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$7.7 Million Awarded for 36 Tree-Planting Projects in Underserved Areas Throughout Maryland.

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On Monday, October 17th, the Trust celebrated the first of many tree plantings of the Urban Tree Program at a press event that was held at the Harlem and Denison Pocket Park in Baltimore. The Urban Trees program is a new effort created by the Maryland General Assembly’s Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021 and state resources provided through the Chesapeake Bay Trust (the Trust).   The Act calls for five million trees to be planted across Maryland by 2031, with 500,000 of them targeted to urban, underserved areas.

Tree Planted at the Harlem and Denison Pocket Park in Baltimore.

Urban trees have significant benefits to human health, climate, the economy, and the environment. Yet some urban communities are severely lacking in greening, contributing to heat island effect, exacerbating asthma and other health issues, and reducing quality of life.  Providing resources through ground-up, community-based grants empowers people to own this piece of community improvement, leading to sustainability.

The Urban Trees program started with the Maryland General Assembly; it was called on to green communities. To do this the program hopes to enhance the quality of life, human health, community livability, by improving air quality and reducing the urban heat island effect, and mitigating some of the effects of climate change. Ninety million dollars per year over nine years will be distributed by the Trust to communities, neighborhoods, civic groups, schools, and others who commit to planting trees in underserved regions as defined in the legislation. Funding is reserved for urban census tracts with low median household income levels, with high unemployment, or were historically red-lined or for public housing projects.

Many projects have begun to break ground in the past couple of weeks, and many plan to do so soon. Projects such as Blue Water Baltimore (BWB) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) are hosting tree plantings and calling for volunteers to assist.

BWB is planting trees in the Irvington and Violetville Neighborhoods in Baltimore City. They were awarded $342,444 to plant 600 trees across four West Baltimore neighborhoods. The plantings will occur on multiple days and welcome volunteers with any skill level. To volunteer or support any of these events individuals are asked to visit https://bluewaterbaltimore.org/events/ to register. See below for dates and times.

Planting dates and times for Irvington:

  • 11/12/22 9am-12pm
  • 11/15/22 11am-2pm

Planting dates and times for Violetville:

  • 11/17/22 11am-2pm

UMB was awarded $39,289 to plant trees across their campus. They are holding a tree planting event on 11/10 from 10am – 12pm. To sign up to volunteer please visit this website https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=SrzNPUx-e0CA93-2dXGC8guqiWAXukhNgq4ivS31IWBUNDVVOE1JRDhBQVZFQklCTTRKQlQ1WjBPQS4u.

To learn more about the Urban Trees program please visit https://cbtrust.org/grants/urban-trees/.

Plastic Free July

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Plastic Free July is a global movement that challenges people to be an active participant in the solution to plastic pollution. It encourages people to use less single use plastics in their everyday use whether its at home, work, school, or at local shops and cafes.

Here are some easy ways you can participate during July and even ways to change your overall lifestyle to make it plastic free.

BYO Straw

  • When at a restaurant, café, or anywhere that serves drinks decline the plastic straws provided make a plastic free choice of bringing your own reusable alternative such as metal and silicone straws.

BYO Bag

  • When shopping, bring your own reusable shopping bag to carry your items instead of using the plastic bags provided. Reusable bags are mainly used for grocery shopping, but they can apply to all shopping trips. There are many different types of reusable bags made from different types of material. Look into the different options to see which would work best for your needs! We have some convenient canvas totes available at shopchesapeakebaytrust.org

Fresh Produce and Meats

  • Avoid plastic packaging when buying fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and deli items. The best way to do this is to avoid pre-packaged foods. When opting for the loose produce choose to pack it in a reusable produce bag rather than the plastic bags provided by the store. When shopping for meat, fish and deli products opt to shop at a local butcher that offers unpackaged items and bring your own reusable container along with you to package them yourself.

BYO Bottle

  • Avoid using disposable, single-use, plastic water bottles and instead opt for a reusable one when available. There are many environmentally friendly options such as stainless steel, glass, and safe aluminum. If you forget your bottle at home don’t fret, just refill a plastic bottle as needed and turn it into a multi-use product. Check out some of our stainless steel drinkware HERE!

