Fewer Plastic Bags and Styrofoam Pieces, Hurray!  Green Towson Alliance helps with Stream Cleanups for the 9th year in a row

by Carol Newill

Literally tons and tons of trash have been collected at sites along the Herring Run and tributaries to the Jones Falls in the 9 years that Green Towson Alliance has been recruiting and helping community leaders and volunteers.

This spring, fewer plastic bags and less styrofoam than usual were found at several of the 9 stream cleanup sites. Clearly, recent laws meant to minimize such pollution are working!

However, 136 bags of trash have been removed from 9 stream sites so far this spring. Sadly, most was plastic bottles and other plastics, as well as some cloth and metal items and 2 local street signs.

Towson University students with trash they pulled from the stream.

Where did all that trash come from? As our storms become more extreme, more of the trash from our streets and parking lots washes into the storm drains and then into the streams!

Girl Scouts pulling trash out of a tributary of the Herring Run tributary.

Volunteer participation has been terrific, as 198 adults and 33 children participated in the cleanups this spring so far. 17 Girl Scouts from Troops #1152, #04151and #02294 cleaned a long stretch of stream and its wide ravine. 78 Towson University students from Impact TU Day and many children from a variety of Towson-area schools accompanied their parents at other sites. County Councilmember Mike Ertel helped at several locations, too.

Baltimore County Councilman Mike Ertel working with neighbors to clean this Towson stream.

Teams at 4 sites removed not only trash but also invasive plants, ranging from English Ivy and Porcelainberry vines to garlic mustard and prickly multiflora rosa.

A volunteer clips invasive porcelain berry vines from a streamside tree.

We thank all the volunteers and especially their Site Leaders:  Christine Horel Accardo, Anne Estes, Adreon Hubbard, Berni Kroll, Barbara Lewis, Janice Millard, Beth Miller, Lilly Richardson, Holly Sebastian, Bob Simon, Mike Stopford, Diane Topper.

Baltimore County Council Chair Izzy Patoka with volunteers at a stream cleanup which hauled trash and a massive logjam out of the Roland Run stream in Ruxton.

Two more sites are scheduled for cleanup next month, in Wiltondale and in Fellowship Forest. To help on a weekend morning soon, contact GTA at https://greentowsonalliance.org/contact/

 Let’s Remove Vines and Save our Tree Canopy!

By Raymond Heil

With evidence mounting everywhere, we finally seem to be taking climate change seriously.  In Maryland, we are blessed with an extensive tree canopy, which helps to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, use the carbon for their growth, and release oxygen back into a cooler atmosphere.  We are experiencing a growing interest in planting trees that seems to be a worldwide movement. Some local examples: The State of Maryland, through the 2021 Tree Solutions Now Act, plans to plant 5 million trees by 2031. In Baltimore County, County Executive Olszewski has established one program to plant 1000 street trees per year, and another that has planted over 2500 trees in underserved communities.  He has also reiterated, in his FY 2023 Budget Message, the county’s goal to achieve a 50% tree canopy countywide.       

This movement is driven in part by the desire to take action against global warming, but most people also value the many ecological, social, psychological and aesthetic value of trees, to numerous to list here. To address climate change, we should all reduce our own carbon footprints, but we should also participate in this movement by looking for opportunities to plant more trees.  Fall is the best time to plant trees in this part of the country.  In Fall 2023, Green Towson Alliance volunteers worked with local community associations and Blue Water Baltimore to plant over 290 native trees in Towson neighborhoods.  Thanks to everyone who worked on this effort!

But the benefits of newly planted trees are dwarfed by the ecological benefits of mature trees. Now is the best time to see the damage being done to our mature trees throughout the Baltimore area by smothering invasive vines. Take a drive on the beltway, up I-83, or on any urban or suburban street bordered by wooded areas. You will see trees. large and small, overwhelmed by invasive vines.  The main culprits are English Ivy, Porcelain Berry, and Oriental Bittersweet.  You may have trees in your own yard that are under stress from these vines.  This growing problem must be reversed if we want to grow our tree canopy and its benefits. 

