st century transportation solution. We are asking our friends to stay in touch and remain active on this important issue. Help us promote the smarter growth alternative, light rail connection to Waldorf, supported by transit-oriented development, instead of this outdated, sprawl-inducing, environmentally destructive highway. Smarter Growth Alliance of Charles County will hold an educational event and rally in February, date and place to be determined.

On November 1, the Southern Maryland Group joined with the Friends of Myrtle Point for a child-friendly nature walk at Myrtle Point Park. Seeds were gathered for the Growing Native project, to help replenish the State nursery with native Maryland seed stock. Also, the trails were examined to make recommendations for repairs and improvements in the trail system. The park, purchased with Maryland Open Space Program funds in 1997, is bounded by the Patuxent River, Mill Creek, and Sam Abel Cove. A portion of the property is a designated Forest Interior Dwelling area, making it a wonderful habitat for birds. The park has almost two miles of unspoiled shoreline, tidal wetlands, salt ponds, mature forests, nature trails, and archeological sites.

Residents of Southern Maryland met with the Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition to discuss recent events concerning the proposed third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs, proposed by the plant’s owner Constellation Energy.

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@maryland.sierraclub.org or cedarrockcsa@yahoo.com

 

The Western Maryland Group is working on signage for the Maryland Wildlands. Anyone wishing to obtain a stencil to create your own sign for a Wildland near you, contact Mark Diehl at mad55@mindspring.com.

Stay tuned for a Wind Energy Program on December 4. It will provide in-depth information on why industrial wind here is bad for Appalachia, bad for climate change, and bad for Maryland. Industrial wind belongs in the Great Plains and off-shore. What happens when an industrial wind energy plant is built on agricultural land in the Great Plains? Clean, renewable energy – enough to power the United States. What happens when an industrial wind energy plant is built on the ridges of Appalachia, where ideal wind blows only 25 percent of the time? A taxpayer subsidized corporate give-away, with no noticeable dent in greenhouse gas emissions. If Maryland is serious about climate change, it will focus on geothermal energy, tax rebates for homeowners who install solar panels, off-shore wind, and most importantly, CONSERVATION!

We in the Western Maryland Group are looking for volunteers, who are willing to help our neighbors in a variety of ways. We are available to lead discussions in schools and groups on environmental issues, lead outings, and provide expert advice to concerned citizens and the media. Please don’t hesitate to ask!

The group publishes a newsletter, “Nature’s Advocate of Western MD.” The group has an e-mail discussion group/Listserv at MD-WMD-FORUM@lists.sierraclub.org, 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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