The Four R’s

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse. Start by reducing what you buy. Before you buy something be sure you really need it or consider if there is a more sustainable alternative such as repurposing a similar item or shopping secondhand. If there is no other alternative to buying a new plastic container or item, try and make the most out of it and use it as many times as possible before properly disposing of it. Learn more about recycling in your area and to be sure to recycle correctly. When the option arises try to purchase products made from recycled materials. Lastly, but certainly not least, REFUSE. If offered, refuse single-use plastic by asking if they have an eco-friendlier option (and if not, that’s why you BYO!).

Going plastic free can seem tough at first but by learning simple ways to get started and finding what works best for you being plastic free can become a lifestyle and not just a yearly month-long challenge.

Read more about what you can do to be plastic free at plasticfreejuly.org

Read about how our own President, Jana Davis, went plastic free in this article from the Capital Gazette.

See what our grantees and friends are doing to go plastic free this July!

Centro de Apoyo Familiar Connects Latino and Immigrant Communities with Prince George’s County Resources and Programs

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Stormwater runoff is rain or melted snow that runs off surfaces such as parking lots and roofs and flows across the land into storm drains and waterways. As the runoff flows, it picks up and carries with it pollutants like pet waste and litter that negatively impacts our rivers and can have harmful effects on human health.

Prince George’s County, MD has many strategies to address stormwater management issues in the County. Some of these efforts include educating community members about stormwater issues and providing resources for homeowners to install small-scale practices on their property that can help alleviate stormwater runoff at their home.

To help support the County’s efforts, Centro de Apoyo Familiar, or Center for Assistance to Families (CAF), received grant awards in 2017, 2018, and 2021 through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct their Aguas Sanas Familias Sanas (Healthy Waters Healthy Families) program. This program engages and trains Latino church promotoras (community health promoters) to be stormwater leaders in their community. After the promotoras receive training, they then lead workshops to educate residents on local environmental issues, ways to address these issues, and County resources and programs.

One program in particular that CAF highlighted during these trainings was the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program. This program provides an opportunity for homeowners, businesses, and others to help reduce stormwater runoff in the County and improve local waterways. Through the Rain Check Rebate Program, eligible applicants can receive a reimbursement for installing stormwater practices, like rain barrels, on their property. These stormwater practices help reduce stormwater runoff and its impacts.

To educate the promotoras and community members on this topic, CAF developed presentations and educational materials in Spanish for the training sessions. CAF provided these materials to the promotoras for distribution during workshops with community members. The promotoras participated in two training sessions to learn about stormwater, how it impacts their communities, and how community members can reduce its impact by installing rain barrels and other practices through the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program.

In 2017

CAF partnered with five churches in Prince George’s County, listed below, to participate in the program. Each church selected a member to act as the promotora, who were then trained by CAF. After the training, the promotoras held a combined total of eight workshops. These workshops engaged a total of 225 families.

  • Casa Hogar Benditos De Mi Padre
  • Iglesia De Dios De La Profecia Nuevo Pacto
  • Iglesia Resturacion
  • Love Without Borders Ministry
  • Ministerio Internacional Evangelico (MIES)

In 2018

CAF partnered with the three churches listed below. The trained promotoras from these churches held workshops that engaged 141 Latino families and provided technical assistance to those interested in applying for the Rain Check Rebate Program.

  • Casa de Restauracion Hispana
  • Centro Cristiano Vida Mueva
  • Ministerio Edificando la Familia

In 2021

CAF partnered with the five churches listed below. CAF trained the promotoras from the churches, who held a combined total of six workshops. These workshops engaged 172 families in the community.

  • Casa de Restauracion
  • Iglesia Acts
  • Iglesia con Poder De Lo Alto
  • Iglesia Restauración Lanham
  • Washington Ghanaian SDA Church

Every year, the results of post-workshop surveys showed an increase in knowledge and interest in how attendees could better protect their environment and help manage stormwater in their day-to-day life. Participants found the workshop to be informative and helped to open their eyes to issues they did not know about prior to the workshop. For example, participants learned how stormwater runoff can cause temporary flooding in their community and how common household pollutants get into local waterways.

Thank you to Centro de Apoyo Familiar for all you do to engage Latino and immigrant communities in environmental stewardship!

