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:

http://expand-your-consciousness.com/studies-link-canine-cancers-to-lawn-chemicals
http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/dangers-lawn-chemicals-your-perfect-lawn-killing-your-pet
http://www.pesticidewatch.org/sites/default/files/pets_guide_draft_final.pdf
http://npic.orst.edu/health/child.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267855/

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

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.

Sincerely,

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

BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA 
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

Mission:

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.

Decision-making:

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.

Membership:

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.

 

 

The Green Towson Alliance: Basic Principles

Overall
  1. GTA shall work to build and maintain a coalition of environmental advocates to collaborate in achieving environmental goals in the greater Towson area.
  2. GTA advocates the protection and effective application of Baltimore County’s environmental regulations.
  3. GTA’s focus is on fostering a healthy natural environment in the Towson area, as described in the principles outlined below, but our concerns extend to broader issues directly affecting the health and welfare of Towson residents, such as air and water quality and community resilience to climate change.
  4. GTA supports both governmental and nongovernmental efforts to identify and correct environmental conditions that negatively impact the health and welfare of economically vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
  5. Recognizing that all residents have a stake in a healthier environment, and that members of historically disadvantaged communities are underrepresented in our organization, GTA is committed to including persons from minority and economically disadvantaged communities in its membership and leadership.
  6. GTA supports the passage and implementation of laws and incentives at the county, state, and federal levels to reduce global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to provide our communities with the information and resources needed to adapt with resilience to the impacts of climate change.
  7. GTA advocates for the community goals embodied in the 2020 Master Plan and the Walkable Towson Plan; this guidance and these regulations should not be compromised to further developers’ or governmental interests.
  8. GTA supports Adequate Public Facility (APF) legislation to provide adequate public sewer and water service, public transportation, stormwater management, schools, and open space to preserve the quality of life in Baltimore County.
    Trees and native plants

    GTA supports:

    1. The use of native trees and other native plants whenever possible, based on site conditions and science, because of their important role in creating habitat and supporting the food web for our native wildlife.
    2. Protecting and increasing the Towson Area tree canopy with native canopy trees that make the most contribution to our environment by providing shade, lowering ambient temperatures, absorbing rain and storm water, reducing particulate air pollution, providing habitat for birds and other species, and creating beautiful outdoor spaces to strengthen our communities.
    3. The planting of native canopy trees throughout our communities, on private as well as public lands, and the planting of native understory trees in locations where canopy trees will not flourish.
    4. The proper care and maintenance of both mature and newly planted trees, including appropriate planting techniques, mulching, watering, pruning and disease management.
    Waterways

    GTA promotes:

    1. Efforts and programs to improve water quality in our streams, harbor, and in the Chesapeake Bay.
    2. Improving the functioning of the county’s sanitary sewer system to reduce the incidence of sanitary sewer overflows and to improve water quality.
    3. The widespread use of effective stormwater management technologies, including green infrastructure, both by county government and by the public, to achieve improved water quality.
    4. The elimination of trash in our streets and streams through effective programs such as community education and stream cleanups.

 

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

GTA supports:

  1. The creation of public parks, greenways, and other outdoor places for social gathering to facilitate community health and recreation. This includes identifying land and helping to acquire and develop new parks, and promoting outdoor spaces for community events and outdoor dining.
  2. Active habitat restoration by citizens, government, and non-governmental organizations, through the removal of invasive plant species and effective planting and care of appropriate native plants throughout Baltimore County.

 

Public Transportation and Urban Design

GTA supports:

  1. Development of an effective, multimodal public transportation system for greater Towson, to include transit buses, circulator buses, light rail, bike routes, walkable streets, and complete streets that provide universal access and accommodate all modes of transportation.
  2. The urban design principles outlined in the Baltimore County 2020 Master Plan and the Walkable Towson Plan. These design principles contribute significantly to environmental sustainability by reducing dependence on vehicles and by making commercial districts and residential communities more walkable and bikable.
  3. Smart growth principles that are consistent with Baltimore County’s Urban-Rural Demarcation Line (URDL). Protection of the URDL and use of smart growth principles are critical for preserving the quality of life and the natural environment as the county’s growth areas are more densely developed.

