Monthly Archives

March 2018

Town of Forest Heights Keeps Street Trees Healthy and Thriving

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Tree Keepers project funded by Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program

Trees are essential—they clean the air, lower the temperature of cities during warm weather, and reduce heating bills in cold weather. They also act as filters to clean stormwater and slow the flow of water during heavy rains to reduce flooding, which is why even urban areas need plenty of trees. Trees along sidewalks and roads in urban areas are known as “street trees.” Street trees require regular care and maintenance to keep them healthy and thriving.

The Town of Forest Heights received a Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant to fund their unique Tree Keepers project, a summer program which combined a maintenance plan for existing street trees with job training and mentorship for high school students and a community outreach plan to engage citizens in the care and maintenance of street trees.

Using grant funds, the Town hired six high school students from Oxon Hill and Potomac High Schools, one college graduate student, and one community elder for the summer program. These new hires for the project were known as the “Tree Keepers.”

At the start of the project, the Tree Keepers learned about trees from two certified arborists. Then they examined, watered, mulched, and pruned 150 street trees. The group also conducted research to identify and catalogue trees. The Town will use this data to create an environmental asset inventory.

ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY

The Tree Keepers engaged Town residents using an educational campaign that focused on sharing the benefits of trees, including improved property value, stormwater collection, air quality, and energy conservation. In addition, the Tree Keepers talked with people who lived near the street trees to share the value of the tree, along with a few easy tips to help the tree continue to grow and thrive. They also shared a brochure with residents that they developed as part of the program.

PROJECT SUCCESS!

This project was a success for the Town of Forest Heights. The high school students gained job experience, some for the first time, and the guidance of the community elder and the graduate student was a successful model for mentoring and learning in the program. Building capacity within the community and building job skills was important goal of the project. The Town even hired one of the students at the end of the summer to provide maintenance and upkeep for plants at the Town Hall property.

Most importantly, the Tree Keepers forged connections with homeowners about the care and maintenance of the trees in their neighborhood. Now Town residents are interested and excited about their street trees!

PRINCE GEORGE’S STORMWATER STEWARDSHIP GRANT PROGRAM

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to offer the Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support clean water projects and engage citizens throughout Prince George’s County. Applications for this program are currently closed, but will reopen in June/July 2018. Learn more about previous grant awards here.

GET INVOLVED

Are you interested in planting a tree?

The following organizations have received funding through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to plant trees on private individual residential property in Prince George’s County in 2018:

Contact them to inquire about planting opportunities on your property or in your neighborhood!

Local Nonprofit Organizations Receive Close to $300,000 in Grants for Environmental Projects

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Rockville, Maryland – The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Chesapeake Bay Trust announced that $291,000 in grant funding has been awarded to seven organizations to improve water quality and help manage stormwater runoff in Montgomery County. Montgomery County neighborhood groups, faith-based organizations, and nonprofit organizations received support ranging from $6,000 to $77,000.

“The Department of Environmental Protection is committed to improving the water quality of our local streams while contributing to the health and sustainability of our communities,” said Patty Bubar, acting Director of the Department of Environmental Protection. “This grant program fills an important niche towards meeting our mission and we’re thrilled to be able to support and engage these hard-working local groups who share this mission.”

Established in 2014, the initiative supports projects and programs that improve communities and water quality in Montgomery County through public engagement, education, and on-the-ground restoration projects. Project types include public outreach and stewardship projects, such as volunteer-led stream cleanups, stormwater education workshops, environmental education projects and community-based restoration projects, such as rain gardens, rain barrels, tree planting, impervious pavement removal, conservation landscaping, and green roofs.

Funding for these projects is made possible through Montgomery County’s water quality protection charge.  The Chesapeake Bay Trust, a regional grant-maker specializing in engagement of not-for-profit entities in restoration and outreach work, administers the grants for Montgomery County, similar to programs it manages for seven other jurisdictions.

These programs are so important to provide residents and nonprofit groups the tools, resources, and power to be part of the solution and feel like they are improving their communities,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  “Completing one’s first project as a nonprofit creates the capacity to do so much more and we’re proud of how many of these groups have grown and become strong grantees in other programs.”

The 2018 Montgomery County Watershed Restoration and Outreach Grant Program awardees include:

Anacostia Riverkeeper, $14,644: To engage Montgomery County Spanish-speaking populations in programs to improve water quality.

Anacostia Riverkeeper, $58,350: For rain gardens and conservation landscape plantings at the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House.

Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc., $53,417: For a rain garden at Woodend Nature Sanctuary in Chevy Chase.

Butler Montessori, $58,275: To remove 3,000 square feet of impervious surface and install permeable pavers at Butler Montessori School in Darnestown.

