Wetlands and Waterways Permit Modification Hearing for MTA I-95 Section 200 NB Express Toll Lanes

Map from MTA.

Time to sharpen those pencils and write a comment letter, email or attend the virtual hearing and testify before the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) this Thursday, March 4th, 2021 at 6:30 PM on the Wetlands and Waterways permit application that would allow the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) to impact wetlands and waterways located within the Section 200 Northbound I 95 Express Toll lanes (ETL’s).

Located between White Marsh and Rt. 24. The project will allow MTA to construct the Section 200 Northbound I 95 Express Toll lanes (ETL’s) and replace both the Little Gunpowder and Gunpowder River bridges on I-95. Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® and others oppose the MDE permit application because it states that some of the mitigation of stream channel impacts will occur off-site in Owings Mill, MD. This mitigation plan does nothing to address the actual, localized, project impacts on the waterways that will be directly impacted by the I-95 ETL’s. 

The Gunpowder Riverkeeper met with Maryland Transportation Authority in the Fall of 2020 regarding the environmental impacts of the 1.1 Billion dollar project and still has concerns about the impacts of the project on the environment including sensitive lands, plants and fish.

Please attend a Virtual Public Hearing for the MDE Application Number: 18-NT-0086/201860368 AI# 160464

The virtual public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 4, 2021. In order to view or participate in the hearing, a participant must register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6486746282230258955 and directions will be electronically forwarded to the email provided. If internet service is not available, the participants may call 1-877-309-2074 and then enter access code 728-844-619 to hear the public hearing.

If you live near, swim in, crab, fish and/or boat in these waters and will not be testifying at the hearing, please write or email to the MDE by March 18th at the following address:

The Maryland Department of the Environment, Nontidal Wetlands Division, Emily Dolbin, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230, by email at Emily.Dolbin@maryland.gov ,or Telephone No. (667) 219-3279.

Please tell MDE: 

Your name, physical address, phone and email. State how long you have lived in the area and how long you have enjoyed these waters. State that you are concerned that the application before the MDE as written that will allow offsite mitigation of environmental impacts of the Section 200 Northbound I-95 Toll Lanes will harm you, your property, recreational and aesthetic interests and ask them to deny the permit for any/all of the following reasons: 

Ask the MDE for an extension to the comment period if you have not been able to review the materials to provide an informed comment.

State that the application does not provide enough factual information to allow concerned citizens and organizations to provide meaningful and robust participation in the public notice and comment process.

Demand that localized mitigation of the impacts occurs within the same subwatershed of the project to protect the on-site and downstream existing and designated uses of the Bird River, Little Gunpowder, Gunpowder River and Lower Winter’s Run, part of the Bush River watershed.

Ask MDE to require real-time monitoring of sediment and pollutants from the site to protect downstream water quality at all times.

Ask MDE to require that the stormwater discharges of the project comply with localized and the Bay TMDL pollution diets to protect downstream impaired waterways. 

State that mitigating stream channel impacts in an off-site mitigation bank fails to answer potential for localized, downstream impacts to habitat for American and Hickory Shad, Yellow Perch and Rockfish.

Associated materials can be accessed at:

https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/wetlandsandwaterways/pages/Mdta_I-95_Sect-200_improvements.aspx

The project is proposed within the Bird River (Use IV), Lower Gunpowder Falls (Use I), Little Gunpowder Falls (Use III) and Lower Winters Run (Use I-P) watersheds. The project is located on I-95 from MD 43 to MD 24 in Baltimore and Harford Counties, Maryland.

MDE Public Notice of Informational Hearing on the MTA I-95 Express Toll Lanes Northbound Extension, Application # 18-NT-0086/201860368 AI#160464

2020 Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER Year End Review and Appeal

A Native Eastern Brook Trout in the Upper Gunpowder Watershed.

First and foremost we wish all of you and your family members continued good health and peace during these challenging times. Thank you for supporting our efforts to protect the Gunpowder and Bush River watersheds! Clean water is everyone’s right and as a shared resource must be protected for all.

Your support in 2020 resulted in:

The Baltimore County zoning and planning office recommendation against a zoning request at C.P. Crane that would have converted 116 acres of undeveloped peninsula in the tidal Gunpowder to industrial zoning.

The Clear Choices Clean Water program in Harford County increased awareness of our impacts to local rivers and streams – and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. You can still make an environmental pledge by visiting
http://myharford.clearchoicescleanwater.org

The Boat Act Advisory’s recommendation of a speed limit increase from 5 knots to 35 knots was not approved protecting a canoe based ecology class serving 2,000 Baltimore County School children each year.

Boats lying at Dundee Marina.

You can help us do more in 2021 to address these environmental threats:

Mitigate the impacts of the I-95 toll lanes that would deforest park lands and close the Gunpowder State Park trail and spur for 30 months.