All of us can help with the important work of invasive vine removal. Here are some actions you can take:

  1. Baltimore City, Carroll County and Montgomery County have well-organized “Weed Warrior” Programs to deploy trained volunteers to remove invasive vines on government-owned properties.  Baltimore County, with extensive county-owned natural areas, does not have such a program.  To achieve the County’s goal of a 50% tree canopy, such a program must be established.  If you are a Baltimore County resident, we ask you to contact your councilperson and request that the county establish a “Weed Warrior” Program and get to work saving the county’s mature trees.
  2. Remove invasive vines from your own trees.  All you need to do is cut the vines near to the ground.  With English Ivy, cut the vines all around the circumference of the tree and do a second cut 10 inches higher.  Remove the severed section creating a “window.”  It is not necessary to remove all the severed vines from the tree as they will die over time.  You can find many helpful how-to videos on vine removal on Youtube.
  3. Organize and support volunteer efforts in your neighborhood to inform neighbors of the invasive vine problem and remove invasive vines from trees on private properties.
  4. Support the 2024 Biodiversity and Agriculture Protection Act, which would restrict the sale of many destructive and non-native plants in Maryland.

Planting young trees and protecting our existing mature trees are two of the most effective steps every person can take to counteract the harmful impacts of climate change.  When we take action against climate change, we begin to see that it is possible to create a livable future for our children and our planet.

A volunteer removes honeysuckle vines from a wooded area.
A volunteer removing invasive honeysuckle vines from a wooded area.

Raymond Heil is on the Executive Committees of Green Towson Alliance and the Baltimore County Green Alliance.

Come on, Get Sappy: Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Why Everyone Should Bird

by Adreon Hubbard

I didn’t used to think birdy thoughts on a regular basis. Like most people, I didn’t own a pair of good binoculars or know much about birds. After retiring, however, I signed up for a birding class, got a pair of excellent, yet affordable Vortex Diamondback 10 x 42 binoculars, and gained awareness, Matrix-style, of a new reality. Through numerous outings with instructor Marty Brazeau to local natural areas such as Loch Raven, Cromwell Valley, Oregon Ridge, Marshy Point, and with the help of free birding apps like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin Bird ID and eBird, I gradually learned how to spot and identify a variety of birds by their sounds, appearance, and behavior. Now I take binoculars with me on nearly every walk or trip, even on short jaunts in Overlook Park down the street or while strolling around our bird-friendly yard. 

An interesting species I recently learned about is a lesser-known migratory woodpecker that winters in Maryland and further south, the comically-named Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (YBS.) Its pale yellow belly can be hard to see, because this bird is usually clinging vertically to a tree trunk, busily making horizontal rows of small holes called sapwells, then licking up the oozing sap with its brush-tipped tongue. YBS is the only woodpecker that makes horizontal rows of holes, which I have observed on a variety of local trees. The holes do not damage most trees unless they are already in decline, and a variety of insects and other wildlife feed on the oozing sap, including hummingbirds. Hummingbirds even time their migration north to take advantage of the sapwells’ sweet sustenance. Any insects going to the sap are typically eaten by the YBS as well, before they can harm the tree.

YBS can be harder to see than other woodpeckers due to its mottled feathers blending into the tree bark, and it is relatively quiet. It makes a distinctive mewing sound, however, which can alert you to its presence. Males have a red crown and throat, whereas females have only the red crown. Both have a distinctive white wing stripe and striped face. I recently spotted a pair of them perched on our backyard utility pole. “No sap there,” I thought. Perhaps they were after insects hiding in the many holes and crevices, or perhaps they were just resting and posing for me to enjoy!

Thankfully, YBS is one of only 39% of bird species globally that are not in decline. North American bird populations have plummeted by three billion birds in the last 50 years due to habitat loss, collisions with glass, predation by outdoor cats, and other factors. Only when we notice and appreciate birds can we begin to work to support their continued existence. I highly recommend giving birding a try!


Marty Brazeau’s April, 2024 Costa Rica birding tour may still have openings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21IfZ2xz0L8 

Email Marty at tropicbirder56@gmail.com for questions about the trip or upcoming CCBC birding classes.

