Conservation Montgomery 

March 18, 2012

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treeshood3County Executive's Proposed FY12 Budget Released 
The March Madness of Street Trees Net Loss 
By T. Reid Lewis 
Environment Committee Chair
Springfield Citizens Association


We need to act now to put the County's street tree budget on a course to restore the losses
inflicted during the 'recession budget' of recent years. According to the draft 
FY2013 Budget released last week by County Executive Ike Leggett, our County
experienced a net loss of 1,119 street trees during FY2012 with the score:


Removed 1,466 trees
Planted       347 trees
Net Loss  1,119 trees


Yet the Executive's narrative in his proposed budget labels this as an "accomplishment."


We lose many of our County street trees for a variety of reasons, including disease, storm damage, old age, invasive plants growing on them and choking them -- or general lack of maintenance. Extrapolating to include three years of recession, the County has removed approximately 4,500 trees while replanting only about 1,000.  Unless we act to change this ongoing Montgomery March Madness, the 10-year score will be a net loss of 11,190 trees after removing 14,660 and planting 3,470.


When combined with Pepco's extremely active tree removal program in both in County
and State rights of way, the tree canopy has suffered a significant setback that needs
the attention of all residents.


Further, to replace the lost canopy of a single mature tree, seven young trees must 
be replanted according to Mark Buscaino, Casey Trees Executive Director, a Certified 
Arborist and Urban Forester who is also on the Advisory Council of Conservation Montgomery. 


We need to correct this short-sighted allocation and provide the County Tree Maintenance
Program with an adequate budget to reverse the loss of street trees that contribute so much to our neighborhoods.


Science has long documented the importance of trees to the health of our citizens and our environment and even to the value of our real estate.  And yet the proposed FY2013 Tree Maintenance Budget is essentially unchanged at $3.5M for FY2013.  It is simply unacceptable that the relatively small budget for our green infrastructure remains at a level that results in a net loss of 1,119 trees annually.


You can help by demanding that County officials reverse dwindling street trees in the FY2013 Budget.  Write to County Executive Ike Leggett at and the entire County Council at


We can keep our County beautiful by maintaining our mature trees and planting more trees. But we can't do it without the support of our elected officials and County agencies.
                                     -- To respond to this story for forwarding to Mr. Lewis, send e-mail to                                      




Welcoming Bethesda Green as a new partner 



This month, we welcome new partners Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership that promotes sustainable growth and sustainable living practices. Bethesda Green brings together business, government and the community to create a model of sustainable living. Bethesda Green created the first green business incubator in Montgomery County.  We are pleased to be able to collaborate with Bethesda Green in the future. 



edWheaton Resident Ed Murtagh Honored 


A local hero and Conservation Montgomery member was presented with a special award at the March 3 Community Clean Water Summit organized by the Montgomery Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  When DEP Director Bob Hoyt began his presentation without naming the award recipient -- but listing his contributions to stormwater management and community outreach over the years -- it didn't take long for most of over 100 summit participants to know that it was Ed Murtagh who was being recognized.  Murtagh has been affiliated with CM partner Friends of Sligo Creek and the Stormwater Partners Network.  Through these and other organizations, he has reached many county residents with messages accompanied by hands-on sustainability projects. DEP presented a special award to thank him for his work all over the county and prompted a standing ovation for a true community hero.     





School Site Selection Committee Again Targets 

Rock Creek Hills Park in Kensington   

rch sign

Issue to go before the Planning Board on April 9


Residents should never have to feel torn between the choice of a school or a cherished park. Both are equally important to our future and to community quality of life. Yet a school site selection committee, the Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools are not getting the message. 


Once again, without conducting comparative analysis of alternatives, and without relevant information needed to evaluate suitability of sites, a Montgomery County Public Schools advisory committee has recommended that the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, a former school site to which the MCPS has recall rights, be taken back from the Parks Department for construction of a middle school.  Residents around the heavily used Kensington park say their park fails to meet the overwhelming majority of the Board of Education's middle school site evaluation criteria, and would not yield parity with other middle schools in the County. 


"It cannot be considered fair to give over to a community 'parkland' which they have every right to consider 'protected' and as a result  rely on it being there in perpetuity -- and then come along 30 years later and take it back," said Conservation Montgomery Vice Chair Ginny Barnes of West Potomac. "It calls into question what we've come to believe about the value and sanctity of our open spaces and the resources they preserve for everyone. Worse, it makes us ask: do we actually live in a democracy? It is presumably in ruthless dictatorships where such public lands are taken from unsuspecting residents. Not here."  


The website of the community organization formed to save the park notes that building on the steep slope of the small site would be an expensive waste of scarce taxpayer dollars: "An independent construction budget estimate (ICBE) finds that the 2011 MCPS feasibility study for a middle school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park underestimated costs by approximately eighteen million dollars. The ICBE puts 2017 total costs at $64.5 million, almost 40% above the MCPS estimate," according to the Save Rock Creek Hills Park community organization. 


Minority reports have been filed by residents and officials at the Planning Department to note the flawed process involved in school site selection. The Board of Education will meet again on March 26 on this issue.  A hearing will be held on the issue at the Planning Board on April 9.  The School Board will vote on a recommendation by School Superintendent Joshua Starr on April 12.



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



Write the Council ASAP -- ACTION ALERT

  • Click for a sample letter a better option for county taxpayers interested in green space.

County Executive's Proposed FY13 Operating Budget

Council Expedited Bill 11-12 State Bag Bill Residential Energy Efficiency Montgomery Countryside Alliance Update 
on Right to Farm Legislation
  • MCA link and how to support this legislation
Forestry and treesspider web
  • Cobwebs are growing thick on the County Executive's proposal to improve the county Forest Conservation Law to include protection for forested land area less than 40,000 square feet. A bill promised by the Executive seems indefinitely on hold after a 3-year wait and an unfulfilled 2006 campaign pledge from Mr. Leggett.  Background here. If you are interested in better management of our urban tree canopy, e-mail the Executive to inquire about the l-o-n-g delay on this legislation.
  • A bill to protect street trees in the County Rights of Way is forthcoming.
  • WITHDRAWN: Until the next legislative session..State legislation regarding gas leaks and trees
Stormwater management

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.   


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