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Nguyen Le

Project Highlight: National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Program Engages Faith Communities

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National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Program engages faith communities in environmental stewardship in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The Sacred Grounds™ program creates a unique space for praise and celebration of nature’s wonders and empowers congregations of all faiths to connect to the Earth by gardening for wildlife and studying the teachings and texts of their faiths. As a result, people, the planet, and spiritual foundations flourish.

National Wildlife Federation

We are impacted by our natural resources and our natural resources are impacted by us. The key to improving the health of our waterways and our environment is to engage all residents in environmental stewardship. In recent years, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and many of our funding partners have worked to involve audiences in our grant programs that have typically been under-engaged in the past. In 2015, the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee identified three audiences that the Trust should focus on incorporating in our grant programs. These audiences include communities of color, faith-based communities, and the human health sector.

The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program (a partnership between the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Trust), for example, has encouraged applicants to submit proposals that embrace diverse communities in environmental action projects. In 2017, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) received a grant award through this program to engage faith communities in Prince George’s County in environmental stewardship and clean water efforts. For this project, NWF partnered with Interfaith Power and Light and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to conduct their Sacred Grounds program in Prince George’s County.

NWF and their partners conducted three Sacred Grounds workshops with participants from 22 places of worship in Prince George’s County. The workshops educated residents about how faith doctrine of many denominations encourages environmental stewardship and local environmental issues, such as stormwater runoff and pollution. Community members also learned the benefits of creating wildlife habitat and implementing stormwater management practices on congregation grounds in order to address these issues.

NWF successfully recruited five congregations interested in achieving Sacred Grounds designation from the workshops. In order to be designated as a Sacred Ground, congregations must create wildlife habitat on their property, connect environmental stewardship to faith, and inspire community members to get involved with environmental action. In addition to achieving this designation, faith institutions in Prince George’s County are eligible to participate in the County’s Alternative Compliance Program. This program’s objective is to advance stormwater practices and increased citizen knowledge for cleaner, healthier congregations.

The inclusion of all residents in the ongoing effort to restore our natural resources and our communities impacts the success of this effort. Expanding the dialogue between diverse communities leads to new collaborations and identifies co-benefits of environmental and community projects.  All residents benefit from healthy natural resources, and, in turn, all residents have the opportunity to benefit natural resources.

Thank you to the National Wildlife Federation, Interfaith Power and Light, and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, for all you do to engage the faith community in environmental stewardship!

Project Highlight: National Capital Region’s Watershed Stewards Academy

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Watershed Stewards Academy engages residents in watershed issues and solutions to improve communities and local waterways. 

The Watershed Stewards Academy empowers residents all across Maryland and the Washington metropolitan area to become environmental leaders in their community. The program equips participants with the knowledge, tools, and resources to improve their communities and improve local waterways.  

The Academy is offered in several counties in Maryland including Anne Arundel CountyCecil CountyHarford CountyHoward County, and St. Mary’s County. Specifically, the Anacostia Watershed Society leads the Academy for the National Capital Region. With support from a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, the Anacostia Watershed Society conducted the program for Prince George’s County during the spring and fall of 2018. During the program, participants learned about local environmental issues, specifically stormwater runoff and pollution, how to address these issues in their communities, and existing County resources and programs such as Rain Check Rebate.

The Stewards engage in a variety of service experiences, including the design and implementation of a capstone project that engages their community in reducing stormwater runoff. During the fall of 2018, the Prince George’s County Stewards participated in a replanting of two rain gardens at the Springhill Lake Recreation Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Rain gardens filter polluted runoff, protect streams from flooding and pollution, and attract and provide habitat for pollinators and birds.

Upon completion of the program, participants become certified Master Watershed Stewards. Stewards educate their community about local environmental issues and help reduce polluted runoff by coordinating the installation of rain gardens, rain barrels, and other practices in the community.

The Watershed Stewards Academy’s hands-on certification program provides Stewards with the tools to implement change in their communities. The Anacostia Watershed Society is currently looking for residents to join this year’s National Capital Region Watershed Stewards Academy. Apply today to become a certified Master Watershed Steward in your community!

