Spending the day in Eastern Baltimore County is an exercise in undiscovered pleasures

By Carl Gold
In Marshy Point State Park

I start the day very early at Hammerman Beach. Years ago, an agreement was reached to allow long distance swimmers to train outside the ropes before the beaches open for public use. My cure for Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) begins, however, before I set foot in the water. I glance down and see fern moss near the base of the osprey nest in the parking lot. Emerald cushions with spores ready to explode with new single cell life cover the ground, inches away from asphalt.  To the left a doe drinks from a vernal pool until she is startled by a car door closing.

Marshy Point Park looking at the Gunpower River
The view approaching the Gunpowder River, where the Great Blue Heron rookery is located at Marshy Point Park.

I quickly swim out to the rope (those first few moments can be chilly especially early in the season) duck under it and head out in the direction of the Bay parallel to the shore. As I swim in the early diffused light from pier to pier (five hundred yards from the first pier to the last) my head turns to the right to catch a breath and a great blue heron is just a few feet away, patiently waiting for his breakfast to appear. Heading to the next pier and reveling in a good chop that forces me to practice bilateral breathing, a shadow appears on the water and I quickly look up – it’s an osprey grasping what looks like a channel catfish in her talons as she heads back to the nest at the parking lot. Submerged aquatic vegetation (sign of a healthy river) occasionally entangles my arms but all I have to do is relax my stroke and it slips away. On the return trip heading toward the railroad tracks, I hear beautiful singing in Spanish. It is a church group, ministers dressed in long white (and now soaking wet) robes, performing baptisms in the river. By now the sky is a cerulean shade and more great blue herons have left their rookery on the far side of the river to salute the newly baptized.

After getting my swim yardage in, I wheel my kayak to the farthest beach, put on my lifejacket and slip in to the river, this time on top. Close attention is necessary at the beginning as there is often a good shore breeze which creates that glorious chop. Once I get away from the shore it is easier to paddle as there is no backwash from the shore.   As I head towards Dundee Creek, I sometimes lose count of how many eagles I see. Seemingly stoic and unperturbed by my ripples in the water they gaze down at me giving me the gift of getting close enough to see their eyes. If I’m really lucky some red winged blackbirds will pop up from the marsh and yell at me for disturbing them. When the crabs are running, I take care not to foul any trap lines – I’m always impressed how the crabbers keep them from tangling.

Great Blue Heron
A great blue heron at Marshy Point Park

This has been a year unlike any other in my six decades. The isolation, the loss of contact with what Jane Brody refers to as consequential strangers, much less dear friends and family has been numbing. The sky, the River, the land and their inhabitants have been consistent reminders that not only does life go on, but it must go on. Eastern Baltimore County teems with life seen and unseen. We have an obligation to protect it.

Last summer when Covid locked us all down, the freedom to swim and kayak was sanity saving. All I had to do was open my eyes to appreciate the beauty all around me. This freedom is not guaranteed to last. If you have ever wondered what you can do to help, I have a modest proposal. Become a Maryland Master Naturalist!

The Maryland Master Naturalist (MMN) program is run by the University of Maryland Extension Service. It provides access to world class scientists who train participants to be citizen scientists who can share their love of the natural world with others. It explains exactly why the preservation and protection of our natural resources is so important.

I’ve wanted to take the MMN classes for years but they were never offered close enough to home or at workable times. One Covid silver lining was the announcement that virtual classes would be available. I leaped at this opportunity and by the time you read this (assuming I pass the exam) I’ll be a Master Naturalist trainee working hard on stewardship and spreading the word about the need to preserve it for future generations. Those of us fortunate enough to have discovered Eastern Baltimore County should share our love with others. The more folks who see this beauty the more likely we are to recruit people to preserve what we have. Climate change is no longer debatable and sea level rise is here to stay. I don’t know what the future of the C. P. Crane power generating plant is, but I know it’s future impacts all of Eastern Baltimore County including Marshy Point and Gunpowder Falls State Park, not to mention the health and safety of all Baltimore County residents. It’s truly jarring to round the tip of the marsh heading from Hammerman to Dundee and suddenly see the twin barbershop towers of the plant seconds after glimpsing an osprey nest filled with chicks.

