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Nguyen Le

Pheasant Run Homeowners Association Revitalizes Community and Engages Residents in Clean Water Actions

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Homeowners Associations (HOA) play an important role in educating residents about our environment and ways to keep our communities healthy and beautiful. Pheasant Run HOA in Prince George’s County, Maryland is one of many HOAs doing their part.

In 2014, the Pheasant Run HOA received a grant award through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program for a variety of green and sustainable solutions which included the following installations:

  • Six rain barrels were distributed to residents in the community. Rain barrels collect rain water that would otherwise run off of roofs, carrying pollutants into storm drains and rivers. Residents can reuse the collected water for other purposes such as to water flowering plants and trees.
  • A Little Free Library containing books and educational materials on environmental topics was placed near a bus stop in the community. A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. It aims to inspire reading, build community, and increase access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

In addition, the Pheasant Run HOA organized several community events to educate and engage its residents. Residents learned about their impact on the environment and ways they can get involved and improve their communtiy.

Thanks Pheasant Run HOA for bringing together your community to make a positive environmental impact!

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Members are Making a Difference in Prince George’s County

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Providing young adults with opportunities to gain green career skills and become more engaged through meaningful community service is crucial to the protection and restoration of our environment and natural resources.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps places young adults with nonprofit organizations or government agencies around the Chesapeake Bay region for a year of service focused on improving local communities and advancing environmental initiatives. This year’s cohort includes two members placed with host organizations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Corps member Andrew Jones is a graduate of Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, receiving a dual degree in biology and environmental science. He was placed with the Town of Edmonston and spent his year increasing green initiatives within the Town.

For his capstone project, Andrew established an after school environmental club at William Wirt Middle School. The club was highly successful, attracting 30 students and engaging them in a variety of rewarding environmental experiences. Students installed a native pollinator garden and a rain garden on campus. They also participated in community clean ups and storm drain stenciling to reduce litter in the community.

Andrew’s fellow Corps member, Kelly Peaks, graduated from Marist College with a degree in environmental science. She was placed with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. She spent her year supporting the Center’s initiatives such as the Sustainable Maryland certification program.

For her capstone project, Kelly worked on updating and redesigning the Sustainable Maryland website. The current website was outdated and did not have the most up-to-date information about the program. The Sustainable Maryland program helps municipalities fund green initiatives to improve and revitalize their community. Municipalities may select from a variety of actions to complete in order to achieve certification. Kelly led the development of new actions, updates to current actions, and creation of certification tiers. These updates make the website more user friendly and help to further promote the program. The Environmental Finance Center expects to release the full website update later this year.

Thank you, Andrew and Kelly, for the great work you’ve done this year with your host organizations and in Prince George’s County!

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is excited to celebrate this year’s cohort and welcome next year’s cohort of Chesapeake Conservation Corps members at the upcoming orientation and graduation ceremony in August. Next year’s cohort of Corps members is expected to include four members placed with host organizations in Prince George’s County.

Students Perform Investigations and Implement Projects on Campus to Keep Our Rivers Clean

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Freshwater streams and rivers are a valuable resource to us all, providing drinking water and places to swim, fish, and canoe. Unfortunately, only about 10% of Maryland’s waterways are in good condition. The rest rank in fair or poor condition due to polluted runoff that enters our waterways. When it rains, the water runs off of pavement, roofs, and other impervious surfaces that don’t allow for soaking into the ground. As it flows across these surfaces, it picks up and carries pollutants such as litter, oil, and gasoline into storm drains and directly into our rivers.

An advisory agency of the Potomac Basin states, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), provides educators with a stormwater education program titled Score Four: Students, Schools, Streams, and the Bay. This program engages students in experiments and projects right on their school grounds to reduce runoff and water pollution. Using indoor and outdoor lessons and investigations, students learn about their local watershed and assess factors that contribute to its polluted runoff. Using their findings, the students then plan and conduct an appropriate stormwater action project on their campus. Action projects include native plantings, rain gardens, and storm drain stenciling. The students demonstrate ownership of their project and have pride in knowing that they are making a difference in their school and community.

