“Forest conservation bills rippling through Maryland counties” – Bay Journal

By Dick Williams, Memorial Episcopal Church

Tim Wheeler’s article for the Bay Journal reflects a certain level of sanity being stitched into land use practices around our state. Taming developer-propelled tract housing so as to lessen habitat and biodiversity destruction is critical to specie survival.

Representing GreenGrace, I sat in on as many of the weekly conference calls about Anne Arundel County forest conservation from late August as I could. Organized and led by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ Ben Alexandro, experts and advocates from many environmental organizations–the CBF, the Sierra Club, the South River Federation, Growth Action Network, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and Smart Growth Maryland among them–developed factual land use statements, rebuttals and edits of the proposed legislation for county council members who were being pressed mightily by the monied interests in the county and elsewhere. The many organizations also got their members to attend rallies and sit in on Council hearings at crucial junctures.

An impressive environmental brain trust acted continuously in support of County Executive Steuart Pittman’s pledge: “We’re going to strengthen the Forest Conservation Act in the county so that it drives development into the areas that do not have trees and make it tougher to develop in sensitive areas that do,” he said.

“Forest conservation bills rippling through Maryland counties” – Bay Journal

By Timothy B. Wheeler, November 20, 2019

“Forest conservation efforts are slowly gaining traction in Maryland, one county at a time.

“After holding multiple public meetings and debating dozens of amendments, the Anne Arundel County Council on Nov. 18 unanimously passed legislation to strengthen local forest retention and replacement requirements in one of the state’s most populous and fastest growing counties.”

READ FULL “BAY JOURNAL” ARTICLE

“Can Maryland’s Leader in Forest Loss Become a Model for Forest Conservation?”

Can Maryland’s Leader in Forest Loss Become a Model for Forest Conservation?

“Anne Arundel County owns an unfortunate distinction: for nearly a decade, more forest has been cleared her than anywhere else in Maryland. [It] lost more than 300 acres of forest per year between 2010 and 2017, a rate equal to losing more than half a football field of forest each day.”

READ THE FULL CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION 2019 ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY TREE REPORT HERE

A Notable Creation Care Achievement by a Determined Parish

by Dick Williams, GREENGRACE Co-Lead

Green change at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant started with Bernadine Coates. Working with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC), she connected with Blue Water Baltimore which conducted a water audit, and guided church leadership through the process of implementing stormwater management projects on its grounds.

IPC met with a large Holy Covenant crowd to help them understand why reducing stormwater runoff and its ill effects on our steams and rivers is our moral responsibility as Christians. Attendees were guided through a process for envisioning the church as a vehicle for healing the environment–and to envision themselves as the change they want to see. Immediately after that meeting, one of the attendees walked out to the parking lot and, noticing the downstream storm drain clogged with trash and leaves, cleaned it out right then and there! Change was taking place already.

But, church green leaders didn’t stop there. Several went to Annapolis for the Environmental Legislative Summit in January 2017 to learn more about environmental stewardship while lobbying for more of it.

An assessment of the church’s combined 23,000 sq. ft. of surface parking and roof showed that 650,000 gal. of stormwater runs off the site annually. $72,000 in grant funds for the design and implementation of two rain gardens was obtained. A Blue Water Baltimore staffer supported rather than led the green teamers in their application for funding.  The congregants have been patiently and steadily working on this effort for about 4 years.

The dedication occurred in September, 2019. The completed project will mitigate an estimated 25% of the overall impervious surface on the property.  Congregants will meet Saturdays for a month to maintain the newly completed bioswale.

Church green leaders continue to otherwise engage their fellow congregants as “change agents” – on its grounds, in its messaging and in the halls of power.