I can’t wait to get back in and on the water with my new found knowledge and appreciation of what we have.  And if you are in the Methuselah age group like me (actually you only have to be 62), the DNR will sell you a Golden Age Pass for $10.00 and you get in any state park for free for life. I hope to see you on, in or around the water.

Marshy Point Park



Green Towson Alliance Celebrates The 225 People Who Cleaned Trash From Our Neighborhoods And Streams This Spring

3.5 Tons of Trash were Cleaned from Towson Streams in April and May

Despite the pandemic, 225 Towson residents came out to help clean trash and debris out of Towson neighborhood streams this past April and May. These volunteers joined in the 16 stream clean-ups that Green Towson Alliance coordinated as part of Project Clean Stream with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Volunteers cleaning a stream
Volunteers clean a tributary of the Herring Run in Knollwood.

Volunteers waded into the tributaries of the Herring Run and Jones Falls streams in Towson neighborhoods and pulled out 6,915 pounds of trash – including a life vest, lawn chairs, a Giant Food shopping cart, a car bumper, orange plastic fencing, a pickup truck load of pressure-treated wood, and several long,rusting pipes. They bundled all this trash into bags or vehicles and took it to the County landfill. Recyclables were also bagged and taken to the Baltimore County Recycling Center.

Habitat restoration at Ridgely Manor Park
Councilman David Marks helps remove invasive plants from Ridgely Manor Park.

In addition, volunteers removed  invasive vines and plants from areas in Riderwood and Idlewylde, as well as a third of a dumpster full of invasive multiflora rose and other invasive plants from Ridgely Manor Park.

The people who came out to clean the streams included families with children, Girl Scout Troops 1152 and 1417, Towson University students, and neighbors who were glad for the chance to clean the junk out of the local streams in their communities.

Scout cleaning out a tributary of the Herring Run.
A Girl Scout shows one of the pieces of trash she found in the stream.

“We had just started the stream clean-up at Radebaugh Park when a group of 12 people – including two Moms with their children – literally ran up and asked to join the stream clean-up”, said Ray Heil, leader of the stream cleanup at Radebaugh Park. “They had heard from their neighbors that GTA was cleaning up the stream, and wanted to volunteer.”



Several  officials came to help out, including State Delegate Cathi Forbes, County Councilman David Marks (with his 6th grade daughter), and the County Executive’s District 5 liaison, Amanda Carr.


Fellowship Forest Clean-up
Volunteers and the trash they pulled out of the stream at Fellowship Forest.

Since its inception in 2015, Green Towson Alliance has cleaned out nearly 16 tons oftrash from local streams through these annual stream clean-ups.  GTA members Dr. Carol Newill and Lauren Stranahan coordinated this year’s stream clean-ups.

“We were delighted that so many people came out to help despite the pandemic,” said Dr. Newill.  “We followed COVID precautions: people worked in their own family groups or pods, and everyone wore masks. I think everyone enjoyed their morning in the sunshine and fresh air, helping to keep our environment clean.”

Stream clean-up at Loch Raven Library
Volunteers pose with the trash they removed from a tributary of the Herring Run at Loch Raven Library.

How Dangerous Are Lawn Care Chemicals?

Notice the yellow warning signs placed on a lawn after a professional lawn care treatment.

By Arthur Oslund

Lawn care = pesticideAsk your lawn care provider for a list of all chemicals put on your lawn during the entire year. Look the chemicals up on the Internet searching for effects on children and pets.

