Environmental advocates made tree-mendous contributions to Towson communities this year

By COURTNEY MCGEE

BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA |

DEC 29, 2021 AT 5:00 AM

Shannon McDonald, of Knollwood, started participating in environmental organizations when she was in seventh grade (thanks to Earth Science class). She began planting trees with Blue Water Baltimore in 2014 and took part in cleanups when it was the Jones Falls Watershed Association.

McDonald’s commitment to the environment as a whole is remarkable, but what really motivates her is trees. “I have a deep-seated love of trees,” she says. “Seeing huge canopies both with leaves and without brings me peace. If we don’t keep planting trees, eventually those canopies will die out. I want every kid [city, county, country] to grow up feeling the protection of big trees.”

I am thankful for McDonald and other local tree enthusiasts for their efforts in planting 342 trees in 10 Towson communities during six work sessions in November and December. This project began last summer, when Green Towson Alliance volunteers and Green Teams from neighborhood associations went door-to-door to tell people about the opportunity to purchase and have trees planted through Blue Water Baltimore. Homeowners were able to choose what sort of tree they wanted. The native varieties planted this fall include willow oaks, northern red oaks, swamp white oaks, tulip poplars, American elms, bald cypresses, London planetrees, American lindens, riverbirches, black gums, and serviceberries.

volunteers planting trees at Knollwood
The hard-working crew from the Dec. 4 tree planting in Towson. Photo credit: Councilman David Marks

It’s a win-win situation. “Given the fact that a homeowner, business or community association is receiving quality native trees at a discounted rate, delivered and installed for them it’s kind of a no-brainer, once you realize that trees take a long time to grow to the size of the ones that are just now breaking down. For example, the sycamores planted in Stoneleigh that have 1½-foot to 2-foot diameters were planted 100-plus years ago,” says McDonald.

Trees bring tranquillity to our neighborhoods and provide shelter for birds and wildlife. They are a step toward mitigating climate change, keeping neighborhoods cooler in summer months, absorbing carbon and removing pollutants, filtering water, and absorbing ultraviolet radiation. Plus their beauty improves property values and positively impacts the health and well-being of the humans around them.

Darin Crew from Blue Water notes that since 2012, the group’s tree planting program in the Greater Towson and Lutherville area has planted 774 trees in neighborhoods including: Anneslie, Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh, West Towson, Southland Hills, Lake Walker, Towson Manor Village, Knollwood, Woodbrook, Lutherville, Idlewylde, Kenilworth, Gaywood, Aigburth Manor, and Wiltondale.

McDonald calls on all of us to get involved and inspire young people to join in. “If the same kids who were raised singing ‘We Are the World’ and ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ participate and encourage their children/neighbors to make small environmental shifts, a large change will occur,” she says. “I encourage everyone reading this article to consistently try one change: remembering to use reusable shopping bags; picking up trash 15 minutes a week; removing ivy choking trees and shrubs; etc. These actions add up. Physical participation is so good for mental health, and if younger community members participate this will become a paradigm shift where they go and grow.”

Green Towson Alliance Calls For A Single Councilmanic District To Represent Towson

Green Towson Alliance has sent this letter to the Baltimore County Councilmanic Redistricting Commission

 August 20, 2021

The Councilmanic Redistricting Commission
400 Washington Avenue
Towson, MD  21204
Dear Councilmanic Redistricting Commission,

 

The Green Towson Alliance unites Towson area environmentalists to achieve a greener, healthier, more beautiful community through collaboration and activism.  We represent citizens in the greater Towson area who identify Towson as their downtown center.

 We are writing you today to express our support for a single councilmanic district more closely resembling our own organization’s boundaries for Towson. This area is currently divided among four councilmanic districts.  The urban center of Towson and its dense surrounding neighborhoods have unique concerns with regards to sustainable land use that are very different from the more suburban and rural areas which currently share the districts with Towson.  Uniting the Towson neighborhoods in one district will give our citizens a more cohesive voice to address our unique environmental challenges such as flooding, overburdened sanitary sewers and the heat island effect.

The Charter of Baltimore County calls for councilmanic districts that are compact, contiguous, and in which due regard is given to natural, geographic and community boundaries.  Please restore these qualities to the Towson district.

 We appreciate your consideration of our request.

Best,

John Alexander, Roger Gookin, Ray Heil, Patty Mochel, Beth Miller, Dr. Carol Newill, and Lauren Stranahan
The Executive Committee of the Green Towson Alliance