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Ellicott City Floods – The Need to be Proactive


Ellicott City Flood 7/30/16 photo by Cody Goodin

Many of us want to know what we can do to help our neighbors in Ellicott City. We feel a strong need to react to this incident. I am sure there are some short term things that could help reduce human suffering. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, their homes, and businesses.

But fixing this city built in a creek is not a simple thing, especially with the expectations of more frequent and bigger storms. We need to be very thoughtful on how we proceed. We need to be reactive and proactive in our response.

The greatest opportunity to help our neighbors in Ellicott City and across the entire county and country are the actions that we take tomorrow, next week, and next year. We all need to be much more proactive in order to reduce the deaths and damage to our greater community in the future.

Storm waters do need to be managed better. We have known this for years. We all need to step up and put in rain gardens to capture rainfall and slow the flow of water off our properties. We also need to adequately fund the restoration of our storm water management systems.

But we also need to do whatever it takes to reduce the growing threat of more and bigger storms (rain and snow) resulting from the warming and moister atmosphere. We as a community have not taken this threat seriously, yet. We are not talking about it enough. We are not doing enough. There is so much more that we can do as individuals, businesses, and communities. We need to get serious and start doing it. Each of us can take steps at home and where we work. We each need to reduce our use of fossil fuels as much as possible to slow climate change and reduce these big storms. We can do that by:

  • reducing energy use in our homes by insulating attics and upgrading appliances.
  • reducing fossil fuel energy use by buying our electricity from solar and wind farms
  • reducing fuel use by driving less and using more efficient cars.
  • buying less stuff and always insisting on the most sustainable products.

Let’s support our neighbors both short term and long term by acting now to create a safer future. These are simple, concrete things that each of us can do today that will help prevent the next big catastrophe.

Road Salt as a Water Quality Issue

This summary was written by Mark Southerland for the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board.

road saltWe are all familiar with the use of road salt to melt ice and snow from paved roadways in the winter. There are a variety of deicer products, but the vast majority of what is used is common table salt—sodium chloride (Na-Cl). Road salt improves tire adherence to the pavement, greatly increasing vehicle safety, but has adverse effects on property and the environment beyond the road surface.

The types and extent of these adverse effects are becoming clearer through recent (more…)

The River that Caught Fire, 1969 and Today

Cuyahoga RiverExcerpted  from Saving the Place We Love.

One of the most famous American rivers, from an environmental perspective, is the Cuyahoga, which flows through Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, and (more…)

800 Trout

fish stockingFebruary/March is that time of year. That time of year when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) begins stocking our lakes and streams with thousands of 12 inch rainbow trout. I know this because all of a sudden the fishermen are out in droves. Trying to catch the 800 trout that were dumped into Lake Elkhorn last month. More will be stocked this month.

In Howard County, MDNR stocks Lake Elkhorn with 2000 trout, Centennial Lake with 2500, and they also stock the Patapsco River with (more…)

Million Frogs Calling

Spring peepers

Image used by permission from Michael Benard’s Spring Peeper Page

I wonder at times if the suburban area in which I live is more biodiverse today, or less so, relative to the farmland it once was. Has the onslaught of development left our natural green infrastructure – that we depend on for clear water, clean air, and healthy soils – better or worse off than 50 or 100 years ago? Yes habitats have been reshaped a great deal in the last 500 years, but is it possible that we are doing a (more…)

Ranger Max Considers Trail Etiquette – Guest Post

Ranger Max - EtiquetteMax has been a Volunteer Ranger at Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park (PVSP) since he retired back in 2010. He made a personal goal of hiking each major trail in the park for the fun of it and so he could advise park visitors which trail best meets their needs-Easy? Scenic? Bikeable? Peaceful? Accessible?

One of the more frequently asked questions is about trail etiquette, especially when it comes to the encounters between equestrians, mountain bikers, dog walkers? The Rangers’ usual reply involves an understanding of right of way and park rules. We will discuss these one at a time. (more…)

Pack It In/Pack It Out

pack it inMore and more parks across the country are moving to a policy of encouraging people to take their trash home with them. This is always a good policy. In the case of the parks it is also a cost saving measure resulting from the decision of many local, state, and national jurisdictions not to fund our parks sufficiently. It is also partly due to the increasing volume of trash we generate. Keeping our parks clean has become a major challenge. (more…)

Best Places to Visit in Howard County, Maryland

brightonI am often asked “What are the best places to visit right here in Howard County?” This is a tough question because there are so many interesting spots across the county. Visiting them all would literally fill up your weekends for the entire year. I therefore am not going to start with just a short, limited list.  I think you are better served if I group many of them together into general categories for this post. Throughout the coming year I will try to be even more specific as to my favorite places within these larger categories. That approach will be easier for you and will (more…)

Exploring Columbia (Maryland) Walks – What Did We Learn??

Wilde Lake from westI have just completed leading a series of five Exploring Columbia On Foot walks around my home town for our homeowner’s association, The Columbia Association. We had a great time, good weather, and lots of interesting discussion. In order to assess whether these should be offered again and determine how to make them better, it is a good time to reflect on (more…)

Ned’s Top Ten Canoe Trips in Maryland

powell running the COThis list is just to get you started on your paddling adventures throughout Maryland. At some point you might be good enough to kayak, canoe, or raft down the exciting Savage or Youghiogheny rivers in western Maryland. They can be very challenging so they are not included here. This list also does not include many of the (more…)

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