The commonly used lawn herbicides like 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T are essentially plant-growth hormones. They cause the plant to “grow itself to death.” That is why you see the dandelions turn upside down after being sprayed with 2-4-D or other similar chemicals. 2-4-D is one of the two main chemicals used in Agent Orange in Vietnam. Pets, children, and adults exposing bare skin (feet or hands) to lawns treated with chemicals risk dangerous side effects.

A professional dog trainer said that many people attribute cancer in dogs to exposure to lawn care chemicals. Your dog or cat could walk through lawn care chemicals and later lick its feet. The chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and be tracked into the house from a treated lawn. While treating lawns, the chemicals can be inadvertently sprayed onto sidewalks or relocated by rain. The fumes are also dangerous. Many of the chemicals are known to accumulate in the body and are known to cause cancer.

An internet search finds many articles on this subject:


Recommended reading:
ContamiNation: My Quest to Survive in a Toxic World  by McKay Jenkins

Please help to make everyone aware of the potential dangers of lawn care chemicals and to take appropriate action to protect children, pets, and of course, adults.

A word about lawn weeds

The weeds are green are they not? They can also contribute to food for birds, rabbits, bees, etc. I like the dandelions’ yellow flowers and call them “Spring Mums”; they mostly bloom only for a few weeks in the spring. If you don’t like the dandelion flowers then just mow them. Clover not only produces food for wildlife, but the flowers also give a pleasant scent. Clover adds nitrogen to the soil that helps the grass thrive. In the past, clover seed was sometimes added to commercial grass seed. Other weeds have beneficial properties. Do we really need a perfect weed-free lawn?

How can I maintain a reasonably attractive lawn without using chemicals?

Healthy grass will tend to choke out or at least reduce the number of most weeds. In this part of the country, the soil is very likely to be acidic and most grass species do well in acidic soil. I apply a light dose of lime and lawn fertilizer every two or three years using a handheld spreader. Of course, increased fertilizing will probably result in increased mowing frequency. Keep the height of cut at least 2 ½ inches to give the grass a better chance to “smother” the weeds by reducing the sunlight going to the weeds. Watering in dry weather is good but there is no need to overdo it. Grass develops a very fibrous root system that also helps choke out the weeds.

Opt out of mosquito spraying

A few years ago, I went on a fishing trip to a wilderness area in central Ontario, Canada. It was so remote that we heard wolves howling at night and saw bears and northern lights. I took mosquito repellent but to my surprise, I did not need it. The lodge owner said that the area had never been sprayed and that he had cataloged over 40 different species of dragonflies. Some of the dragonflies were iridescent and very beautiful blue, red and green. SkinSoSoft is a very safe repellent that you can get from Avon. 

Insecticides will kill predatory insects like Dragonflies that have mosquitoes as their primary food source. The Mosquitoes have a much shorter reproductive cycle than the predators and you will end up with more Mosquitoes than before. That is not to mention killing beneficial insects like honey bees and beautiful butterflies. Insect eating birds and bats are also vulnerable. Some of the insecticides are extremely deadly to humans and some are systemic on the plants and the nectar from the flowers of sprayed plants will kill bees.

Read this complete article here.

Green Towson Alliance to recognize native planting

Baltimore Sun Media
Apr 06, 2021

I am so happy that spring is here! I’m enjoying seeing new signs of life emerging daily.

Anneslie resident Beth Miller invited me to come see her woodland garden and learn a bit about native plants (defined as plants that were here before European colonization).

Buds of golden ragwort
With buds on the cusp of blooming, golden ragwort attracts small bees and is host to the caterpillar of the gem moth. (Maeve McGee/Courtesy photo)

Last year, Miller replaced her front lawn with native plants, which support hundreds of species of insects, moths, butterflies and caterpillars — a great food source for birds (incidentally, doves are nesting in her trees).

Some of the many natives in Miller’s yard include: American holly; tulip poplar; goldenrod; serviceberry trees; mountain mint; oak leaf hydrangea; celandine poppy; and willow oak (a “keystone species” that hosts 500 kinds of moths and butterflies).