Provide capacity in our appeal against EPA on MDE’s “Pollution Diet” that violates the Clean Water Act and failed to set pollution limits for the major source of PCBs in the Gunpowder and Bird Rivers.

Continue our appeal of the MDE Wetlands and Waterways Permit that would allow Abingdon Woods-330-acres containing significant forested wetlands, 85 specimen trees and a High-Quality Tier II stream to be converted to a 2.5 million square foot business park.

Support our complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to vacate EPA’s rewritten “Waters of the U.S.” rule – known as the Navigable Waters Protection rule that rolled back federal oversight of up to half the country’s wetlands and around a sixth of its streams.

The Jericho Bridge over the Little Gunpowder Falls Splits Harford and Baltimore Counties.

We are pleased to report that through the Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship our small organization has given away $7, 000 in scholarships in the past two years for the future protection of the environment. The application for 2021 is now open and we welcome submissions.

We need your financial support to maintain and enhance our River protection efforts. Please consider a year-end donation of support to amplify our outreach and advocacy.

You may donate at: https://gunpowderriverkeeper.org/become-a-supporter/ or by sending a check to Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®, P.O. BOX 156 Monkton, MD 21111

Thank you for your support,

Theaux M. Le Gardeur

GRK is comprised of an Executive Director/RIVERKEEPER, nine board members and 23 committee members. Please let us know if you’d like to be more involved at gunpowderriverkeeper@gmail.com

Great Blue Herons in the Gunpowder and Bird River’s Tidal Birdsfoot Delta.

GRK is a 501(c)(3) non-profit categorized by the IRS under Natural Resource Conservation and Protection. Your charitable contribution is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of the current financial statement of GRK is available by writing P.O. BOX 156 Monkton, MD 21111 or calling 410-967-3526. Documents submitted under the Maryland Solicitations Act are also available, for the cost of postage and copies, from: The MD Sec. of State, State House, Annapolis MD 21401 (410) 974-5534

The Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship for the Gunpowder River Now Accepting Applications for 2021

The Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship for the Gunpowder River2021 Criteria and Application Guidelines

What the award is: The Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship is a gift that was established by Terry Newendorp, an avid fisherman and conservationist who with generosity and foresight knew that “protection of the Gunpowder River had to come from future generations.”

Founded in 2018, the Award’s purpose is to assist college-bound high school seniors who will be entering a two year or four year course of study, excel in their studies and who plan to use their talents and expertise in the service of environmental protection. Each year, at least one winner will be chosen from among the current year’s graduating class. The award will provide $1,000 towards college costs for students with strong connections to the Gunpowder River Watershed. 

Eligibility: Students must have a clear connection to the Gunpowder River. Qualifying connection examples include: A connection to drinking water or recreational, aesthetic, and/or environmental attributes of the Gunpowder River Watershed. 

In addition to the above restriction, all applicants must: 

  1. Plan to major or minor in one of the natural sciences or other appropriate subject, and; 
  2. Demonstrate a strong personal commitment to protecting the Gunpowder Watershed.

The application procedure: The completed application must be submitted by the student  via mail or email as a PDF .

A complete application will include all of the following:

  1. The student’s name and complete contact information including phone and e-mail.
  2. The name of the school and complete faculty contact information.
  3. A short essay (450 words total) written by the student answering all three of the following questions: 1) Why the Gunpowder Watershed matters to you; 2. How conservation fits into your future career goals; and 3. What you plan to study in college and why. 
  4. A copy of the student’s current high school transcripts.
  5. A letter of recommendation from a student’s guidance counselor or science teacher may be mailed or emailed as a PDF under separate cover.
  6. A description of the student’s extracurricular activities regarding environmental / conservation issues (e.g. Environmental Club membership, Scouting merit badges & awards, participation in local conservation efforts, membership in environmental organizations, applicable hobbies, etc.) and/or a familial or personal responsibilities statement.

Disbursement: In order for the scholarship to be disbursed, the student must have been accepted by an accredited college or university for the Fall 2021 Semester and provide a copy of the letter of acceptance from the two or four year college or university where the nominee will be attending to Gunpowder Riverkeeper.

All complete applications may be accepted between November 20, 2020 and must be postmarked or emailed as a PDF no later than March 15, 2021 and mailed to:

  • Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship 
  • C/O Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER ®
  • P.O. Box 156
  • Monkton, MD 21111

Scholarship applications and Letters of Recommendation may also be emailed as a PDF with the student’s last name and TNES scholarship in the subject line to gunpowderriverkeeper@gmail.com

The decision-making process: A panel comprised of Gunpowder Riverkeeper Director, Board and committee Members will review all applications. The winners of this year’s Terry Newendorp Environmental Scholarship will be chosen no later than April 1, 2021; and the award presented no later than May 30, 2021. If possible, the award will be presented publicly at the school’s annual awards event.

