Conservation Montgomery 

May 25, 2013

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Community Greening Launched

Project Aims to Increase Tree Canopy
in Most Denuded Areas   


Finished!  Teens gather around the tree they have planted along Garland Avenue


Watch the Slide Show 


Curious residents in Long Branch stopped on May 4th to watch 54 high school youth planting 23 trees in their neighborhood. As the first project under Community Greening led by Conservation Montgomery, youth volunteers spent a day learning about the relationship between adequate tree canopy and improved water quality.


County Executive Isiah Leggett kicked off the event with a morning greeting and pep talk. Council members Hans Riemer (At Large), Valerie Ervin (D-5) and Marc Elrich (At Large) also stopped by to talk with volunteers and cheer them on.


County Executive Leggett with volunteer Mauricio Hernandez

"Looking out across the room today, what I see is the future," said Leggett. "Each and every one of you represents the future of this county. It's up to you to improve our or two trees at a time. By being here today, you are making an investment in the future."  


Water quality in the Long Branch stream is poor due to untreated storm runoff and increased paved areas in urban areas around the stream. Studies show improved conditions of streams and creeks leading to the Chesapeake Bay where there is adequate tree canopy. At 13 percent, Long Branch has the second lowest level of tree canopy in Montgomery County. Ideally, trees should cover 25-30 percent of the area.


Long Branch is bounded by Flower Avenue, Piney Branch Road and Arliss Road. Young native trees were planted on the grounds of the Long Branch Library, along the public right of way on Garland Avenue and along the stream in the adjacent Long Branch-Arliss Local Park. Over the summer, a group of 15 volunteers from the Maryland Multi Cultural Youth Center (MMYC) Conservation Corps will assume a stewardship role to help the young trees get established. The MMYC volunteers will water and maintain the trees, checking for deer browse each week and monitoring the young trees during the hottest months of the summer.  


Arborists Katherine Nelson from the Planning Department and Herbert White from the Parks Department led two morning training sessions. Pablo Blank with LEAD Environment led a session in both English and Spanish, concluding with a unity circle and calling on the volunteers to work in harmony with cohorts from various cultures. Youth volunteers were from more than a dozen different countries and spoke Spanish, French, Vietnamese and Amharic.


"Eighteen years ago, I was sitting right where you are today," said Parks arborist Herbert White in his session on proper tree planting. "I'm from Philadelphia," he said. "But I love to be outdoors and work with nature so I became trained as an arborist. If you enjoy this kind of work, there are good jobs working with trees and taking care of them."


To bring the May 4th Community Greening project to fruition, Conservation Montgomery partnered with Safe Silver Spring, LEAD Environment(formerly Un Granito de Arena), the Maryland Multi Cultural Youth Center, the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (Planning and Parks Departments). Technical guidance was provided by the Montgomery Planning Department. The Montgomery County Parks Department dedicated staff time and donated deer protection material for the project.

cbtFunded with a $5,000 grant awarded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), an Annapolis based grant-making organization and a $2,000 grant from the Patagonia Georgetown store, Community Greening was formally launched with this first Long Branch planting day.


Conservation Montgomery was recently awarded another $2,000 from the Takoma Foundation for a spring 2014 Community Greening planting day in Long Branch. In the fall of 2013, Casey Trees will partner once again with Conservation Montgomery on a Long Branch project, marking the second community tree-planting partnership between Casey Trees and Conservation Montgomery.

Environmental Policy Updates 
Montgomery County Tree Legislation


treeshood3Within the executive and legislative branches of Montgomery County government, work continues on the urban tree canopy bill (Bill 35-12) and the Streets and Roadside Trees bill (Bill 41-12).  Both bills are still under review by the Council Transportation and Environment Committee which is chaired by Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) and At Large Council members Hans Riemer and Nancy Floreen. The next committee meeting will be held on June 24th.  


The building community continues to vilify both tree bills, characterizing the legislation as unnecessary and alarming homeowners by claiming that the bills will prevent the average homeowner from removing trees. Click here to get the straight facts dispelling the rumors propagated by a small group of infill builders. Read the latest clips from Bethesda Now and the Gazette for remarks from County Executive Leggett, who is sponsoring Bill 35-12.  The bill is intended to replace urban tree canopy that is demolished due to development.   A goal of the street tree bill (Bill 41-12) is to protect and administer county oversight for our street and roadside trees. Read the Executive's letter to the Gazette on the need for tree legislation. You can still weigh in on these bills by signing an online petition or by writing to the Council at



Efforts to Save Ten Mile Creek Continue 


Ten Mile Creek
Crystal clear Ten Mile Creek:  Overdevelopment in Clarkston jeopardizes the quality of this backup drinking water supply for the county

Smart development means a better quality of life for everyone in Montgomery County -- and everyone dependent on the Potomac watershed. Last fall, we reported on the status of Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg and how this pristine creek, known as the county's "last best stream" is at risk of degradation from excessive development in the Stage IV Clarksburg Master Plan.


In a few weeks, the Montgomery County Planning Commission will make decisions about a Limited Master Plan for Stage 4 development in Clarksburg.  Rather than building in Clarksburg Town Center, as promised to residents, developers are promoting several massive projects which would put untenable pressures on Ten Mile Creek. 


