native plants

BGgreennews_logo1Bethesda Downtown Plan

Although there are still issues to work out, a development plan is taking shape for downtown Bethesda. The Montgomery County Planning Department is updating the 20-year-old Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan to manage future building and zoning decisions in the area. The Department recently hosted a workshop for residents, planners, and developers to help them move forward with their plan. Guests were asked to determine where the exact “heart of downtown Bethesda” was on a map on the wall and where the most troublesome areas were for pedestrians. Discussion also included changes that attendees thought needed to be made, with most saying there was a need for more green space.

Downtown Bethesda is growing rapidly; in fact, it is expected that between now and 2040 the population will double.

To get all the details, check out the Gazette.

Purple Line Project — Recommended by the White House

President Barack Obama’s new budget plan includes $100 million in federal construction money for the proposed light rail Purple Line Project, an infusion to help keep the $2.2 billion project on schedule. Also, the Purple Line Project was recommended for a full funding grant agreement, a long-term construction commitment that Maryland officials hope will amount to $900 million in federal funding. Purple Line construction is scheduled to start in 2015 and open in 2020.

Some of the advantages of the proposed plan would be faster and more reliable transit options for traveling east-west between suburbs and would encourage new investments around stations in older suburbs. Opponents of the project say that the construction would require cutting down hundreds of trees in popular trails and would bring noise pollution to residents living along the route. The town of Chevy Chase has been leading the opposition to the Purple Line Project because it would require condemning 116 homes and businesses; they also believe that the state hasn’t done enough to explore other options.

The Purple Line would consist of 21 stations with two-car trains mostly running above ground.

Read the Gazette article here.

Addendum: Council members call for Purple Line community task force (see article here).

Climate Change in Montgomery County

Climate change is becoming more apparent to farmers and gardeners because their farming or blossoming seasons are becoming unpredictable and unreliable. Last week, several horticulturists, biologists, and environmental activists met to discuss ways of adapting to climate change. They were part of a conference called “Green Matters 2014: Gardening in a Changing Climate” in Montgomery County.

Precise temperature and weather are key to growing healthy crops and plants but with the increasingly severe and erratic weather, the plants are susceptible to death.  Farmers and planters have to worry about temperatures dropping below freezing and damaging their crops. There is not much farmers and gardeners can do except respond to the changes they see. With higher temperatures, new pests can now survive farther north and at higher elevations than normal. For example, the mountain pine beetle, which is normally found in western forests, is beginning to spread. It and many other species could start invading Maryland.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network leads efforts to fight climate change through political activism and encouragement to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Read the Gazette article here.


  • Raptors of the Chesapeake Bay: Past, Present, and Future Outlook for the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon — Lecture, Thursday, March 13, 7 pm, Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second Street, Annapolis. Speaker: Craig Koopie, Raptor Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Office. Free for certain Museum members; $10 for the public.
  • 5th Annual Davidsonville Green Expo — Saturday, March 15, 10 am – 2 pm, Davidsonville Elementary School, 962 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. The Expo features awareness about environmental issues, children’s activities, free native tree give-aways, Bay-friendly lawn and landscape techniques, and more.
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital — various venues from March 18 – March 30. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.

by Susanna Parker

Climate Change Could Cause Major Shift in Coral Reef Communities BGnews_logo

Climate change and the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may result in conditions less favorable to reef building stony corals. The buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has had the effect of increasing oceanic acidity worldwide. When carbon dioxide reacts with water, atmospheric carbon dioxide transforms to carbonic acid. That acid damages hard corals, which secrete calcium carbonate to form a protective outer shell. Softer corals, cousins to the reef building corals, lack the hard outer skeleton that is damaged when the water turns acidic. The changing conditions could lead to a change in the makeup of coral communities. When you combine the less favorable conditions with the softer corals’ ability for rapid colonization, softer corals may out-compete hard corals.

Stony corals are an important member of the underwater ecosystem. Their protective outer layers help provide shelter and habitats for many reef organisms, such as clownfish. Though it covers less than 1 percent of the ocean floor, hard coral reefs support about 25 percent of all marine life. Soft corals do not provide the same shelter to marine organisms, and their dominance could result in a major shift in the underwater environment.

For more information about carbon dioxide and coral reefs, please read the full Huffington Post article.

Obama to Designate Five New National Monuments

Sources from several prominent environmental groups say that President Obama will designate five new national monuments, including one in Maryland commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway. The other four monuments are the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, Washington state’s San Juan Islands National Monument, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The Antiquities Act, which allows the president to protect federal lands without congressional approval, was rarely invoked by President Obama during his first term. After an internal Interior Department list of potential monument sites became public, House Republicans threatened to repeal the act. Obama therefore kept his first four national monument designations to areas of cultural or historical significance.

