Friday, July 9, 2010

Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail Project a Success

After eight months of work by 302 volunteers, 246 of them students, giving 778 hours of service, the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail Project is complete. On National Trails Day, PATC, Northwood High School, Friends of Sligo Creek, Neighbors of Northwest Branch, and the MD State Highway Administration celebrated its completion and success with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a 5k Bay Fun Run and Hike. On a hot and humid morning, 150 students and people from the community, including many elected representatives, joined the partnering organizations to officially open the restored fifteen acres of land adjacent to the high school and the Kemp Mill and Northwood Four Corners’ neighborhoods. Congresswoman Donna Edwards and State Senator Jamie Raskin both gave a short speech about the importance of creating green space in our communities and maintaining a healthy watershed. The five organizations were given Congressional proclamations and a MD Senate Resolution for their success and hard work. View this great slideshow of the event.
Work began to restore the land in November when 58 volunteers worked to remove 10,580pounds of trash from the land. Since then, over 11,000 pounds have been cleaned from the land. This huge land clean-up allowed volunteers to clear the trail corridor and build it, finishing it by the end of April. The Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail connects the Northwood athletic fields to the Northwest Branch Trail at the Loxford Terrace trailhead. Along the three quarter mile trail are nine nature interpretive signs educating users about pervious and impervious surfaces, native and invasive plants, and harmful effects of trash and fertilizers on the watershed, including its effects on oysters and crabs. In addition, volunteers built a kiosk adjacent to the vernal pool which provides information and data about water quality. Along the wooded corridor is a narrow section that used to be mowed; it is now a native plant meadow. Two Horticulture classes planted 300 native seeds in the greenhouse. One hundred and sixty seeds germinated and were planted by ten volunteers in the meadow. Nine native trees were also planted on the property to fill in some bare areas. Lastly, volunteers removed 500 square feet of invasive plants, mainly garlic mustard.
The restoration of a once unofficial community landfill is now a healthy wooded corridor connecting two stream valley parks, Northwest Branch and Sligo Creek, where animals observed, such as deer, fox, box turtles, frogs, and chipmunks can roam a healthy and preserved ecosystem and where neighbors and students can recreate, run and hike, and find a peaceful place to share their thoughts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Celebrating New Green Space on National Trails Day

Northwood Students and Community Build New Green Space
On Saturday, June 5, 2010, National Trails Day, the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail project sponsors, Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), Northwood High School (NHS), Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC), Neighbors of Northwest Branch (NNWB), and MD State Highway Administration (SHA), will celebrate the land restoration project completion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a 5k Bay Fun Run and Hike. The celebration and 5k will start at 10:00 am until 12:00 pm at Kaplan Stadium behind Northwood High School, 919 University Blvd. West, Silver Spring. Leaders from each partnering organization will officially open the new green space and the new, nature interpretive Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail at 10:00 am. The 5k run will follow at 10:20 am and at 11:00 am, walkers will hike the new trail that connects the school to Northwest Branch Park. The Georgetown North Face store and Silver Spring Pacer’s store will provide merchandise and gift certificates as door prizes for hikers and runners. In addition, the celebration will have health and environmental education resource and activity tables.
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day is the opportune time to celebrate the completion of an eight month project to restore fifteen acres of SHA property adjacent to Northwood High School and the Kemp Mill and Northwood Four Corners’ neighborhoods and give these communities new green space for recreation, physical fitness, wilderness watching, and environmental education. More than fifty years ago, the state purchased this land to potentially build a road on it. A road was not built and instead it became an unofficial, community landfill. With the help of a $7,500 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, 272 community members, 227 of them students, have volunteered 675 hours to create and design eight nature interpretive signs, build a half mile trail, remove 50 pounds of invasive plant species, grow 300 native plant seeds, plant 160 native meadow plants and nine trees, and clean-up 11,000 pounds of trash. After eight months of dedicating hundreds of hours of work by many volunteers, it is time to celebrate the community’s success in creating a new dual ecosystem park, deciduous forest and meadow. Please join the community, project’s organizational leaders, and elected representatives in celebrating its success of creating a new green space in Silver Spring.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Trail Completed

The trail is finished and looking beautiful. One hundred and sixty native plants have been planted in the meadow and nine native trees have been planted in the woods. Everything is growing great and nature interpretive signs should be added to the trail soon. In addition, an educational kiosk will be built by the vernal pool. We'd like to thank everyone for their help and participation. Everyone is welcome to come to our trail opening celebration on June 5th. We hope to see you there!
Tom, 2011

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do One Thing – Pitch-in and Pitch out