To read more about the 2017 project, click here and to learn more about the 2018 project, click here.

Learn about the ways you can help manage stormwater runoff while also beautifying your property by viewing the Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s Homeowner Guide for a More Bay-Friendly Property at http://chesapeakestormwater.net/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2013/04/Homeowner-Guide.pdf.

If you live in Prince George’s County, learn how you can participate in the Rain Check Rebate Program by clicking the button below.

Learn more about the Rain Check Rebate Program

Supporting Green Innovation & the Climate Action Plan: A Case Study in the Town of Edmonston

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The Town of Edmonston has several “firsts” and “greats” as accomplishments, including being home to one of the “Greenest Streets in America” thanks to the completion of a “green street” in 2010. A “green street” is a technique that can include several green infrastructure practices, such as street trees, rain gardens, pervious pavement, bioretention cells, and bioswales, in one location that is centered around and connected to a street site. Edmonston’s “Green Street” project is a model for others that wish to “Go Green” to make their town greener and healthier.

Pervious gutter and curb on Decatur Street.

Edmonston recently installed its 30th green infrastructure practice, with 10 more being constructed in the summer of 2022. Yes, you read that correctly; this is a lot of green in a small town that 1,545 people call home. Many of these practices were implemented with grant funds including through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program supported by the Department of the Environment. The Town plans to continue pushing the envelope by installing green practices while maintaining the existing practices so that they look beautiful and function to clean water while being home to native plants that attract our birds and butterflies.

The Town is touting another “first” with the installation of the first pervious curb and gutter systems in the Maryland. These innovative techniques, which were tested in the west coast and are used extensively in New York City, were brought to Maryland by Ecosite, Inc., a county-based firm, who worked closely with the Town on the projects. The pervious curb and gutter system use the road’s right of way space to house the green infrastructure practice that soaks up stormwater from the roadways before it enters the storm drain. You can visit the pervious curb and gutter systems on Decatur Street (main street) and on Ingraham Street in the industrial district bounded by 46th Avenue, Ingraham Street, and Lafayette Place. Speaking of “firsts” Edmonston installed several “industrial green streets” bringing green infrastructure to these busy, high traffic areas that are home to many thriving businesses.

Installing an industrial green street bioretention practice.

The Town, with Ecosite’s technical support, has been pioneering and demonstrating the use of “in-situ” bioretention design and construction. This technique minimizes the excavation of existing soils and instead improves these soils by incorporating well aged organic materials like pine fines and composted leaf mulch into the soil. This technique was developed by Dr. Robert Gouin, professor emeritus of the University of Maryland School of Horticulture. By reducing the need to excavate and remove existing soils and replacing them with expensive man-made bioretention media, the practice reduces bioretention system costs to 30% of traditional costs and takes our remediation dollars further. In addition, this practice results in improved soils that provide significantly greater infiltration capacity, treatment of runoff, and pollutant removal.

Finally, the Town considers the green infrastructure practices part of a longer-term strategy that provides many benefits to those who live and visit Edmonston. Mayor Tracy Gant says, “Edmonston is committed to protecting our natural environment for future generations through innovative approaches and practices that protect the Anacostia Watershed and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.”

These green infrastructure practices reduce flooding, improve water quality, improve air quality, reduce urban heat effects, and support climate resiliency goals for the Town, County, State, and beyond. Learn more about the Town’s greening efforts at https://edmonstonmd.gov/about-edmonston/ and more about the County’s Climate Action Plan at https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3748/Climate-Change. The Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program supports innovative and sustainable green infrastructure practices throughout Prince George’s County.

Explore other grants supported by the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program in the Town of Edmonston below.

Water Quality Retrofits for Hamilton Street- for the installation of seven rain gardens on Hamilton Street. $131,785.

Water Quality Retrofits for Gallatin Street Project- for the installation of 10 rain gardens on Gallatin Street. $142,803.

Water Quality Retrofits for Lafayette Place Industrial Green Street Project- to implement the fourth industrial “green street” which will be located in the district of Lafayette Place. $68,527.

Water Quality Retrofits for Ingraham Green Street Project- for green street implementation on Ingraham Street between 46th Ave and Lafayette Street, further demonstrating green infrastructure efforts in the Town and including an industrial pilot for future replication. $169,530.