“It all makes sense when you know,” Miller said, of choosing native plants over non-native or invasive plants. “Natives don’t require chemicals, they have better roots, are more drought resistant, don’t need to be fertilized. They draw insects, that draw birds.”

She raked the fall leaves into the garden beds, creating a safe haven for overwintering butterflies.

As I toured the space, I learned how newly awakened spring ephemerals, such as blood root, are an important food source for ground bees. Ants and woodland mice carry the seeds away, and new growth spreads.

I learned that even some plants we might discard as weeds have essential roles in the ecosystem.

Green Towson Alliance is keen to find more yards like Miller’s in our community.

GTA has just announced the area’s first Native Garden Contest. Anyone who lives in Towson and incorporates native plants, trees, shrubs or grasses in their yard is encouraged to enter. Entries may be a single garden bed, an entire yard or a community plot.

Photos can be uploaded from June 14 to July 16. GTA’s Homegrown National Park Workgroup will select semifinalists, then open online voting to the community. Winners will be announced on July 26.

See greentowsonalliance.org or email nativegardencontest@gmail.com for more details.

Patty Mochel of GTA hopes the contest will inspire public interest in native plants and their importance to the environment.

“Insects and birds can’t keep declining or the next era will really be daunting,” Mochel said. “Most insects [90% of them] can eat only the leaves of native plants.

“Virtually all birds must feed insects to their fledglings. This is why native plants are a vital link to the food webs that support our local ecosystems — the pollinators, butterflies, moths, birds, and wildlife that share our communities. In this contest, Green Towson Alliance will celebrate our neighborhood gardens and yards that contribute to the health of our local ecosystems and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

GTA is redefining what a thriving and meaningful garden space looks like. It can be pretty, peaceful and calming, but even more so it’s about function, harmony and healing.

“When combined, our yards become a giant nature park, and together we can restore the ecosystem,” Mochel said.

Green Towson Alliance Announces 2021 Native Garden Contest

The Green Towson Alliance is holding a native garden contest this spring and early summer. Folks who live in a Towson community and consider Towson to be their downtown are welcome to enter the contest. Entries can be a specific garden bed, or an entire yard that includes native trees, shrubs, plants, and grasses.  Community gardens can also be entered in the contest.

Why native plants? Native plants are defined as plants and trees that have been growing in our region since before the European colonization.  Research has found that most insects can only ingest plants that they have co-evolved with for thousands of years. Most butterflies and moths can lay eggs only on specific plants that they have co-evolved with. Caterpillars that hatch from those eggs, and other insects, are vital food for songbirds, especially when they are nesting. Nearly all birds feed insects to their fledglings. No insects, no baby birds!

The Native Garden Contest will celebrate the Towson gardens and yards that support the health of our local ecosystems. More information on the contest and the importance of growing native trees and plants in your yard can be found at nativegardencontest.com.

The Green Towson Alliance is a group of Towson area residents who care deeply about our natural world and are working to mitigate the effects of climate change. We have planted hundreds of trees, cleared out tons of trash from local streams, restored woodlands and parks by removing invasive vines that are strangling beautiful mature trees, and continue to advocate for good environmental policy in Baltimore County. This is our sixth year of service to our community and our environment.

The Native Garden Contest was born from the imaginations of members of the GTA Homegrown National Park Workgroup. We are inspired by a national project to restore our ecosystems. The purpose of this contest is to encourage and celebrate Towson gardeners who incorporate native trees, shrubs, and plants in their landscapes. Together, we can do our part to  protect and sustain the natural environment for our children,  grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, and all we love, including the non-human species  who share our communities.
Native Garden Contest

Baltimore County judge clears Red Maple affordable housing development in East Towson

Baltimore Sun
Mar 09, 2021

A Baltimore County administrative law judge greenlighted an affordable housing project in East Towson after months of hearings, ensuring plans remain on track to build 56 apartments opposed by some community members and Baltimore-area environmental groups.