April 23, 2010 during 3rd and 4th periods, Northwood High School students will attend an assembly by the Alliance for Climate Education(ACE). See the trailer at ACE pushes students to get involved in improving and protecting their environment by Doing One Thing – DOT – every day. Following the assembly Northwood students and community members will Do One Thing by cleaning up our athletic fields and two adjacent stream parks – Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch for 3 hours of Student Service Learning from 2:10-5:10.
The Washington Nationals were excited to hear what Northwood is doing for the Anacostia River watershed that flows past Nationals Park and invited us to see them play the Los Angeles Dodgers at 7:05 PM. Students participating in the service project are eligible to receive one of the 100 free tickets donated by the Nats!
Since November, Northwood High School students have worked hard to restore 15 acres of State Highway Administration land adjacent to the school. In November 60 volunteers, including 32 students, cleaned-up 10,580 pounds of trash that has been dumped on the land for 50 plus years. In March, 25 volunteers, including 19 students, began construction on the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail – a half mile nature interpretive trail that connects the school to Northwest Branch. The trail usage will include: educating about human impacts on the local watershed and the Chesapeake Bay and ways people can improve the Bay’s health, the Northwood’s Cross Country Trail course, and an outdoor, environmental education classroom for Northwood’s Academy of Technology, Environmental and Systems Sciences. Horticultural students have also planted 150 native plants in the greenhouse to replace mowed grass into a native plant meadow.
On Sunday, April 25th from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, students and the community will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by continuing work on the SHA land. The five partners in this restoration project, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Northwood High School, Friends of Sligo Creek, Neighbors of Northwest Branch, and the State Highway Administration, invite the community to clean-up more trash, remove invasive plant species, and plant trees and native plants. Work will begin at 1:00 pm at Kaplan Stadium behind Northwood High School.
After the trash and invasive species are removed, the native plants are planted, the trail is built, the interpretive signs are in place, the partners, students, neighbors, and community will celebrate the opening of the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 5th, with a 5k Fun Run and Walk. The ribbon cutting will begin at 10:00 am with the Fun Run and Walk to follow. Registration is not required. We invite the community to celebrate the completion of the restoration project and trails in our community on that day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Using Tools and Getting Dirty: Trail Construction

The Northwood Chesapeak Bay trail is almost complete. Many major obstacles have been overcome as the snow has disappeared allowing for major progress. A large hole in the middle of the trail has been filled with dirt from the transit center. The team received dirt from the Silver Spring Transit center because it has been under cement and structures for many years. The sterile nature of the dirt helps to prevent the transportation of invasive species. In addition, student volunteers have been benching the sidehill and making the trail smoother and easier to walk on. We hope to complete the trail very soon. Please come help on April 25th at Kaplan Stadium behind Northwood High School to participate in a trash cleanup and invasive species removal work day.

Posted by Tom, 2011.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trail Construction: Flagging the Route

Trail planning has been good this month with a few minor setbacks. It has snowed over 25 inches making it a tight fit for our planned work day this Sunday March 7, 2010. However, despite these setbacks we can continue as planned, with a fully flagged trail. The flagged trail works with the land to create the smallest environmental impact. This trail will create less erosion in addition to showcasing the beauties of nature. Our first plans for the trail included much more work than now planned. Previously our plan included multiple water bars that require a lot of work to incorporate into the trail. The plan no longer includes any water bars and only involves creating minor barriers to help keep people on the path. This improvement in the plan means less work needed to build the trail. Flagging the trail route was difficult because of all the snow. We had to slip and slide down hills and guess whether certain trees were alive. We needed to know if the trees were alive so that we could plan to remove or to avoid these trees. These obstacles became easier to overcome as the snow melted and spring approached. Now the trail is flagged and ready for work. We hope to see a great turn out on Sunday to help with the first step in building our trail.
by Tom, Northwood HS Junior

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

10,580 Pounds of Trash

On Sunday, November 22nd, close to 60 volunteers worked for three hours on a beautiful afternoon to remove 10,580 pounds of trash, such as lawn mowers, bikes, sinks, broken car windshields, construction debris, jugs of used automotive oil, and much more, on a valuable wooded corridor for animals and a deciduous ecosystem buffer zone for Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch (both in the Chesapeake Bay watershed). Seventy-five percent of the volunteers were students from Northwood High School and two feeder middle schools.

The Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail project has taken a respite for the holidays and will begin getting into the meat and bones of it at the end of January. Two student interns at Northwood will implement the core mission of the project, to restore the land by building a trail and native meadow and conducting outreach to their peers and the neighboring communities about improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Stay tuned!