Many thanks to Ben Simasek for coordinating NNWB's adoption of for the NW Brach Trail from East-West Highway to Lane Manor Park. He will be leading frequent cleanups of the trail so that it reflects well on NNWB, the park system, and Prince George's County.
Many thanks to board member Melissa Schweisguth and her cat for coordinating NNWB's adoption of the NW Branch Trail from Kirkwood park to East-West Highway. Look out for cleanup announcements!
The trap, funded by a CBT/MoCo DEP grant, does its job. Meanwhile, a slippery carpet of non-native Lesser Celandine has covered the cleared slopes.
The cold, soggy event was warmed by hot coffee, donuts, and enthusiastic speakers. Good crowd, especially considering the weather.
County Executive Marc Elrich, longtime environmental ally, noted that all streams should have been daylighted as this one is, rather than piped.
Trey Sherard, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, applied for funding and saw the long process through to results: our H2O qualify protection charge in action!
As the rain picked up, we were treated to a demo of trash removal from the trap by the MoCo Conservation Corps.
The point is not just to remove the litter, but to sort, characterize, and count it. The litter becomes a source of useful data.
The Lockridge Tributary flows down between the lanes of Lockridge Drive, through culverts at each crossroad. The trash trap will be installed here, at the last culvert before the stream enters the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park. This map shows Lockridge Drive, but not the exact location of the trap. Photos by A.Ambler over the course of 4 days.
The installation team first placed the trap itself in the stream. The trap is funded by grants to the Anacostia Riverkeeper from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Montgomery County.
Sections of piping for the arms await installation.
Brush, vines, dead trees, and two small live ones had to be cleared in order to install the long arms.
Sometimes Mark seemed to be enveloped in the vines he was removing. The team stacked them all on the culvert at the cross road.
As the team carries a section of the arm to its emplacement, one can see the skirt on the bottom that will keep trash from slipping under the piping when the trib floods.
Montgomery County has a gravity sewer system, which means that stream valleys, because they are low and slope toward the treatment plant, largely host our sewer lines.
But disturb any soil and it will more easily erode. That's what has happened in the Northwest Branch, leaving manholes and pipes exposed and leaking.
The pollution led to a consent decree obliging WSSC to fix the leaks. Several sites were identified for remedial work along the NWB. At this one, as our park engineers examined the situation further, it was clear the scope of work needed to be expanded, as did the time involved.
Andy Frank, Environmental Engineering Section Supervisor at Montgomery County Parks, explained to a small group touring the site that the short 2-foot segments of the original clay pipes compounded the erosion problem. So many potentially leaking connections! New pipes will have much longer, more durable segments.
In some cases, rather than installing new pipes, WSSC lined existing ones without digging them up. Sometimes also, it tunneled new pipes down from the houses above rather than trenching, to avoid new erosion.
Pictures taken a few years ago illustrate some of the problems to be addressed in the NWB. Pictures from October 2018 show how WSSC is protecting manholes by diverting tributaries and directing the mainstem flow away. In the process, it is enhancing the ability of the NWB to support aquatic life with new riffles and cascades.
Post Script: The tour was organized by Kay Taub, an interested neighbor of the site. Photos are by Anne Ambler, except as noted.
Large pipe that carries the NWB past the work area when work is in progress. Note end pointing up, reducing erosion when water sprews out.
On September 24, 2016, the aquatic and terrestrial wildlife of our area lost an extremely valuable and knowledgeable friend. Charlie Dorian, just 69, passed away quietly surrounded by his family.
Charlie was a leader on the NNWB Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Team and other water monitoring teams through the Audubon Naturalist Society water quality program. He documented—with excellent photos—life in and around the water for that program and for the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas. His amazing photographs live on to educate the next generation of stream protectors. Charlie also volunteered with the Montgomery County Parks’ Weed Warrior and Forest Restoration programs. In the reforestation area between new and old Randolph roads, many young trees owe their survival to Charlie and his wife, Gretchen Schwartz, who participated with members of NNWB to cage vulnerable trees, saving them from deer predation.
Charlie held a B.S. degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the George Washington University. He retired after more than 20 years as a consulting engineer for Structural Integrity Associates, Inc., a mentor valued for his skills in chemistry, math, computer programming, and electronics.
Charlie was happiest outdoors, whether climbing mountains, hiking, cross-country skiing, fly fishing, bird watching, photographing nature, or wading in the Northwest Branch to collect and identify the bugs at the base of the stream food chain. And he was always willing to share his vast knowledge with others.
Charlie’s interests, knowledge, and capabilities were too comprehensive to adequately present in this short Memoriam. Suffice it to say that his passing leaves a big hole in our environmental protection efforts. We will miss him.
Jim Fary, NNWB founding member and former President and Vice President, passed away at age 73.
Jim was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. At the University of Illinois he worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to register African-Americans to vote. He earned a law degree from Catholic University in Washington DC. Jim started his professional life teaching political science and American studies, first at Dumbarton College, then at Saint Mary’s College of Maryland. He later worked at the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining and finally at the EPA Superfund department that addressed the cleanup of toxic waste sites.
In retirement Jim was a passionate environmental activist whose contributions, in addition to his long tenure with the Neighbors of the Northwest Branch, included serving as the Conservation Chair of the Montgomery County Group of the Sierra Club, Montgomery County delegate to the Anacostia Watershed Citizens Advisory Committee, and certified “Mud Buster” (trained by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to evaluate and report sediment runoff from construction sites).
Jim will be remembered for his intelligence, sense of humor, generosity, commitment, and passion for environmental causes. He enjoyed gardening, hiking, and recycling old appliances for scrap metal with his grandsons. He is survived by his wife, Nicole, two daughters, and several grandchildren.
In Summer 2016, Jennifer Chambers started documenting the graffiti that grew like cancer on the boulders in Northwest Branch Pack (at the fall line below the parking lot next to the Trader Joe's plaza) to Montgomery Parks and the Park Police. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Mid-Atlantic Climbers are partnering with Parks to begin the long process of removing the graffiti. Work was started at 7am, Sun, Aug 28
(7 hours, 5 volunteers).
In addition, Park Police are supposed to step up their surveillance of this part of NWB park.
Read Jennifer's blog post to see the video and photos and get the story.
"Each watershed . . . seems to have its own undiscovered "mystery" mill site,
and hikers are encouraged to seek these out when they are located on parkland."
Michael Dwyer, Montgomery County Mills A Field Guide, 2012
One neighbor of Northwest Branch goes in search of such a mystery mill on the Northwest Branch.