Water Quality Retrofits for the 46th Avenue Green Street Project- to design and construct eight curbside rain gardens and one permeable concrete curb and gutter to treat over five acres of impervious surface. $148,000.

Introducing the New Prince George’s Rain Check Rebate Program Staff

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The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is a partnership between Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Trust (Trust). This program offers incentives to homeowners, businesses, and others to install practices that will reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve the water quality of local streams and rivers.

The Trust recently welcomed Kathy Somoza as the new Rain Check Rebate Coordinator! Continue reading to learn more about Kathy’s background and experience so far.

Kathy Somoza, Rain Check Rebate Coordinator

Can you tell us about yourself?

I grew up and still reside in Annapolis, Maryland, though my family and I originally hail from El Salvador. As a longtime Annapolitan, I have been lucky to have access to and enjoy the beautiful resources of the Chesapeake Bay region through kayaking and hiking! I graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I originally came to the Chesapeake Bay Trust as the Intern for the Rain Check Rebate Program, and I am so proud to now be administering this program.

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

The stories and projects that stick out most in my mind are the ones that, for a multitude of reasons, do not follow a straightforward or linear process. These are the projects that encounter unexpected hurdles or delays, yet what impresses and inspires me is the perseverance that I see applicants demonstrate in getting their project to the finish line. This program is completely voluntary, so the commitment applicants demonstrate to their projects highlights just how dedicated these Prince George’s residents are to the protection, improvement, and beautification of their local natural resources.

What are your professional/environmental goals and how does managing the Rain Check Rebate Program align with those goals?

My long-term professional goals are to increase awareness of the environmental issues around the Chesapeake Bay region and share resources and mechanisms to address and manage these issues. I love managing the Rain Check Rebate Program because it helps me simultaneously accomplish the goals of building awareness on the issue of stormwater runoff and providing access to a solution.

What have you most enjoyed so far about your new role as the Rain Check Rebate Coordinator?

I have enjoyed seeing how the program has evolved since the time I spent as an intern, and I’m looking forward to working closely with our Prince George’s County Department of the Environment partners to bring the best and most accessible program to County residents, businesses, and nonprofits.

Anything else you want to share?

I feel very fortunate to administer this program on behalf of our County partners. It is a wonderful resource and I hope that more and more applicants continue to tap into this program to protect natural resources, beautify and strengthen communities, and improve local water quality!


Helping Kathy with the program is our Rain Check Rebate intern, Oliver Vasquez!

Oliver is a senior at Frostburg State University, pursuing a degree in Earth Science with a minor in Sustainability Studies. He is passionate about the sustainable aspects of local environmental issues such as soil, air, and water pollution. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career out in the field collecting data making others aware of environmental challenges and concerns to our society today. Oliver is excited about working with the Trust and supporting the mission and vision of restoring our local watersheds and natural resources.

Thank you to Kathy and Oliver for their hard work and passion in managing and supporting the Rain Check Rebate Program! Learn more about the program here.

Building Community Resilience in Southside Richmond through the Bellemeade Green Street Project

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After a decade of community engagement and planning, construction activities associated with the Bellemeade Green Street project began in spring 2021. The James River Association (JRA) in partnership with the City of Richmond, Groundwork RVA, Timmons Group, 3North, and Harbor Dredge & Dock broke ground in early May on the project that spans almost a half-mile segment of Minefee Street in the Bellemeade community of southside Richmond, Virginia. The project builds community resilience by managing stormwater, improving local water quality in Albro Creek, and mitigating the urban heat island effect. In the future, it will help to create a safer walking and biking route for residents of the community. The project was driven by ideas generated by residents of the Bellemeade community and funded by grants secured by JRA, including the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program. This program funds projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, including Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Construction underway (Photo: James River Association)

The Bellemeade Walkable Watershed Plan was developed in 2012 by Skeo Solutions and the Green Infrastructure Center and established five primary goals: 1) connecting the neighborhood to the creek and the James River; 2) improving walking routes to the community center and school; 3) slowing flow, increasing infiltration and cleaning stormwater; 4) developing a sense of community around the creek and school; and 5) creating outdoor education opportunities. Green streets are at the heart of this plan and Minefee Street was selected as the pilot because of its key role in connecting residents from the Hillside Court neighborhood and the Bellemeade neighborhood to the adjacent Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School, Bellemeade Park, and the Bellemeade Community Center.