In 2015 and 2016, ICPRB received two grant awards to conduct their Score Four program in Prince George’s County public schools. These projects were funded by the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. For these two projects, ICPRB collaborated with teachers at four schools in the County to conduct the Score Four program, engaging over 1,100 students.

At Northwestern High School, ICPRB teamed up with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, Kari Rowe. For their action project, the students installed two conservation landscape gardens at the front entrance of the school. These gardens not only beautify the campus, but also absorb runoff from the adjacent sidewalks. The gardens were such a success that the school’s principal requested that Kari and her students plant more gardens on campus with financial support from the school.  This collaboration with Kari and her ESOL students led to the development of bilingual educational materials for Spanish speakers.

At Parkdale High School, ICPRB worked with science teacher, Malka Ostchega. For their action project, the students designed and planted the beginnings of a food forest. They planted 78 native fruit and nut-bearing trees and shrubs such as low bush blueberry, serviceberry, and paw paw. The food forest is located on a hill next to the school’s parking lot. The trees and shrubs in the food forest will slow down and reduce the volume of runoff and sediment coming from the hill. Watch this video to hear what students at Parkdale High School had to say about their project.

At Accokeek Academy, ICPRB collaborated with six science teachers for the Score Four program. For their action project, the students planted native plants in raised beds that would be transplanted to their conservation landscape garden.

At the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College, ICPRB worked in partnership with social studies teacher, Carmen Wright, and science teacher, Apollo Cordon. For their action project, the students planted a conservation landscape garden next to the building’s parking lot. Students selected native plants such as butterfly milkweed to support monarch butterfly populations.

Thank you ICPRB for engaging students in environmental stewardship to keep our rivers clean and healthy!

Meet the Staff Behind the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate program staff, Bre’Anna Brooks and Janina Jones. This program provides homeowners, businesses, and others, the opportunity to receive a reimbursement for installing practices that reduce polluted runoff and keep our rivers clean. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is proud to partner with Prince George’s County on their program.

Bre’Anna Brooks (right in the picture) is a Program Coordinator with the Chesapeake Bay Trust and manages the Rain Check Rebate program.

Janina Jones (left in the picture) joined the Chesapeake Bay Trust as a summer intern and supports the Rain Check Rebate program. She is a native of Prince George’s County and currently attends Coastal Carolina University.

Can you tell us about yourself?

Bre’Anna: I am originally from Colorado. I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies. After I graduated, I served in the AmeriCorps where I conducted large-scale invasive species removal projects and worked at the accredited Denver Zoo as a camp instructor. In 2016, I moved to Maryland and shortly thereafter, joined the Chesapeake Bay Trust. I was driven to the area due to an interest in making a positive impact on restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed. At the Trust, I currently manage programs that engage communities in projects to restore our waterways, beautify our communities, and increase awareness about important environmental topics. I also lead the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and am broadly involved in Diversity, Equity and, Inclusion efforts in the Chesapeake Bay region. I am also certified as a Maryland Master Naturalist.

Janina: I have lived the majority of my life in Prince George’s County. I currently attend Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina and am pursing a B.S. in Marine Science. I plan to attend graduate school and hope to tackle the issue of microplastics found in our waters.

What is your favorite story or project from the Rain Check Rebate program?

Bre’Anna: The stories that stand out are the ones in which residents say, “My project is making a difference!” This difference may be in terms of improving their community through beautification,  in the functionality of a project that improves drainage, or in the larger context of keeping local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay clean.

What do you love most about the Rain Check Rebate program?

Bre’Anna: This program allows us to provide on-site, technical assistance to interested individuals who are unsure which practices make the most sense for their situation. I love that we can provide expertise on the practices (e.g. rain gardens and permeable pavement) to applicants in an understandable way.

Janina: I love that the program helps homeowners not only beautify their property, but also educate them about how their daily lives impact their environment.

Can you tell us a fun or interesting fact about you?

Bre’Anna: During my undergraduate studies, I spent a semester in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. I swam with the Galápagos penguin and sea lion and hiked the Sierra Negra volcano! It was the experience of a lifetime!

