Gaithersburg, MD – The fastest-growing threat to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay doesn’t come from a factory pipe today – it comes from backyards across the region. That’s why the Izaak Walton League is teaming up with homeowners to stop water pollution at its source.
The Izaak Walton League received a grant of $139,370 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s “Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns” program to install native plant gardens, rain gardens, and canopy tree plantings at homes in four Montgomery County, Maryland, neighborhoods. The homes selected for this project are located in the Muddy Branch watershed – the area of land that drains into Muddy Branch, which in turn flows into the Potomac River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.
Installing native plants in place of turf grass helps capture rain runoff and filters out fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that damage waterways. It also improves water quality in Muddy Branch and the Potomac River, which provides drinking water to more than five million people – and delivers the largest nitrogen pollution load to the Chesapeake Bay each year. Project partners include the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, City of Gaithersburg, and Muddy Branch Alliance.
“The Izaak Walton League is leading efforts to improve water quality here in Gaithersburg and across the country,” says Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director of the Izaak Walton League. “Based on the research and homeowner outreach we’ve done over the past two years, it’s clear that homeowners in Gaithersburg want to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. However, many don’t know where to start. With this grant, the League can provide technical assistance and on-the-ground support to help them improve water quality.”
“Gaithersburg is proud of its commitment to the environment, and we are delighted with the opportunity to partner with the Izaak Walton League and others to implement this important initiative,” says Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz. “This grant not only allows us to focus on neighborhoods impacting the Muddy Branch watershed, it provides an opportunity for broader education about what each of us can do to enhance our water quality.”
In addition to cleaning up local and regional waterways, these projects will beautify yards, increase bird and butterfly habitat, and provide jobs for local landscapers and nurseries. More information about the benefits of native plant gardens – as well as links for cash rebates available from the City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery County RainScapes Rewards programs and other tips for homeowners – are available on the Izaak Walton League’s “Lands Green, Waters Clean” Web site. Interested homeowners can apply through the Onsite Consultation request form
The Izaak Walton League started working to increase the number of homeowners installing native plant gardens in 2012 with research, outreach, and technical assistance. With this new grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the League will help 12 homeowners design and install rain gardens and other native plant landscapes and offer onsite consultations to all homeowners within the watershed through the end of 2015. Funding for this Chesapeake Bay Trust grant is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“We are sure that a lot of our residents will be interested in participating in this project,” says Bob Hoyt, Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection. “What’s not to love? Problem areas in lawns are transformed into beautiful and functional RainScapes landscapes and the county gets cleaner water. Public compliments for our RainScapes program keep coming in, so we know it’s a winner.”
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.
Contact: Leah Miller, IWLA Clean Water Program Director
(301) 548-0150 x219 or email@example.com