Seven Oaks-Evanswood Environment
The Seven Oaks-Evanswood community is dedicated to acting to preserve and improve our local environment. We encourage all community members to participate in these efforts. We are fortunate to live in and around the lush, natural Sligo Creek sub-watershed, while also living within walking distance of many urban amenities. Our streets and yards are shaded by mature canopy trees, which make our air cleaner by filtering pollution from the surrounding roads. Local parks and the Sligo Creek biking/hiking/jogging trail offer many opportunities for fun, exercise, and relaxation. Our local wildlife includes deer, squirrels, owls, hawks, foxes, and salamanders.
Enjoying and Protecting Sligo Creek
Sligo Creek, which drains into the Anacostia River 14 miles downstream from our neighborhood, attracts wonderful birds and animal life. The Sligo Creek Trail runs alongside the Creek, and gives people a spot to enjoy walking, jogging, and biking. Sligo Creek Park includes picnic areas, play equipment for kids, and tennis courts. Learn more about Sligo Creek and what community members can do to help protect the Creek from the following resources.
Sligo Creek Trail
Sligo Creek Water Watchdog Program
This award-winning, pollution-reporting program began as a grassroots effort by SOECA residents to stop harmful pollutants from entering Sligo Creek. Water WatchDogs recently received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to expand its programs.
Creek pollution can take many forms. For example, it includes muddy runoff from a construction site entering into a storm drain which in turn empties into the Creek, causing silt that smothers aquatic life. In and around our neighborhood, pollutants can come from within a few blocks of the Creek or from downtown Silver Spring or the area near the YMCA.
If you see pollution in (or heading toward) Sligo Creek, or one of its tributaries –
- Send a brief email ASAP identifying the location, with a photo if possible, to ReportSligoPollution@fosc.org. Your email will be immediately forwarded to the smart phones of Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection, who will investigate to find the source of the pollution and stop it.
- If you are reporting other than during regular work hours, please also telephone the Park Police at (301) 949-3010.
- It also is helpful if you would send a brief alert to the SOECA listserv, email@example.com, and the FOSC Water WatchDog blog. That being said, knowing who to contact if pollution is spotted can be difficult. For example, WSSC is responsible for the piles of dirt and asphalt mud slurry that were so common on our neighborhood streets in the summer of 2015, generated by the water modernization work. The Department of Permitting Services (DPS) is responsible for the control of pollution coming off of construction sites in the neighborhood, including active sites for the past year on Ellsworth. We suggest sending your initial pollution report to the Water WatchDog email address; and the report will be forwarded to the right group. Over the past year, many of your neighbors actively reported WSSC and DPS-related pollution issues via the Water WatchDog address and so engaged with DEP, WSSC and DPS to improve the situation. We were able to improve the situation in most of the cases – but we must remain vigilant.
- An alert is invaluable: in real time, it can help the County’s water detectives connect pollution observations from the neighborhood with the pollution that is showing up in the Creek. It can also provide important documentation for future reference to patterns.
Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC)
The Friends of Sligo Creek is our citizens’ watershed group. Membership is open to all who are interested, and non-members are also welcome to attend meetings.
In the spirit of Rachel Carson (who lived in several spots near Sligo Creek), FOSC regularly hosts talks on the natural wonders that are part of the Sligo Creek watershed.
FOSC also sponsors activities to take care of the Creek. In addition to sponsoring the Water WatchDog program, FOSC conducts a Sweep-the-Creek clean-up twice a year, in April and in September. The “Bike Ride for Clean Water” from the headwaters of Sligo Creek to the Anacostia will be held either in 2016 or 2017. Watch the SOECA listserv, kiosks near the Creek, and the FOSC website for the dates.
FOSC hosts the Montgomery Parks’ Weed Warrior program to help eliminate invasive weeds in the park. Invasive weeds destroy trees, suppress and replace native plants, and threaten biodiversity that keeps nature in balance. To become a certified Weed Warrior, see the Montgomery Parks Department’s Weed Warrior Page.