Two of Obama’s new designations – San Juan Islands and Rio Grande del Norte – are ecologically valuable. Environmentalists have shown vocal support the president’s move, and local communities near all five monuments support additional federal protections. In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley, and Democratic Senators Barbara Milkulski and Ben Cardin had all lobbied President Obama to establish a monument commemorating Harriet Tubman’s work. Brian O’Donnell, the executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, praised Obama’s actions, saying “…we are grateful for President Obama’s leadership in advancing conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.”

For more information, please read the full Washington Post article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Business, “Due Diligence: Evaluating a Potential Investment”, Thursday March 28, 8am – 10am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Second Floor

The fourth installment in Bethesda Green’s Finance Workshop Series will address the substance and process of the due diligence investment evaluation. Advice will also be given on how entrepreneurs should conduct due diligence on the potential investor. Speakers include John May of New Vantage Partners, Mahesh Konduru of Potomac Energy Fund, and David Levine of Geostellar. For more information, and to RSVP, please visit Bethesda Green’s Program Page.

  • Non-Native Invasive Plant Removal Class, Wednesday April 3, 6:30pm – 9pm, 3030 12th Street NE

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and Casey Trees for an educational session on non-native invasive plants. Learn how to identify and control species of non-native invasive plants, including garlic mustard, mile-a-minute, and bush honeysuckle. Once you’ve learned all about invasive plants, you’ll be ready for the Rock Creek Clean-up on Saturday April 6th! For more information, and to RSVP, please visit here.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.


by Susanna Parker

Happy New Year!

Has everyone thought of their Green Resolutions for 2013? My green resolution is to reduce waste  by buying less and recycling more. Please share yours in the comments!

Proposed Montgomery County Legislation Hopes to Attract Green Businesses

The “Green Organization Supplement” legislation, introduced to the County Council in early December, would allow environmentally conscious organizations to apply for grants from the county for up to $25,000. Authored by Councilman Roger Berliner, the bill is part of the county’s effort to attract more green energy companies, following the recommendation that the County make a stronger commitment to green development. Applying companies would have to be audited by the Department of the Environment for environmental sustainability. The bill could be a big step for Montgomery County, making it an attractive location for green start-ups and providing a boost to the local economy. Introducing the bill now will allow the proposed funds to be included for consideration in the 2014 fiscal budget. A public hearing on the legislation has been set for January 22.

For more information, please read the full Washington Examiner article, here.

Maryland Takes A Stand Against Invasive Plants

While kudzu is the most recognized (and most feared) of the invasive plant species, there are many other plants that pose a serious threat to Maryland’s native flora and landscape, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture is getting ready to take action. The Invasive Plants Advisory Committee was established in 2011 and given the task of creating a framework to rank species by their threat to the environment. Combining the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s protocols with Maryland-specific concerns, the framework will take into account: 1) a plant’s ability to spread, 2) its economic impact, 3) its risk of changing the environment, and 4) its risk of affecting human health. Plants deemed to be a threat will be assigned a rating of Tier 1 or Tier 2. Tier 1 plants will be banned from retail sale, and Tier 2 plants will require labeling informing consumers of their risks. Legislators hope that these steps will allow residents to participate in the protection of the environment, preventing the deliberate introduction of more invasive plants.

Invasive plants have long been a problem in this region, with many becoming so common that people don’t even know they aren’t native. English ivy, bamboo, Bradford pears, honeysuckle, wild garlic, and day lily are all examples of invasive species we see everyday. These plants have all been introduced into the environment, often for landscaping and decorative purposes, and have spread so widely and aggressively that they’ve driven out their native competition. The lack of native plants can then affect native animals, who find themselves without food sources and habitats. If the invasive species takes a firm enough hold, it can cause a native species to go locally extinct. The Maryland legislation is designed to halt this process, and will be a valuable resource for residents wanting to learn more. To help stop invasive species on your own, consider native gardening, the practice of installing only plants found naturally in this region. Not only will your garden be a haven for local species, but with a variety of growing seasons, something new will always be blossoming!

For more information on the legislation, please read the Maryland Gazette article here. For a list of invasive species in Maryland, please visit The Maryland Invasive Species Council. To learn more about native gardening, please visit the US Forest Service’s website, Celebrating Wildflowers.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Teeming With Life: Bringing Gabon to the National Zoo, Friday January 11, 6:30 pm, Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW.