Green streets employ the use of green infrastructure practices such as street trees, bioretention, planter beds, and other green infrastructure practices to absorb stormwater runoff, reduce the urban heat island effect, and promote community resilience in the face of climate change. The Bellemeade Green Street project, designed and engineered by Timmons Group and 3North, features a large bioretention filter, two Filterra boxes and eight planter beds along Minefee Street. These practices replaced impervious asphalt and were planted with native trees, shrubs, and perennials that support pollinators. The bioretention filter and Filterras are capable of capturing 39,153.04 gallons (5,234 cubic feet) of stormwater and remove 11.11 pounds of Nitrogen, 1.81 pounds of Phosphorous, and 452.78 of Total Suspended Solids from stormwater before it reaches Albro Creek on an annual basis. Since 2019, 41 native street trees have been planted along Minefee Street using support from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Trees for Clean Water Program and volunteer assistance. These street trees complement the infrastructure improvements and provide additional resilience for the community. The second phase of the project calls for a protected bike lane along Minefee Street and JRA intends to continue working with the community and partners to implement this in the future.

Bioretention area in progress (Photo: James River Association)

Harbor Dredge & Dock was selected to install the new infrastructure and Groundwork RVA installed and is currently maintaining street trees and plants along Minefee Street. Green workforce development was integrated into the project through JRA’s partnership with Groundwork RVA, a community-based non-profit working to transform the natural and built environment in Richmond. They work on community supported initiatives towards the goal of a greener and more resilient Richmond that works for all.

Volunteer helping create a bioretention area (Photo: James River Association)

Groundwork RVA Executive Director, Rob Jones, shared his thoughts on the project and the partnership:

The pandemic highlighted what many of us have known for quite some time – that there are huge gaps in our community. For many families in South Richmond, that includes a lack of access to fresh foods, green spaces and even shade from trees. All of this leads to serious challenges that make it harder to survive, let alone thrive.

Our partnership with the James River Association on the Minefee Green Street, is an important step towards helping young men and women, many of whom live in South Richmond “earn while they learn.” Our Green Workforce will have the opportunity to be side-by-side as the project proceeds, from the ground-up! Learning to do work that is not only vital for our communities today but that contributes to the survival of future generations, especially as we tackle climate change. Healthy communities need healthy people – physically, emotionally and economically. We appreciate JRA’s stepping up to help us create a full-spectrum learning opportunity for our young people and look forward to many other projects to come.

Finished Planter Bed (Photo: James River Association)

The Bellemeade Green Street project was supported by funding from Altria, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities/RVAH2O, Virginia Department of Forestry, United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Job, Green Towns Grant Program.

The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Program is currently accepting applications for proposals through March 3rd from entities in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact Jeffrey Popp, at jpopp@cbtrust.org or at 410-974-2941 ext. 103.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Graduate Spotlight- Kristina Soetje

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On August 17th 33 members, from 28 host sites, graduated from the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) Program and the Chesapeake Bay Trust welcomed the 12th class of the Corps, with 33 new members assigned to 26 host sites. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the Corps provides career and leadership training for young people interested in environmental careers. The insights gained from graduating corps members can shape the potential for environmental science and industry in the future. We are pleased to share Kristina’s (Pictured above repairing beaver baffles  to restore stream flow) experience here:

Kristina was a toddler when her family moved to Maryland from Long Island, New York. School field trips to the National Aquarium and the Chesapeake Bay, outdoor education programs, adventures with friends around the watershed, and her grandmother’s environmentalism strengthened her love for the natural world. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a dual-degree student where she studied environmental science and geography, visual arts with the animation concentration, and dance. She interned at Ladew Topiary Gardens and the National Aquarium. Maura Duffy, her National Aquarium colleague (who was in the 5th class of the Corps), was the first Chesapeake Conservation Corps alumna to recommend the program to her.

