SRA Board Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Meeting called to order by President Kurt Riegel at 7:05 P.M.
Kurt reviewed the recent County Council rejection of the SRA backed amendments to the SMART bill, and the passage of Councilperson Vitale’s tax credit proposal. Executive John Leopold is seeking a compromise version of the original bill, which would impose a fee only for new developments. This compromise could impose a fee for existing properties, but with some degree of voluntary compliance.
Bob Whitcomb announced a forum on oyster farming on the Severn, to be held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on February 20, 2008. He also described the silt problem at the head of Clements Creek, and that representatives of Saefern and the Downs are seeking funding for restoration of the area. Support of the SRA for such a project was also sought. He also announced Project Clear Stream, clearing dump sites on Indian Creek, to be held 4/5/2008.
Anne Pearson introduced the speaker for the meeting, Al Todd, USDA Forest Service Watershed Program Leader for State and Private Forestry in the 20 Northeastern Area States. He presented a talk, “Forests and Watershed Health: Working toward Forest-Friendly Development”
He discussed the relationship between forests and watershed health, describing in detail how trees promoted modulation of water flow, and storage and dispersal of water and nutrients. He presented an historical perspective of the changing forests in the Eastern US, with a nadir in the 1850’s as a result of widespread clearing, followed by an increase in forests until the 1970’s, when a decrease started which persists to the present time. The amount of forest in the Chesapeake watershed reflects the double hump curve described above for the eastern US as a whole. Continued loss of forest land in the Chesapeake watershed is projected to increase the nutrient load in the Bay. In the Chesapeake watershed, 100 acres of forest have been lost every day since the mid 1980’s. More than 700,000 acres have been lost since 1986.
Todd noted that protection of the forests is effective for prevention of further water degradation. The tree canopy intercepts 10% to 40% of rainfall, which never reaches the ground, and promotes infiltration of water more effectively than turf or cropfields.
Urban environments can also be benefited by creative landscaping utilizing trees, to help mitigate stormwater runoff. He even noted a study which showed that well positioned trees in a parking lot could increase the life expectancy of the blacktop.
He noted that Maryland is the 1st state to include urban tree quality in its planning, with some jurisdictions, such as Baltimore, offering vouchers for increasing the tree canopy. Todd noted that existing challenges include the need for more quantitative data on the relationship of trees and stormwater strategies, more innovative incentives for developers to utilize retention of forested areas, more integrated local planning, and the ability for citizens to choose.
The presentation was very well received,
(Revised Jan 2008)