Join Smithsonian National Zoo scientist Alfonso Alonso for a presentation on Gabon’s Gamba Complex — a little-known region of Africa with remarkable species diversity. Dr. Alonso will be joined by National Zoo animal keeper Gil Meyers and National Zoo veterinarian Dr. Chris Whittier. Their panel discussion will address Gabon-related research projects at the Zoo, as well as provide information about the upcoming Gabon Gamba Complex exhibit to be displayed in the spring. The presentation will be followed by a reception with complimentary beer, wine, and light hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $15 for FONZ members, $20 for non-members, and all proceeds will go toward improving the Cheetah Conservation Station and helping to bring new African wildlife species to the Zoo.

For information, and to purchase tickets, please visit Smithsonian National Zoo’s website.

  • 2013 “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge Hosted by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Saturday January 26, 11 am, The Beach at National Harbor, Maryland.

Concerned about climate change, and want to make a difference? Register for Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s 8th Annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge and help make a difference! While some people might think it takes a crazy person to jump in the Potomac in January, Chesapeake Climate Action Network knows that great people coming together for a great cause can do incredible things – including willingly going into chilly Potomac waters! The event is the organization’s annual priority fundraiser, and helps them move toward their goal of creating swift action at local, state, and national levels, and getting the DC Metropolitan Area away from fossil fuels. Showing her commitment to the environment, Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), will be joining in the plunge for her third consecutive year! To register for this fun event and help out an important cause, visit

  • Grow Community Gardens While You Shop! Wednesday, January 9, Whole Foods Markets.

This Wednesday January 9, shop at any Montgomery County Whole Foods Market, and Whole Foods will donate 5% of sales to support the Community Gardens Program. Participating stores include Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Rockville, Kentlands, and Silver Spring.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Susanna Parker

Montgomery County & Catalog Choice Work Together to Reduce WasteBGnews_logo

‘Tis the season for masses of unwanted catalogs stuffed into our mailboxes, cluttering our counters, and giving us headaches — but it doesn’t have to be!

Montgomery County has just announced a formal partnership with Catalog Choice, the free online service that has been helping us opt out of catalogs, credit offers, and other unsolicited hard copy since 2007. Working together, Catalog Choice and Montgomery County have created a dedicated website solely for Montgomery County residents and businesses. The website allows you to search for senders by name and request your removal from their database. To do so, you need the Customer Number and Key Code, which are both found on the mailing label. Once you’ve entered that information, you can submit your request to the company, and so long, junk mail! Do yourself and the environment a favor; opt out of unsolicited mailings, prevent that headache, and help reduce waste!

O’Malley to Push For Offshore Wind in 2013

Legislation to fund offshore wind farms has failed to pass the Maryland General Assembly twice, but that has not deterred Governor Martin O’Malley from his continued support of the plan.

According to the Maryland Gazette, in late November O’Malley sent a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to look to Maryland as a leader in clean energy options. O’Malley wrote that the state has “chosen to aggressively develop our vast offshore wind resources.” However, O’Malley’s plan may be imperiled by the potential expiration of the federal wind energy tax credits. These credits, set to expire New Year’s Eve, give energy companies 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour of wind power they produce for the first ten years. This credit helps companies make the changeover to wind power without passing extra costs down to the consumers.

O’Malley supports the extension of these tax credits, but will push the offshore wind legislation regardless of the credit. There are still concerns about the language of the potential bill; State Senator Catherine E. Pugh argues that, since the bill is asking the public to pay for the changeover, there should be inclusiveness in ownership. Pugh is also a proponent of accessing Maryland’s natural gas resources, citing its lower costs and potential for job creation. Takkira Winfield, spokeswoman for the Governor’s office, says that while they’re hoping to introduce something similar to last year’s legislation, the details of the bill are still being worked out.

For more details, please read the full Maryland Gazette article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary Volunteer Day, Sunday December 16, 9 am – 12 pm, 15200 Mount Nebo Road Poolesville, MD.

Join the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group for a volunteer day at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville. Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary non-profit organization whose 400-acre property serves as a refuge for both farm animals and wildlife. The volunteer activities will consist of feeding the refuge’s populations of goats, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits, as well as cleaning their stalls and providing the animals with fresh water. RSVP via the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group.  If this is your first time volunteering with Poplar Spring, please be sure to fill out and bring their volunteer application  and waiver.

  • GreenWheaton’s Alternative Lighting Program, Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 – 8:30 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton, MD.