Kristina standing between her former National Aquarium supervisor Charmaine Dahlenburg (left) and CCC supervisor/mentor Deborah Landau (right) at Nassawango Creek Preserve. (Photo: Deborah Landau/TNC)

After she graduated from UMBC in May 2019, Kristina cycled across the United States from Baltimore to San Francisco to raise awareness of young adult cancer for the Ulman Foundation. Upon returning to Maryland that August, she interned at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation under Carmera Thomas-Wilhite (who was in the 1st class of the corps in 2010), the second Corps alumna to recommend the program. Inspired by Duffy and Thomas-Wilhite, Kristina researched the Corps further and applied for a spot in the 2020-2021 Cohort.

She was thrilled to be matched with The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/DC Chapter for her service year. “I was impressed by the variety and scale of the work that they undertake to make impactful science-informed decisions across Maryland” Kristina explained. “I was excited for all the professional development opportunities proposed to me. I recognized that by being placed with TNC MD/DC, I would be surrounded by incredible and inspiring colleagues, experts dedicated to their respective disciplines in the conservation field.”

The Nature Conservancy, a global non-profit organization, impacts over 70 countries and territories and all 50 U.S. states with science-based conservation efforts. Their mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends”. Kristina’s well-rounded Corps Work Plan contributed to this mission for TNC MD/DC. Highlights included researching forest health and resilience in Maryland through rare plant surveys and forest restoration project site monitoring. She wrote a white paper discussing how herbicide treatments with prescribed burns could remove invasive Phragmites australis barriers to facilitate marsh migration. She led trail maintenance events in western Maryland. Additionally, Kristina reunited with the National Aquarium team for an Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress planting event on the Eastern Shore. She appreciates that she explored many unique and beautiful ecosystems state-wide for work; TNC MD/DC owns and protects around 30 preserves.

Nailing a trail sign to a tree during her trail maintenance site visit at Sideling Hill Creek
Preserve. (Photo: Michael Sioson/CCC)

Kristina’s favorite component of her term was becoming a Certified Wildland Firefighter Type II. “I was fortunate to serve as a crew member on eight prescribed burns encompassing nearly 2,000 acres of TNC and partner lands.” One burn was filmed by CBS and broadcast as a news story in April 2021, reaching over five million people nation-wide.

She even incorporated prescribed burns into her Corps Capstone Project. Kristina researched how different variables behind TNC MD/DC’s prescribed burns impact the production of pyrogenic carbon, a stable carbon sequestering and soil fertilizing material, within the soils of Nassawango Creek Preserve. The project became an international collaboration with Swansea University researchers, who assisted Kristina with sample design feedback and laboratory soil tests. Results showed that pyrogenic carbon production occurs primarily in areas with a multi-burn history. Soil moisture does not impact production of the material at the preserve, so wetland and dune habitats hold similar quantities of pyrogenic carbon if they are experiencing the same burn regime. Kristina’s Capstone prioritized soil science for TNC MD/DC and further justified their prescribed burns. Interest is growing towards publishing her study into a scientific journal.

Kristina believes the most important aspect of her Corps year was her ability to form valuable connections with others despite the ongoing pandemic. She enjoyed moments she shared with other Corps members through over 10 Site Visits and 3 All Hands on Deck events, where she learned about their work and Host Organizations. She networked with TNC MD/DC partners including scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife burn crews, and university professors. Kristina bonded with her TNC MD/DC colleagues and absorbed the valuable lessons they taught her, a favorite being to appreciate the little things in life despite the circumstances of the bigger picture. She is thankful for her close mentorship with Deborah Landau, the Conservation Ecologist for TNC MD/DC, whom Kristina says was “inspiring, honest, and supportive of me professionally and personally.”

Kristina graduated as part of the 33 from the 11th class and looks forward to her immediate post-Corps plans. She was hired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as their Volunteer Coordinator for Patapsco Valley State Park. She will match volunteers with opportunities to serve the park, coordinate their trainings, oversee their stewardship projects, design volunteer newsletters, and more. “I find significant value in connecting communities to the lands and waters they care for through volunteerism and environmental stewardship, so I am excited to express this through my work with the Maryland Park Service.” As a volunteer herself, Kristina will stay active with TNC MD/DC by continuing to serve as a prescribed burn crew member.

