by Susanna Parker BGnews_logo

Re-Inventing the Wheel for Studying Snakeheads 

Snakeheads, the invasive species that’s been the bane of the Potomac since 2004, have been granted a mild reprieve by local governmental agencies. While the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service still recommends that fisherman kill and report any snakeheads they capture, the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries, along with its DC and Maryland counterparts, has begun a new monitoring program geared toward understanding the snakeheads’ impact on local ecology. The program, which covers four tributaries of the Potomac, sends out workers to capture, measure, tag, and release snakehead fish. John Odenkirk, biologist with the VA Dept. of Game & Fisheries, says that its been hard to determine whether the snakeheads actually have a negative impact on the Potomac watershed. He points out that the area is practically a fish factory, and has more than enough resources to feed the increasing number of new mouths. So while he does not advocate for the snakeheads, he finds it hard to strongly advocate against them without more conclusive data.

That’s where the monitoring program comes in. Because the snakeheads are native to Africa and Asia, many of the scholarly papers discussing their behaviors and life cycle are not written in English. Those few that have been translated are not peer-reviewed. Thus, there is little to no substantiated information about their impact on local water systems and ecological niches. The monitoring program relies on electrofishing to capture the snakeheads. This form of fishing involves electrified anodes whose currents shock, but do not kill, nearby fish, causing them to float to the surface and be easily netted. Typical of the snakeheads’ difficult nature, these fish do not succumb easily to the shock. Rather than float to the surface, snakeheads expel all the oxygen from their air bladders. While this gives off a tell-tale series of bubbles, the expulsion causes them to lose their buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the stream bed. Odenkirk says that this behavior means that he and members of the program have one shot to catch the fish before they’re no longer within reach.

Once the fish are captured, they are measured, tagged, and released. If the team catches a fish that has been previously captured, they record its growth. Odenkirk says that the team is gathering as much data as they can on the life cycle of the fish, including spawning cycles, spawns per year, average growth per year, and habitat differentiation between adolescent and adult snakeheads. The more information that Odenkirk and his team can gather, the better we will be able to understand the impact of this invasive species.

For more information on the snakehead monitoring program, please watch the video at The Washington Post.

Hurricane Sandy’s Impact Continues to be Felt

Though its been six months since the superstorm touched ground and devastated New Jersey and New York, Hurricane Sandy’s impacts are still being felt up and down the East Coast. A report released last week revealed that one of the major effects was the spillage of 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into streams, canals, and roadways. 90 percent of the spills occurred in New Jersey and New York, the states that were arguably hit hardest by the hurricane. Of the sewage, approximately 3.5 billion gallons was raw, untreated, and unfiltered. The remaining 7.5 billion gallons were partially treated.

Alysosn Kenward, researcher at Climate Central and author of the recently released report, states that the report has revealed “just how vulnerable the system is to floods, storms, and climate change,” and points out that, “our system isn’t designed to handle these kinds of storm surges and the sea-level rise associated with climate change.” According to Climate Central, the state of New York will need to spend about $2 billion to repair damages to the sewage treatment plants, while New Jersey plans to allocate $1 billion for repairs.

For more information, please read the full article on The Huffington Post.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events 

  • Bethesda Green Education, Outreach, and Marketing Group Meeting, Wednesday May 8, 4 pm – 5:30 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media. New members are welcome to join; for information contact Bethesda Green’s Director of Communications Dave Heffernan at dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10 am – 3 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

Join us for our 4th annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about his free community event, please visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events 

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17 6:30 am – 8:30 am, Reed Street (Corner of Woodmont Ave & Bethesda Ave)

Get your wheels turning at the 2013 Bike to Work Day! Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the Bethesda pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, tons of raffle prizes and giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your commute. The grand prize in the raffle will be a brand new bike from Griffin Cycle! To learn more about the event and to register, please visit Bethesda Transportation Solutions.

  • Run for the Animals! Saturday May 19, 8:30 am, Wheaton Regional Park

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary is holding its 10th Annual Run for the Animals! The 5k run and 1 mile fun walk is a fundraiser dedicated to supporting the lifesaving work Poplar Spring does everyday. From the warm up, running and walking on the scenic trails, the dog and people raffles, the prizes, and the abundance of food, a good time will be had by all. Register online at http://poplarspring.kintera.org/

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 ParkerBGnews_logo.

Rock Creek’s Deer Population Causes Dissent

Rock Creek Park has a deer problem. The deer population, which is approximately 73 deer per square mile, is wreaking havoc on the native flora, resulting in a loss of biodiversity. When deer populations become too big for their territory, the resulting competition for food causes the deer to go after tree seedlings, along with their preferred diet of native, low-lying vegetation and underbrush. The loss of tree seedlings and native vegetation allow invasive vegetation to take hold, and the forest begins to degrade. When deer populations are at a more reasonable ratio, such as 25 per square mile, enough seedlings survive that they can replace old trees as they die, and the forest is preserved. The problem Rock Creek Park and the National Park Service face is the method they should use to achieve that optimal population.

Many, including the National Park Service, believe that controlled hunting is the best way to control the deer population. With a closely followed program, sharpshooters could reduce the deer population to manageable and sustainable levels within 2 years. The Humane Society of the United States strongly opposes the plan, calling it a “wasteful killing program.” They advocate for, and have offered to pay half the cost of, a program of administered birth control. Unfortunately the suggested vaccine does not meet the Park Service’s requirements for birth-control agents, and may in fact increase the deer’s breeding season, resulting in late-season births and increased fawn mortality. While similar birth-control programs have been successful in other parks, such as Assateague Island, the Park Service plans to go ahead with the controlled hunting. Nick Bartolomeo, the park’s chief of resource management, points out that while large predators roamed the park many years ago, “[they] wouldn’t be tolerated if they were here, so we have to take action.”