Community members said they will appeal the decision.

Planned by the Annapolis-based nonprofit Homes for America, Red Maple Place would build 50 affordable and 6 market rate apartments in the 400 block of E. Joppa Road, near Historic East Towson, one of the county’s oldest Black communities.

Much of the opposition to the plan is predicated on a long history of unwanted development in the neighborhood, founded by freed slaves in the 1850s. The historically Black area is poorer than others around the county seat.

During virtual hearings held over the last few months, Red Maple opponents cited the massive and unwanted power substation built in 1952 in the heart of the neighborhood that removed 8 homes, the construction of a Towson bypass through the enclave in the 1980s, and the razing of several homes to make way for Stanley Black and Decker’s parking lot on E. Joppa Road about two decades ago.

Several critics called those projects acts of environmental racism, a term that refers to practices and policies which cause environmental health hazards for poor communities, often delineated along racial lines.

Administrative Law Judge Maureen Murphy, who presided over the case, acknowledged the “intrusions” into the neighborhood that have “caused and/or contributed to attempts to ‘erase’ this neighborhood,” calling the substation “egregious” and “an actual danger to residents there.”

But because Red Maple is proposed outside the bounds of the East Towson Community Conservation Area, she said, the project does not fall into the same category, and will not negatively impact Historic East Towson’s character.

Nancy Goldring, president of the Northeast Towson Improvement Association, which has hired an attorney to represent them in the case, said the decision “was definitely a blow,” but an unsurprising one.

She pushed back on Murphy’s statement that the project did not constitute the pattern of encroaching development that has eroded the neighborhood, which spanned to York Road and Bosley Avenue, to just six blocks.

“It is in East Towson,” and regardless of where the building is built, its effect will be felt in her neighborhood, she said.

In her order, Murphy said the development plan satisfied the site requirements and regulations of the various county agencies that reviewed it — including the developer’s stormwater management plans to mitigate runoff flowing from the north into East Towson neighborhoods, a major point of contention for opponents.

The Green Towson Alliance, Sierra Club Greater Baltimore Group and Blue Water Baltimore, environmental groups against the development, have said the construction of Red Maple, which was granted a variance to reduce its 100-foot forest buffer, will eliminate half of one of the only green spaces left in East Towson.

In her order, Murphy wrote the opposite is true — that Homes for America would preserve the vegetation, trees and wetlands on a second parcel south of where the building is planned. Development on that second parcel, however, would undoubtedly and immediately impact surrounding homes, she added.

Murphy also wrote that the developer’s proposed stormwater controls would not only limit the amount of runoff, but also filter pollutants.

The construction, she added, would “greatly benefit” surrounding communities by extending an underground stormwater pipe on East Pennsylvania Avenue and directing water into an underground drain that would reduce the amount of water flowing south into the Historic East Towson neighborhood.

But environmental sustainability advocates aren’t convinced.

“I think it’s a fallacy to say that developing a site creates an improved stormwater draining situation,“ said Beth Miller, a representative of the Green Towson Alliance. “Undisturbed forest is the best stormwater management that exists.”

Current and former elected officials have debated the divisive development the last two years.

Olszewski’s administration already has approved a 40-year $2.1 million loan for the project, saying it will add much needed affordable housing units in the county, as required under the county’s 2016 agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That agreement calls for the county to add 1,000 more subsidized apartments by 2027 in wealthier census tracts to settle a housing discrimination complaint filed by the Baltimore County NAACP, which alleged a pattern of government practices that have killed affordable housing projects over the years.

Dana Johnson, president and CEO of Homes for America, has said the location within the county seat has adequate public transportation nearby and access to good-paying jobs and high-performing schools.

“Given the lack of affordable housing in the county generally, but in Towson specifically — families, people with disabilities, who live there will greatly benefit,” she said.

The next step for Homes for America is getting building permits approved.