This creek feeds the area's emergency water supply and is the last, best creek feeding the Potomac watershed. It's time to make your voice heard again.  Start by posting a comment on the Planning Board websitthat calls for science-based planning that will protect the Creek.  Specifically, ask policy makers for a six percent imperviousness cap, adequate tree cover, and to establish an environmental overlay zone so that all of the above can be accomplished.


This coming Wednesday evening, May 29th the Livable Clarksburg Coalition is hosting a community forum to discuss this plan. The event will be held at Little Bennett Elementary School, 23930 Burdette Forest Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871.  View the agenda. 


For a comprehensive summary on Ten Mile Creek from the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, click here. 


Upcoming Activity

  • June 6, 2013: Work session to present and discuss plan recommendations
  • June 20, 2013: Present staff draft and request public hearing date
  • July 25, 2013: Planning Board public hearing
  • September 2013: Planning Board work sessions
  • October 2013: Planning Board to transmit Planning Board draft to County Council
First CM Big Tree Tour a Success
By Ginny Barnes
CM Vice Chair
Big Tree Tour
Ginny Barnes (left facing) and Joe Howard to her right, leading the Big Tree Tour on May 18
On a cloudy but mild morning, we met our tour leader Joe Howard in Rockville to focus on Champion and near-Champion trees in upper Montgomery County for our first Big Tree Tour.  A highlight of the May 18th event was to visit the largest tree in Maryland, an American Sycamore. Crowned as the Champion after the sad death of the Wye Oak, the Sycamore stands nearly hidden among other giant Sycamores along the banks of the Potomac River. You need a guide the first
time you visit, much like going to see an ancient sage.
Our first stop  was in Darnestown on Route 28 where three specimens reside together: a State Champion Northern Catalpa, a handsome Kentucky Coffee Tree and a White Mulberry. Joe Howard sees these large trees as old friends. He never tires of visiting them and encouraged our group of 24 to touch them in greeting.  A retired teacher and 30-year member of Montgomery County's Forestry Board, Joe is a devoted champion of our "Champion Trees".  Our next stop was along Route 28 crossing Seneca Creek, the official borderline into the county's celebrated Agricultural Reserve, where farmland is protected for the future by strictly limiting development. The Ag Reserve is a champion all by itself and once you enter it, you feel yourself 'in the country.' The landscape opens up; fields of grain, orchards and hedgerows replace the more common sight for most of us of neighborhoods of houses, parks, schools and shopping areas.
The Dickerson Conservation Area sits on the edge of the Montgomery border with Frederick County, adjacent to the C&O Canal National Historic Park, a narrow 183 mile riparian corridor stretching from Georgetown to Cumberland. Saved from becoming a highway by popular appeal after Justice William O. Douglas challenged highway proponents in 1954 to walk the length of the canal with him to assess its beauty and historical significance, the C&O Canal is now one of the most frequently visited National Parks in the nation, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds -- like us: big tree seekers on a drizzly Saturday in mid-May.  
American Sycamore, the ancient sage

Recent rains had caused the Potomac River to rise and then recede from the floodplain, leaving us with a muddy trek behind Joe about 1/2 mile upstream to a large native Cottonwood tree (153" in circumference) with a large burl at the base. As we stood admiring the Cottonwood, Joe asked if we realized that within 50 feet of us was the largest tree in Maryland.  Then he led us to a
tree among so many others, the Champion American Sycamore, growing out of a steep bank and hard to take in until you reach it. Nearly 26 feet in circumference, it inspired a feeling of awe that settled over our group and caused us to linger, take pictures, wrap our arms around the massive trunk and marvel at what this tree might have seen over such a long life. 
Silver MapleBTT
The Silver Maple on the Big Tree Tour
Reluctantly, we retraced our steps back to the canal towpath and walked a short distance downstream to Lock 26. There in an unexpected clearing, holding a singular pride of place beside the ruined foundations of the lockhouse, stands an enormous Silver Maple. About 21 feet in circumference, this tree looks like a venerable champion. Craggy and knotted with rough bark and a wide apron of 'knees' to sit on and lean against the trunk, it feels welcoming. In early spring, before it leafs out, daffodils bloom in the swath of lawn surrounding it. We eventually make our muddy footed way back to the parking lot and our bus. 
Our last tree is a sighting rather than a stop for in a cloverleaf of 270 and Route 28 in Rockville stands a State Champion Redbud tree at over 9 feet in circumference. Lasting a little over 3 hours, our tour with Joe Howard was an ongoing delight. His knowledge and obvious love of big trees is vast. Throughout the trip, he told us stories and inspired us with his sense of wonder.  He distributed the 2011 Register of Big Trees for Montgomery County, (produced by the Montgomery County Forestry Board) to all the participants, giving us a tool to go find more big trees on our own.  An updated version of the Register will be available this summer.


We thank Joe Howard for his years of tireless work on behalf of our Champion trees and the role they play in our heritage.  For more information. 

Working together to enhance our quality of life.    


Conservation Montgomery is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit.  Donations and memberships are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of federal law.  Conservation Montgomery is also listed as on the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area list of accepted charities. Our number is 72945