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Co-founder of MWS receives Heritage Award

posted Oct 1, 2017, 12:34 PM by   [ updated Jan 9, 2018, 12:58 PM ]

At their annual dinner on September 22, 2017 the Conservancy for Charles County feted Jim Long, current president of the Mattawoman Watershed Society, with its annual Heritage Award. Cited was his work
organizing advocates and applying scientific knowledge to persistently champion improved land-use policies in Charles County, which controls three-fourths of the Mattawoman Creek watershed.

Cited specifically was the recent adoption of the Watershed Conservation District, a long-held goal of the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County, of which MWS is a founding member.

Pictured is Hal Delaplane, right, president of the Conservancy for Charles County, presenting the award to Jim Long, left.

Major subdivision proposed for Nanjemoy denied on appeal

posted Oct 1, 2017, 11:40 AM by   [ updated Oct 3, 2017, 7:16 AM ]

On September 12, 2017, the Charles County Board of Appeals unanimously overturned the Planning Commission's previous approval of Washington's Discovery, a major subdivision proposed in the heart of Nanjemoy. The Board agreed with the appellants on all three of their objections based on procedural and safety grounds. The Mattawoman Watershed Society and some of its members were among the appellants.

In particular, the two roads by which residents would leave the area are much too narrow to support a major subdivision. Pictured is Hancock Run Rd, the narrower of the two roads, where the pavement in places is less than twelve feet wide. The subdivision would have opened onto Adams Willet Rd, with substandard lane widths as narrow as eight feet. The Board of Appeals determined that the mitigation offered--larger culverts to reduce commonplace flooding on the Adams Willet Rd--was insufficient to compensate for its narrow width.

The project's added traffic would not only have jeopardized the safety of current future residents, but also bicyclists drawn to local (pdf) and national scenic bike routes using the roads. The denial of the development will also benefit forest-interior dwelling birds and the federally endangered Dwarf Wedge Mussel down stream of the project.

Mattawoman featured by Chesapeake Bay Program

posted Sep 10, 2017, 8:12 AM by   [ updated Sep 10, 2017, 8:12 AM ]

In a September 1st, 2017 post, Mattawoman Creek was featured by the Chesapeake Bay Program, the crucial agency overseeing the Bay cleanup. Read the article "Preserving the pristine Mattawoman Creek".

The CBP pictured this view of the tidal portion of Mattawoman Creek looking downstream from near head-of-tide. The future health of the Mattawoman received a reprieve when Charles County adopted its Watershed Conservation District. The district reduces development density on much of the land "shedding" stormwater to the waterway--its "watershed." This step comes just in time to keep Mattawoman from falling over the tipping point for irreversible decline caused by loss of forest and the polluted runoff from over development.  Mattawoman's tidal portion is especially vulnerable because the watershed feeding it is unusually large compared to area of its tidal waters.

WCD passes!

posted Jul 5, 2017, 11:03 AM by   [ updated Jul 5, 2017, 11:07 AM ]

The Watershed Conservation District, passed by Charles County Commissioners Peter Murphy, Amanda Stewart, and Ken Robinson in June, 2017 is a key step to conserve Mattawoman Creek's integrity and keep it from falling over the tipping point. Read the news article here.

Unfortunately, hundreds of acres around the Maryland airport are still jeopardized. In an unexpected amendment to the WCD zoning ordinance, planning staff was directed to devise an overlay zone for opening land around the airport to commercial development. This would require taxpayer subsidies and would degrade an extremely valuable "sentinel site" watershed, an Important Bird Area, and more.

Photo by Anne Stark.

MWS co-founder receives award

posted Dec 3, 2016, 1:28 PM by   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 1:11 PM ]

onnie Bick, board member and co-founder of MWS, received the Carl Weber award at the 22nd annual conference of the Maryland Water Monitoring Council in Linthicum MD on Dec. 2, 2016. Beginning in 2007, the Award has been presented annually to an individual involved in water monitoring in Maryland who exhibits the spirit, vision and leadership exemplified by Dr. Weber. 

Bonnie was recognized for her indefatigable work to protect Mattawoman Creek by not only engaging in monitoring activities, but by fostering collaboration between citizen and professional scientists in the monitoring community and dispersing the knowledge to advocate effectively for Mattawoman's conservation.  

More information on the Carl Weber award is available here.

