Conservation Montgomery
  Working together to enhance our quality of life 

Community News and Updates December 2010
In This Issue
Chair's Message
2011 Legislation
Green commuting options
A Martha Stewart moment..

McKenney Hills

The joys of the urban forest
Join us on Dec. 18th to learn about one of the larger remaining tracts of urban forest in the  Down County. 

New on the Conservation website:








Ginny Barnes

Arlene Bruhn

Mark Buscaino

Diane Cameron

Jennifer Chambers

Evan Glass

David Hauck

Barbara Hoover

Caren Madsen

Mike Rubin

Helen Wood

After you scroll through our e-update, read:  It's time to update the definition of "smart growth" by Kaid Benfield
by clicking here



Read Ginny Barnes' editorial at www.Conservation

New members

Rock Creek Sports Club
Little Falls Watershed Alliance
Citizens League of Montgomery County


What's wrong with this picture?   You are missing!  Coming in January:  Sharon Sellers of Rock Creek Sports Club shares tips for staying fit through the winter for bike commuting.


Dear Fellow Residents,
     It may be getting cooler outside but you can still get a dose of Vitamin G with us this month. You are invited to our 4th Community Stroll on Saturday, December 18th at 1 p.m.  We'll stroll through the McKenney Hills neighborhood where board directors Diane Cameron and Ginny Barnes will talk about the urban forest in the Down County area.  Please find a map and details here.  Audubon Naturalist Society, the McKenney Hills Forest Preservation Group and Montgomery County Public Schools were able to reach a compromise to revise the Forest Conservation Plan for the new McKenney Hills school being built in the area.  The end result will preserve a number of mature trees on top of steep slopes, and enhance the stormwater management plan for the site.  Come walk in the woods, hear the story and see the green space that school age children will be able to enjoy due to a successful community collaboration.  
     To help residents who will include green commuting on a list of New Year's resolutions, keep reading for an article about winter bike commuting and using electric bicycles as an option. In January, we'll write about staying in shape for cycling through the winter so you will be ready for the road after the winter thaw.  Please visit our website to find "Get There By Bike" which discusses bicycle commuting as a means of achieving the county's greenhouse gas reduction goals. As a cyclist, I can tell you there is nothing like experiencing your community on two wheels.  Plus, I met my husband through cycling 18 years ago.  Our first date:  a bike ride on Jan. 3rd.  Yes, you can ride in the winter! 

     We welcome an alliance with Rock Creek Sports Club, along with the Little Falls Watershed Alliance and Citizens League of Montgomery County as new member organizations this month. 

      Below you'll also find a quick list of legislation on the horizon in 2011 at the county and state levels. We have exciting plans for the year ahead.  If you would like to support our work, please consider a small year-end donation to Conservation Montgomery.

Our membership and donations form is on this link


     Have a warm and peaceful season with your friends and family.  


Caren Madsen

CM Board Chair


Legislation and policy decisions on the horizon 

Montgomery County

  • Upcoming amendments to the County Forest Conservation Law (FCL) anticipated in January
  • Montgomery County is exploring a bag bill to reduce waste and encourage use of reusable shopping bags.
  • IMPORTANT:  Continuation of the Zoning Rewrite Project.  Rewriting zoning codes will have a tremendous impact on the future of Montgomery County.  It is essential for residents and business owners in the county learn about this effort and participate in the decision-making process. The next meeting of the Zoning Advisory Panel or ZAP (open to the public) is Dec. 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, 20910.  Please contact Pamela Dunn for more information: , 301-650-5649

State Legislation

  • State bag bill modeled on bag bill adopted in D.C.
  • Clean energy bill to promote offshore wind energy in Maryland will be introduced. Proposed bill will require Maryland utilities to enter into long-term contracts for offshore wind power.
  • Outdoor lighting bill to encourage use of energy efficient outdoor lighting
  • Legislation on bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • Transparency legislation to improve delivery of government information
  • Campaign finance reform bill
  • Legislation to take arsenic out of chicken feed
  • Expansion of stormwater legislation
  • Bill to expand green building to other types of buildings
  • Legislation to provide a dedicated funding source for cities and counties to use in reducing runoff to watersheds and for watershed restoration/protection.

