by Mary C. Corddry |
Edited by Mary C. CorddryFollowing is a roundup of whats happening with the nine Sierra Club groups in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Catoctin, Eastern Shore, Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince Georges 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 participating in the current State legislative session, identifying local priorities. 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 and participating on advisory committees and 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. The home page of the Maryland chapter, at www.maryland.sierraclub.org, has a link to each group’s website.
Anne Arundel Group
Chair: David Prosten, 410-263-6341 or 410-703-0847, email@example.com
By David Prosten—More than 100 Anne Arundel Sierra Club members and guests gathered in Annapolis on January 24 to mark the club’s 25th annual birthday. We shared a great potluck meal, heard a dramatic presentation about the health and future of the Chesapeake Bay, and honored two founding members. The honors were for longtime Anne Arundel Sierra Club activists Joan and Cliff Willey, who will be leaving the area later in the year. Joan Willey, especially, has been a tireless Club activist at every level of leadership in the county, state, and the national organization.
The presentation on the state of the Bay was by Gerald Winegrad, a former state legislator and now professor at the University of Maryland. His talk was sobering, suggesting that only dramatic governmental intervention at this point can save the iconic estuary.
In other group news:
· Thanks to the hard work of longtime activist Earl Bradley, we offered comments on two major growth development plans in the area, for Anne Arundel County and for the City of Annapolis.
· Several group members served as judges at the 2009 Anne Arundel County Regional Science and Engineering Fair and named cash prize winners, including a winner of the Club’s $100 Mike Rixham Memorial Award. (Last year’s Rixham winner went on to place fourth in the national science fair competition.)
· The group continues to participate in the development of Homeport Farm Park, a 25-acre county property near the South River. Liz VandenHeuvel is heading up the group’s work, which includes reforestation.
· Preparations are underway for the group’s 15th annual Earth Day 5K Race and Walk on April 18. The event is the group’s big annual fundraiser. Last year it attracted 200 people and raised $4,000 to help in our work. More information and an entry form can be found on the Anne Arundel Group’s website.
· 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Waste Not! Expo was held on March 28 at Frederick High School. This zero- waste conference was sponsored by the Catoctin Group to educate, inspire, and encourage everyone to reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle many of the materials our society currently discards. The event offered nationally recognized presenters, vendors, exhibitions, food, music, and games for children.
Communities are successfully increasing recycling and choosing alternatives to incinerators and landfills to move towards zero waste. Frederick County’s landfill is almost full, and waste is being shipped to Virginia as a stop-gap measure. A proposed $500 million incinerator could release toxic waste into the environment and discourage recycling. Landfills release methane gas, which is 20 times more heat-trapping than CO2. San Francisco has reached 70 percent recycling of all waste, while Houston recycles only seven percent. For more information about this statewide effort to reduce and deal with Maryland’s waste, contact Ken Eidel at email@example.com, or check out the Citizens for Incinerator Alternatives, at www.cfianow.org/learn.html.
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 just go to sierraclub.org, and select Maryland Chapter and Catoctin Group, OR email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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. We are currently accepting nominations for board positions. Also, the group particularly needs a Membership Chair and an Outings Chair and leaders. The temporary excom meets in person every other month 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, at Alana.Wase@mdsierra.org or 301-277-7111.
Whatever your specialty, concern, or interest, we have room for you and various resources (financial, personnel, and technical assistance) at our disposal.
Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)
Chair: Chris Yoder, 410-466-2462, email@example.com
By Mary Corddry—The Greater Baltimore Group celebrated Earth Day at Oregon Ridge Park’s nature center with a potluck dinner and a slide show on Yellowstone National Park, led by a summertime ranger at Yellowstone.
The group is participating in Baltimore County’s new Sustainability Network, which had its first meeting on November 15, and a public briefing on December 2 attended by more than 100. The network formed workgroups, which will report recommendations by mid-2009 for county facilities operations, protection of natural resources, built environment, and education and outreach. A greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory has been conducted of the county’s operations. The goal is to reduce the annual GHG production of the county’s operations, with the inclusion of public schools, by 10% below the 2006 level by 2010.
