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Maryland Sierrans Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
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by Mary C. Corddry | 2009

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

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 preparing for next year’s elections and the state’s legislative session, identifying local priorities. Groups are active in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities” initiative, encouraging local governments and citizens to take action on global warming. They are involved with local land use and environmental issues, following local government activities and participating in 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.

Contact your group to get linked with your favorite issue or activity. The Maryland Chapter’s home page includes links to each group’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—Led by Liz VandenHeuvel, the group co-sponsored and participated in a reforestation project that resulted in the planting of 400 trees at Homeport Farm Park, a new 25 acre county park near the South River. The park will have hiking and nature trails, a canoe/kayak launch, gardening, and more. Some proposed activities at the park will serve as ecological models to demonstrate low-impact development, innovative stormwater management techniques, native plantings, and living shorelines.

The group wrote to Governor O’Malley asking that the state refuse  Constellation Energy a permit to build a 65 acre fly-ash landfill in Baltimore until the Environmental Protection Agency makes its ruling on the hazards of the byproduct.

We endorsed and campaigned for Josh Cohen for Mayor of Annapolis, and Ian Pfeiffer and Greg Stiverson for City Council. Cohen and Pfeiffer won, aided by group mailings to members in Annapolis, candidate acknowledgement of our endorsement in their literature, and campaigning by several club members.

Sierra Club President Allison Chin accepted the group’s invitation to speak at our annual potluck dinner, scheduled for January 30 in Annapolis. ALL Maryland members are invited. Check our website for more details as the day draws closer.

The group continues to have an active outings schedule, with a recent hike at Old Rag Mountain and a canoe/kayak trip on Buttons Creek at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Catoctin Group (Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties)

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

 

By Gregor Becker—The biggest news for our diminished excom is that there are only four remaining members, who now do more than they committed for. Two non-excom members came to the Maryland Chapter’s Jamboree. It was great to meet folks! Good to know members we work for, not as just 950 names on our membership lists in Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties. No, we didn’t “draft” the two who came; we were just glad to see them.

Our biggest needs now are for someone to run for a seat on the executive committee, and for a membership chair. As an excom member, you can just be on our email exchange, come to some excom meetings, and vote on issues we work on. We have families, so we understand when you have to say “no.” With or without more help, we take one Sierra Club motto to heart, “For our families, for our future.” A membership chair doesn’t need to be an excom member. Actually, there are many ways to help without joining the excom, such as attending meetings none of the excom members can make, covering a display table for a couple hours, writing a letter to the editor (LTE) or to elected officials, helping with the Sustainable Living Fair in Westminster, or attending “Waste Not” meetings.

 Our other big news concerns Frederick City elections. Gregor Becker is our political chair. Excom members drafted a candidate questionnaire that we sent to candidates for alderman and mayor after the primary elections. Fewer than half the candidates responded. We extended the deadline a little and telephoned all candidates. The response was better—all but one mayoral candidate and two alderman, all Republicans. The Catoctin Group, with Maryland Chapter approval, endorsed Jason Judd for mayor, and Karen Lewis Young and Chris O’Connor for alderman. Both Young, the wife of the former mayor, and O’Connor, possibly the strongest environmental candidate, are new to the council. We regret to say Judd lost for mayor, despite being endorsed by the Frederick Gazette. Judd was a strong opponent of the incinerator. The incoming mayor, Randy McClement, is more of an unknown, as he did not respond to our questionnaire. We regret the delays and our inability to publicize our endorsements more widely. The Frederick News Post would not print our endorsement as a press release, and we ran up against their deadline for political LTEs. We did publicize on our web site, http://maryland.sierraclub.org/catoctin/index.asp and through some email lists, and we informed candidates so they could spread the word.

We’d love to have your email address for late breaking news! Send us your email address, your county of residence, and two issues you are interested in, such as global warming, Cool Cities, or the Climate Security Act. You could also let us know if you are interested in outings, especially in training to lead some!

 Other issues are ongoing, such as electric transmission lines, Cool Cities, and the megachurch on the Montgomery-Frederick County line. The megachurch met preliminary denial by the Frederick County Planning Commission, but will undoubtedly be back for a second try, revising their mega sand-mound septic system.

On the second 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 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 mdhiker2@yahoo.com to receive alerts on actions, hikes, or meetings.

 

Eastern Shore (Cecil County and Eastern Shore Counties)

Chair: Don Grace, 410-352-3722, Don.Grace@mdsierra.org

 

By Don Grace—The Eastern Shore Group of the Sierra Club meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Wicomico Library, 122 South Division Street in downtown Salisbury. The meetings start at 6:30 p.m. The group is working on the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the Eastern Shore.  Contact Don Grace at Don.Grace@mdsierra.org for further information.

