Conservation Montgomery 

January 15, 2012 

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A Message from Board Member Jennifer Chambers

jenDear Fellow County Residents, 


I have been seeing a lot of orange dots on our Down County trees and watching Asplundh cut down street trees in my neighborhood, Indian Spring. This reminded me that residents should know that street trees marked with an orange dot and slated for removal are also in neighborhoods where residents can request that trees be planted for free by the county to replace what is lost. It is very easy to request a to be planted by calling the Division of Highway Services 311 number.  You can call 311 and request that a new street tree be planted in front of your house.  There is no need to know what kind of tree you need or want because county arborists will determine a native species to plant. However, if you have a specific tree in mind, you should note that in the request and provide instructions as to where you would like the tree planted within the public right-of-way closest to the street. The county currently has a 6-12 month waiting list and generally only plants trees in the spring and fall. When you do get a new street tree, it is really important to water it regularly for up to two years to ensure its survival.


The Down County is losing a lot of trees due to their age and environmental impacts. The Down County has only a 12% tree canopy coverage which is well below the 25% coverage considered healthy for communities. Please share this information with your neighbors on list servs and encourage neighbors to replace their dying street trees, or trees being taken down by Pepco contractors, for free.  Make a simple call to the county 311 number. Thanks so much for spreading the word.


As a reminder:  Conservation Montgomery plans to supplement county tree planting with weekend tree planting events in the spring and fall of 2012. To sign up as a volunteer, click here. Student Service Learning hours are available for these projects.  


Keep an eye out for a Conservation Montgomery Community Tree Forum to be held in early March.  Let us know if your organization might want to co-sponsor with us.  And let's work together to save or replant trees in our communities.  

                    - Jennifer 



Montgomery County Teacher Named Chesapeake Bay Trust's  

Educator of the Year


Science teacher Erol Miller from Northwood High School was named the Chesapeake Bay Trust's Educator of the Year. Each year, the Trust recognizes outstanding teachers who work to engage Maryland students in their local community and the environment. With this award, he will receive a $2,500 grant to provide more outstanding environmental opportunities for Northwood students. Mr. Miller received this recognition for years of hands-on environmental work with students at Northwood: built the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail, encouraged recycling, reduced energy consumption, lead Northwood's MD Green School certification, lead the Environmental Club, grew plants for native plant and rain gardens, organized invasive plant removal, taught and conducted stream studies and so many more projects.  Well done, Mr. Miller! 


Nominate Your Green School as a Model for Environmental Ed


In December, representatives from the U.S. Department of Education toured Northwood High School in Silver Spring to see a model Green School. Last week, the Department of Education announced the nomination process for Green Ribbon Schools.  The program is supported by Congressman John Sarbanes as a way to recognize schools that excel in environmental education and stewardship.Click for Congressman Sarbanes' press release and more information.


Welcome to the New Conservation Montgomery Grant Writer


This month, we welcome Potomac resident Bill James as a volunteer writer to respond to grant requests for proposals.  Bill is a Ph.D. senior scientist in the field of cancer diagnostics with experience in writing successful proposals.  Thank you, Bill, for stepping up to support our work in 2012. 


Got Parks?  

Residents respond (again) to imperiled parks

and potential loss of green space in their communities


civic assoc meeting Rosemary HillsThe Rosemary Hills community came together at their neighborhood association meeting on Jan. 5th to express their overwhelming support for their local community park. The community anticipates a pro-parks consensus again as the County Board of Education (BOE) and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) re-starts the site selection process for a new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster.  The first 2012 site selection meeting was held on Jan. 11th with a promise by the BOE and MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr of more transparency this time around.  


In the spring of 2011, residents around both the Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park in Silver Spring and the Rock Creek Hills Park in Kensington cried foul for good reason:  lack of transparency on the part of the BOE.  Both communities were unaware that their heavily used public parks were on the site selection list for a new middle school. Members of these communities were not part of the site selection meetings which had an outcome of proposing six parks out of 10 sites as prime locations for school construction.  Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier wrote a letter to the BOE noting that the process had been flawed and that parks are public land which should not be used for any other purpose. MCPS intends to start a new site selection process with more community input than last year. However, communities around parks in the BCC cluster are prepared to fight again for their local parks which are so important to quality of life in Montgomery County.


Our position:   Parks and schools are equally important.  The two should never have to compete for land use.  Let's hope that MCPS looks at more creative ways to select sites for new schools than trying to take parks.  Better yet, MCPS might look at taking back MCPS property currently leased to non-MCPS entities -- or look at redeveloping buildings or land outside of parks and urban open space. Let's not just "think outside of the box."  Let's think outside of the parks -- and outside of the realm of turning our valuable county parks into construction sites. 


Background Links:  

April 27, 2011 Letter from the Planning Board Chair to the BOE Chairman  

November 8, 2011 Letter from MCPS Superintendent Starr on the site selection process

Patch Story on the new process starting again for site selection

Summer 2011 Gazette Story published as Kensington fought for their park




md flag

 The 2012 Maryland General Assembly reconvened on January 11th.  Over the next 3 months as many as 2,000 bills will be considered, including the budget. And when it comes to the budget, this year promises to be another tough year to protect programs that address environmental challenges facing our air, land and water. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MDLCV) is working to bring the message to state legislators that good environmental policy is good economic policy.   MDLCV has outlined the following priorities in Annapolis: 

The Vision of the Clean Waters Healthy Families Campaign is to have swimmable and fishable waters in our local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay by 2020. 

Legislation in 2012 seeks to bring clean wind energy to Maryland. 

Legislation will add a 5 cent fee on plastic bags use across Maryland. This method has proven to be a winner in reducing plastic bag use and the associated problems.  On January 1st, the Montgomery County Bag Bill became effective. 


For a comprehensive summary of all state environmental issues, read the Issue Papers prepared by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services for the General Assembly.  Skip or scroll to page 229 to read current information on environmental issues.


moco flag


A draft roadside tree bill is being prepared by Council President Berliner and Councilmember Elrich and a draft bill related to forest conservation and urban tree canopy is being prepared by the County Executive via the County Department of Environmental  Protection (DEP).  The Executive's Office was provided with the most recent version of the urban tree bill on December 12 by Council staff.  One of County Executive Leggett's special assistants has been working with the Department of Permitting Services, DEP and the Department of Transportation and the County Attorney's staff to review the bill to understand how it relates to current State and County law and practice.  A meeting between Council staff and staff from the Executive's Office has been scheduled at the end of January to discuss the bill.  


DEP Director Bob Hoyt explained at a fall meeting of the Forest Conservation Advisory Committee that his agency is working with County Attorney staff to obtain approval of a final bill and is coordinating with DPS and M-NCPPC as the bill is finalized. How 
long this process will take is difficult to predict.  At this point, the DEP has taken more than three years to develop urban tree legislation that was promised by the County Executive when he was elected in 2006. 
 Director Hoyt's staff is scheduled to update the County Forest Conservation Advisory Committee on the status of the bill on Jan. 17th at 7 p.m.  


Considering these meetings and current activity, it does not appear that the urban tree will reach the County Council for introduction this month.   It has now been over three years since DEP originally requested that they be allowed an opportunity to write the legislation.   In 2006, County Executive Isiah Leggett promised improvements in the county tree laws as part of his election platform.

Conservation Montgomery is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education education and action to make a connection between the stewardship of local natural resources and community quality of life.  Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the IRS code.  To donate or sign up as a member.   


Working together to enhance our quality of life.