Thursday, December 31, 2009

What are your thoughts on Sligo Golf Course?

Save Sligo Golf wants to hear from you, even if you don't golf or ever intend to learn how to do so. They are taking a survey of non-golfers right now, in order to give a voice to those who actually live near the area, since many feel that recent actions taken by Montgomery County to cut funding for the course have not actually acknowledged the park's real users.

To participate in the survey, go to:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Merry Mistletoe Story for You

Christmas is always full of fun news stories, as the various media outlets try to find something to fill their pages during the holiday slow down.

This year, the December blizzard made for oddly exciting news, so there were fewer of those fluff stories out there. I guess the white snow was fluffy enough.

The Washington Post health section, however, continued to report with their usual "be afraid, be very afraid" style, and devoted its section front page to "worst case scenario" stories about Christmas, complete with artistic renditions of Christmas trees catching on fire, innocent people being injured during violent gift opening sessions, and descriptions of egg nog food poisoning.

(In other sections, the editors also made a point of calling referring to the snowy weather forecast as "gory." I kept debating with friends whether these stories were meant to be amusing or alarming. It was hard to tell, but either way they did actually make me laugh.)

To counteract this odd alarmism, I bring you the following link from

"Is Mistletoe REALLY the Kiss of Death?"

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Careful What You Wish For

For my column in the Voice newspapers this month I wrote the following:

"I actually wish we would get a serious winter. I miss snow and cold temperatures, and I don’t like the thought that these lame-ass winters we’ve been experiencing the last few Decembers are the result of climate change...

And besides, more than anything else, I want some snow, damn it. Lots of it. Now. Blizzards and snowstorms, snowmen and sledding parties. Bring it, old man winter. Bring it. I am ready to play, ready to enjoy it, ready to count snow flakes and make snow angels, ready for cocoa and craziness. I long for snow the way thirsty people in the desert long for a drink of water. A long brown-gray winter without it is just that: boring, long and dreary. I want the beauty of a snow-filled sunrise where every branch of every tree is draped in white. One or two snowstorms a season just isn’t enough to satisfy this Marylander. I want a real winter. "

We are now under blizzard conditions (this a quote from the radio) with wind and fifteen inches of snow and more coming down each minute.

Perhaps next month I will write about how much I'd like a MILLION DOLLARS.

Meanwhile, WAHOO! I am going out to have some fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Conference on Clean Water Announced

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Coalition is hosting the first annual Choose Clean Water Conference, this January 10-12 in DC.

As their website says, 2010 will be a critical year for Bay restoration. The conference will reflect upon President Obama’s historic Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay restoration, the approaching deadline for federal Bay clean-up and the pending re-authorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program in Congress.
Registration info is available on their website.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

MoCo's Street Tree Budget Gets AXED

Citizens and tree lovers all over Montgomery County are up in arms about a budget cut which was pushed through very quietly right around Thanksgiving. The county’s street tree planting program, which is run by the Department of Transportation, has had its entire planting budget zeroed, removed, AXED.

The DOT’s street tree office performs an important role in the county. When trees along the right-of-ways or ROWs in the county have to be cut down due to disease or damage, the DOT replaces them. According to the county's own website, the office plants about 1800 trees a year. Residents can also request a tree for the ROW in front of their home and if the ROW can safely have one, the office will plant one for free using trees which are grown in municipal nurseries.

This is especially important because residents can’t legally plant anything higher than 18 inches in these spaces. But the DOT *can* plant there, and can do so in a way that is safe and will avoid future conflicts with wires, etc. Their skilled and highly trained arborists oversee both the removal of the declining trees and the replanting of new ones. And sadly, many of the oldest street trees in the county’s ROWs are dying and will need to be replaced at a rapid rate if we are to maintain any kind of street tree canopy in the future.

The tree planting program has been popular, despite being anemically funded for several years. $247,000 is a small amount of money relative to the rest of the Montgomery County budget. In return for this small investment, the trees grow and perform many ecosystem services which are extremely valuable. These include:

-water filtration
-pollution reduction
-providing shade which can often reduce energy use for homeowners
-cooling the air by evapotranspiration
-providing habitat for many kinds of wildlife.

Mature trees can also increase the dollar value of homes; homes with well tended trees tend to attract more interest and can sometimes command a higher price than those on streets which lack leafy canopies.

Many who have voiced anger over the budget cut have expressed dismay at the disconnect between tree planting goals, such as the Million Trees for Maryland sponsored through out the state by Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, and the elimination of the street tree funding in Montgomery County.

Especially appalling is the way that the budget cut was kind of slipped through very quietly during the holidays. According to some sources, the office of County Executive Ike Leggett did not even seek the advice of its own Forest Conservation Advisory Committee before making the decision, and the group was not even alerted before the council vote took place on December 1.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DC Says: Skip the Bag to Save the River

As noted earlier in the year on this blog, Washington, DC is joining other cities all around the globe in an effort to reduce feral shopping bag pollution.

As of January 1, DC businesses that sell food or alcohol must charge 5 cents for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag distributed during a purchase.

According to the District Department of the Environment's website, the business keeps 1 cent, or 2 cents if it offers a rebate when you bring your own bag. The remaining 3 or 4 cents go to the new Anacostia River Protection Fund.

DDOE will be administering this fund and will use it to provide reusable bags, educate the public about litter, and support clean up efforts in the Anacostia river.

Concerns have been raised about those with limited income; no one wants to see the grocery bill climb for people who are already feeling the pinch of the tight economy. In an effort to address those concerns, the city is partnering with a large pharmacy chain to provide resuable bags to those who need them the most.

Personally, I am all for this program because those who feel the tight pinch of the economy are also often forced to live with the fall out of the polluted Anacostia River. This initiative will create a new stream of funding for helping ameliorate some of those problems.

You can find out and help promote these bag give away locations at the DDE's Skip the Bag to Save the River website.