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October 2019

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church Reforests Woodlands

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By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

On an overcast Thursday morning, volunteers from the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church (WMPC) in Severna Park, Maryland, prepared for the planting of 176 native trees, shrubs, and plants across the church’s woodlands by digging all of the holes and placing all plants into their properly assigned locations. Located between Sunset Assisted Living and WMPC, this Anne Arundel Watershed Stewardship Capstone Project is led by Steward candidate Frank Goetschius (pictured left with Bob Royer, WMPC Property Management). The volunteers included members of the REHABS (REtired HAndyperson Breakfast Society) as well as the gardener’s group from the church.

On the designated planting day, more than 75 volunteers showed up representing more than 12 community organizations including the Magothy River Association, the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA), Baywise volunteers, Maryland Master Gardeners, Severna Park High School, Broadneck High School, Boy Scouts Troop 339, Girl Scouts Troop 184, local community gardening clubs, and multiple WMPC church groups. With the help of Watershed Steward Alison Milligan as their advisor, the volunteers were able to reforest the woodlands with native trees, such as Red Oak, Chestnut Oak, Red Maple, American Holly, Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, and Sweet Bay Magnolia alongside the existing Elm, Oak, Sweet Gum, and Black Gum trees. These new plantings will aid in the reforestation process by returning the woodland to when the church was founded 100 years ago. “The goal is to promote vegetation, maximize diversity of forestry, and create a lush area that will be a resource for wildlife,” said Mr. Goetschius. The tree planting project is intended to prevent stormwater runoff from entering onto roadways and into storm drains the directly flow into Cypress Creek on the Magothy.

“Earlier this year, Woods Church launched its “Woods has Gone Native “ initiative, planting hundreds of native, pollinator-friendly plants in the church grounds bringing about a remarkable transformation with the return of numerous butterflies and bees,” said Mr. Bob Royer. “You have to care for the creation around you by planting the native trees and plants that support the populations of birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.”  The members of the church gardening group made labels to help the public who visit become familiar with the diversity of native plants available so they can plant these in their own gardens.

This project was funded by the Trust’s Anne Arundel County Community Planting Mini-Grant Program. In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Forest Conservancy District Board, the program funds tree planting and tree canopies in communities, neighborhoods, and parks throughout Anne Arundel County. The goal of this grant fits perfectly with the WMPC’s project; to raise awareness of the health of our region, tree canopy, watersheds, air quality, streams, rivers, and the Bay. Additional organizations such as Unity Gardens and WSA have also provided grants to make this project possible. WMPC was certified by the University of Maryland Extension Baywise Program in 2018, a program that teaches simple, bay-friendly lawn and gardening practices so homeowners can help preserve the land and waterways within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The project will be completed by mid-October.

Watch this fantastic video coverage by Chesapeake Bay Magazine in a recent Bay Bulletin story here.

Blogging About Plogging

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We’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of Corps members of the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they have been doing.

Karlis Grauze (right in picture) is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Philosophy. He has previous experience working with Howard EcoWorks, Anacostia Watershed Society, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Karlis joins the 10th-anniversary Chesapeake Conservation Corps cohort position with Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG). PHG aims to preserve, protect, and restore the environment history, and culture of the Patapsco River Valley. Karlis will lead GIS work about the Patapsco River Valley to help engage the Spanish-speaking community who use Patapsco Valley State Park, help with environmental stewardship events, and educational outreach to local schools.

In support of his host site’s outreach mission, Karlis helped introduce plogging to the popular Patapsco Trail Fest which took place mid-September.  The concept of plogging is still relatively new to the United States. It evolved from the European #plogga or #plogging and derives from the Swedish “Plocka upp” and jogging. Plogging combines the recreational act of jogging/running (or even hiking) with environmental stewardship (i.e. picking up trash) along the way. The weekend combines many different events including mountain biking, climbing, paddling, hiking, and trail runs, as well as many other recreational and stewardship activities for adults and families alike, making it the perfect test “plog” for the concept.

PHG is the ideal organizing partner focusing on the overall participation and enjoyment of all partakers representing all the user groups of Patapsco Valley State Park. Advanced planning for the event included mapping a wooded trail route with signage to enable participants to go at their own pace while still completing a full loop around the park. The Fest awarded prizes for the (1) fastest time, (2) greatest amount of trash, and the (3) weirdest item found.

Expectations were guarded as this was the first time plogging was introduced at the Fest. However, plogging drew a dedicated crowd who set the standard for future growth and has inspired planning and marketing for more plogging events in the spring. “We hope that combining recreation and environmental stewardship in different ways will help us reach a larger audience and give participants new and fun experiences,” stated Karlis. Participants collected several full bags of trash around the river along with 3 tires. The weirdest item found ended up being what is thought to be a large piece of an old motorcycle of some sort. One of the participants hauled this heavy piece back to the finish line, dog in hand!

For future events, organizers will increase marketing efforts to engage a wider audience and increase the number of participants. Trail Fest was a pilot for the planned X-Treme Cleanup series which will feature kayak and bar crawl clean-ups. Thank you to Karlis Grauze for an innovative addition to a popular event keeping it fresh and fun for all who attended!

Interested in finding out more about plogging? Check out this great video from the PBS News Hour here.