Photos by Jim Long (top); Sherry Hessian (bottom)

MWS at MWMC conference

posted Dec 3, 2016, 1:02 PM by   [ updated Dec 3, 2016, 1:06 PM ]

MWS was a co-author on an oral presentation and a scientific poster at the annual conference of the Maryland Water Monitoring Council on December 2, 2016. Jim Long, MWS president,  joined Kim Brandt of 1000 Friends of Maryland to describe how scientific monitoring served as a foundation for the advocacy that led to a new and more conservation-conscious comprehensive land-use plan in Charles County.

MWS volunteers co-authored with biologists from the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources a poster Persistently elevated conductance in Mattawoman Creek & biological implications.

The conference was attended by more than 500 people representing federal, state, and local governments, academia, and watershed groups who are interested in understanding, conserving and restoring Maryland's waters.

A conference program is available here

MWS wins appeal--protects rural Billingsley Road

posted Dec 3, 2016, 11:10 AM by   [ updated Dec 3, 2016, 11:11 AM ]

MWS has successfully appealed the approval of the huge Guilford subdivision proposed for Bryans Road. On November 16, the Charles County Board of Appeals overturned Planning Commission's controversial approval of a preliminary subdivision plan for the project. Learn more at this news story, or on our website.

The project had been approved despite the fact that it would increased by 60% the traffic on rural Billingsley Road,often cited by the county for its safety issues. The project also threatened a globally rare Magnolia Bog and would have damaged a tributary to Mattawoman Creek by covering the 184 acre site with 18% impervious surface.

MWS volunteers receive award

posted Nov 21, 2016, 7:01 AM by   [ updated Nov 21, 2016, 7:05 AM ]

Bonnie Bick and Jim Long, co-founders of the Mattawoman Watershed, have been presented with the 2016 Melissa Laser award for protecting fish habitat. The award is conferred annually by Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Habitat Partnership. The award ceremony was held at the 75th anniversary meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in in Bar Harbor, ME on October 23, 2016.

Learn more here.

Pictured, from left: ACFHP Steering Committee member Dr. Wilson Laney, Award recipient Jim Long, Mrs. and Mr. Laser, Award recipient Bonnie Bick, and Maine ASMFC Commissioner Patrick Keliher

1000 Friends of MD & MWS present to Watershed Forum

posted Oct 4, 2016, 9:50 AM by   [ updated Oct 4, 2016, 9:51 AM ]

On October 2, 1000 Friends of Maryland and MWS presented Planning to Protect Environmental Assets at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. A full room learned that urbanization is paving land faster than population is growing--a definition of sprawl development; that important means for defending our waters, like permitting, restoration, and land preservation have not prevented a decline in Mattawoman Creek's fish community; and that smart land-use planning is a cost effective alternative. Attendees heard how public pressure spearheaded by the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County helped set the stage for the 2016 adoption of a smarter comprehensive land-use plan. When fully implemented, this plan will improve conservation while at the same time reducing stress on traffic, school crowding, emergency and police services, and the costs to supply far-flung infrastructure.

MWS presents to MNPS

posted Sep 19, 2016, 2:53 PM by   [ updated Sep 19, 2016, 3:05 PM ]

On September 17, 2016, MWS's president spoke about the watershed's two globally rare Magnolia Bogs to the annual conference of the Maryland Native Plant Society. Unfortunately, one of the bogs is located within the site of the huge Guilford subdivision proposed for Bryans Road. This project could not happen under Charles County's new common-sense comprehensive land-use plan, but is grandfathered. Guilford's shoddy approval is being challenged at the Board of Appeals October 11th, 2016 meeting, 7 PM, at the government building in La Plata. The public is invited to attend to show support. The project would increase traffic on rural but too-busy Billingsley Rd by 60%! As we often say, protecting a watershed protects people!

"Fall-Line Terrace-Gravel Magnolia Bogs," as they are termed by NatureServe, are extremely rare wetlands found only in the mid-Atlantic near the "fall line" zone. They form in gravelly soils at the headwaters of small streams. Technically a nutrient-poor fen, these wetlands depend on a constant supply of groundwater seepage to keep soils saturated, or nearly so. The required stable surficial water-table is vulnerable to pavement covering its recharge area, so even if a bog is not destroyed outright, it can be desiccated by the impervious surface of nearby development.  Over time most Magnolia Bogs have been destroyed or degraded by development. No exception is Charles County's only two know bogs, both in the Mattawoman watershed. Araby Bog is being degraded by a subdivision, and Bryans Road Bog is threatened by Guilford.
 A brief description of some of the remaining bogs is here.

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