Proposed Restoration Projects Will Ultimately Harm, Not Help
FOGFLP is adamantly against several major projects the City is proposing for two tributaries to Dead Run in an attempt to address erosion (and road damage) caused by storm water run-off. The City's plans will result in clear-cutting a significant path of old growth forest to accommodate access roads. Worse yet, their approach does not address the root cause, nor has it shown to be effective in similar projects elsewhere in the Baltimore area.
What Is in the City's Proposal?
In the photo below, each of the red lines are tributaries to Dead Run that flow from Edmonson Road down through a combination of street level gutters and sewer conduits as well as natural streams). At these sites, Baltimore City is proposing to rebuild the entire canyon and water flow by implementing pools and stream-redirects (turns or curves) to slow down the flow of water.
What's the problem with these projects?
First of all, Baltimore City's approach will necessitate construction of access roads which means clear cutting and a loss of hundreds of trees large trees (plus countless smaller). For an explanation on why we need to curtail tree loss as much as possible, see a recent CNN series on urban climates. Secondly, similar projects in the Baltimore area have not shown promise, as demonstrated by this Baltimore Sun article, and this recent WYPR segment.
What does FOGFLP want?
In a position paper written in September of 2018 and submitted to many City officials (DPW, Parks and Rec, Mayor, and Councilmen) FOGLFP has explained our opposition to a significant portion of the proposed projects. Essentially, we believe the City's proposal applies the most expensive and invasive methods that simply do not address the root cause. As we have stated in all our communications to the city, reducing the volume of storm water run-off upstream of these projects is a less invasive, less destructive long-term approach to the problem.
Reducing storm water run-off involves installation of rain gardens, bio-swales, and bump-outs in the upstream neighborhoods. Here's what that looks like:
Managing Storm Water Run-Off the Right Way
Intermittent sections of a street's gutters can be turned into rain gardens that absorb water and host filtering plants that bloom in flowering seasons.
A potential bonus is that these gardens can be implemented as "bump-outs" which protrude slightly into the street to act as traffic calming measures, if that is a need for the community.
This is win-win-win! Storm water abatement, traffic calming, and a flower bed!
The affected areas for these projects include residents who would welcome gutters transformed into rain gardens, and would be vehemently opposed to the invasive measures of the propose "stream restoration" efforts.
Further, the local elementary / middle school (Thomas Jefferson) could be one of several hosts for an effective rain garden. Engaging students in the construction and maintenance phases could foster more participation.
Commercial entities can be given tax credits for allowing mitigation measures in their parking lots and on their property.
All of the above is less expensive than what the City has currently proposed, but they are by no means easier and often require marshaling many different city departments as well as engaging with surrounding communities.
FOGFLP is all too aware of the effort their recommendations require versus an easy way out of writing checks to engineering / construction companies to simply make the problem go away (hence the two projects in question here). FOGFLP would like to work with Baltimore City officials in any way they allow in order to foster the more sustainable and environmentally sound solutions we are promoting.