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Efforts to protect Carroll County stream to take root April 20

FertilizerChemical IndustryChesapeake Bay FoundationFrancis Scott Key

The task may seem daunting for those considering spending Saturday morning planting 1,400 trees and shrubs on 7 acres of a dairy farm in Union Bridge.

But the rewards are considerable, according to Rob Schnabel, a research scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which is sponsoring the April 20 event.

"It's a lot of work," Schnabel said. "But there are so many people who are dedicated to conservation, and cleaning up our streams."

He said the foundation sponsors five such plantings each spring around the state and another five each fall.

"It feels like an old barn raising, with the community coming together," said Tom Zolper, a spokesman for the foundation.

The volunteer effort where Wolf Pit Branch runs through Flowing Springs Farm in Union Bridge will be held rain or shine. It is one of the bigger projects for the foundation, according to Zolper.

He said 80 volunteers have already signed up to take part, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Students from Francis Scott Key and South Carroll high schools as well as Northwest and New Windsor middle schools are expected to take part.

Approximately 20 more volunteers ares still needed, Zolper said.

Equipment and refreshments will be provided.

The end result of their labor will help buffer the stream from possible pollution.

The trees will filter and absorb the runoff of fertilizer from Steve Arbaugh's property along the Wolf Pit Branch. Their roots will prevent erosion and help maintain the stream bank while the leaves will provide the shade that keeps the water temperature cool, Schnable said.

"The cooler the water is, the more dissolved oxygen in the water," he said. "That means more fish species can exist in the water."

Zolper said in an email that the group hosted a similar event a few years ago nearby on a farm at Meadow Branch.

Both Wolf Pit and Meadow Branch empty into Little Pipe Creek, which empties into Double Pipe Creek, then into the Monocacy River, which empties into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, he wrote.

"Double Pipe Creek, and the Monocacy both are listed as 'impaired' by the state of Maryland, meaning they are polluted," he wrote.

He said the pollution is phosphorus, from fertilizer; and sediment, the dirt which washes off farm fields into the water.

"There's a fair amount of polluted creeks," he said of Carroll County. "Some of that is the result of its agricultural history.

"For the longest time, farmers were not that concerned with what they were doing to the creeks, of letting the rain wash the manure out of the barnyards, for example," he said.

The benefits to farmers taking steps to stop polluting the creeks and streams on their property are not just a cleaner Chesapeake Bay, Schnabel said.

Two stream crossings and fences have already been installed on the property to keep cows from wandering into the stream. Those measures can also mean lower veterinarian bills, he said, since the animals won't be getting sick from drinking water that other animals have used as a toilet.

Schnabel said he will be in the area this week as the trees in 3-gallon containers will be hauled in and a contractor digs the holes.

The trees are paid for by Washington Gas Energy Services, he said, and the company is also providing some money for their maintenance.

Money from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which comes from the Bay license plates Maryland residents can order, will pay for the fencing and stream crossings, he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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