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Planting protection for the Bay

November 13, 2005|By TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

BEAVER CREEK - Want to help save the bay?

Plant more trees.

On Saturday morning, more than 120 volunteers gathered along Beaver Creek to plant a buffer of trees and shrubs along the creek to help prevent the runoff that pollutes the waterways that flow into Chesapeake Bay.

Sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its partners, Saturday's planting off Beaver Creek Church Road drew Boy Scouts, high school students, government workers, fly fishers, midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and representatives from other agencies.

Among the volunteers getting their hands dirty Saturday were several students of Scott Sutton and Larry Funk, who teach environmental science courses at Hagerstown Business College.

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The students participated voluntarily, and received extra credit for spending part of their weekend helping to plant 1,000 shrubs and 100 trees along the creek, Sutton said.

"Our goal is to get them out to see real-world applications" of principles they learn in class, Sutton said. "That's the real education."

Lori Smith, 37, a student in the medical secretary/assistant program at HBC, took Sutton's class as an elective course.

"I've been learning quite a bit" about the environment, Smith said. "It's really been eye-opening."

One of the things Smith learned was that planting trees helps prevent erosion into streams by "entrapping the pesticides and fertilizers the farmers use before it runs into the creeks," she said.

Looking out over the crowd planting trees Saturday, Smith said, "It's nice to see that there's a lot of other people interested in the environment."

Wadiah Abdulmalik, 60, also is studying in the medical assistant program. But she took Funk's course because she wanted to get outdoors.

"I love being outside," Abdulmalik said. "I love watching things grow. To be participating in new growth is just an exciting experience for me."

Abdulmalik said such outdoor projects were important to her not only because they helped restore the health of the environment, but were healthy for her as well.

"It was exciting. It really was," she said. "I can't find the words to express it ... I was destined to be out here."

Teaching the course opened Funk's eyes to some realities, he said.

"It made me realize we're not doing the right thing on the environment," Funk said, and that more should be done to protect it.

"I hope our grandchildren will be able to see (Beaver Creek) the way the Indians saw it," he said.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Restoration Coordinator Marcy Damon said the foundation sponsors three or four buffer projects in the area each year. Saturday's project was part of the foundation's Farm Stewardship Program.

"We're having a lot of discussions with farmers" about the need to restore waterways, Damon said. "More and more are getting involved."

The projects involve more than just planting trees. Some of Saturday's volunteers were preparing fish habitats in the creek, said Rob Schnabel, watershed scientist for the foundation. The foundation also installs fencing on farms to keep livestock out of streams, he said. And those trees and shrubs? They came from the foundation's nursery in Prince George's County.

Schnabel said the foundation had sponsored eight projects in the Beaver Creek area. Recent development had not yet presented major problems for the creek, but more development could be a concern if storm drainage was not handled properly, he said.

But planting more trees on newly developed property could help stem problems because trees absorb 40 times more water than lawns alone, Schnabel said.

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