Consider joining the Baltimore Bird Club to connect with birders and ongoing birding outings https://mdbirds.org/join/chapters/baltimore-bird-club/

Visit https://abcbirds.org/ to learn more about birds and threats to birds. This group has many excellent, free bird webinars on youtube.

My email is hubbardesol@gmail.com for any questions on supporting birds.

Adreon Hubbard is a member of Green Towson Alliance. Besides birding, she leads a group that removes invasive plants from Overlook Park in Towson. A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2024  Idlewylde Newsletter.

Male Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Female yellow-bellied sapsucker
Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Horizontal rows of holes, called sapwells, made by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers
on a tree in Baltimore.
Marty Brazeau, my inspiring birding instructor, at Loch Raven Reservoir.

Photos of the Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, courtesy of All About Birds.
The photos of the tree and birding instructor were taken by Adreon Hubbard.

Green Towson Alliance discovers sanitary sewer overflow below the Lake Roland Dam after heavy rains on Tuesday, January 9th


Sanitary sewage debris at a sewer “stack” and its manhole cover lying on the ground were discovered on January 10 by a volunteer from Green Towson Alliance (GTA). The overflow near the banks of the Jones Falls was reported to Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Wednesday’s discovery was in the same area where GTA volunteers found a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) in 2019.

The current overflow coincides with Baltimore County Council’s pending approval of the 2023 Triennial Review of the Water Supply and Sewerage Master Plan (W&SMP). GTA issued a statement in September calling for the Council to amend the W&SMP to require an independent review of the information and methods used by DPWT to determine whether public sewerage facilities are adequate to support new development and a moratorium on approvals until recommended changes are implemented.  

GTA and other advocates have challenged whether there are adequate sanitary sewerage facilities in the Jones Falls Sewershed (JFS) since 2016. Baltimore City and County are under Consent Decrees which require elimination of all SSOs. A 2012 study by consultants described work needed to prevent JFS overflows, but the recommended improvements are incomplete leaving system capacity undetermined. GTA estimates almost 2.2 million square feet of development have been built in the JFS since the 2012 study with more development in the queue. The SSOs found by GTA are just downstream from the dam at Lake Roland, which is where consultants predicted the biggest SSOs from large storms would occur. 

DPWT reviews each development proposal for adequate sanitary sewer, but their reviews do not consider MDE requirements to account for how much stormwater enters the system through defects in pipes. In Baltimore County, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) makes the final decision to approve new development. In 2023, the ALJ denied approval of Greenspring Manor, a proposal for 61 new homes in the JFS because of expert testimony that there are not adequate facilities to safely convey the sewerage to a treatment plant. Bluestem, a mixed-use development, was denied for the same reason in 2019. DPWT continues to approve new development and refuses to acknowledge errors in its methods.  

Wednesday’s SSO is evidence that the pipes cannot contain the current volume of sewage that occurs during heavy storms, much less additional flow from new development. Storms are more frequent and more intense in the Mid-Atlantic due to climate change. Overflows are a costly and dangerous threat to public health and aquatic life and violate the Consent Decree, as well as state and local water quality laws. 

Environmental laws are intended to provide equal protection for the public. Currently in Baltimore County, only citizens with the awareness and resources to hire attorneys and expert witnesses can effectively oppose new developments that will further overwhelm the sewer system. 

The GTA statement has garnered broad support from community associations and environmental organizations including Blue Water Baltimore and Sierra Club Maryland Greater Baltimore Group.

Leave the Leaves: Less Work, More Ecological Benefit

by Adreon Hubbard

A walk or bike ride through Towson’s many charming neighborhoods makes a tree-lover really happy. So many yards are filled with trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, in addition to the more traditional mowed grassy areas. This past fall, more than 300 native trees, including Bald Cypress, Black Gum, Fringetree, Willow and Northern Red Oak, Redbud, River Birch, Sweetbay Magnolia, Sycamore, and Tuiliptree were planted in Towson neighborhoods through our partnership with Blue Water Baltimore. Yay! Most people seem to agree that trees provide many benefits, including shade, cooling, cleaner air, stormwater and erosion control, pollutant filtering, habitat, and beauty.

