OCTOBER 29, 2013logos  


Community Updates 

Highlights of this issue
Parks trails feature of annual meeting
Future of Ten Mile Creek in hands of Council
Home Tree Care 101: TLC for trees

Annual Meeting Topic:  Parks Trails -- 
An Important Resource Close to Home
Nov. 8th Conservation Montgomery Annual Meeting to Focus on Amendment to Trails Plan and New Vision for Parks 


The County Wide Parks Trails Plan (CWPTP) has guided park trail planning, alignment and implementation decisions for the past 15 years.  But there have been problems with implementation.  This experience led the Department of Parks to revisit the plan  to address various needs and concerns.  Within the past few years, several planning tools have helped Parks staff analyze site impacts of proposed/planned park facilities and accurately identify potential environmental and natural resource impacts.   Additionally, the Vision 2030 Strategic Plan provided useful data for analysis and new plan amendments that are under development and the topic of our 2013 Annual Meeting.  


Parks Department staff have also been working with an informal Trails Working Group to help identify and shape the plan objectives and will continue to advise the plan throughout the planning process. This working group is made up of representatives from park trail stakeholder groups including: Conservation Montgomery, Montgomery Bike Advocates, Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE), Hiking Along, Inc, Park trail volunteers, Trail Conservancy and Trail Riders of Today (TROT).  Parks staff continues to coordinate closely with the Planning Department and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and will also seek input from the Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group (MCBAG), environmental groups such as Conservation Montgomery, and the Countywide Recreation Advisory Board (CRAB).  Conservation Montgomery Vice Chair Ginny Barnes serves on the working group and will introduce our guest speaker, Parks Planner Chuck Kines, at the annual meeting.  


Join us for our Annual Meeting on Nov. 8th at 6 p.m.  We'll start with a wine/beer/cheese party to celebrate our 3rd anniversary.  Then we'll have an update on the upcoming trails amendment.

Please make note:  An earlier notice went out with a typo in the event location.  It is 7908 Glenbrook Road in Bethesda, not Glenwood Road.  

Planning Board Vote Leaves Fate of Ten Mile Creek to County Council 
Disappointing vote by planning commissioners could pave the way for pavement in a fragile stream 
From Board Reports 
Photo: Mary Ann Daly


The final Planning Board working session on the Ten Mile Creek Area Limited Master Plan Amendment was held on Oct. 24th, with an outcome that now places the imperiled creek in the hands of the Montgomery County Council.  A Council hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3rd.  


Over the past year, concern over  the environmental impact of proposed development on the watersheds feeding Little Seneca Reservoir, particularly Ten Mile Creek -- a biologically superior reference stream considered the 'last best creek' in Montgomery County -- has consumed Planning Board meetings and activated community groups. 


Three Planning Board work sessions were held in September and October. Chair Carrier had directed Planning staff to review any new technical issues raised by experts at the September hearing, reach out to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) to elicit input on the safety and security of the region's back up water supply in Little Seneca Reservoir and had asked staff to meet with property owners and stakeholders to explore any new information that might affect the Staff Draft. Now that the Planning Board decision has been rendered, the Draft Report will be submitted to the County Council who will make final decisions on the future of Ten Mile Creek.


"The Planning Board vote for Option 2 ignored citizens and experts who have urged them to follow the science of watershed protection," said Diane Cameron, Conservation Director of the Audubon Naturalist Society and a Conservation Montgomery Board Member. "The science tells us that Ten Mile Creek is our most fragile stream, and doubling the level of pavement in its headwaters will cause significant damage and contribute more pollution to Little Seneca Reservoir."


The 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan vision recognized the unique nature of  Ten Mile Creek and  provided a pause after Stages I - III triggers were met to revisit the Plan before finalizing it, and before allowing any further development to encroach on the pristine Ten Mile Creek watershed.   The Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition, consisting of 19 member organizations -- that are environmental, civic and faith-based groups -- has garnered support from residents throughout the county to protect Ten Mile Creek as a backup source for the region's closest emergency drinking water source in times of severe drought.   

"Twenty years down the road now, we know a lot more about what harms watersheds," said Conservation Montgomery Vice Chair Ginny Barnes.  "We wonder what we've really learned when the Planning Commission vote is less than favorable to the creek." 




ISA certified arborist Andie Murtha  points out
 features of a tree in Gaithersburg's Woodland Hills

Home Tree Care 101 Class 
Teaches Residents Tree TLC 
Outdoor class provides care tips


By Caren Madsen 

Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors 


What does a working mom with a family of four kids, a husband and two dogs do on a Saturday morning? If she's an arborist on the board of Conservation Montgomery, she might be using trees as teaching tools and someone's back yard as a classroom.


Certified arborist and Conservation Montgomery Board Member Andrea ("Andie) Murtha recently guided more than a dozen residents from the Woodland Hills Homeowners Association in Gaithersburg through a session of Home Tree Care 101, a class designed by Conservation Montgomery to help average homeowners learn how to protect and prolong the life of  trees on their lots.   The class is taught outdoors and provides hands-on instruction in proper mulching,pruning that homeowners can perform safely at home, as well as guidelines on tree planting and overall care of trees on private property.


"This tree didn't get a very good start in life,"  Murtha says as she examines the structure of a red maple that has multiple trunks growing and unpruned branches.  "Let's go ahead and help it out with a little pruning."  She then demonstrates appropriate handling of a bow saw, pruning shears and a lopper, which is a long pruning pole used to trim higher limbs.  Later kneeling on her hands and knees, she shows homeowners how to avoid loading on too much mulch, creating what arborists call a "mulch volcano" around the base of a tree.


According to Jim Urban, nationally acclaimed landscape architect, researcher and author, about 85% of the Montgomery County tree canopy is located on privately owned commercial and residential land. The overall tree canopy in the county is about 50% but the percentages drop down as low as 8-12% in some urban sections of the county.  Homeowners can play a significant role in sustaining a healthy level of tree cover since proper care can prolong the life span of a tree.  Upfront maintenance can also make an older tree less hazardous in a storm.  


On a Saturday morning as Murtha walks the Woodland Hills neighborhood area with homeowners, she checks the condition of trees and suggests more diverse species for future planting. She has the undivided attention of residents who take pride in the mature trees in their community, but want to do more sustainable planting and tree maintenance in the future.


"The time went by so fast, and we learned quite a bit," said Pam Sonneville, who coordinated the class for her community. "Some people commented that they now look at trees in a different light." 




FIND PHOTOS FROM HOME TREE CARE 101 HERE.  To schedule a 2014 Home Tree Care 101 class, please send an e-mail to ConservationMontgomery@live.com.  Please note that class sizes must be a minimum of 10 participants.