 

Project Highlight: DuVal High School Courtyard Rain Garden

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DuVal High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, installs a rain garden on campus to reduce stormwater runoff and provide an outdoor classroom for students.

According to the Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) , “the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed must be built on the collective wisdom of its citizens and this begins by building the environmental literacy of our youth.” To empower the next generation of environmental stewards, our schools must be equipped to educate our youth on current environmental issues and topics, such as stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and is often a major issue on school campuses. It can cause flooding and standing water, resulting in safety concerns and unusable outdoor learning space. The implementation of stormwater management practices, such as rain gardens, on school campuses has high demonstration and educational value. These practices allow teachers and students to investigate and study environmental topics right on their campus.

DuVal High School, in Lanham, Maryland, for example, installed a rain garden on campus through a grant award provided by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. The rain garden was designed by the Neighborhood Design Center, with staff and student input. Students, teachers, and volunteers planted over 200 native plants that were selected based on the light and soil conditions of the planting site, including black-eyed Susan, Maryland’s state flower. In addition to reducing stormwater runoff on campus, the rain garden is also used by the school as an outdoor classroom, where students can investigate and study water flow, stormwater management, native plants, pollinators, and more. The garden is also used by English and Art classes to inspire poetry and art.

Prior to the installation, DuVal students, teachers, and staff participated in workshops to learn about stormwater runoff, its impact on the health of local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and practices they could implement on campus to help improve the health of our waterways. With the help of community partners including the Prince George’s County Public School’s Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, Neighborhood Design Center, Prince George’s County Master Gardeners, and University of Maryland, DuVal staff and students learned how to maintain the rain garden and use it for educational purposes.

Stormwater management practices implemented on school campuses are instrumental tools in connecting our youth with environmental stewardship. They help teachers teach “beyond the textbook” and provide the opportunity for “high-quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on experiences” (Educator’s Guide to the MWEE).

Congrats to DuVal High School for a successful project and thanks for helping teach our youth the value of our natural environment!

Project Highlight: Stormwater Management at Boyd Park in the Town of Cheverly

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The Town of Cheverly in Prince George’s County, Maryland, installs micro-bioretention areas to capture and treat stormwater runoff.

Many communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are taking action to improve water quality. For example, communities are installing stormwater management controls to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local waterways. When large volumes of stormwater runoff are carried to local streams, it can cause flooding and erosion. It can also wash away important habitat for critters that live in the stream. As stormwater runoff flows across paved surfaces, it picks up and carries with it many different pollutants such as oil and grease from cars, bacteria from pet waste, and trash from littering or improper disposal. Often, the polluted runoff flows directly into our streams and rivers through storm drains.

To reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff, the Town of Cheverly received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program for stormwater management at Boyd Park. Boyd Park is located in the Lower Beaverdam Creek subwatershed. This subwatershed is the most heavily industrialized within the Maryland portion of the Anacostia watershed. The park is municipally-owned with a playground, basketball and tennis courts, and a three acre nature and fitness trail, making this site a highly visible demonstration area for the installation.

The Town installed two micro-bioretention areas, also referred to as rain gardens, with over 200 native plants and planted 30 native trees in the park. These practices capture and treat stormwater runoff from the parking lot and adjacent roadway, removing pollutants from the water before it flows into local streams and rivers. In addition, native plants such as winterberry provides habitat and food for birds and native trees such as eastern redbud attract pollinators and provide shade. 

The site serves as a demonstration site, with interpretive signage that educates the community about the function of bioretention areas. It will also be used by the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment for Rain Check Rebate Contractor Training sessions. These sessions educate landscape professionals on how to plan, design, construct, and maintain rain gardens and other Rain Check Rebate practices.

During the planning process, the Town acknowledged the park’s existing design and the community’s desire to increase tree canopy. This resulted in a final design that maintains the integrity of the park’s existing design and strategically places the trees in most commonly used areas. These stormwater management practices support the County’s clean water efforts. Also, the native plants and trees add spring flowers and fall foliage to the landscape at Boyd Park.