Friends of Sligo Creek, $22,650: For an engineering study, conservation landscaping, dry wells, and engagement of volunteers in the Three Oaks community in Silver Spring.

University of Maryland, Environmental Finance Center, $77,096: To engage county Civic Associations in watershed restoration activities and to hold a stormwater summit in Montgomery County.

Wildlife Habitat Council, $6,568: To engage corporations in the implementation of stormwater and habitat best management practices such as rain gardens, bioretention cells, conservation landscaping, water recapture, and other practices on corporation-owned land.

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust

The Chesapeake Bay Trust (www.cbtrust.org) is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of Maryland and the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration. The Trust’s grantees engage hundreds of thousands of individuals annually in projects that have a measurable impact on the waterways and other natural resources of the region. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments such as Montgomery County. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for fourteen years: 92 percent of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.

About Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection

The mission of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection is to enhance the quality of life in our community by protecting and improving Montgomery County’s air, water, and land in a sustainable way while fostering smart growth, a thriving economy, and healthy communities.

Snapshot of Life in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps

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Corps Members Collaborate on Jug Bay Wetlands Nature Discovery Play Space

Check out this great video from Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Shelby Cross!

In late December, eight Chesapeake Conservation Corps members gathered at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for a site visit and to assist fellow Corps member Shelby Cross with one phase of her capstone project: building a giant “bird’s nest” for a new nature discovery play space at Jug Bay’s Wayson’s Corner location.

Each year participants in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps complete a capstone project to top off their Corps experience. The capstone project provides Corps members with experience in grant writing (they apply to the Trust for grants to fund their projects) and project planning, management, and implementation.

To build Cross’s giant bird’s nest, Corps members worked together to remove three truckloads of vine, including some invasive oriental bittersweet, for the construction of the nest. The nest will be a key feature in the nature play space, which aims to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and encourage children to grow socially, physically, and cognitively by engaging with nature through play.  The Corps members completed the nest within 4 hours, whereas Cross estimates that it would have taken her over 30 hours to complete by herself.

Describing her Chesapeake Conservation Corps experience, Cross says “This experience so far has been absolutely amazing, and in many instances rewarding. I have taught Anne Arundel County Public School’s second grade classes, and it brightens my day to know I made a child smile for something as simple as sharing my knowledge of turtles. However, there are some days that this position is equally challenging, and requires a lot of mental and physical attention. It has an easy balance between being rewarding and challenging, and it’s hard to find that kind of experience.”

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications for 2018-2019 Host Sites until March 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm.

Applications for 2018-2019 Corp members are also open and due by April 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm. To learn more about this life-changing program and to submit an application visit: cbtrust.org/prospective.

To learn more about Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, visit their website.

Shelby Cross is a 2017-2018 Chesapeake Conservation Corps member with Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Goucher College.

There Used to Be a Forest There

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Photo Credit: Jeffrey Popp

Trust Grant Program helps restore and protect forested land from invasive species

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, so we’re sharing this stunning photo, which shows how planting bamboo as a screen can go very wrong. In this case, an invasive variety of bamboo and other invasive species spread to over 6 acres and killed off all of the native trees on the forested land on this property. The photo shows the land after the bamboo was removed, a process that took two years.

Corcoran Woods is a 215 acre forested area owned and managed by the State of Maryland located near Sandy Point State Park. Over several decades, invasive plants replaced and degraded almost half of the property’s hardwood forests and were threatening to infiltrate the remaining healthy acreage.

To save this forested land, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay received grant funding through the Trust’s Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program, a partnership with the County, to launch a three-part, large-scale reforestation project. In the most recent phase of the project, grant funds were used to treat the bamboo and remove invasive species. The next phase of the project will plant more than 11,000 tree seedlings on 27 acres. More than 7,000 trees were already planted in 2017.

“The Anne Arundel County Forestry grant program is an innovative and unique opportunity,” says Craig Highfield, Director of Chesapeake Forests for Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “It provided us resources to be able to address significant forest health issues of our project site well in advance of planting the trees while also allowing us to implement essential post-planting care for our new trees. This better ensures the overall success of the restoration and improves the function of this forest. It is not just a tree planting program.”

The Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program implements cost-effective reforestation and greening projects and increases the number of acres of protected forested land in the County. By increasing tree cover and expanding green areas, erosion can be reduced; water and soil quality can be improved; airborne pollutants such as particulates, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide can be filtered; and summer temperatures and resulting ozone pollution and energy use can be reduced.

The grant program is open until March 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm. To learn more and to submit an application, click here.

To learn more about the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and their forest restoration work, visit their website.