Janina: I am fluent in both English and German.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Bre’Anna: The Rain Check Rebate Program is such a delight to coordinate because of the community interaction. I am fortunate to work with local residents, business owners, and nonprofits to help advance the goals of the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment. This includes improving the quality of life for its communities by promoting green solutions to stormwater runoff.

Janina: I am excited to be a part of the Chesapeake Bay Trust team for the summer. I look forward to providing more assistance to the Rain Check Rebate program.

Thank you Bre’Anna and Janina for sharing with us today! 

To learn more about the Rain Check Rebate program and how you can participate, click here.

Stormwater Savvy Program Combines Clean Water Goals With Community Vision

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The Neighborhood Design Center helps communities develop master plans that are both people and environment friendly. 

Polluted stormwater runoff negatively impacts our environment, our communities, and the people who live there. Fortunately, many organizations like the Neighborhood Design Center help communities reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff. Through their Stormwater Savvy program, the Neighborhood Design Center works with the community to create master plans that combine stormwater management with community goals.

Stormwater Savvy isn’t just about design services. In addition to providing action-oriented master plans, the program seeks to inspire people to take stewardship of the land around them. Through an immersive community design process, the Neighborhood Design Center helps communities in Prince George’s County refine their vision and create drawings and plans that clearly communicate that vision. These plans can be included in applications to request funding and then, as needed, to professional contractors who can bring the community vision to life.

The Neighborhood Designed Center has received grant awards through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program in 2014, 2015, and 2017 to support the Stormwater Savvy program. View this fact sheet to learn more about one of their awarded projects. Through Stormwater Savvy, the Neighborhood Design Center has worked with schools, faith-based organizations, homeowner associations, and others to develop individualized master plans that fit their needs and address their stormwater issues. For example, a master plan may contain recommendations to improve community areas by planting native trees and a rain garden that not only makes the space more aesthetically pleasing and inviting, but also reduces standing water and flooding. The Neighborhood Design Center provides the Summer Five Homeowners Association Master Plan as a project highlight and example.

Thank you to the Neighborhood Design Center and their Stormwater Savvy program for helping communities develop their community vision and increase their connection with the environment!

Thank You and Farewell to Behnke Nurseries

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After 89 years, Behnke Nurseries announced that this spring season would be their last. They will close their nursery on the evening of Saturday, June 15th. Behnke Nurseries grew to be more than just a garden center. It became a beloved destination with kind and knowledgeable staff who created a sense of community. Over the years, Behnke Nurseries has been a wonderful community partner in Prince George’s County, for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and to other awardees.

In 2014 and 2015, Behnke Nurseries partnered with the Low Impact Development Center (LID Center). The LID Center received two grant awards through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct two projects with Behnke Nurseries. These projects aimed to showcase the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate program and reduce stormwater runoff on Behnke’s property.

For the first project, the LID Center and Behnke’s installed all seven of the Rain Check Rebate stormwater practices on Behnke’s property. The seven practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopies, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. These practices improve local waterways by reducing polluted runoff from entering our streams and rivers. Each of the installations included educational signage for visitors to learn about the practices and how they work.

For the second project, the LID Center and Behnke’s installed a Rain Check Rebate resource center inside Behnke’s to provide information about the program and how to participate. For several years, Behnke’s has served as a demonstration site for the Rain Check Rebate program where residents and others can see the practices in action, learn how to implement them on their property, and how to participate in the program.

In addition, Behnke Nurseries won the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Commercial Stewards Award in 2017 for their commitment to environmental stewardship. This award recognized Behnke’s devotion to environmental stewardship as a company in many ways. First, they have promoted the use of and educating the community about native plants through their “BaySafe Plants Program.”  Second, they integrated environmental stewardship into their business practices through responsible procurement and marketing. Third, they implemented an array of innovative practices on their own property to improve water quality and reduce runoff. Finally, Behnke’s has partnered with other community organizations to further environmental initiatives.

