trees


Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

Part of our local watershed, Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

by Julie Clendenin

I spend a lot of time enjoying Rock Creek Park, which runs alongside my Kensington neighborhood. I drive through it every day on my way to work.  I run and walk regularly on the Beach Drive path. I have enjoyed the playgrounds and wetlands with my children and friends. I love it. Rock Creek is an oasis of natural beauty in the midst of our highways, lawns, houses, supermarkets, and sports fields. But sometimes, when the rains (and snows) are heavy, Beach Drive is closed due to high water, which reminds me that our suburban sprawl is a real threat to this precious natural wetland. We are slowly edging out the Potomac River’s natural filtration system of forests and wetlands.

Right now the water is running fast and the marshy grass along the creek’s banks is pocked with huge puddles. And all of our runoff — fertilizers, pet waste, de-icing chemicals, and other pollutants — is headed straight for the Potomac River (our main source of drinking water) and the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), of the 14,650 square miles in the Potomac River watershed, 57.6% is forest; 31.8% is agricultural; 5% is water or wetlands (like Rock Creek Park); and just 4.8% developed land. While agriculture and development play important roles in our community, it’s important to understand their far-reaching affects on the local watershed. Everything we do on land has an impact on our river, which is the source for 90% of DC’s drinking water; in fact, 486 million gallons are taken out of the Potomac every day to provide drinking water for 5 million people in the DC metro area. We need to protect our river.

Recently, a number of water conservation groups organized a regional river clean up day. including the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which reports that more than 5,000 volunteers picked up over 1oo tons of trash. Here’s some of the things pulled out of the river banks:

  • 73,700 beverage containers
  • 7,800 cigarettes
  • 18,300 plastic bags
  • 510 tires

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012All of this trash was rescued from the Potomac River watershed. How does that make you feel? Disgusted? Regretful?  Personally, I feel grateful to the many people who spent their weekend cleaning up after us. I also feel inspired by them, and I’m thinking that maybe you do to. The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to learn more about local water issues. Also, here are a few things, including some from Potomac Riverkeeper, that you can do to help protect the Potomac River:

  • Scoop pet waste and dispose of it properly
  • Plant a rain garden or use a rain barrel – Montgomery County residents are eligible for rebates of up to $2,500 through the RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program
  • Properly dispose of hazardous wastes like oil and paint
  • Use natural fertilizers and do not over-fertilize your lawn or use chemical pesticides
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle (don’t forget your reusable shopping bags)
  • Wash your car at an eco-friendly commercial car wash or use biodegradable soap
  • Safely dispose of unused drugs and other chemicals – DO NOT FLUSH THEM
  • Spend time enjoying  the river and show your friends and family why it’s important to protect it

Julie Clendenin grew up in Montgomery County and is happily raising her family here with her husband, Tom.  She enjoys having unlimited access to Rock Creek Park; tasty, cold water from her kitchen tap; and swimming in the ocean.

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fall-leaves-200Raking leaves into big piles along the street for the county to pick up is in high gear this time of year.  But an alternative to consider is mowing your leaves into a healthy mulch for your yard, and it’s a lot less work.

An excellent blog post on this topic was originally published by the Little Falls Watershed Alliance in 2011, which includes details about the benefits of mowing your leaves from Scotts Fertilizer company.  Here’s what they recommend on their website:

Take the grass catcher off your mower and mow over the leaves on your lawn. You want to reduce your leaf clutter to dime-size pieces. You’ll know you’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Once the leaf bits settle in, microbes and worms get to work recycling them. Any kind of rotary-action mower will do the job, and any kind of leaves can be chopped up.

So while there’s a few weeks left for all the leaves to come off the trees, give the mow, don’t rake approach a try.  It’s an easy way to treat your lawn and reduce the runoff into the gutters.

BGnews_logoBethesda Downtown 20-Year Plan Launched

A large, overflowing crowd gathered Monday evening, Nov. 4, at the County Regional Services Center, providing opinions to the Montgomery County Planning Board about what works and doesn’t work in downtown Bethesda.

With a focus on listening to residents, the event was the first step in launching a new Sector Plan for Bethesda that will culminate in about a year with a proposal for the approval of the County Council, providing a fresh look at how Bethesda might evolve over the next 20 years.

The new plan will revisit the 1994 Sector Plan’s recommendations, including issues related to walking, biking and environmental quality.  There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to weigh in, including this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 -9 pm at Imagination Stage.

Click here for more information.

Advocates Aim to Stop Fracked Natural Gas Shipments in Maryland

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is sounding the alarm about a proposal to build a liquified natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, fed from a web of pipelines throughout the state that would deliver fracked natural gas to the facility.

crossroads-tour-logo-emailCCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell wrote in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed column that if allowed to go forward, the “Cove Point facility would become the biggest cause of global-warming pollution in Maryland.”

CCAN and other organizations are planning a series of town hall meetings across the state for people to learn more about the issue.  Locally, a meeting is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Click here for more information.

BG Incubator Companies in the News

Energy Dynamics, one of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator companies, is competing along with a number of other start-ups across the nation to have an opportunity to pitch its product before Silicon Valley and Energy Sector investors.

The company designs and manufactures devices that capture and store wasted energy in the electrical system and then recycles it on demand.  The devices maximize the efficiency of electrical system utilization at commercial, industrial and residential facilities, yielding savings of between 6-12% on energy bills.