Congrats to the Town of Cheverly for a successful project!

Now Open! Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program

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Get the resources you need to make your community cleaner and greener through the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program.

According to the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction Campaign, “litter costs [the] County millions of dollars a year, decreases property values, has a negative impact on health and wellness, and threatens wildlife, reservoirs and waterways.” Therefore, “reducing litter is critical to improving the economic, environmental, and social health of [the] County.”

To support and engage County residents in the fight against litter, the Prince George’s County Government and the Chesapeake Bay Trust announce the Prince George’s County Litter Reduction and Citizen Engagement Mini Grant Program.  This program supports community-driven litter reduction and litter-related citizen engagement projects that engage and educate residents, students, and businesses about ways to make their communities cleaner and greener. Communities may request funding for community cleanups, “Adopt-a-Stream” cleanups, storm drain stenciling projects, and more through this program.

Join the fight against litter for a #LitterFreePGC! Contact Nguyen Le at (410) 974-2941 x110 or nle@cbtrust.org if you have questions or to discuss project ideas.

Community-based organizations (homeowner associations, civic associations, and nonprofits) and small municipalities are encouraged to apply. Faith-based organizations interested in participating are encouraged to be a partner for a community group nearby that will serve as the lead on the project. If you are a resident interested in participating, we encourage you to reach out to your community organization and share this opportunity.

Applications for this program will be accepted on an on-going basis until funds for this fiscal year are exhausted. 

Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

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Follow these five tips to winterize your stormwater management practices to ensure that they function properly for years to come.

Residents in Prince George’s County are dedicated to improving their communities and the environment by participating in the County’s Rain Check Rebate program. This program offers rebates to property owners in the County to install approved stormwater management practices. These practices reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local rivers and can also beautify the property, reduce water costs, and reduce erosion, pooling, and flooding. After the installation of these practices and as winter approaches, it is important to inspect and maintain them periodically to ensure they will continue to function properly.

What is a Rain Check Yard?

A Rain Check Yard is a property that has installed one or more of the seven eligible practices. These practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Rain Check Rebate participants can receive a yard sign (pictured above) to proudly display their commitment to keeping our waterways healthy and clean!

Five Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

In addition to the tips listed below, view the fact sheets and guidelines for each practice linked above for additional maintenance tips and suggested maintenance schedules.

1

Drain and disconnect rain barrels.

Water that is left in the rain barrel may freeze and cause damage to the barrel or downspout.
2

Remove leaves and debris.

Check your rain gardens and permeable pavement for leaves and other debris that may prevent runoff from flowing properly through the practice. Remove and dispose of the debris appropriately.
3

Apply a new layer of mulch.

Replenish mulch in your rain garden and trees with double shredded hardwood mulch for 2 to 3 inches of cover. Mulch helps maintain the temperature of the soil, encourages retention of moisture, and suppresses grass and weeds.
4

Use salt in moderation to melt ice.

Salt can be used in moderation to melt ice, but never use sand unless you have paving stones. Sand can cause clogging and reduce infiltration.
5

Water young trees.

Trees that have been in the ground less than three years require 25 gallons of water, or about 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week.
How Can I Participate?

Interested applicants must be the property owner and submit an online application. Once we receive your application, the Rain Check Coordinator, Bre’Anna Brooks, will contact you to set up a site visit. The project must be approved prior to installation, with the exception of rain barrel projects. After approval, the practice should be installed within 12 months. Once the project is complete, Bre’Anna will conduct a second site visit to ensure that the project followed the guidelines and criteria specified for the project type. The County will then review the project and provide a rebate (a partial or full refund) to the property owner. The refund amount is dependent on the type of practice installed, the property type, and final receipts/invoices. Learn about the projects and amount of rebates available by clicking on the “Learn More and Apply” button below.

To date, over 300 property owners in Prince George’s County have participated in the Rain Check Rebate program and are making a difference in keeping the County’s waterways healthy and clean!

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate program is a partnership between the County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis. 

Project Highlight: Narragansett Parkway’s Micro-bioretention Areas in the City of College Park

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City of College Park, Maryland, installs two micro-bioretention areas to treat stormwater runoff along Narragansett Parkway.