Having fun with ignition duties as a certified Wildland Firefighter Type II at Sideling Hill Creek Preserve. (Photo: Matt Kane/TNC)

Flagging red spruce seedlings at Cranesville Swamp Preserve to inventory their populations
and monitor their growth rates with Forest Science Project Manager Pabodha Galgamuwa. (Photo:
William Weems/TNC)

Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate: 2020 Year in Review

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A property owner proudly displays a Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate yard sign to showcase their new permeable pavement driveway and participation in the program.

To improve our communities and the environment, it will take each of us to do our part! Today, we look at residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who are doing their part to keep their communities clean, healthy, and beautiful.

Since 2012, County residents have the opportunity to receive a rebate, or reimbursement, for installing practices that reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve local river health through the County’s Rain Check Rebate Program. The practices include rain barrelscisternsurban tree canopyrain gardenspavement removalpermeable pavement, and green roofs. These practices beautify the property and have additional benefits. For example:

  • installing rain barrels and cisterns reduces water use from the tap and reduces watering costs
  • planting native trees and plants provide food and habitat for important bird and pollinator species
  • removing pavement and replacing it with permeable pavement can reduce standing water on the walkway or driveway

Fiscal Year 2020 By The Numbers

161878
Rebates Awarded
154
Applications Approved
135
Rain Barrel & Cistern Projects
211
Urban Tree Canopy Projects
24
Rain Garden Projects
27
Pavement Removal Projects
19
Permeable Pavement Projects
92,928
Sq. Ft. of Impervious Area Treated

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer this program. We are excited to announce that Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 to June 2020) for the Rain Check Rebate Program was another successful year with 154 approved applications, representing 416 projects, for a total rebate amount of $161,878. These projects help treat 92,928 square feet of impervious surface, which is almost the size of one and a half football fields!

This is a very worthwhile program to help protect our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. We planted over 15 trees on our property to help reduce stormwater runoff and are looking forward to the increase of beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage to come in our yard. We are very happy we found out about this program!

Jessica and Franklin
Prince George's County Residents

The projects installed through the Rain Check Rebate Program play an important role in keeping our rivers clean and healthy by tackling the issue of stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff occurs when rainwater flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, and roads, that do not allow the water to soak into the ground. As it flows across these surfaces, it can pick up harmful pollutants such as bacteria from pet waste and motor oil from cars. This polluted runoff makes its way into nearby rivers and is harmful to aquatic life and can be a health hazard for people. Fast-moving and high volumes of stormwater runoff can also cause erosion of riverbanks.

Since the program’s inception, we’ve had over 730 approved applications, representing over 1,550 projects, for a total rebate amount of over $680,000.

Thank you to everyone that has participated in the Rain Check Rebate Program throughout the years! Your efforts help keep Prince George’s County beautiful and healthy!

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

Learn More and Apply

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Jana Davis

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!

 

When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Trust.

Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Jana: I am the director at the Trust, and I love it because it’s the perfect combination of two elements of my background: science and policy/management.  My role at the Trust is really to support all the work that our amazing team members do; figure out a way to do it more easily, more efficiently, and better when possible; and determine whether there is some other direction we can/should go.  The Trust has an incredible mission and such a unique and wonderful role in the community.  We are a non-advocacy, independent, trusted entity that provides resources to groups to get amazing work done, which I love – the idea of helping other people get their goals accomplished – and that steps in to solve some key conundrums that others can’t. 

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Jana: What inspired me was my love of natural resources like the ocean and bays and marshes and my love of being outdoors, and seeing what happens to certain parts of our outdoors.  I don’t admit this too often, because I’m a proud Marylander now, but I did grow up on the Jersey shore during the era the Jersey shore because somewhat infamous for medical waste washing up on beaches.  I think I just saw a late-night TV joke on this topic, so while the situation has much improved, it’s still on people’s minds.  It crushed my heart to go out to beautiful spots like the back trails in the Sandy Hook Gateways National Recreation area – these secret spots that when I was a kid I thought were “mine” – and see trash there.  Later, I became a scientist (oceanography), and it seemed only natural to combine my love of the outdoors with my love of science – which to me is more about question asking and problem-solving than memorizing, say, part of a cell – to become part of the environmental management community.

 3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Jana: Work hard, be smart, and never be afraid of anything! 

