APRIL 1, 2014logos


Community Updates 

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In this issue
New Tree Laws in Effect as of March 1
Council Makes Final Decisions on Ten Mile Creek
Young Environmental Writers -- How to change the world with words
Green Forum for Candidates April 23rd
Carroll Knolls Park Dedication April 26
New Tree Laws in Effect  

By Caren Madsen 
March Madness took on new meaning in the Montgomery Department Transportation (DOT) Street Tree Maintenance Program, Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  On the first of the month, two new tree laws that were almost eight years in the making became effective. As passed, the bills are titled the Roadside Tree Protection Bill 41-12 and Tree Canopy Conservation Bill 35-12.  
"Implementation of both bills is going as smoothly as expected," said Rick Brush of DPS.  "As with any new requirements, there are always a few hiccups at the start while county staff and the applicants for permits get used to new processes." 
To help administer both bills, DPS hired a new urban forester, Michael Knapp, who comes to Montgomery County from Fairfax County. He has over 30 years of experience as a certified arborist and urban forester.  Knapp will be responsible for providing direction, guidance and support in the implementation of the tree laws and will take the lead in drafting a technical manual that is a requirement of the tree canopy conservation law.  
Included in the requirements for the tree canopy conservation bill is development of a countywide tree planting plan. While the bill, sponsored by County Executive Ike Leggett, does not carry an element of protecting mature trees from demolition, it does ensure that trees are replaced when they are destroyed on land use projects where a sediment control permit is required for construction projects. 
The county Forest Conservation Advisory Committee has been asked to weigh in on how DEP should pursue development of a planting plan to replace trees that will be planted using funds generated by the urban canopy law. A work group will be formed to benchmark planting plans used in similar jurisdictions and develop ideas for a Montgomery County planting plan. 
As realtors say, location is everything. Typically, one of the biggest challenges of planting trees in urban areas is identifying locations to plant new trees.  One important tool that Montgomery County has is the Urban Canopy Assessment, a state-of-the-art GIS layering tool the Montgomery Planning Department acquired from the University of Vermont where it was originally developed.  The product is used widely across the United States to map tree canopy percentages in specific areas. Canopy percentages are as low as eight to 15 percent in some of the densely developed parts of the county.    
"It'll be variable in terms of where we might locate spaces," said Laura Miller, Forest Conservation Coordinator for DEP. "In some cases, we may check with the Parks Department to offer to plant in a park.  Or we may look at neighborhoods, along stream beds on private property, near libraries or schools." 
Miller said implementation of the canopy law is in the beginning stages.  She said the county will set up a contract that will cover planting and maintenance along with some community outreach and education as DEP waits for funds to begin coming in from fees developers must pay when trees are removed and a sediment control permit is required for a building project. 


Ten Mile Creek marathon comes to a close 

County Council Makes the Final Call on a Protection Plan

The Montgomery County Council adopted a plan today for Ten Mile Creek that is a considerable step forward in the long journey to protect this regionally-important drinking water supply and treasure of biological diversity.    


Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition leaders noted their appreciation for the most vocal supporters for Ten Mile Creek protection on the Council:  Council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Phil Andrews and Hans Riemer. Seven joint committee sessions were held to ensure a plan is based on a set of imperviousness caps: a 6% cap on the Pulte parcel, and 15% caps for each of the Miles-Coppola/Peterson, and Egan parcels; all would be subject to a minimum open space protection requirement of 80%.


County Executive Isiah (Ike) Leggett showed strong leadership in the effort to protect Ten Mile Creek by committing to forgo any further development of two county-owned parcels totaling 400 acres in Ten Mile Creek. He had also committed to assigning his administration's best scientists to contribute to the land use plan.


"The Leggett administration's contributions have been enormously helpful in crafting this plan to keep more land under forests and farms in Ten Mile Creek; this helps us to maintain its high-quality waters," noted Diane Cameron, coordinator of the Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition, Director of the Audubon Naturalist Society and a founding board member of Conservation Montgomery.

Diane Cameron at left with ANS Board Member Mike Gravitz in the background


Even though Council members and the County Executive sought to limit the damage with development restrictions, the plan still allows a large increase in development and urbanization in Ten Mile Creek. All scientists who testified in hearings acknowledged that there will be degradation and loss of biodiversity in this irreplaceable reference stream.


"This plan is an improvement but is not the full protection of Ten Mile Creek that the Save Ten Mile Creek sought," said Ginny Barnes, Vice Chair of Conservation Montgomery and one of the Coalition leaders.  "By full protection, we mean that no further degradation of the sensitive aquatic life and cold, clean, oxygen-rich waters of Ten Mile Creek will occur."


Leaders from the entire metro Washington region weighed in on the decision.  District of Columbia Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette wrote to the Montgomery County Council urging protection of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Reservoir of which Ten Mile Creek is one of three tributaries. Mendelson and Fisette both noted their constituents' reliance on Little Seneca Reservoir for drinking water supply in times of severe drought. A total of 4.3 million DC-area residents drink the waters of the mid-Potomac when they turn on their taps.  In addition, Prince Georgians also rely upon Little Seneca Reservoir to augment the mid-Potomac during severe drought - which experts say will be more frequent in the future due to climate change impacts.


With the support of the four Council members and the County Executive, top watershed scientists participated in the Council's Ten Mile Creek work sessions.  Department of Environmental Protection Senior Aquatic Biologist Keith Van Ness and UMBC professor Dr. Matt Baker addressed how urbanization quickly degrades high-quality streams, and how degradation is linked to imperviousness - hard, paved surfaces that funnel runoff at high volumes and velocities.  Imperviousness caps are therefore key science-based methods to limit the harm caused by development and urbanization. These experts also explained the scientific value of Ten Mile Creek as a reference stream used by scientists to assess the health of all other streams in Montgomery County and the larger region. 