 

Education and broad community engagement

GTA promotes:

  1. Community environmental education and engagement by sponsoring and supporting multiple events and media directed toward the greater Towson community.
  2. Activities and organizations that effectively expand community environmental education and engagement to areas of Baltimore County beyond Towson.

 

Recommended Reading List

Reference and Guides

articles

Nonfiction

    • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall-Kimmerer
    • Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas W. Tallamy
    • Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy
    • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter by Wohlleben
    • The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson
    • Saving the Places We Love: Paths to Environmental Stewardship by Ned Tillman
    • A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future by Benjamin Vogt
    • The Living Landscape by Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy
    • The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here by Hope Jahren
    • Around the World in 80 Trees byJonathan Drori
    • The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell
    • The Delaware Naturalist Handbook by McKay Jenkins and Sue Barton

Fiction

  • Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Hoot by Robert Hiaasen (children’s/young adult)
  • We are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Other Suggested Reading Lists

 

 

 

2020: Continuing Our Work Under COVID-19

In a pandemic, do local streams stop flooding, does trash stop pouring down storm drains, winding up in our local waterways, or do pollutants stop seeping out of pipes to drain downhill?  Do our communities still need trees to soak up that storm water, shade our homes, and filter pollution from the air?  GTA volunteers have not given up the good work they’ve been doing for 6 years in our community.

GTA members continued activities that can be done safely all year! We didn’t stop planting trees, cleaning streams, or advocating for good environmental policies in Towson and Baltimore County.

We had to plan carefully for socially-distanced ways to work with our volunteers to clean streams or plant canopy trees in our neighborhoods. We found plenty of things we could do either alone or in small groups.

Here’s what Green Towson Alliance did in 2020:

Pruning street trees
Photo credit: J. Brough Schamp

In early 2020, GTA members completed the project of pruning trees in the medianstrip of Loch Raven Boulevard, helping the trees grow tall, healthy, and beautiful on this entrance to the Towson area from Baltimore city.  We also helped Boy Scouts prune the street trees in Anneslie.

In the spring, we offered “contactless” native plants by Swamp milkweedpotting up many dozens of species of native plants from our gardens and leaving them on our front steps. People from 14 Towson area neighborhoods took the plants home! These native perennials provide food, nectar, and homes to many species of bees, butterflies, birds, and other creatures who live here among us.

Native Buckeye TreeTo continue our efforts to point out the importance of native plants to our ecosystems, GTA members launched a new initiative called “Chalk1Up” where members wrote the names of native trees on the nearby sidewalk using fat, colorful chalk.  People walking on the sidewalks could learn the names of those native trees in our communities.

On June 18th, GTA held a Zoom discussion of Doug Tallamy’s book, Nature’s Best Hope. As an outgrowth of this discussion, GTA created a Homegrown National Park workgroup. To further our efforts to spread the word about the importance of native plants, GTA will be holding its first Towson Native Garden contest next spring.

Invasive Butterfly Weed
Escaped butterfly weed plants at I-83 and Timonium Rd.

To further the discussion about the importance of native plants, and the harm that introduced plants create in our environment, we photographed a series of Butterfly bushes (introduced from Asia) that have taken over an area at I-83 and Timonium Rd. , and posted these photos on social media. Non-native plants that spread in our neighborhoods crowd out the native plants that provide vital food and shelter to our community’s insects and birds.

EIFFS fines at Towson worksite
EIFFS fines float in the air at Towson worksite, July 2020

In July, we became aware through posts on NextDoor that hundreds of bits of Styrofoam were floating through the air in many Towson neighborhoods. These bits were ending up on sidewalks, yards, and gardens surrounding downtown Towson. We conducted an investigation and learned that these styrofoam “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. We found these fines on the streambank of the Towson Run stream, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay. We have formed a workgroup on this issue and hope to work with the county to ensure this pollution does not happen again.