For the full article and infographics on deer population, visit The Washington Post.

Apply for a Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award!

Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award winners are recognized for their strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continual improvement. Gain recognition within your community, your organization and among peer institutions by applying for an award today. Leadership Winners are presented with a certificate, receive recognition through press and social media, notification to elected officials, and will be featured in a video. Just share five environmental practices and one measurable result that you employ in your office space and in your organization’s activities and events. Click on the link below to download the application. Applications are due April 30, 2013.

Maryland Green Registry Application

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Developing an Investor Package, Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Businesses. April 25, 8 am – 10 am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

In the fifth installment of the Bethesda Green Finance Workshop series, our panel will discuss approaching investors with a solid plan for success. Investors often require documentation of concrete business plans, including documents geared toward each stage of engagement, “teasers,” and detailed descriptions of business and financial models. The panel, featuring Joseph Chirico of Capital One, Barry Michael of Focus Investment Banking, and Cheryl Heusser of Snyder Cohn, will address both how to develop these documents, and how to use them effectively. Admission is $15; please RSVP to rsynder@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Greening the National Capital Region: The Commercial Real Estate Commitment to Building Green, Tuesday, April 30, 5:30 pm – 8 pm, 7550 Wisconsin Avenue.

Bethesda Green is currently launching a Green Building and Sustainable Development seminar series to help participants understand green trends impacting the commercial building sector. To kick off the series, Bethesda Green has partnered with NAIOP MD/DC to highlight Bethesda’s newest commercial office building: Akridge’s 7550 Wisconsin Avenue. Come tour the building, see the green infrastructure, and network with those passionate about sustainable development in Bethesda. Admission is $30, and includes light fare, beer & wine. Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org by Thursday, April 25.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10am – 3pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

Join us for our fourth annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about this free community event, visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • GreenWheaton’s Green Drinks Networking Happy Hour, Thursday April 25, 5 pm – 8 pm, Limerick Pub, 11301 Elkin Street, Wheaton

Join GreenWheaton and local environmentalists for an evening of networking and casual conversation. This month’s special guest is Reuven Walder of Ecobeco, who will be discussing energy efficiency initiatives and incentives for home and business.

  • The Green Network of Montgomery County’s Damascus Wastewater Treatment Tour, Saturday April 27, 10 am – 2 pm, 23730 Log House Road, Damascus

For the first time, the Damascus Wastewater Treatment Plant will be open for public tours! Join members of the Green Network of Montgomery County to explore the plant. Winner of numerous awards, the tour will provide you with the opportunity to see how Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission treats your water. For more details, visit their Meetup page 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 Dan Rudt                                                                                                                      

Redskins 22 – Arizona 21. Solar Power Wins the Day!

If you parked your car in the Platinum A1 parking lot at FedEx Field on Sunday (9/18), it would have been one of 850 vehicles parked in the shade. That shade was provided by 8,000 new solar panels built over the lot by NRG Energy, Inc. The largest solar power installation in the DC metropolitan area will provide 20% of the stadium’s electricity needs on game days and 100% on non-game days. Sunday’s game was dubbed “The Solar Bowl.” Go Redskins!

UMES Enters the Renewable Energy Business

University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced on September 13 the formation of a renewable energy development company, Eastern Shore Energy, LLC. The new company will create renewable energy projects at multiple sites on the lower Eastern Shore. The company’s goal is to develop systems capable of generating 100 to 150 megawatts from wind, solar and biomass projects. The regional initiative is the result of a partnership between the Maryland Hawk Corporation, (a non-profit affiliate of the university) and National Renewable Solutions, LLC of Minneapolis, MN, an affiliate of National Wind, LLC. More information here.

DC Wants Ideas about Improving Sustainability

Mayor Vincent Gray has launched a new Website called “Sustainable DC: Start in September”, and asks residents to, “Help make the District the greenest, healthiest, most livable city in the country.” The Website includes a discussion guide and invites users to share their feedback. It also includes a calendar of related discussions and events hosted by groups throughout the city.

Bethesda Central Farm Market Ranked Among Best in U.S.

Congratulations to the Bethesda Central Farm Market. In the “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest, the local farm market was ranked 2nd best in the state of Maryland among markets of all sizes and 10th in the nation among medium sized farmers markets. The contest was put on by America’s Farmland Trust. Voting was online and open to all.

Upcoming Green Events

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. Chef Tony specializes in seafood and plans his menu based on what’s at its peak of ripeness that very day. During a fabulous four-course dinner, Chef Tony will talk about sourcing and cooking with seasonal and local ingredients. More information here.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in your office and make your company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact: sustainable.office.alliance@gmail.com.

Community Service Week Info Session, Thursday, September 22, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, at Bethesda Green. Learn more about Community Service Week and how your group can get involved as well as tips on planning a project. For more information about Community Service Week, visit www.montgomeryserves.org.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

Forest Glen Park Stroll, Saturday September 24, 2:00 – 4:00. A Conservation Montgomery event. Forest Glen Park in Silver Spring is surrounded by Rock Creek Park. The walk includes the grounds of historic National Park Seminary. More information.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

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.

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 coming soon.

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.