But former state senator Jim Brochin, a Towson resident who used to live in Historic East Towson and said he is helping to pay for the attorney representing the opponents, said they will challenge the development every step of the way by appealing the decision to the county board of zoning appeals and to higher courts if necessary.

It’s not about being against affordable housing, Brochin said.

“This would never happen in Stoneleigh,” a wealthier and predominantly white West Towson neighborhood, he said. “Trampling on one of the oldest African American communities — it’s just bad public policy.”

Good question: Why do all the neighborhoods we live in look so similar?

By Peter Groffman
Native Plant Trust

suburban yardsMany people – especially those in the environmental community – think residential yards, and the seemingly endless expanse of suburban landscape are biological wastelands. But multiple lines of scholarship now suggest this is not true. We need to take a new look at how we think about the American residential landscape. Such a revision in thinking could actually improve the ways that yards are managed for human satisfaction, biodiversity, and air and water quality. We put together a research team to do just that.

(continue reading)

An Open Letter to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden: Please Grow Native Plants in the White House Gardens

Dear Dr. Biden:

Like many Americans, we were thrilled to watch President Biden’s inauguration last week.  We applaud the President’s recommitment to the Paris Climate accord and his pledge to take immediate actions to address the serious problem of climate change and its effects on the people of our country and the world.

Swallowtail caterpillarWe are writing to suggest that you initiate a project to create a native plant garden at the White House and to expand any native plantings that are there already.  As you probably know, Dr. Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at University of Delaware, encourages gardeners to landscape with native plants because they provide critically needed sources of food and shelter for pollinators, birds and other creatures who live in our communities. Gardening with native plants also tends to save water and can require less maintenance.

We also suggest that you have the English ivy removed and replaced with native species. In our volunteer work planting trees and rehabilitating parks and woodlands in Towson, we have observed how invasive English ivy can take over an established woodland and destroy beautiful mature trees. Because the pandemic has increased the food insecurity in our country, we would also like to suggest that you plant another vegetable garden on the White House grounds.

We wish you the very best in your efforts as First Lady, and in the leadership you can provide in encouraging planting native species, removing invasives, and growing food. We are excited to see the great work this new administration will accomplish.


Dr. Carol Newill, Elizabeth Miller, Raymond Heil,
Roger Gookin, John Alexander, Patty Mochel

The Executive Committee of the Green Towson Alliance

Green Towson Alliance spent 2020 living up to its name

JAN 26, 2021

In a stressful world, peaceful time in the great outdoors can soothe the soul. I’m thankful for the efforts of Green Towson Alliance for its vigilance in keeping our community’s green spaces healthy and beautiful. Undeterred by the pandemic, GTA members have continued activities that can be done safely, including planting trees, cleaning streams and advocating for good environmental policies in Towson and Baltimore County.

Pat Mochel of GTA shared a recap of some of the organization’s many deeds in 2020. “We had to plan carefully for socially distanced ways to work with our volunteers to clean streams or plant canopy trees in our neighborhoods,” Mochel said. “We found plenty of things we could do either alone or in small groups.”

Tree planting in Stoneleigh
Green Towson Alliance volunteers pause during a fall tree-planting project in Towson. (J. Brough Schamp)

Early in the year, GTA members completed the project of pruning trees in the median strip of Loch Raven Boulevard, enhancing this entrance to the Towson area from Baltimore City. In the springtime, they potted many dozens of plants for contactless transfer, and residents from 14 Towson-area neighborhoods took home native perennials to provide food, nectar and shelter to many species of bees, butterflies and birds.

They also launched a new “Chalk1Up” initiative, in which members used chalk to label native trees on nearby sidewalks, to educate the public about the importance of native plants to our ecosystems. In June, GTA held a Zoom discussion of Doug Tallamy’s book, “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard,” and created a Homegrown National Park work group.

Throughout 2020, Radebaugh Park was a gift for neighbors to enjoy outdoor solace in the spring, summer and early fall. The park closed last month for construction of Phase 2 amenities (including paths and benches), and springtime will bring the planting of 93 native canopy trees in the space.

