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.