 

Greater Baltimore (Baltimore City and County, Harford County)

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

 

By Mary Corddry—The group is looking for volunteers to run for election for two vacancies on its executive committee. Nominate yourself or someone else by submitting a one or two paragraph biography describings what you would like to accomplish and any relevant interests, activities, experience, education, skills, training, that you think are pertinent. Biographies of candidates will appear in the mid-February Baltimore Sierran newsletter, along with a ballot.

Send biographies to Chris Yoder, Group Chair, at 5701 Rusk Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215 or email to  chris.yoder@mdsierra.org.

The Greater Baltimore Group is partnering with the University of Maryland on a conservation project to help save selected wetlands that support rare, threatened, or endangered species in Baltimore County. Volunteers were requested to join a university of maryland team of students in conducting a landscape analysis of selected wetlands designated as Wetlands of Special State Concern (WSSCs) by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Department of the Environment. These WSSCs are a high priority for preservation because they are vulnerable to development and other harmful land uses. According to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, headwater and isolated wetlands may be the most important wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, because they are the first to remove nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment, and other toxic materials that would otherwise be transported downstream by streams and rivers to local drinking water and the Chesapeake Bay estuary.

Bring a dish to share to the group’s potluck social and slide show on January 7 from 6:30_9 p.m. We will meet at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center in Hunt Valley, west off Shawan Road from the I-83 exit. Dale Shelton, of the Maryland Geological Survey, will discuss Maryland’s geology and geography and will bring slides, fossils, and rocks. Call Joyce at 410-254-7240 if you need further details.

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, kayaking, bike rides, stargazing, camping, hayrides, stream cleanups, trail maintenance, and invasive plant removals. Check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events.

The group publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Baltimore Sierran, which is mailed to members and is available on its web site. And, we’re on Facebook. You can join us at   http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76458501970. Facebook will be updated with information about hikes, meetings, and public meetings relevant to the Sierra Club.

Check out  the Young Sierrans Facebook page at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51601732426

 

Howard County

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

 

By Ken Clark—On Saturday, December 5, 3:30–6 p.m., we are organizing a Gift Swap & Resale event at the Howard County Central Library. Buy/sell/trade unwanted gifts and lightly used items. Put unwanted gifts and like-new items to use! Reduce, reuse, recycle; this is guilt-free shopping! FREE to attend and to set out items for sale. Open to the public. Sellers should contact Brigitte to register, preferably before November 29, at 240-506-8976.

 On the weekend of January 16-17, we will be sponsoring a Wilderness First Aid class. We highly recommend this class to anybody who spends a lot of time in remote locations, and particularly to hike leaders and backpackers. This is an 18-hour class, and includes CPR. Details are being finalized. Contact Ken Clark at kenclark7@comcast.net, 301-725-3306.

 We are putting together a series of programs on various energy topics for early 2010. Check our web page for details. If you have questions or suggestions, contact Sue Muller at 301-498-8462, or sonicsue@verizon.net.

 We had a good turnout for our August screening of the DVD documentary about Louisiana environmental concerns emphasized by Hurricane Katrina. The DVD, Paradise Faded: The Fight for Louisiana, is available for others who would like to view or present it. Contact Brigitte, 240-506-8976.

 Our September program on dam removal on the Patapsco River was quite popular; viral marketing drew people from many groups in the area.  The Union Dam removal is in progress now, and the Simpkins Dam is expected to be removed next fall.

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—Information on Sierra Club events in Montgomery County and  on our efforts on behalf of habitat protection, smart growth, and energy efficiency can be found on our website, Maryland.sierraclub.org/Montgomery.

The past few months have been busy ones for the small group of volunteers who focus their efforts on pushing the county’s planning department and the county council to make good on their verbal commitments to curtail suburban sprawl. As an article in the November 2, 2009, Washington Post pointed out, Maryland’s 1997 law to promote Smart Growth “…has been a bust, largely because it has no teeth to force local governments to comply and because builders have little incentive to redevelop older urban neighborhoods.”

“From 1998 to 2006,” the article goes on, “development outside smart-growth areas in Montgomery County consumed an average of 915 acres a year.”

The most immediate challenge to smart growth in Montgomery County is a proposal to create a massive “Science City” in West Gaithersburg, which would be several miles from the nearest subway station and would require more than a billion dollars in new roads and expanded intersections to handle the resulting traffic. We have argued that having the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway, which may be either a light rail trolley or bus rapid transit line proposed to run through this development, does not compensate for the sprawl and increased traffic the proposed development will create.

In addition, we testified at a September, 2009 public hearing before the county council that the planning department’s own projections of the impact of the proposed development in West Gaithersburg show that the number of new jobs created by 2030 around metro stations, where transit is readily available, and in the eastern part of the county, where jobs are scarce, would be negatively affected if the “Science City” is built.