Volunteers at work, planting native trees in a community park in West Towson.

There seems to be less agreement about what to do with all those leaves when they fall. The simple answer is–as the meme says–“leave the leaves.” Leaf “litter,” as it is so inappropriately called, returns nutrients to the soil, insulates plant roots, and provides critical overwintering and nesting habitat for many species of beneficial insects, including bees, fireflies, many butterfly species, and beautiful moths such as the ethereal Luna moth.

We tend to think of insects only when we see them in their adult form in the warm months while giving little thought to how they get through the winter. Unlike the famous migrating monarch butterflies, most species hunker down for the winter out of sight as either a larva, pupa, or adult in leaf litter, under the soil, or in crevices and nooks and crannies. Many of them unfortunately get killed when we blast the leaves with blowers or put them in plastic bags and get rid of dead plant stalks. Mulching the leaves with a mower puts nutrients back in the soil but also kills the insects. Populations of insects, and birds who depend on them, have plummeted in the last 50 years. Our yard practices matter because there just isn’t enough habitat “out there” anymore.

Since I retired and am home during the week, I notice the lawn services with their noisy leaf blowers removing every leaf from some properties. I take out my hearing aids and ponder ways to spread the message about insects and leaf litter. If you have a thick carpet of leaves, especially Oak or Holly leaves that can take years to break down, consider ditching the leaf blower or lawn service and instead gently raking some of the leaves into your plant beds or into piles in a far corner of the yard–your “wild area.” Get the kids involved–like the group of kids I saw in my neighborhood today squealing with delight while making and jumping in “the world’s biggest leaf pile.”

I would like to add that seeing your yard as habitat instead of just “lawn” or “landscape” is incredibly fun and rewarding. For example, on my daily rounds in the yard the other day, I unexpectedly discovered a large yellow-green and pink caterpillar with horns on its backside crawling on the native Blackhaw Viburnum shrub. I took a photo and uploaded it to the iNaturalist app, which identified it as a Hummingbird Clearwing moth larva in its final instar before pupating in the soil just under leaf litter. I had seen the fascinating native Hummingbird Clearwing moth before, but never the caterpillar, which feeds on the leaves of a variety of trees. Since I had placed only mulch at the base of the shrub, I went off to gather leaves from under the Pin Oak tree in front. By the time I had completed this task, the caterpillar had disappeared! Hopefully it either found another plant to eat or successfully pupated and burrowed through the thin mulch layer (no “mulch volcanoes” in our yard!)

Many neighbors tell me that they leave at least some of their leaves and laugh about being “lazy gardeners.” If you are not a “lazy gardener,” I hope I’ve inspired you to think about leaves as habitat and allow at least some of your leaves to lie where they fall or gently rake them into your garden beds. You may even be inspired to leave seed heads of your flowers for the birds, spent stalks for bees to nest in, and a wood pile! In Spring and Summer when you see adult bees, butterflies, and maybe even a Hummingbird Clearwing moth, you will feel good knowing that you helped them.

A Hummingbird Clearwing moth caterpillar in Adreon’s yard. Its head is to the right.
Adult Hummingbird Clearwing moth Adreon saw in Pennsylvania last summer.
Adreon placed fall leaves under this Viburnum shrub so the month has a perfect landing
place to pupate and overwinter among the dry leaves.
This yard sign was created by GTA member Nan Wray. Luna Moth on the right.
A No Mow area of Adreon’s yard with pathways and native sedges that hold the leaves nicely
The leaves and decomposing log in this plant bed will provide a winter home for many wild creatures.
Close up of another No Mow area with native Bunny Blue Sedge and groundcover plants.
Kids playing in leaves in Adreon’s neighborhood.

Adreon Hubbard is a Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, retired teacher, and a member of Green Towson Alliance. She has taken the photographs in this article.

Save Native Bees

Our Pollinators Need You!

Of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of human nutrition, over 70 require bee pollination to produce.  Many people are unaware that native bees are the primary pollinator of most of our food crops or increase yield by significantly supplementing the activity of European honeybees.  To put it simply, native pollinators are critical to producing food for humans and wildlife.  Many of these essential pollinators are rapidly declining because of human causes, and this could begin to threaten our food supply and our very existence.