In July, GTA became aware that thousands of bits of plastic foam were floating through the air in our community (it looked like snow, but was definitely NOT!) due to new construction in downtown Towson. These bits were ending up on sidewalks, yards, gardens and on the stream bank of the Towson Run, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay. GTA investigated and found that these foam “fines” are created during the installation process of Exterior Finishing Insulation Systems (EFIS), and that proper containment methods were not being used by the contractor. They formed a group to work with the county to ensure this pollution does not happen again.

In September and October, GTA and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay organized cleanups of 10 sections of our local streams. Volunteers followed COVID-19 precautions while cleaning out trash from the Herring Run, the Jones Falls and their tributaries.

In October, GTA helped advise Will Morales of Troop 102 in his Boy Scout Eagle project to pull the invasive nandina at the County Office Building on West Chesapeake Avenue, and replace them with native rhododendrons, oakleaf hydrangeas, and ninebarks.

In November and early December, GTA leadership and Blue Water Baltimore joined forces to plant more than 150 native canopy trees in Towson-area neighborhoods from Anneslie to Lutherville. Recruiting the sites for the new trees began last spring and has already resumed for 2021. Nearly 50 more trees were planted through GTA’s connections with Baltimore County’s Backyard Trees program, and 40-plus more will be planted by the county in coming months.

GTA continues to work tirelessly to keep Towson green and to improve and preserve our local environment. To take part or learn more, go to www.greentowsonalliance.org.

Green Towson Alliance Executive Committee Charter


The mission of the Executive Committee of the Green Towson Alliance shall be to coordinate the activities of the GTA so that they will effectively advance the organization’s overall mission, and to effectively represent the GTA to external individuals, organizations, and the general public.


The Executive Committee shall consider issues in a collaborative manner, reaching decisions by consensus whenever possible, with the understanding that consensus does not mean unanimity, but rather the lack of strong opposition to a course of action favored by a large majority of committee members.  In general, the Executive Committee will always consult with members of a workgroup before making a decision directly affecting that workgroup.  However, when time is short, the Executive Committee may find it necessary to make decisions affecting a workgroup or GTA as a whole without prior consultation.


The GTA Executive Committee shall be made up of a minimum of five GTA members.  When additional members are needed, existing Executive Committee members shall recruit new committee members from GTA membership. An odd number of members is preferred to avoid deadlock when a majority vote becomes necessary.

Current members:

Dr. Carol Newill, Beth Miller, Patty Mochel, John Alexander, Roger Gookin, Ray Heil, Lauren Stranahan.

Executive Committee Tasks:

  1. Workgroups shall be created by GTA members and shall constitute the primary organizational structure of GTA. The Executive Committee shall assist work groups that emerge from the membership in recruiting workgroup members and implementing their programs.  The Executive Committee shall also advise work groups in defining their goals and tasks.
  2. The Executive Committee shall coordinate the activities of the work groups to ensure that those activities effectively further GTA’s overall mission. Workgroup representatives are encouraged to communicate independently with members of the Executive Committee in furthering their goals and organizing their work efforts. Work Group representatives are also welcome to attend Executive Committee meetings, and are asked to provide prior notice so their item(s) can be included on the meeting agenda.
  3. To plan, organize, and facilitate GTA’s general membership meetings.
  4. To formulate internal GTA policies necessary for the effective operations of the organization.
  5. In coordination with the Media Work Group, to represent GTA to county government, the media, and in public gatherings, including interviews, testimony, and meetings. The Executive Committee shall also approve and issue public statements and documents regarding positions taken by the GTA on environmental and government policy issues.
  6. To manage the financial affairs of GTA. GTA is not a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, and generally has handled its financial obligations informally.  If a more formal financial arrangement becomes necessary, the Executive Committee will consider options such as arranging for another nonprofit to act as our fiduciary agent.