A longer-term challenge to smart growth in the county is the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) proposal to widen I-270 from where the Intercounty Connector meets it all the way to a point a few miles north of Frederick. The county council has been asked to vote for its “locally preferred alternative” from among the six proposed by MDOT. The alternatives differ from each other on the number of new lanes that would be built and whether the new lanes would be HOV lanes or toll lanes.

We have argued that road widening is not the best way to relieve congestion in the region and have called on MDOT to study what effect a robust expansion of transit (e.g., extending the subway north of Shady Grove, expanding MARC train service to Frederick, and building a rapid transit line that would serve the communities along Route 355 that parallels I-270) would have on I-270 traffic. Their response was that they have already done a preliminary study of an all-transit alternative, which concluded that an all-transit solution would not be cost effective. We plan to ask for copy of this preliminary study, which does not appear to have been released to the public.

We need volunteers who have some experience in transportation planning and land use policy. If interested, please contact David Hauck at 301-270-5826 or Hauck_D@msn.com.

In the area of habitat protection and restoration, we are continuing our monthly invasive plant removal events at three sites around the County and are making visible progress. With the onset of cooler weather, this is one of the better times of the year to carry out this work.

In January, 2010, we will begin our second winter lecture series on topics related to habitat protection and restoration. The talks will be held in the Rockville Public Library from 2:00-3:30 on four Sundays (Jan. 10, Feb. 7, Feb. 21, and March 7) and one Saturday (Jan. 16).

 

Prince George’s County

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

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

 

By Chip Reilly—At our October, 2009  planning event, we made a commitment to push for smart energy solutions, and to campaign to save Mattawoman Creek (a chapter priority). Henceforth, our bi-monthly meetings will include a Cool Cities meeting and an “issues and action” forum—open to all comers. The group has a new executive committee, including newcomers Martha Ainsworth, Valerie Shelton, and Kerry Wargo. Re-elected officers are Alex Hirtle, Chip Reilly, Jon Robinson, Tom Topping, and Fred Tutman. The political committee for Election 2010 is looking for members. We are working with other groups to prepare a series of “values statements” that will capture the desires of residents for healthy communities, preserved areas, green jobs, and responsive government. Our next meeting will be on January 7, at 6:30 p.m. at Kettering Middle School in Largo. See the chapter calendar for future meetings.

 

Group meetings are held on the first Thursday of every other month.

6:30-7:30 p.m.—Business meeting of the Executive Committee Sierra Prince George’s Group.

6:30-7:30 p.m.—Meeting of people interested in the “Cool Cities” initiative, to push the county government and municipalities to take measures to tackle global warming, especially by adopting smart and clean energy solutions. 

7:45 p.m.—Presentation on issues. All welcome.

Dates of upcoming meetings:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday, March 4

Thursday, May 6

 

Location: Kettering Middle School, 65 Herrington Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774-1599; 301-808-4060

 

Look for signs directing you to the room.

Always check our website for updates at maryland.sierraclub.org/pg/

 

Note: The Prince George’s County Civic Federation meets at 7:30 p.m. on the same day and at the same location, so you may wish to join all or part of their program.

 

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

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

 

The Southern Maryland Group remains deeply involved with protecting Mattawoman Creek in Charles County, which the Maryland Chapter selected as a priority for conservation for 2010. Despite being declared the nation’s fourth most endangered river last April, Mattawoman continues to suffer from Charles County’s land use policies. The county is planning an extension of the County’s Cross County Connector, the Western Connector, a new divided highway which would plow across the full width of the Mattawoman watershed.

The group joined the Mattawoman Watershed Society for a Last of Fall Colors kayak and canoe trip on Mattawoman Creek in November, to enjoy the changes in trees’ colors and the creek’s serenity.

The group advocates that SMECO and PEPCO convert areas under power lines and utility corridors to shrub/scrub habitat for birds, plants, and butterflies. We asked that they do not mow or broadcast herbicide. Instead, simply treat the seedlings of trees with triclopyr, an herbicide.

The group publishes a quarterly newsletter, News from Southern Maryland. Check the group’s web site for a schedule of outings and other events. Monthly invasive plant removals are scheduled for the 800-acre Chapman Forest and 200-acre Ruth Swann Park in Charles County.

 

Western Maryland (Allegany and Garrett Counties)

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

 

By Sam White—The Western Maryland Group is assisting a group of consumers and producers in a local food initiative,   seeking a venue to sell local food year round. Educating the public on the economic and environmental benefits of local food will be the focus. The group is also seeking volunteers to lead outings or to serve on the group excom. For more information, please contact Sam White at cedarrockcsa@yahoo.com or 301-264-4162.

The group publishes a newsletter, Nature’s Advocate of Western MD. The group also conducts an email discussion group/listserv for members to discuss conservation issues pertaining to Western Maryland. The address is  MD-WMD-FORUM@lists.sierraclub.org. 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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