A large study of all 4,337 North American and Hawaiian native bees has raised serious concerns.The key findings:

 Among native bee species with sufficient data to assess, more than half are rapidly declining.

•  Nearly 1 in 4 native bee species is imperiled and at risk of extinction.

The primary causes for the decline in these important insects are loss of habitat, including necessary native plants, and pesticide usage.  With 86% of all land east of the Mississippi in private hands, we need everyone to pitch in to save our bees. 

What can you do?  Avoid using pesticides in your garden and choose native plants, which have coevolved with our wildlife in Maryland for thousands of years.

Need ideas?  Check out Alliance for the Bay for some wonderful plant suggestions.


Bumble bee pollinating crooked-stemmed aster
Photo: Judy Fulton


This article was written by the Maryland Native Plant Coalition.

164 Volunteers Cleaned Out More than a Ton of Trash from Towson Streams this Spring

Volunteers from neighborhoods all over Towson helped to clean up 2,857 pounds of trash from tributaries of the Herring Run and Roland Run this spring as part of Project Clean Stream for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Every year, Green Towson Alliance organizes these cleanups in Towson, and this year, nine cleanups were held in April.

These youngsters helped look for trash in the Herring Run stream in Overlook Park.
GTA members Kathleen Brady (pictured) and Diane Topper led the Wiltondale Garden Club cleanup in the Wiltondale Community.

Some unusual items pulled out of streams include a street sign, a wet vac, a lampshade, a skateboard ramp, a tire from a wheelbarrow, and a dollar bill.

Volunteers Jason and Wayne Prem found this skateboard ramp in Roland Run.

One of the cleanups concentrated on removing invasive plants from the area around the stream in their neighborhood; many volunteers taking part on the cleanups couldn’t pass by invasive plants like garlic mustard, which is easy to spot and pull, and can be found just about everywhere in the spring in Maryland.

Some of the invasive garlic mustard pulled up at Overlook Park.

Students from Towson University participated in five of the cleanups, as part of the yearly TU “big event” on April 30, in which students go into neighborhoods to help with community projects.

Members of the Towson University Gymnastics Team pitched in at Radebaugh Park and its surrounding neighborhood.
TU students from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity with the trash they pulled out of the
Roland Run stream in Riderwood.

Since its inception in 2015, Green Towson Alliance volunteers have cleaned out nearly 16 tons of trash from local streams through these annual stream clean-ups. One big change is that we no longer find Styrofoam; its use as carryout containers was banned in Maryland in October, 2020. GTA member Lauren Stranahan coordinated this year’s stream clean-ups.

Some volunteers came equipped with boots and waders.


Planning a construction project at your house? First, consider your trees. They provide you with beauty, shade, and higher property value, so try to plan around them if you can. Design your new room with a view of your tree and the bird house or the feeder and the squirrel’s acrobatics, and the ever-changing display of leaves and branches throughout the season.

To preserve the trees you already have, protect the roots. Tree roots can be damaged easily in the process of home renovation. Weakened roots can lead to slow death for the tree that can take 1 to 5 years to become evident.

If grading your property is necessary for the project, bring in a tree expert before you begin to move dirt. The roots are close to the surface; about 80 per cent of the roots lie less than 24 inches deep. Roots can be buried too deep or destroyed in the process of grading.

Keep heavy items OFF THE ROOTS. Vehicles and supplies can crush the soil, the roots, and the mycelial structures underground that are essential to tree health.

How to do this? Mark out the “critical rootzones” of your trees, and protect the roots inside the zone. This is an invisible circle that runs just outside the drip line of the tree (just inside the edge of the canopy of the tree.) Directions for how to measure this circle are here.

Put a barrier, such as orange construction fence, around the critical root zone to keep off any vehicle, supplies, or other items. Instruct the crew chief that you want to critical root zone protected. If workers must walk or carry equipment over the critical root zone, it should be covered with planks for plywood to minimize crushng or compacting the tree roots.