Impervious surfaces, such as driveways and parking lots, prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs off these surfaces and carries pollutants that it has picked up along the way. This untreated stormwater runoff flows into storm drains and into our waterways, resulting in polluted streams and rivers that negatively affect aquatic wildlife and human health and safety.

Currently, the stormwater runoff from the neighborhoods and surrounding streets along Narragansett Parkway and Muskogee Street in the City of College Park are collected in inlets along the curbs and at intersections. The stormwater runoff flows directly into the rock-lined channel in the middle of Narragansett Parkway until it reaches Indian Creek.

In order to treat the stormwater runoff and remove pollutants, the City installed two micro-bioretention areas totaling 316 square feet at Narragansett Parkway and Muskogee Street, next to a local park.

This project was funded in part by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution.

Micro-bioretention areas, also referred to as rain gardens, capture stormwater runoff and allow it to pond temporarily. The plants in the micro-bioretention are native species that are adapted to the site’s soil and light conditions and help filter the runoff. Treated water that is not absorbed or taken up by the plants is released to the storm drain system by an underdrain. This location was selected due to its high visibility and educational value to the community. In addition, this location was ranked as one of the top five priority restoration areas in the Indian Creek Subwatershed Restoration Plan.

The City installed educational signage at the site that provides information about the micro-bioretention area. One of the signs includes a QR code that links to the Prince George’s County Clean Water Partnership. The use of signage that provides smartphone links to the County’s website and stormwater restoration programs provides a highly effective method of communication and education to residents.

This project provides an opportunity for local residents to learn about stormwater benefits and shows how stormwater controls can be integrated into the landscape at the neighborhood level.

The Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. 


Educational signage installed at the site provides information about the micro-bioretention areas. Click on the image to get a closer look.

Project Highlight: Greenbelt Homes, Inc.’s Rain Garden at 20 Court Ridge

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A stone diaphragm intercepts, captures, and directs stormwater runoff from the hillside and parking lot to a rain garden that slows, filters, and absorbs the runoff.

Community installs new stormwater best management practice that reduces stormwater runoff, erosion, and flooding.

Communities all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed face stormwater-related issues that range from poor drainage to flooding. The Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI) community in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is no exception. GHI is a housing cooperative comprising of 1,600 homes built in the 1930s and 1940s. In the last 70 years, the surrounding area’s topography has significantly changed, with a dramatic increase in the amount of impervious surfaces created due to urban development. Impervious surfaces, such as pavement and roofs, do not allow water to infiltrate into the ground, resulting in large volumes of stormwater runoff that carry increased amounts of pollutants into local streams and rivers.

To help reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to our waterways, communities can implement a variety of stormwater best management practices on their property. In 2016, GHI applied for and received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to install a stormwater best management practice comprised of a stone diaphragm, stone swale, and rain garden at 20 Court Ridge Road. The 20 Court Ridge housing units are located at the bottom of a hill adjacent to a large parking lot. Previously during rain events, stormwater runoff would flow freely down the hill, often causing flooding in the homes’ crawlspaces, walkways, and common areas. After the installation of the new system, completed earlier this year, the GHI community has noticed significant improvements. Now, the stone diaphragm prevents stormwater runoff from flowing directly to the housing units by intercepting and capturing the runoff. The stone diaphragm carries the runoff downhill, then through underground pipes across the parking lot, and finally into a stone swale and rain garden. The rain garden slows, captures, and filters stormwater runoff using plants and soil mixes that mimic natural filtering processes that remove pollutants. The rain garden features a variety of native plants, such as butterfly milkweed and beardtongue, that are adapted to local site conditions, and therefore require less maintenance, watering, and fertilizer. In addition, native plants attract pollinators and other wildlife, such as butterflies and birds, to the rain garden, resulting in a beautiful outdoor space for residents to enjoy.

Congrats to GHI for the successful implementation of their first major stormwater best management practice and for their commitment to improving our waterways!

This project was funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution.

The Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. 

