Take Action


The verdant stream valley of the Northwest Branch is beautiful to behold, but seriously impaired. As Neighbors of the Northwest Branch, we are committed to revitalizing the stream, not only for its own sake, but because its health affects that of the Anacostia, the Potomac watershed and the Chesapeake Bay into which they flow. There are many ways you can take action to protect our local watershed either with the NNWB or simply in your home and your neighborhood.   

First Steps

Become a Member: You can become a member of Neighbors of the Northwest Branch with a $20 donation. As a member you will support our ongoing work and receive information on upcoming activities and ways in which we all can better protect our streams.  Additional donations are welcome, of course!

Attend a Meeting: NNWB public meetings are organized on the first Tuesday of the month. Some meeting have speakers; others are general business meetings. Join our Groups.io listserv for notices about the meetings (see button on Homepage).  

With the Neighbors

The Neighbors of the Northwest Branch is driven by volunteers contributing their time and energy for an hour, a morning, or on an ongoing basis. Regardless of the amount of time or energy you have to contribute, there is an action opportunity within the NNWB for you. 

Participate in Events: Every spring and autumn, somewhere within the watershed, NNWB members carry out Stream Clean-ups. These will be announced beforehand and all are welcome to participate. Alternatively, if you’re interested in sponsoring a clean-up with your community, religious or school group or in your neighborhood, let us know and we can provide basic supplies, guidelines and logistical support.  Members also participate in outings to Remove Invasive Plants and/or Plant Natives. These must be led by trained “weed warriors”, but all are welcome to join in.  Hikes or other activities along the Northwest Branch are periodically scheduled to which you’re welcome to invite your family and friends.

Act as Local Steward: If you regularly hike a particular segment of the trails along the NWB, perhaps you would like to act as our local steward. Acting as the local “eyes and ears,” you would report any pollution or other impairments in the stream and help coordinate local clean-ups, invasive removals or other events.

Join a Committee: Watershed groups work best when some volunteers focus on particular aspects of the work. We would like to increase our capacity to restore and protect the Northwest Branch by forming committees focused on Advocacy, Action, and Outreach. 

Serve on the Board: NNWB is governed by a volunteer, elected board that meets monthly. We are currently seeking new members.  Please contact us to learn more about the activities and responsibilities of board members. 

On Your Own

A great way to begin protecting our local streams is to ensure that the stormwater falling on your property or neighborhood does so in the most beneficial way possible. That means the water must not rush off the roof into the gutters and down the street directly into the streams, but be allowed to seep into the ground to be filtered and cooled before doing so. There are many steps you can take to facilitate this process. Some are simple. Others may be more complicated and expensive, but include options for rebates. Let us know if you have questions about these options.

Create Eco-friendly Yards 

  • Install rain barrels or cisterns.
  • Install a rain garden or other conservation landscaping.
  • Choose native, “Bay friendly”, plants when planting or, better yet, replace part of your traditional lawn with native plants, as they’re better adapted to local conditions. 

Change Lawn Care Habits

  • When possible leaves can be mulch mowed, and if they’re raked, it should not be into the streets and gutters.
  • Avoid fertilizers near gutters, storm drains or streams.
  • Do not fertilize before a rain.
  • Compost yard waste. 

Plant Trees

  • Planting trees on your property is one of the most effective ways to retain and properly treat stormwater run-off.
  • Trees provide shade in stream beds, which is needed to moderate water temperature. Water that is too hot has a negative impact on aquatic life.
  • Trees and vegetation along stream banks provide habitat and food for wildlife. 

Pick up Pet Waste

  • Some of the most serious pollutants in the Northwest Branch are excess nutrients and bacteria from pet waste. This originates not only along the trails, but from the streets and sidewalks and even from your own backyard. Picking up after pets, whether in public or at home directly contributes to the health of our streams.

Reduce Litter

  • Trash in the streets ends up in the streams and that Styrofoam cup can be lethal to wildlife, so dispose of your trash properly.
  • Recycle everything possible. 

And, If You Are Really Serious!

  • Install a green roof.
  • Replace your paved, impermeable surface driveway with permeable pavers that allow rainwater to soak through.      

What else can you think of to do?

We'd love to add yet more to this list.  We are excited to get YOUR ideas!

Help us restore the health of the Northwest Branch

Your support and generous contributions will enable us to educate our neighbors and improve the condition of the Northwest Branch. 

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