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Chesapeake Winter 2011/2012

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Out of the City Into the Woods

by Nicole Veltre-Luton
“I feel like I can do anything!” were the words out of Delon Blanding’s mouth after the Digital Harbor High School junior reached the lookout at the top of the Overlook Cliff Trail in Harper’s Ferry. WV. Blanding was part of a group of 14 youth and adult leaders from Baltimore Inner City Outings (BICO), a non-profit volunteer organization that has been taking inner city kids outdoors since 1999. Others on the hike had similar reactions. “I am inspired!” exclaimed Shaquille Brooks, a freshman “It was worth it.” said Kevin Violenus, another freshman from the school.

Weeds, Waste, and Watersheds

by Marta Vogel
“The Aliens Among Us” piqued Carolyn Puckett’s interest. An enthusiastic gardener for 20 years, a self-professed nature lover, and a member of the Maryland Native Plant Society, she attended the workshop and raised her hand to volunteer to train others to eradicate aliens. And no, we’re not talking about anti-environmentalists; we’re talking weeds—mile-a-minute, multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and the ill-named tree of heaven, a.k.a China-sumac or varnish tree—all of which, like sprawl development, spread quickly, consume nutrients and space, and leave native plants (and animals) starving.

Once a Treehugger Always a Treehugger

by Janis Oppelt
When I was 10, I became good friends with a large tree in our backyard. I no longer recall what kind of tree. I only knew that it was bigger than me, and I felt protected when I sat underneath it to think 10-year-old thoughts and simply enjoy the outside world. And, yes, here it comes: I did give the tree a hug when I needed one.

Letter from the Chair

by Ron Henry
What an interesting, jam-packed, tiring and wonderful year 2011 has been! Our significant accomplishments in diverse areas give us cause to be proud.

It's time to vote for the MD Chapter Excom

This issue of Chesapeake includes the ballot for electing at-large members of the executive committee of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Candidates for MD Excom

Statements of Candidates for Maryland Chapter Executive Committee

Environmentalist Gregor Becker Moves to Massachusetts

by Dan Andrews
In 2004, I decided to call the local Sierra Club - Catoctin Group representative to ask whether I could be of assistance. Gregor Becker answered the phone and responded, “I am so glad to hear you say those words.” I knew I’d contacted a very special person.

New Energy Committee Revs Up

by Richard Reis
How we get our energy is an important factor in determining whether we can maintain an environment necessary for human and other life. Fossil fuels will, sooner or later, run out, and they pollute the environment. The Energy Committee’s goal is to work toward reducing the use of fossil fuels and toward increasing renewable energy sources, both in Maryland and globally.

There’s Something for Everyone! Volunteer with the Prince George’s Group

by Janis Oppelt
The new Prince George’s County Group Executive Committee is in the process of developing a new organizational structure that has lots of room for volunteers of all types, temperaments, and time to share. If you have wanted to “do something” for your local environment, please review the committee list and tasks below. Even if you only have a little time or energy to offer, it will help us help our local environment—and the people who live in it.

Town Hall in Support of Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Is Huge Success

by Chandler Sherman and Chris Hill
Members of the Sierra Club and other concerned citizens filled the room at a town hall in Maryland last week to discuss offshore wind energy. The event was held in the Hillcrest Heights community of Prince George’s County, a predominately African American community just a few miles upwind of the polluting GenOn Potomac River coal plant in Alexandria, Virginia. (The plant has recently been scheduled for retirement on October 12, 2012 thanks to the tireless efforts of the Beyond Coal Campaign!)The event drew a diverse crowd, from lifelong Sierrans to Prince George’s County community members, who want to bring cleaner air and jobs to their community.

Volunteer Energy Overflows at Chapter Jamboree

by Sarah Peters
As a first-time participant in the Maryland Chapter’s biennial Jamboree, I was blown away by the sheer enthusiasm and camaraderie of my fellow attendees. All of us were inspired by Executive Director Michael Brune’s stirring Friday night kick-off speech on the Beyond Coal campaign. When Director Brune stated that from 2002-2010 the Sierra Club stopped 154 new coal power plants, the room burst into vigorous applause.

The Same Thing Again, But Different: A Preview of the Legislative Session

by David O'Leary
January is just around the corner, and that means the General Assembly will soon convene in Annapolis. A variety of legislation related to issues of concern to the Sierra Club will be considered, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved. Some of the issues to be discussed will sound familiar—because they are! Many of our key bills did not pass in 2011, so they will be reintroduced this session, frequently with adjusted policy approaches based on what we learned over the past year.

Waste Incineration vs. Recycling

by Caroline Eader
Over 50 nationally recognized environmental and community economic development groups are opposed to trash incineration for numerous reasons: water pollution, air pollution, climate change, waste of energy, and poor economic planning.

Reasons to Stop the Carroll/Frederick Incinerator

by Dan Andrews
1. This is a legacy project
Should it be built and become operational, the die will be cast for the next 30-40 years for burning recyclable material. It is really a waste destruction facility, as plastics and paper are necessary to reach the required efficient BTU values. Also, it will be impossible to retreat from the financial obligations to the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (NMWDA) & Wheelabrator Corporation.

Pollution Trading for the Bay: Fresh Water vs. Fresh Money

by Fred Tutman
On the eve of implementation of the long-awaited regulatory limits on Chesapeake Bay pollution (Total Maximum Daily Loads), environmentalists must question the prudence of an enormous threat to the integrity of our waterways: the pollution loading limits that promote swapping water quality gains for dollars and cents. I am referring to none other than pollution or nutrient trading and the so-called market-based approaches to controlling pollution being planned by states.

Wildlife Migration Corridors Could Help Plants and Animals Cope with Climate Change

by Marc Imlay
In the article “Warming Planet Pushing Species Out of Habitats Quicker Than Expected” (, Jennifer Welsh comments that “Habitat fragmentation and changing ranges of predators, prey and pollinators (for plants) also influence species’ ability to survive in any specific habitat. If a species can’t reach the next bit of livable habitat, they would be stuck where they are until climate changes led to their extinction.

Charles County Comprehensive Plan Has Historic Potential

by Bonnie Bick
What a difference a handful of votes can make. By slim margins, two progressive candidates—one for the Charles County Board of Commissioners and one for its president—edged out two incumbents in the 2010 primary election, and went on to win the general election two months later. As a result, Charles County’s flawed Comprehensive Plan, with its “development district” larger than DC is getting a makeover in full public view, instead of the usual makeup dabbed on in a smoke-filled room.

Crossing Out the Cross County Connector

by Mattawoman Watershed Society
Thrilling news arrived early in November when the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) denied wetland-destruction permits for Charles County’s proposed Cross County Connector, citing a long-inadequate permit application. The highway would have killed faltering Mattawoman Creek, one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most productive tributaries, with sprawl development. As a result, the Sierra Club has been a leading voice for protecting Mattawoman, a voice now joined by many others. Efforts gained national attention in 2009, when Mattawoman’s plight led American Rivers to declare it the nation’s fourth most endangered river.

April 3 Is a Great Day to Vote

by Betsy Johnson
Did you know that many critical races in the state are decided in the primary? I’m sorry to say that many of our Maryland members do not vote in the primary. Here are some reasons why primaries are so important:


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