As 2006 comes to a close, we have much to celebrate. The Alliance web site has grown in breadth, depth and usefulness. More alliance partners are joining and working together on projects that protect and restore watershed health. Volunteers like Earlene, Dan and Kayla Duncan in Libertytown are helping install rain gardens and stream-side forests to slow down run off and absorb pollution. Watershed stewards like Bill McCall are being acknowledged and inspiring similar actions by others. And young people like Hanna Poffenberger and her fellow high school students are raising important environmental issues with candidates for local office.
We also have cause for sadness. One of our most committed and faithful community conservation leaders, Darrell McCartney, died in January. Mike Kay, Frederick County Forester, said that he thought Darrell had probably planted more trees in Frederick County than any other single individual. He also loved to involve and educate kids about caring for the environment. Darrell is missed greatly, but his legacy continues in the work of so many, in the trees he planted, the energy and commitment he modeled and the young people he touched.
As the winter solstice approaches, the shortest day of the year, we know that longer days are coming. Let us celebrate our progress and deepen our commitment to act more wisely for the health of present and future generations. Join our alliance community and share your story with us. It may help encourage others in their own journeys.
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The blessings of the season to you,
Volunteers, 38 adults and 15 kids working 260 hours, produced four rain gardens and two native tree and shrub planting projects in Libertytown this year. Lots of fellowship and fun flowed during the spring and fall planting activities at Liberty Elementary, Liberty Village, St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church and Libertytown Community Park sites near the headwaters of Linganore Creek, Lake Linganore and the Monocacy River. Learn more about the efforts of local volunteers to improve water quality in their community.
Israel Creek has a friend. A farmer in Keymar, Bill McCall, was recently nominated as a Watershed Steward for his 2003 livestock fencing and tree planting. Bill has planted more than 23 acres of new trees under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), creating a 300 foot wide stream buffer along a 4,200 foot stretch of the creek. Achieving an 85% survival rate on his new trees, Bill has been diligent in removing thistle and performing other invasive species control and maintenance tasks following flooding. Click here to read more about Bill McCall. If you are interested in learning more about the Watershed Steward Program, click here.
Sometimes short cold winter days can get long. One fun activity to help pass the time is to participate in the Backyard Bird Count during mid February. Alliance partner, the Audubon Society of Central Maryland, encourages all of us to join in. Bird watching experience is not required. It’s a delight to pay attention to the variety of shapes, colors, markings, songs and behavior among visitors to our backyard feeders. Click here to learn more about how to participate.
Have you heard that ThorpeWood has been awarded a grant to offer "NativePlantScaping" alternatives for selected new home communities? Working with the Frederick Builders Association, they will partner with builders to offer a new approach - improving natural habitats; reducing chemical, fuel and water use; and creating beautiful yards for new homeowners to enjoy. Click here to read the whole article.
Have you ever heard the story about the canary in the mineshaft? Frederick County residents have their own "canary". The small, beautifully colored brook trout lets us know whether small headwater streams are healthy or hurting. Frederick County hosts a small population of brook trout, severely threatened by development and climate change. Learn about local efforts to protect and restore the habitat of this beautiful mascot of our headwater streams.
Two small creeks in the Bennett Creek watershed, Pleasant and Fahrney Branches, are the recipients of targeted outreach to agricultural and urban landowners by the Potomac Conservancy and its Monocacy & Catoctin Watershed Alliance partners. Several landowners will be fencing cattle and horses out of streams; Windsor Knolls Middle School students have planted trees along Pleasant Branch; and Kemptown Elementary and Kemptown Park will be sites for rain gardens. Learn about addtional projects that are planned and if interested, how to get involved.
Local dairy farmers can participate in a special assistance program to convert their operation to a pasture based forage system for feeding their herds. Such a system reduces costs, improves herd health, reduces erosion and improves water quality. Learn more about this incentive program.
A large crowd attended a Candidates' Environmental Forum led by high school students in late October. The forum provided an opportunity for the community to learn about candidates' points of view on such topics as growth, waste, global warming, natural resources and green building. See the students’ summary of County environmental issues and read more about the Forum.
Tickets sold out as soon as word got out about the Chestnut-themed dinner on November 10th at ThorpeWood. The purpose of the dinner was to benefit the Maryland Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation and its work in breeding a blight resistant chestnut. Learn more about the feast, which will likely become an annual event, and the creative and dedicated work of so many area citizens in helping bring back the “King” of the Appalachian forest.
Flush tax money will be filtering into Frederick County soon through a partnership between the Canaan Valley Institute and the Frederick County Health Department. Approved to receive more than $700,000, the partners will identify and assist priority landowners with improving and upgrading on-site septic systems that are failing or performing poorly. Learn more about how such systems add pollution to area groundwater and/or streams and how the Canaan Valley Institute and Frederick County Health Department plan to address the issue.
If you're looking for something to do this winter, please review the variety of events on the Alliance calendar. Would you be interested in the monthly series of classes called Forestry 101? The two upcoming topics include “Insects and Diseases that Affect Forested Areas”on January 18th and “Forestry Incentive Programs” on February 15th . Another choice is the Volunteers As Chesapeake Bay Stewards Program sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an eight-week volunteer training course on Thursday evenings beginning January 25th. If you begin to get cabin fever, join in the fun at the Third Annual Fishing & Outdoors Expo on March 3rd & 4th, sponsored by the Watershed Alliance of Adams County.