Launched in 1998, the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Scholarship and Awards Program honors students, educators, individuals, communities, businesses, and organizations for their work to promote environmental education, improve local communities, and help restore the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay region.

Thank you Behnke Nurseries for all you have done for our community and environment. We are all the better for having known and worked with you!

Tree Adoption Program Engages Residents and Increases Tree Canopy

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Prince George’s County, Maryland nonprofit increases tree canopy and engages residents through tree adoption program.

In the video above, Executive Director of Global Health and Education Projects (GHEP), Romuladus Azuine, talks about the Family Tree Adoption Program (FTAP) and its impact on the community.

Global Health and Education Projects is a nonprofit organization based in Prince George’s County, Maryland. They developed the Family Tree Adoption Program to increase the amount of trees in Prince George’s County and educate the community about the many benefits trees provide. Trees clean the air, prevent water pollution, reduces energy costs, lowers city temperatures, and much more.

Through FTAP, homeowners in Prince George’s County, including those in Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) communities, receive native trees and shrubs to plant on their property. Once planted, the residents and their families adopt the trees and agree to care for and maintain them. In addition, GHEP hosts tree planting demonstrations and workshops to increase community participation and awareness about the benefits of trees and the connection to human health.

In 2015 and 2017, GHEP received two grant awards through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to pilot and support the development of FTAP. These two projects resulted in over 200 trees planted on private residential properties. More recently, in December 2018, GHEP received a grant award through the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Outreach and Restoration Grant Program. With this grant award, GHEP will plant an additional 100 trees in the County.

Hundreds of families have adopted trees and learned the benefits to their families, their community, and the environment. Families in Prince George’s County interested in planting trees on their property can contact GHEP for tree availability or participate in the County’s Rain Check Rebate Program.

Thanks Global Health and Education Projects and their Family Tree Adoption Program for helping to keep our communities clean and healthy and educating residents about the importance of trees!

Low Impact Development Center Partners with Behnke Nurseries for Stormwater Practice Demonstration Site

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Nonprofit organization partners with local nursery in Prince George’s County, Maryland to install a stormwater practice demonstration site and resource center. 

Communities all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed are doing their part to improve the health of our environment by installing practices to manage and reduce polluted stormwater runoff. Polluted stormwater runoff negatively impacts our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, homeowners, businesses, and others have the opportunity to help reduce the impact of stormwater runoff through the Rain Check Rebate program. This program offers property owners reimbursements for installing approved practices.

In 2014 and 2015, the Low Impact Development Center partnered with Behnke Nurseries to install a resource center and demonstration of the Rain Check Rebate practices on the nursery’s property. This demonstration project installed all seven of the approved practices: rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Each of the practices include signage that explains the practices’ function and importance. Since these seven stormwater practices were implemented, the site has hosted several outreach and educational events, as well as self-guided tours for visitors. This project was supported by two grant awards through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program.

Earlier this month, Behnke Nurseries announced the nursery will be closing in June. We encourage you to visit Behnke Nurseries to see all seven of the Rain Check Rebate Practices and view the educational kiosk. Thank you to Behnke Nurseries for using their site over the last few years to showcase how the Rain Check Rebate program works to clean water.

Learn more about the Rain Check Rebate program, the approved practices, and how to participate at cbtrust.org/prince-georges-county-rain-check-rebate.

Four Ways You Can Help Keep Prince George’s County Healthy and Beautiful

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Everyone can make a difference in their communities and in the environment. Here we provide four ways you can help keep Prince George’s County, Maryland healthy and beautiful.

1. Plant a tree

Trees provide many benefits to communities and the environment. They help improve water quality, save energy, lower city temperatures, reduce air pollution, enhance property values, provide wildlife habitat for birds and other species, facilitate social and educational opportunities, and beautify lawns and other open spaces. Tree roots, specifically, help rain soak into the soil and increase the total amount of rain that the soil can absorb.

