Pilot program targets Dundalk's tree shortage
Dearth of trees in Dundalk raises environmental concerns.
Part of a new $50,000 grant the EPA awarded to Baltimore County has been earmarked to promote a pilot tree-planting program that is desperately needed in Dundalk neighborhoods, according to environmental activists and elected officials.
That's because a 2007 study by the state showed that 40 percent of the region's land is covered by trees, compared to only a 20 percent tree canopy in Dundalk.
"Look at all of the cement and roads," said Democratic Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, at a recent ceremony announcing the grant. "Trees help to absorb the rain and assure that runoff doesn't go into the Bay," said the 2nd District Congressman who represents Dundalk.
Outgoing Democratic County Executive Jim Smith unveiled the program that will pay Dundalk residents $10 toward the purchase of a $25 tree. So far, the county doesn't have an estimate on how many trees will be purchased, or how much of the $50,000 will be allocated to Dundalk. However, Smith said it was the county's goal to raise Dundalk's tree canopy up to 41 percent.
Funding for the tree-planting pilot is just a small portion of the more than $3.4-million the EPA awarded for 34 environmental projects in all six of the Chesapeake Bay's watershed states and the District of Columbia to help solve the problem of urban runoff.
In addition to planting more trees, there are inexpensive and easy measures new and older businesses can take to help solve the runoff problem, according to Margaret Enloe, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional governmental and agency partnership.
"For example, a fast-food restaurant could dig up just two of it parking spaces and plant a rain garden," she said. "It's inexpensive, and if enough businesses did this, it could really improve the water quality of the local creeks and ultimately the Bay."
It's a perfect time for more volunteers and community activism in cleaning up Dundalk's environment, according to legislators, especially with looming state and federal budget deficits.
Environmental funding and the new Congress
Both Ruppersberger and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told Patch.com that they were concerned about how the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives might affect the future funding of such environmental amelioration projects as the tree-planting program.
"The new Congress will be tough to work with," said Cardin. "We are going to have to strategically approach funding issues."
Ruppersberger, who characterized himself as the" last moderate Democrat "left in House, said that he was an eternal optimist and would find a way to work with his new Republican colleagues. "It's all about trust and building relationships," he said.
For more information about the county's tree-planting program go to http://www.growinghome.info