Now Open! Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program

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The Prince George’s County Government and the Chesapeake Bay Trust announce the fifth year of our partnership for the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. This grant program supports projects that provide community engagement while treating and controlling stormwater. The goal of this program is to improve communities, improve water quality in the County’s waterways, and engage County residents in stormwater solutions.

This year’s program focuses on water quality implementation projects (requests for $50,000 up to $200,000) and tree planting projects (requests for $50,000 up to $150,000).

Please refer to the application package found on the grant program page for additional details and application instructions and requirements. The deadline to apply is September 27, 2018 at 4pm. 

In addition, the Trust would like to thank the grantees shown in the video above for sharing their projects and experiences, and providing insight on the impact that the projects had on their community. More information on each of the grantees highlighted in the video is below.

  • Anacostia Watershed Society collaborates with Prince George’s County Public Schools and other partners for the Treating and Teaching program to install stormwater solutions and outdoor classrooms on school campuses and train the facilities staff to maintain the assets.
  • Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation developed the Go Green! Plant Trees! program to increase tree canopy in residential neighborhoods by providing native trees to homeowners and educating the community about the value of trees.
  • End Time Harvest Ministries conducted their Wellness Ambassadors Environmental Health Program to engage youth in the community through tree planting projects, stormwater education, and green-job skills programs.
  • Global Health and Education Projects developed the Family Tree Adoption Program to educate the community about the importance of trees and to provide native trees and shrubs to private homeowners in the County.
  • Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake collaborates with faith-based organizations to provide training and workshops for faith leaders to increase citizen awareness of and engagement in stormwater management and watershed protection actions.
  • Neighborhood Design Center developed the Stormwater Savvy program to help small municipalities, schools, and community organizations create action-oriented design plans that help to improve water quality and increase community engagement with their landscape.

Learn more about these and other projects funded by this grant program on our grant projects page.

Project Highlight: Prince George’s County and Maryland’s First Bandalong Litter Trap

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The Trust had the opportunity to join Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Anacostia Riverkeeper, the City of Mount Rainier, and other community members in celebrating the installation of the first major litter trap in Maryland in Arundel Canal, a tributary of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River in Mount Rainier.

The innovative litter trap, a type widely used throughout Australia and Asia, is designed to capture litter and debris that has been discarded onto roadways and transported by rain and wind into storm drains.

Litter left on roadways, in parks, and in other parts of Prince George’s County communities is unsightly and can cause human health issues. During big rain events, the litter makes its way to Prince George’s County waterways over land and through the sewer system. When the litter enters our waterways, the water can become polluted, harming the creatures who live in an around the waterways, contaminating the fish we consume, and creating potential hazards for swimmers and other recreational users.

In an effort to safeguard community members and help remove some of the in-stream litter, the Anacostia Riverkeeper and the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment teamed up to install the County and Maryland’s first in-stream litter trap in the City of Mount Rainier, located at the corner of Arundel Road and 30th Street in the Arundel Canal.

The litter trap system chosen for the site is known as the Bandalong Litter Trap. The trap’s unique design requires no mechanical assistance, relying only on the water’s natural current, offering an economical way to capture floating litter before it reaches the Anacostia River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes marine debris.

The Anacostia Riverkeeper will subcontract the litter trap collection to Joe’s Movement Emporium who will remove the litter from the trap, which can then be sorted and weighed by litter type so that the litter reduction statistics can be recorded and shared with the community members and County partners. The trap is safe for fish, waterfowl, and other aquatic life. In addition to the litter removal, the litter trap site in Mount Rainier will serve as an important education site, informing community members and visitors about the importance of properly disposing litter.

The installation of the litter trap was funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, a partnership between the Trust and the County, which aims to improve water quality in the County’s waterways, improve communities, and engage County residents in the issues associated with stormwater runoff pollution. The Anacostia Riverkeeper has received another grant award to install a second litter trap of this type in another tributary of the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County later this year.

The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program is currently open and accepting applications. To learn more and to apply, click here.

Contact the Anacostia Riverkeeper to learn more about this project or to learn about volunteer opportunities.