Given the rarity of a reference stream of the quality Ten Mile Creek, combined with its sensitivity to the multiple harms caused by development, the council decided to place the most restrictive imperviousness caps on the portion west of I-270, the so-called Pulte parcel.  The imperviousness cap on this area of Ten Mile Creek will allow no more than 6% of the area to be covered with hard paved surfaces.  Coalition leaders noted that while this plan is not the full protection sought by the Coalition, it is an improvement over previous proposals, and will allow only about one-half of the development "pavement footprint," compared to the Planning Board's October 2013 recommendation.

Teaching youth how to change the world with words
Conservation Montgomery Launches Young Environmental Writers Workshop

Words are powerful.  It's a simple message that intoduced the Conservation Montgomery Young Environmental Writers (YEW) workshop this month.  Funded by a grant from the Ohio-based Green Shanny Foundation, the program is an after-school activity at Montgomery Blair High School offered by Conservation Montgomery with the help of English teacher Anne Mathews this spring.  
On the opening day, CM Board members Caren Madsen and Ginny Barnes worked with Jana Goldman of the consulting firm "Press Here" and Mathews to introduce nine seniors to the world of environmental writing.  
"Journalists hold our politicians' feet to the fire," said Goldman, a former NOAA public affairs officer who has worked with environmental reporters from the major news media.  "They will stay on an issue and cover the story until something is done." 
The students were shown a series of slides depicting the history of the modern environmental movement dating back to the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio, billowing smoke stacks in the U.S. in the 1950s and '60s and including the story of the 1964 publication of Silver Spring resident Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring.  The introduction concluded with a call to action -- challenging each of the students to practice environmental stewardship every day.  Barnes then read a passage from Rachel Carson's A Sense of Wonder and from the writing of Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer who is often acknowledged as the father of the farmer's market concept. 
"Environmental writers have changed the world," said Madsen.  "We've made a lot of progress but there's still work to be done." 
YEW participants will go on field trips to several county parks and will use the outdoors as a classroom and as inspiration.  They will have a choice of writing environmental news, editorials, poetry, essays or fiction related to the environment.  Their finished work will be published on the Conservation Montgomery website and in Community News along with bylines.  
"You are the future," said Mathews.  "You can be the ambassadors to lead to the next phase of empowering people in communities." 
2013 Climate Change Town Hall
Green Forum April 23rd 
Voters' opportunity to be well-informed 
before the June primary election


  • When:  April 23rd, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.  Note that 7 p.m. is a hard start so arrive early and get a good seat! 
  • Where:  Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Downtown Silver Spring. 

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Conservation Montgomery does not endorse candidates.  However, it is important for the public to be well-informed about protecting local natural resources.  One of the best ways to be informed is by hearing directly from all of the candidates on environmental issues in Montgomery County.  The Green Forum will allow candidates to engage with voters a question-and-answer format.  Brief statements will be made by County Executive candidates beginning right at 7 p.m.  They must depart early for another forum.  However, because there are many more candidates for the nine County Council seats, this will allow us to dedicate most of our time in the Green Forum to interaction with Council candidates vying for the five district seats and four at large seats.  Plan to attend this chance to engage with the candidates on local environmental issues that affect our neighborhoods and quality of life in Montgomery County.  Download a flyer to send to your neighbors. 

Carroll Knolls Park Dedication:  April 26th, 11:00 a.m. 
By Beverly Sobel, CM Treasurer 
Conservation Montgomery has declared 2014 the Year of the Parks to celebrate our more than 35,000 acres of beautiful parks in our communities. Please join us to dedicate a brand new park, the Carroll Knolls Park, on April 26 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Carroll Knolls Park is located at 10500 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD on the land formerly occupied by the Montgomery College of Art and Design. 


This 4-acre park was slated to become a townhouse development on this very busy stretch of Georgia

Avenue. However, the community rallied and lobbied for several years for the land to be saved as a

neighborhood park. Community outreach to Parks and Planning, the County Council, elected

representatives, civic groups, and civic associations raised awareness about the importance of saving this parcel of land for recreational use, as well as for the preservation of wetland and to help improve the Sligo Creek watershed. This land has a tributary underneath that directly feeds in the Sligo Creek watershed. Wayne Goldstein, a long time Montgomery County community activist, mentored and guided community members. In 2009, the Montgomery County Civic Federation recognized Wayne along with Beverly Sobel and Christine Ollo for their efforts to save this much needed green space in this dense, urban section of Georgia Avenue.


Ultimately, the Carroll Knolls community was protected from inappropriate land development by their

community's 1948 Covenants which mandate that only single family homes can be built on land which

resides within their community. The new Carroll Knolls Park falls within the boundaries of the Carroll Knolls community. In 2005, a developer sued all Carroll Knolls home owners in an attempt to overturn the

community's covenants. Fortunately, one lone neighborhood lawyer, Neil Intrater, worked tirelessly and pro bono on behalf of his community for years to uphold the validity of the covenants on appeal in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. 


Per the Court's ruling, the covenants are valid and a townhouse development was not permitted on this land. That decision overturned the Maryland County Council's decision to rezone the land to allow for a townhouse development. Because of the work of many residents, politicians, public officials, and community activists, this new park became a reality against all odds. This park is the result of the community coming together and fighting for their neighborhood, their families, their children, and their environment. Acquisition of this land by the Parks Department will ensure that residents who want more outdoor play area for their children will not have to cross busy Georgia Avenue, a six-lane state highway, without a pedestrian bridge, a crosswalk, or an intersection light to access nearby parkland.