Award Recipient’s Opportunity: For a period of two years after the award, a student may take part in an unpaid internship with the Gunpowder Riverkeeper. Depending on the project area, concentration and term, an internship may result in college credit to be determined by the learning institution.

Riverkeeper acknowledgement letter: A letter of acknowledgement from an award winner is required to satisfy scholarship requirements and should be postmarked 60 days from receipt of the award letter. Use of essay, photo and acknowledgement letter release: Recipient agrees that Gunpowder Riverkeeper may use all or parts of the application essay, any photos associated with the gift and the acknowledgement letter for any future outreach and marketing purpose.

JEDI and BIPOC statement: Gunpowder Riverkeeper adheres to the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) and we encourage participation from under-represented groups. We are concerned about the existential threat of climate change. We are committed to protecting and restoring our environment, safeguarding waterways and the communities that rely on them from damaging pollution, ensuring that all voices — especially Black, Indigenous and People Of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized groups — are heard.

Clear Choices Clean Water Harford County

Press Release: 

For Immediate Release

June 8, 2020

Media Contacts:

Theaux Le Gardeur, Gunpowder Riverkeeper, 410-967-3526, gunpowderriverkeeper@gmail.com

Robin Broder, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, 703-786-8172, robin@waterkeeperschesapeake.org 

Gunpowder Riverkeeper Launches Campaign to Reduce Polluted Stormwater Runoff

Campaign will drive citizen action in Harford County to improve local water quality through online pledges

(Monkton, MD) – Gunpowder Riverkeeper has launched the Clear Choices Clean Water campaign in partnership with Waterkeepers Chesapeake to increase awareness about how choices residents make impact local rivers and streams – and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The campaign inspires people to pledge to implement water friendly practices that reduce polluted stormwater runoff, such as reducing the use of lawn fertilizer, planting native plants, managing pet waste and volunteering time to help with local clean water initiatives. To take a pledge, Harford County residents can go to myharford.clearchoicescleanwater.org

“The Clear Choices Clean Water Campaign has the ability to increase participation in environmental stewardship with Harford County residents while they stay safer at home,” said Theaux Le Gardeur, Executive Director of Gunpowder Riverkeeper.

The campaign’s core message is that what each of us does matters, and we can all make a difference. Pledge takers see their location on an interactive map – showing the cumulative impact of their pledge alongside many others. They also get an easy, low-pressure way to encourage friends, family and neighbors to do their part and to connect with their local Riverkeeper.

Gunpowder Riverkeeper’s Clear Choices Clean Water campaign is funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust and implemented in partnership with Harford County Department of Public Works with the goal of increasing awareness of how everyday actions taken by residents can have a large impact on reducing polluted stormwater runoff.

Gunpowder Riverkeeper will focus efforts in the watersheds throughout Harford County. Harford County contains four major river basins: the Bush River Basin, the Gunpowder River Basin, the Lower Susquehanna River Basin and the Upper Western Shore Basin – all of which drain to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These larger watersheds are made up of many smaller tributaries. For example, the Bush River Basin is comprised of the Otter Point Creek, Bush Creek and Church Creek Subbasins.

“Our 17 Waterkeeper programs across the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays regions are participating in this important campaign that empowers people to take actions to reduce pollution to their local rivers, streams and bays. We’re excited that Gunpowder Riverkeeper Theaux Le Gardeur is the first to offer this program to the residents of Harford County,” said Robin Broder, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Deputy Director.

“The support we’ve received from partnering with local feed stores, pet stores, libraries and community groups has been very encouraging and shows that leaders in Harford County have already embraced this important initiative,” Le Gardeur said.

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Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® (GRK) is a grassroots, advocacy based membership organization charged with protecting, conserving and restoring the Gunpowder River and its Watershed. GRK works to strengthen ties within the communities that benefit from this vital water resource by engaging in outreach activities, which have an inherent stewardship message that transcends economic, social and educational boundaries. https://gunpowderriverkeeper.org/

Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition of seventeen independent Waterkeeper programs working to make the local waters of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays swimmable, fishable and drinkable. Waterkeepers Chesapeake amplifies the voices of each Waterkeeper and mobilizes these organizations to fight pollution and champion clean water. https://waterkeeperschesapeake.org 

Clear Choices Clean Water Chesapeake Bay launched in 2019 is an affiliate campaign of the national Clear Choices Clean Water campaign started in Indiana in 2010. The Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation, the White River Alliance and the Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Center for Earth and Environmental Science teamed up to implement this unique strategy to increase awareness and knowledge about residential yard choices andtheir impacts on water quality in their watersheds. Learn more about the campaign at https://mychesapeake.clearchoicescleanwater.org