Energy Dynamics is asking for a vote of support to pitch its product.  Go here to vote.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs, a startup company in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, received the Maryland Clean Energy Center Entrepreneur of the Year award at the annual MCEC summit this October.

Since 2009, a team of scientists and researchers working with Savenia Labs perfected its 10-step process of independently testing popular appliances to determine each model’s energy usage. Today, Savenia Labs Energy Rating labels can be found in local stores to aide consumers.

Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour — Celebrate Autumn, Sustainability and Trees with Bethesda Green and Trees for the Future.  Enjoy casual conversation and social networking, Thursday, Nov. 7, 5-8 pm @ Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  RSVP via Meetup.

by Alison Wentzell

Builders, County Disagree on Tree Canopy Legislation

BGnews_logoLegislation passed by Montgomery County Council last week requires builders to provide 50 percent tree canopy coverage on lots they develop.  The new law essentially triples the amount of trees builders had proposed providing and applies to all lots in Montgomery County, not just developing lots.

County data suggests that only one in three trees planted would be able to survive into adulthood.  However, builders argue that approximately 85% of trees planted survive into adulthood and even more trees survive when they are being cared for on private property.

Read the full article from the Gazette here.

Individual Action Encouraged at Climate Change Town Hall

A town hall meeting held in Silver Spring by Organization For Action encouraged residents to start taking a more active role in addressing climate change.  About 500 residents attended the four-hour meeting.

Leaders from organizations such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and the Maryland Clean Energy Center encouraged action on the individual, communal, and national levels to push the United States into becoming a leader in environmental action.

Presenters discussed way to push for policy change in Congress by showing the linkage between health issues and environmental stewardship.  CCAN Director Mike Tidwell said, “We don’t need to invent anything; all we need is more policy.  The fossil-fuel industry is allowed to treat our atmosphere as a sewer.”

Check out the full story from the Gazette here.

Upcoming Events

  • Caleva Dirty Dinners: A Farm to Table Series, August 24th, 6-9 PM, Calleva Farm, 19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson MD.

Come out to Calleva Farms and enjoy a delicious meal that has been grown and prepared on site.  Meals include wine, festive music, and non-alcoholic “mocktails.”  Make your reservation and find out more info at http://www.DirtyDinners.org.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Susanna Parker

County Legislation and The Forest for the TreesBGnews_logo

Two bills are under review by the Montgomery County Council, and both have to do with government management of trees in our region. The first bill, Bill 35-12, would require developers to pay a “tree tax” – when a Sediment Control Permit is required by the county, the developers would pay a fee to compensate for the amount of tree canopy being removed. The fee would then be used by the County to replace the canopy within the same watershed as where it was removed. While detractors claim that it would prevent homeowners from performing tree maintenance on their own property, proponents in the Council say that simply isn’t the case. Councilman Reimer explained that the bill is basically a tree care and maintenance plan, and “the purpose of the bill… is to empower us to participate in how street trees are managed.” The bill is sponsored by County Executive Isiah Leggett and will require 5 full votes in the Council in order to pass.

The second bill being discussed is Bill 41-12, which would allow Montgomery County to assume a more active role in managing its right of way trees. Currently, the County has to request assistance from the State of Maryland, and submit to its jurisdiction when it comes to the trees in question. The bill builds on existing authority to make sure that any work done where County trees will be affected will be done in a way that protects those trees. Additionally, the County is seeking to require a 3:1 replacement ratio for downed trees, which is much stricter than the state law.

Developers are fighting both bills, claiming they are unnecessary. You can read counter-arguments to their claims here

Poll Shows Small Business Support for Obama’s Environmental Policies

According to a poll released last Thursday, the majority of small business owners support at least some of the Obama administration’s climate control and clean energy plans. Of those polled, 79% support a government-set national goal to increase energy efficiency by half over the next decade, while even more believe that government incentives for innovative clean energy technology should be a high priority. While the small business owners polled vary widely in their political leanings, the majority believe that energy efficiency makes sense for the environment and business, recognizing that clean energy policies are better for their bottom lines. To learn more about the poll and its results, please read the full Washington Post article here.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Shop Whole Foods Today, Support Bethesda Green! Tuesday, July 2, all day, Whole Foods Bethesda, River Road.

Trying to get some grocery shopping done before the 4th of July? Buy your barbecue supplies from Whole Foods Bethesda on River Road. Whole Foods has sponsored Bethesda Green for this quarter’s 5% day! Throughout the day, 5% of proceeds made at Whole Foods Bethesda will go to Bethesda Green and help support our continued work in the community. We have a team of volunteers at the store all day today, discussing our work, meeting with community members, and bagging groceries! Come by, get your errands done, and support Bethesda Green!

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Join Governor Martin O’Malley at the Maryland Climate Change Summit, Thursday July 25, 9:30 am, The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute, 692 Maritime Boulevard, Linthicum Heights MD.

Governor Martin O’Malley, along with leading scientists, renewable energy business leaders, and climate change experts, will join together to discuss the progress that Maryland has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, further actions to be taken, and the implementation of Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan. Maryland’s fight against climate change is especially important in the light of the recently released report that warns Maryland could see a sea level rise of over 2 feet by 2050.  To take part in the conversation, and work for Maryland’s future, be sure to register for the Maryland Climate Change Summit today!

Susanna Parker is the social media manager at Mark Leisher Productions and a volunteer with Bethesda Green.