When planting a tree and other types of plants, it is important to choose natives. Native plants are those that naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil and climate conditions and require less watering and fertilizing. The Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center is a wonderful resource to find native species that are suitable for your site conditions. When you’re ready to purchase, local plant nurseries can help you find what you’re looking for. A few plant nurseries in Prince George’s County that offer native plants include Behnke Nurseries, Chesapeake Natives, and Patuxent Nursery.

2. Participate in Earth Day Events and Activities

On Earth Day, Saturday, April 13th 2019, we encourage you to go green and show your appreciation for our environment! The Anacostia Watershed Earth Day Cleanup and the 31st Annual Potomac River Cleanup are two cleanup events that have several cleanup sites in Prince George’s County. Find one near you and get together with your neighbors to keep our neighborhoods and streams clean.

We encourage you to make every day Earth Day by taking small steps to reduce your environmental footprint. Take the What’s Your Bay Footprint? to find out how your lifestyle choices contributes to the health of local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay and ways you can reduce your impact.

3. Participate in Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program offers incentives to homeowners, businesses, and others to install practices that reduce stormwater runoff and improve local streams and rivers. As an added benefit, homeowners that install these practices may receive a reduction on their Clean Water Act Fee. The seven eligible practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs.

Learn More

4. Participate in Prince George’s County Litter Reduction Mini Grant Program

The Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program provides communities with resources to keep their neighborhoods clean and beautiful. Community organizations may request up to $2,500 to support litter reduction projects. Example projects include litter cleanups that engage students and businesses, “Adopt-a-Stream” projects to remove litter from a local stream, and storm drain stenciling projects where art is used to educate residents about the importance of keeping litter out of the storm drains. If you are a resident and want to get your neighborhood involved, we encourage you to contact your homeowner’s association, civic association, or other community group and share this opportunity.

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Rain Gardens Beautify Your Home and Benefit the Environment

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Rain gardens have numerous benefits to the environment and communities. They help reduce stormwater runoff and keep pollutants from entering our streams and rivers. In addition, they provide habitat and food sources for a variety of beneficial species like birds and butterflies. Rain gardens also provide homeowners and other property owners with an attractive alternative to traditional lawns and can reduce stormwater problems such as ponding water or erosion.

A rain garden is a planted shallow depression that contains water-tolerant native plants. Rain gardens are designed to capture stormwater runoff that flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking lots. They slow down stormwater runoff and allow it to soak and infiltrate into the ground. This prevents polluted runoff from rushing down the street into storm drains and into our rivers. Though rain gardens capture stormwater runoff, they do not hold water for more than 48 hours and therefore do not breed mosquitoes, which is a common misconception. The native plants in rain gardens are adapted to local soil and climate conditions and require less watering and fertilizing. Butterfly milkweed is an example of a native plant in the Chesapeake Bay region. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed and as such, milkweed is critical for their survival. Planting milkweed in rain gardens help support monarch populations.

Click on this image to view a larger version and see how rain gardens work below the soil.

You don’t have to have a green thumb to install a rain garden on your property. Anyone can do it! If you are interested in installing a rain garden or other stormwater practices, many organizations and government agencies offer funding and technical assistance to help you get started. Here are some programs in Maryland that offer rebates or reimbursements for the installation of stormwater practices:

Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is proud to partner with the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment on their Rain Check Rebate Program. For homeowners and other property owners in Prince George’s County, rain gardens are one of seven eligible stormwater practices that can be installed to receive reimbursement through this program. For this program, rain gardens should total at least 100 square feet, be placed at least 10 feet away from foundations, and be placed at the bottom of a sloped area where water naturally flows and collects. Refer to this rain garden fact sheet to learn more.

Homeowners may also be able to receive a reduction on their Clean Water Act Fee by directing a downspout into the rain garden. By directing the downspout into the rain garden, the runoff that flows off your rooftop will flow directly into the rain garden and be able to soak and filter into the ground, instead of flowing onto the street, into a storm drain, and into our streams.

In addition to rain gardens, other eligible practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Homeowners, businesses, and other eligible applicants can install one or more of these stormwater practices to help reduce stormwater runoff and improve local waterways in the County. These stormwater practices also have the added benefit of beautifying the property.

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Learn More and Apply