Baltimore City appointed a Commission on Sustainability, including Patrick McMahon of the Greater Baltimore Group, to provide guidance on sustainability. After a seven-month process, involving over 1,000 people in working group meetings, community conversations, youth efforts, and citywide meetings, Baltimore City posted a draft Sustainability Plan for review. The plan is being finalized. It articulates 29 ambitious, yet achievable goals to make Baltimore a more sustainable city. There are 126 relatively short-term strategies to move us toward that vision, including a Climate Action Plan. Also, the City completed an inventory of GHG emissions.
The group’s outings program offers hikes of varied lengths and difficulty, including outings that are child and dog friendly. There are also 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 its web site. Also check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.
Comprehensive Zoning in Harford County
By Morita Bruce—Harford County has begun its Comprehensive Zoning process, where any property owner can ask to change the zoning of his property. A property’s zoning determines what can be done with it (residential, business, or industrial use) and under what conditions (number of houses per acre, type of businesses allowed, how much impervious surface is permitted, open space requirements, building setbacks, etc.)
Harford’s newly-rewritten zoning code largely ignores smart growth and environmental protection, including protection of Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas. This means rezoning requests must be very carefully reviewed, with an eye to minimizing sprawl and the environmental damage that results.
Friends of Harford (FOH), Harford County’s all-volunteer citizen land use advocates, is analyzing each rezoning request and will provide their recommendations for each property to the County Council. FOH’s recommendations will consider Harford’s Master Land Use Plan as well as neighborhood compatibility, environmental impacts, traffic impacts, natural features, and other concerns.
The Master Land Use Plan is important because it defines the planned future of specific communities and neighborhoods. It also identifies which areas are targeted for agricultural use or rural residential use, or— within the designated “development envelope”—which areas are supposed to be developed at low, medium, or high density.
FOH’s website (http://www.friendsofharford.com/) provides information on Comprehensive Zoning and other land-use topics. FOH will post their rezoning recommendations on this website so residents will have them before the County Council’s public hearings on July 16 (6:30 PM, Aberdeen HS), July 21 (6:30 PM, Patterson Mill MS/HS), and July 23 (6:30 PM, North Harford HS). We hope every interested Harford Countian will take the opportunity to voice their opinions on specific properties (3 minutes max) to the County Council at one of these meetings. Your voice can make a difference!
Morita Bruce is a Sierra Club member and President-Elect, Friends of Harford
Chair: Ken Clark, 301-725-3306, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ken Clark —The Howard County government held its second annual GreenFest on April 4. The GreenFest was so popular last year that it was moved to a larger location, at Howard County Community College. The Sierra Club gave a presentation on rain barrels, and offered 50 rain barrels for sale at a very low cost, as they were built as part of a Boy Scout project and many of the materials were donated.
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.
Chair: David Hauck, 301-270-5826, David.Hauck@maryland.sierraclub.org
By David Hauck—The Montgomery County Group is benefiting from the enthusiasm of our newest members of the Executive Committee, who were elected at the end of 2008. During the first three months of 2009, Steve Lonker organized a series of four talks by experts on habitat restoration and sustainable gardening. Topics included “Watershed Friendly Yards and Neighborhoods,” “Gardening for Wildlife,” and “Managing Deer in Suburban Landscapes.”
In conjunction with these talks, Steve and other volunteers have been leading two invasive plant removal events each month throughout the winter. The highlight was when 120 volunteers joined them on January 19 to celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a day of service to remove invasive plants from Montgomery County’s Underground Railroad Experience Trail Park.
Steve is also redesigning our website, and all nine excom members are working on providing updated material that will make it easy for Montgomery County residents to learn about our priority goals and how they can help us achieve them.
Dave Sears is the new chair of our political committee and has recruited several new volunteers to serve on it. As I write, the committee is interviewing candidates who are running for the county council seat that was vacated by the death of Donald Praisner earlier this year. In addition, the Montgomery County Group and the Action Committee on Transit hosted a candidates forum on March 31 at Kennedy High School. The candidates were questioned about their positions on the county’s climate protection plan, smart growth, and their transportation priorities for the county. This is a practice run for 2010 when all nine members of the county council and the county executive will be up for election.