Planting Trees and Gardening
One of the best ways to help preserve and protect our local environment is to plant trees and follow environmentally sound gardening practices. Trees are vital to managing stormwater, cooling and cleaning the air, and providing habitat to the wildlife we enjoy. Our community has an active tree planting program.
Neighborhood Tree Program
In the Spring of 2014 Sligo Creek Neighbors for a Sustainable Community, Inc. (SCNSCI) initiated a program to restore the tree canopy in our area. The program makes trees available a low cost ($25) on private property, and no cost on County right-of-ways. Tree stump removal can also be provided at low cost. See the February 2015 issue of SOECA’s newsletter for full details. In addition, Montgomery County provides free shade trees to residents, and will plant the tree for you. These community efforts have resulted in the planting of over 150 shade trees in Seven Oaks Evanswood. These trees help to replace the many trees lost over the last few years to utility work, storms, and natural aging.
Montgomery County RainScapes Program
The County’s RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program offers rebates to property owners who install RainScapes techniques such as rain gardens, rain barrels, conservation landscaping and other approved projects that help control stormwater. The County Department of Environmental Protection has a list of landscapers trained in RainScapes.
These sites offer information on native plants and environmentally-friendly gardening practices:
- Silver Spring Garden Club
- Takoma Park Horticultural Club
- University of Maryland Extension
- Maryland Native Plant Society
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Green Consumer Goods
These organizations provide resources regarding green consumer goods:
Local Organizations Protecting Our Environment
The Friends of Sligo Creek sponsors citizen pollution reporting and testing; hosts talks on the natural wonders that are part of the Sligo Creek watershed; and holds activities to care for the Creek, including a semi-annual Sweep-the-Creek clean-up in April and September. They will be having the “Bike Ride for Clean Water” in 2016 or 2017.
The Audubon Naturalist Society is the oldest independent environmental organization in the Washington, DC region. A pioneer in linking conservation activities with environmental education. ANS offers camps, internships, education, nature sanctuaries, and a shop with birdseed and other products. ANS advocates on conservation issues, such as transportation, watershed and rural lands protection, and climate change.
Conservation Montgomery is a coalition of civic and environmental organizations as well as individual residents who address a broad spectrum of environmental and quality of life challenges facing Montgomery County. CM conducts tree care seminars, and advocates for local environmental issues in from the of the County Council, Planning Board, Public Services Commission and General Assembly.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is looking for faith-owned properties including congregational grounds, retreat centers, summer camps, retirement housing, etc. with space for planting trees. This free tree-planting program provides everything you need to turn large lawns or barren areas into watershed renewing tree canopy and healthy habitats for wildlife. Interfaith Partners also provides a spiritual educational workshop and technical support to teach how to plant and maintain the trees. Available to congregations or any faith owned facility throughout Maryland. Contact Bonnie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (443) 799-0349.
The Montgomery County Group of the Maryland Sierra Club focuses on local issues, including improving public transit, maintaining clean water sources, supporting and monitoring the county’s Climate Protection Plan, and endorsing and supporting green candidates.
Montgomery County Council: Environmental matters are considered by the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee. Review the Council’s calendar for up-to-date information on hearings and other Council activities.
In the Executive Branch, the Department of Environmental Protection has the coordinating responsibility for the County’s MS4 Permit, the permit granted under the Clean Water Act that requires the County to meet targets for specific types of water pollution, including sediment. However, governmental authority affecting our waterways is complex: the Department of Transportation is responsible for storm drains (which convey water and pollutants from our street into our waterways); Parks is responsible for our Parks, through which our Creek flows; and WSSC is responsible for our water and sanitary sewer pipes, many of which cross our Creek encased in concrete. The State of Maryland has important authority over our streams as well. Finally, the County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) has permitting authority over what can off run off construction sites. This authority is critical for our neighborhood: if muddy sediment is running off a construction site, DPS should be contacted.
Montgomery County Planning Department: The Planning Department plays a major role in local land use decisions.
Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection: This is the local executive branch body responsible for implementing and coordinating environmental policies under its federal Clean Water Act permit.