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Towson University Tree Campus USA Award Serves as an Example for All

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Towson University, a recent Tree Campus award winner and Chesapeake Bay Trust awardee, organized an Arbor Day event to showcase their commitment to planting and caring for trees and recognize their many environmental and physiological benefits.

In December 2018, Towson University received a grant award through the Trust’s Outreach and Restoration Grant Program to revitalize the university’s Glen Arboretum. The goal of this project was to further the mission of the Glen Arboretum on the Towson University campus. The revitalization of the Glen will help improve the health of the Jones Fall watershed through removal of invasive species, increased native plants and trees, and decreased erosion along stream banks. It will also provide educational experiences for students and the surrounding community. Through events and promotions by the students, faculty and volunteers, the Glen Arboretum is not only a valuable environment for university research, but a community resource for restoration and visitation.

Throughout the year, the Chesapeake Bay Trust offers several programs that encourage the planting and growth of trees as a means of improving air quality, increasing tree canopies and forest habitats, and improving water quality in local watersheds. Specific programs like the Charles County Forestry, Anne Arundel County Forestry and forested Land Protection, Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate, and Anne Arundel Mini Community Planting programs along with other similar county programs focus on increasing tree planting and protection of existing forested land. Many other grant opportunities include tree planting as a part of stormwater reduction or watershed restoration.

By increasing tree cover and expanding green areas, erosion can be reduced, water and soil quality can be improved, airborne pollutants can be filtered and ozone pollution resulting from high summer temperatures can be reduced. The International Society of Arboriculture provides a wealth of information on the value of trees, successfully choosing a new tree and how to plant it, pruning mature trees, and the importance of mulching.

Looking for inspiration to jumpstart efforts in your local community? The Arbor Day Foundation has launched an initiative aimed at worldwide efforts to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million new tree planters by the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day in 2022.

Ideally, the best time to plant is from the last leaf drop in fall or in early spring before budbreak. Now is the time to determine the right tree for your site. Use the Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center to find native trees that provide shade, fruits or nuts, colorful flowers or distinct fall color, and more.  Lastly, how do you plan to maintain the health of your new planting for long-term sustainability. The Department of Energy and Environment notes that maintenance is extremely important, especially in the first two years after planting.

For more information on everything related to trees, including planting, mulching, pruning, and when you may need an arborist, visit: www.treesaregood.org. The Maryland Department of the Environment sponsors Tree-mendous Maryland with the goal of helping Maryland residents with access to affordable trees to plant on their public lands. With permission from landowners, volunteers can plant trees at schools, in state and community parks, local open space, street trees and more. And keep checking The Trust’s grants page for current and upcoming opportunities to add trees to your communities’ landscape.

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

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

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Centro de Apoyo Familiar engages Latino and immigrant communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with educational workshops and resources to promote environmental stewardship. 

Centro de Apoyo Familiar, or Center for Assistance to Families (CAF), is a nonprofit organization in Prince George’s County, Maryland. CAF aims to revitalize and transform Latino and immigrant communities through economic, social, and educational empowerment in collaboration with faith-based organizations.

In 2017, CAF received a grant award 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.

For this project, CAF recruited three churches in Prince George’s County to participate in the program and a member from each was selected as the promotora. 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.

The Rain Check Rebate Program provides an opportunity for homeowners, businesses, and others to help reduce stormwater runoff in the County and improve local waterways. Stormwater runoff is rain or melted snow that runs off impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, and flows across the land into storm drains and local 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. 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 and also provided these materials to the promotoras for distribution during workshops with community members. These workshops reached 141 Latino families and provided technical assistance to those interested in applying for the Rain Check Rebate Program.

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

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!