 4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Jana: I know that many women have faced significant barriers to accomplish their goals, and obviously barriers still exist when we look at things like CEO demographics and the fact that we still haven’t had a female President of the United States.  However, I have been very lucky in that I have been very supported along the way by people of all genders, or else worked so hard or was so blind to the barrier that I got my way anyway.  I am the first female Executive Director of the Trust, and at the time, people made a few comments, but by the time I realized that fact, I had already gotten the job!   Interestingly, at the time, the Trust had its first-ever female Chair of the Board of Trustees also.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Jana: Hard work, great vision, ability to get back up when knocked down, empathy.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Jana: I’m going to name two women:  One who for me represents all the women over the centuries who have played a historically downplayed role in so many great human discoveries, and one who directly helped me in my career.   The first is Katherine Johnson (and her colleagues), made famous in the book and movie Hidden Figures, though of course she and her colleagues were famous in certain circles long before that.  Katherine Johnson of course was one of the “computers” who worked at NASA in the 1950s and 60s and who were responsible for so many missions and calculations behind them, most notably the one that put a human on the moon and the backbone of our current GPS system.  To me, she represents all the women on whose shoulders so many great discovers stand, but who in the past have not gotten their due in the history books, such as Marie Curie, Catharine Littlefield Greene, Barbara McClintock, Grace Murray Hopper, Marie Maynard Daly, Maria Mitchell, Flossie Wong-Staal, etc.  My graduate school advisor, Dr. Lisa Levin, was personally a huge inspiration.  She works so hard, excels in her field, and never complains.  She was a huge inspiration to me when I was a graduate student.


Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Kacey Wetzel

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!

 

When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education.

Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Kacey: I was born and raised in Maryland and have a longstanding love for the Chesapeake Bay and water generally. While I have lived in a few places, I came back to the Chesapeake region in 2006 and joined the Trust staff in 2007. I am the Director of Outreach and Education here at the Trust and I work with an amazing team of folks who care deeply about environmental and community well-being.

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Kacey: I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Ginger in middle school who organized an essay contest to select students to participate in an immersive multi-day environmental education experience. While I didn’t know it at the time, I was participating in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (or what we affectionately refer to as a MWEE). At some point over the course of several days, while listening to geese overhead, smelling the brackish water, and walking through sandy beaches and black needle rush, I fell in love. That experience and the incredible passion of my teacher Mrs. Ginger set the course for my academic pursuits and my career.

3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Kacey: There are so many on-ramps to environmental careers now, so I don’t think you need to have an academic background in environmental science to find your niche in the environmental movement. If you feel passionate about something, however small it may be, that is likely your calling and is likely your best entry point into an environmentally oriented career. I know so many amazing women that have found their way into environmental careers by starting with simple questions: How can I reduce my waste? How can I improve my health? How can I help my community? Why is that incinerator being built here? How come the water is brown? So I think the best advice I can give a woman who wants to pursue an environmental career is to stay curious and listen to your inner voice. It may sound like a whisper but it will likely guide you in the right direction.

4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Kacey: While I have personally encountered and still continue to encounter ageism and misogyny within the environmental movement, I know that I am privileged because I identify as a cis-gender white woman. As a cis-gender white woman, I recognize that I only have a white, heterosexual female frame of reference and that my experience is not the experience of my colleagues who may identify as transgender, black, indigenous, or people of color. I also recognize that as a cis-gender white woman it is important for me to listen to those who identify as transgender and/or people of color, hear their perspectives and seek to understand how I can help to break down barriers faced by my colleagues.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Kacey: I think the ability to hold space for others’ viewpoints and to avoid binary thinking is critical. This is going to sound very Brene Brown, but I think great leaders maintain clear values and are emotionally courageous (willing to be vulnerable). I respect leaders that genuinely care about others, stay curious, and operate from self-awareness, not self-protection.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Kacey: I am so lucky to have so many wonderful women that inspire me every day. If I have to pick just one though, I will always pick my mom. My mom experienced a lot of trauma in her life, but she was always clear about her values. She valued integrity, kindness, and compassion, and her values were her guiding light. Despite a lot of hardship and darkness, she made sure to instill those values in us (my brother and I). She always said you should ‘fight for the underdog’. I miss my mom a lot but she is still a guiding light for me every day.


Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

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