Experts discuss Street Lighting in Wheaton MD.  Learn about the County’s plans for upgrading to more energy efficient lights and Wheaton’s prospects for approving more energy efficient/dark sky friendly decorative light fixtures for downtown Wheaton.  More info available here.

  • Save Rock Creek Park Trees, Friday, December 21, 1 – 3 pm, Rock Creek Park trail head on Albermarle Street, NW.

Join the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service to save park trees from the chokehold of English ivy, an invasive vine that grows up tree trunks and eventually weakens and kills its host tree. Volunteers will cut ivy from the trunks with hand tools which, along with gloves and training, will be provided onsite. To register, please visit their calendar at

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

Areas cleared in Hillmead Park ready for perennial wildflowers and trees.

Members of the Bethesda Green community and neighborhood volunteers joined together over the weekend of Oct. 22-23 to make a big dent in the invasive plant infestation at Hillmead Park on Bradley Blvd.

Sandy Spring Builders contributed $1,000 and two workers for the effort. They were joined by Hillmead neighbors, employees of The North Face store at Bethesda Row, and congregation members from Beth El synogogue.

Jose Castillo from Sandy Spring Builders attacks the invasive jungle at Hillmead.

The removal of exotic vines and shrubs that were climbing over and killing mature hardwood trees cleared the way for planting of perennial wildflowers and grasses later this fall, and eventual planting of trees to preserve the integrity of the park’s small forest. Special thanks to Mimi Kress of Sandy Spring, Harriet Kuhn of the Hillmead community, and Carole Bergmann of Montgomery Parks for help in making the weekend a big success.

Bethesda Green volunteer Steve Dryden, a Montgomery County “weed warrior” supervisor, directed the group on site.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                               

And the Winner Is…University of Maryland “WaterShed”

The University  of Maryland had two big wins at this year’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. On Friday, UMCP was declared the winner of the architecture prize. On Saturday, the school was named overall winner in a solar home contest that included universities from Belgium, Canada, China, New Zealand and the United States. The UMCP entry, called WaterShed, is a solar powered home that also conserves, filters and reuses water.

New Name and Address for Friends of Rock Creek’s Environment

The nonprofit, created in 2005 to protect and restore the 33 miles of Rock Creek and adjacent parkland, is now called the Rock Creek Conservancy. Their new office is located at the green business incubator at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200, in Bethesda. The September 26 Bethesda Patch includes an informative piece about the Rock Creek Conservancy written by Beverly Firme.

Are Deer Eating your Plants? Ruth Clausen Has a Solution

Ruth Rogers Clausen has written a book that illustrates how to beautify your yard and garden while keeping the deer away. In 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants: The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat, Clausen gives each plant a deer resistance rating and explains how to use it in your garden. Enjoy Alan Detrick’s beautiful photography while you plan and shop for next year’s garden. Busboys and Poets. Timber Press.

And If You Are Looking for Native Plants

The Maryland Native Plant Society Website is an excellent source of information about plants native to the Free State. Among the Website’s resources are a listing of plant nurseries around Maryland that stock a number of native plants, and a PDF guide, How to Shop for Native Plants.

North Bethesda Resident Honored by Sierra Club

The Sierra Club on September 23 announced the recipients of its national awards. Among them was Marjorie Richman of North Bethesda. Richman has been leading local and national outings for the Club since 1980 and received the Oliver Kehrlein Award for outstanding service to the Sierra Club’s outings program. The 2011 awards were presented in San Francisco Sept. 23-24 during the Club’s annual meeting.

Upcoming Green Events

Growing Native Webinar, Tuesday, October 4, 11:30 am. Growing Native, a project of Potomac Conservancy, engages thousands of volunteers in the Potomac River region each year to collect native hardwood and shrub seeds. The seeds are donated to state nurseries in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, where they are planted and used to restore streamside forests throughout the 15,000 square mile watershed. Email Deanna Tricarico at or call (301) 608-1188, x204 for information.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Muddy Branch Road Trash Pickup, Saturday, October 08, 8:30am – 11:30am. Join other volunteers and the Muddy Branch Alliance to pick up trash from Muddy Branch Square to Festival Shopping Center. Meet between 8:30 and 9:00 at the Starbucks in Muddy Branch Square. Sign up to help.

Conservation Montgomery Four Corners Community Stroll, Saturday, October 15, 10:00 – Noon. Learn about the natural features of the Four Corners community and the threats to open space in the area. Carol Ann Barth, First Vice President of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, will lead the walk and discussion. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.