Water the tree, 20 gallons slowly every week during the growing season to support its health during construction! Apply 3 inches of mulch over the critical root zone, too, to both retain the moisture and indicate that this area is to be protected.

If, despite all precautions, you notice dead sections or branches in an otherwise healthy tree, this can be a sign of root damage. The dead limbs will need to be pruned out to give the tree the best chance to flourish.

Trees add enormous value to our homes and our community. It is wise to plan ahead to ensure that your tree will survive any construction or renovation coming its way.

This article was written by Nancy Colvin and Carol Newill for Stoneleigh’s Greening & Recycling Committee, and published in the Winter 2023 issue of the Stoneleighite.

Mature oak tree next to a home.
A mature tree is truly a thing of beauty and adds so much
to a home, a neighborhood, and our communities’ ecosystem.

A moral obligation to clean up the Chesapeake Bay

By Raymond Heil and Jodi Rose

It’s sobering, but not surprising, to read that the Environmental Protection Agency has found that the pollution reduction goals identified in the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Agreement will not be met. The EPA recommends that a new agreement and timeline be developed over the next year. This is the time for all of us to think about what can be done to help the states in the bay watershed finally achieve a clean Chesapeake Bay.

There are many reasons we are falling short of bay cleanup goals. Among them:

  • Our pre-1980 urban and suburban storm drain systems — our gray infrastructure — are designed to direct polluted stormwater runoff from buildings, roads, parking lots and lawns directly into the streams that empty into the Chesapeake.
  • Over fertilization of lawns and farm fields results in nitrogen and phosphorus polluting the Chesapeake and creating its dead zones.
  • A large portion of the land in the bay watershed is devoted to raising feed for chickens and cows. Streams draining these fertilized lands often lack natural forest buffers and in many areas more manure is produced than can be safely used.

All the major world religions believe that we humans, wherever we live, have a moral obligation to care for the earth. This is the foundation of our mission at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. What does moral obligation to care for the earth mean for those of us who live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed? It means that we all have a responsibility to understand how our lifestyles contribute to bay pollution and change our behaviors where needed — all out of respect for those around us for we all share this home together.

This responsibility falls on every person and organization, especially those who own or manage property in the bay watershed, from the owner of a rowhouse to the owners of large parcels of land, such as governments, corporations, universities, school systems, hospitals, retirement communities, shopping malls, farms and, yes, faith-based congregations. All these properties have hard surfaces, extensive lawns or agricultural fields that contribute unfiltered runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus into our waterways. The best way to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in runoff is to capture the rainwater where it falls, and to infiltrate it into the ground. The techniques to achieve this, called “green infrastructure,” include stream buffers, rain gardens, bio-remediation facilities, bio-swales, tree planting, and other techniques, which must be more widely used. Many congregations are already reducing their runoff, and are examples for the rest of us.

We are disappointed that the EPA has not forced the bay states to achieve the goals of their agreement. The bay cleanup program has achieved roughly half of its nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals using EPA, state and local government programs, such as the stormwater management fee adopted by some Maryland jurisdictions. As strong enforcement of these “top down” initiatives continues, additional gains can be made by organizing a “bottom up” stewardship movement involving all of us.

The results of the 2017 Stewardship Index, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Program, found that “71 percent of residents want to do more to make their creeks, rivers and lakes healthier, and 86 percent believe that if people work together, water pollution can be fixed.”

A broad range of grassroots efforts, aimed at all categories of land use, should be organized to help push the bay cleanup effort to achieve its goals. Additional government programs to incentivize this work will be needed. When we reach our pollution reduction goals, engaging the entire growing population of the bay watershed to maintain pollution limits will continue into the future.

We need everyone in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with responsibility for property of any size to understand and take seriously their duty, not only to themselves, but to their children and grandchildren, to clean up the bay. We urge you to find out what you can do to reduce fertilizer use and to filter stormwater runoff from your property, and to take action to make it happen. IPC is committed to being a part of this grassroots movement.

Raymond Heil (raymondheil@verizon.net) is a board member of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake; Jodi Rose (jodi@interfaithchesapeake.org) is IPC’s executive director.

This article was originally published as an Op-Ed by the Baltimore Sun.