Keep checking the Conservation Montgomery website or the Maryland Legislature or County Council websites.  We will post these bills as they are introduced.  Please also contact your County Councilmembers or State legislators for more information.

Green commuting options    

Sam Valdes of Silver Cycles commutes by bike throughout the winter

In 2011, resolve to get fit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Linda Mack may not be the average cyclist.  It's not everyone who turns a passion of 37 years into a small business.  But the owner of Silver Cycles in Silver Spring is a true believer when it comes to using two wheels instead of one as a form of sustainable  transportation.  "I started commuting by bike in 1973 during the gas crisis," said Mack.  "I've been at it ever since."

       Mack and her staff encourage customers to persevere with cycling as much as possible in the winter.  Employees at Silver Cycles are known for pulling out maps and helping customers find the safest routes for bike commuters.  They also provide advice on proper gear and clothing for cooler winter temperatures.  

Josh Sachs of Silver Cycles maps out the safest commuting route for a customer


  "If you ski or hike, a lot of the base layers of clothing you wear for those sports are the same things you would wear for short winter bike commutes," says Mack.  "You don't have to spend a lot of money to stay warm and comfortable."

     But Mack says comfort and safety are two separate issues when it comes to winter riding.  She advises using lights specially configured for bicycles in order to be seen in intersections early in the evening, as well as bright jackets and clothing that are highly visible to motorists. 

    "Getting more bike lanes designed and built in the county will stimulate more use of bikes over cars," says Mack.  "If people feel safe riding their bikes, they'll use them for commuting.  It's that simple."    

       Jo Reyes, one of the owners of The Green Commuter in Takoma Park, includes e-bikes -- or electric bikes -- as part of his inventory along with traditional bicycles.  Reyes and Mack share the same passion and commitment to green commuting as a way of life.  However, Reyes has a slightly different approach to building awareness of eco-friendly commuting.  
The Green Commuter owner Jo Reyes shows a few features on the Ultra Motor A2B electric bike: a hub motor and twist throttle on the handlebars.
"I use my bike to get everywhere I possibly can," says Reyes.   "But you have to realize that hardcore cycling isn't for everybody.  There are older customers or those with physical limitations.  I believe in clean and sustainable transportation so much that I think everyone should be able to participate."

    E-bikes, popular in Europe but just catching on in the U.S., travel at a Department of Transportation- mandated maximum of 20 mph and cost an average of 11 cents a mile to operate.  Most of the bikes in Reyes' inventory will travel a range of 20 to 45 miles on a single charge.  The bikes are either pedal-assisted or "power-on-demand."   Power-on-demand means that the bike assists you when you need it. 

    "Electric bicycles can open the door for people who might not be green commuters otherwise," said Reyes.  "There are plenty of customers who want to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but are reluctant because they may not be able to move fast enough or carry enough gear on a traditional bicycle.  We're all about giving people options."

    Reyes has set up e-bikes for older customers and says it gives them a renewed sense of freedom and control over how they get around.  He is also retrofitting two traditional bicycles to convert them to e-bikes for the Montgomery County Police Department under a grant the department received. 

     For customers who want to test their ability, a power-on-demand bike can be turned off completely, allowing the rider to "hypermile" the same way that Toyota Prius drivers can hypermile in their hybrid. 

    "The technology is here for these types of bikes," says Reyes.  "It's all a matter of making sure that people who aren't regular cyclists know what's available." 

Silver Cycles owner Linda Mack (right) shows reflective safety material on employee Sam Valdes' winter cycling gear. Lights and reflective strips on clothes and helmets are essential for safer commuting.

This folding e-bike, manufactured by California-based Pedego is a clever idea for travelers or apartment dwellers, according to Jo Reyes of The Green Commuter. The bike can be packed and checked with an airline and used for commuting once a traveler reaches his/her destination.



If Martha Stewart was an environmentalist...

     You'll find ample online stories about being green during the holidays, so we won't bore you with one more.  But we thought we would share a few of the ideas we ran across for re-purposing used items. 
      At far left is a beer bottle tree.  Question:  Where would you  store it?  In the middle is a Christmas tree ornament made of those lost puzzle pieces you find around the house.  To the right is a wreath made of old sweaters, a wreath only a moth could love.


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