Manhole 6883, Lake Roland
Manhole 6883, Lake Roland. August 2020

After heavy downpours in August, we made several checks of Manhole 6883, which is part of the sanitary sewer system that runs under Lake Roland. This is the manhole that blew its top after a bad storm in September 2019. A White Paper published by GTA in 2017 had documented the ongoing problems with the sanitary sewer system that runs under Lake Roland. We also have continued to meet with the County administration to bring greater transparency to our concerns about sanitary sewer capacity in Baltimore County.

Radebaugh Park
Photo credit: Paul Newill-Schamp

Throughout 2020, GTA members watched with delight as neighbors came to Radebaugh Park for outdoor play, whether alone or in couples or small groups, and as the native trees, shrubs and perennial flowers at the entrance bloomed and grew. Having this new park open during the pandemic was truly a wonderful gift throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. The park closed last month for construction of Phase 2 amenities including paths and benches. GTA looks forward to the completion of the hard structures in spring 2021 and the planting of 93 native canopy trees!

Girl Scouts clean trash out of streamIn September and October, Green Towson Alliance organized clean-ups of 10 sections of our local streams. Volunteers came from all over the Towson Area, including two Girl Scout troops, to form 5-person teams. Everyone wore masks and practiced social distancing while cleaning out trash from the Herring Run, the Jones Falls, and their tributaries. These stream clean-ups were organized in liaison with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

GTA acted as an advisor for a Boy Scout Eagle project to replace invasive NandinaBoy Scout Troop 102 with native plants at the County Office Building in October. We worked with Will Morales of Troop 102 to get permission to dig out the Nandina domestica from in front of the building on West Chesapeake Avenue and replace them with native Rhododendrons, Oakleaf Hydrangeas, and Ninebarks. Nandina domestica is a Tier 2 invasive plant in Maryland, meaning places that sell it must have a warning label for potential environmental harm. Nandina domestica has escaped cultivation in 9 states and was the Maryland Invasive Species Council’s “Invader of the Month” in February, 2018.

Aerial view of Towson
Aerial view of Towson
Photo credit: Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun

GTA worked with the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders to achieveMaryland Main Street status for Towson.  We will continue to pursue streetscape greening projects through that designation. In addition, Green Towson Alliance has been invited to participate on the County’s Open Space Fee workgroup.

 

Fall Tree planting in Towson
Photo Credit: J. Brough Schamp

In November and early December, more than 150 native canopy trees were planted in Towson neighborhoods from Anneslie north to Lutherville,  by volunteers for Green Towson Alliance in liaison with Blue Water Baltimore. Recruiting sites for the new trees started last spring, and has already resumed for 2021. Nearly 50 more trees were planted by Baltimore County’s Backyard Trees program, through GTA’s connections. An additional 40 or more trees will be planted by the County next spring in 2 small parks, as well as 93 trees in Radebaugh Park. All of these tree-plantings have come about through  the leadership of Green Towson Alliance members.

Nancy Goldring, Beth Miller
GTA members Nancy Goldring & Beth Miller at Red Maple Place tour

Our work monitoring development projects in Towson is ongoing. We are advocating for observing the full forest buffer requirements at  the Red Maple Place affordable housing project on East Joppa Rd. We are advocating for green and walkable streetscapes at the 706 Washington Avenue Dormitory project in downtown Towson.

Throughout the year, the Green Towson Alliance Executive Green Towson Alliane executive committee meetingCommittee continued its work, meeting while masked and socially distanced at Overlook Park, or virtually via Zoom. GTA members continued to join our regular, bi-monthly Zoom meetings  and to participate in our good works.

Green Towson Alliance volunteers will continue to work virtually in 2021, until we see an end to the pandemic and can join together in person again to keep Towson green and improve and preserve our local environment.