Ethan Goffman has stepped up and is resurrecting our transportation committee. In the months ahead, the county council will be making choices on how to ease traffic congestion. We hope to convince them that new public transit options, such as bus rapid transit with dedicated guideways, should always be the preferred option over building new roads. Ethan is our representative to Transit First!, a newly-formed umbrella group of public transit advocates, labor unions, and smart growth and environmental groups in Montgomery County. They are working to shift funds away from building new parking garages and wider roads and instead to use those funds for expanded and improved public transit.
Want to work with Steve, Dave, and Ethan to make Montgomery County a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly place to live? I would love to hear from you. You can email me at Hauck_D@msn.com, or call me at 301-270-5826.
The Montgomery County Group’s 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, email@example.com
Group’s office: 301-277-0600 or 301-277-7111
By Chip Reilly—Oxon Hill High School (OHHS) students attended Power Shift 2009, a youth conference on climate change. At this conference in Washington, D.C., 12,000 high school and college students from all over the country demanded that the President and Congress rebuild our economy and reclaim the future, by passing bold and just climate and energy policies that prioritize renewable energy and green jobs.
The ten lucky members of the OHHS Sierra Student Coalition were addressed by many high-profile speakers, including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, civil and environmental rights activist Majora Carter, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Representative Donna Edwards, who represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional district in the House of Representatives, was one of the weekend’s most anticipated keynotes. She was introduced by Dominique Hazzard of Fort Washington, a 2008 graduate of Oxon Hill who helped the current OHHS students organize to attend Power Shift. Representative Edwards told the massive crowd that, “It was young people who put the environment and climate change on the national agenda. People say that communities of color really don’t care about the environment, that it’s not top on our agenda…they’re wrong about that. We know that they are wrong because your generation has proven that they are wrong. I look at Oxon Hill High School where brown and white and Asian and Latino children are out there together working to make a difference in the environment.”
But Power Shift 2009 was not just amazing speakers. There were also concerts, a “green jobs” fair, an eco-fashion show by Howard University students, and over 100 panels and workshops about climate change. Maya Thompson, the President of the OHHS NAACP, commented, “I really liked how this conference put so much emphasis on climate change as a civil rights issue. I learned that communities of color and low income people are disproportionately harmed by the burning of fossil fuels, but that people from all walks of life are working together to create a green economy.”
The most important day of Power Shift was Monday, when thousands of young people braved the snow to meet with their legislators and rally for clean energy on the Capitol lawn. David Hanna, a sophomore at Oxon Hill, met with his Congressman, Rep. Steny Hoyer. “There were so many of us that we couldn’t fit in his office and had to be moved to a bigger room!” said David. “We told him that we want the United States to use clean energy instead of dirty fuels like coal and be an international leader on climate change policy. And he listened. It was amazing to see so many people my age holding their elected officials accountable.”
The students plan to continue working to make Maryland a leader on climate change.
Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties)
Chair: Frank Fox, 301-884-8027, firstname.lastname@example.org
In mid-November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent Charles County a letter requesting additional information, including assessment of secondary growth-inducing impacts, in order to evaluate the county’s application to destroy 7.5 acres of wetlands for the Cross County Connector. This proposed 6.5 mile, four-lane highway would cross forests and wetlands in the Mattawoman Creek watershed. At the end of November, the Maryland Department of Environment required six more months for evaluation of the application.
We cannot allow the Mattawoman, among the best of the last, to slip away and become another restoration project, while asking people to believe in a “save the bay” program. The Southern Maryland Group sponsored a Mattawoman wildland walk on January 18, through the diverse hardwood forest in State wildlands to the banks of the freshwater tidal Mattawoman Creek.
The Maryland Chapter’s Southern Maryland Group joined a consortium of 17 organizations to form the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County, led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It promotes a vision for sustainable communities by revitalizing the urban core of Waldorf with transit-oriented development and light rail to the Branch Avenue Metro, rather than building highways in forests and spawning sprawl development. The alliance held a public forum on March 19 to help change the direction of growth with a “better vision” and to become part of the “roar of the future.”
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, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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,and facilitates an email discussion, MD-WMD-FORUM@lists.sierraclub.org, to allow members to discuss local conservation issues. The discussion group/listserv is also used to announce group meetings, outings, and other events. Join by going to the website and clicking the “Join the list” link.
> 2009 Table of Contents