The Abell Foundation supports organizations
that are working to protect and preserve Maryland's natural resources.
Partnering with the public and private sectors, the Foundation places
special emphasis on those initiatives supporting ecosystem-wide
conservation programs, including the protection of forests, wetlands, agricultural
lands, watersheds and air and water quality. The Foundation also focuses attention on specific statewide projects such as
Maryland's Smart Growth, Rural Legacy, Green Print, Program Open Space, Keep the Dirt Out Campaign, Maryland Healthy Communities Campaign and Legal Enforcement Project initiatives.
Areas of interest include:
- environmental justice in underserved communities
- advocacy for healthy air and clean water
- enforcement and legal compliance initiatives
- preservation of farmland and creation of effective buffer zones
- preservation of parklands for recreational and educational purposes
- sustainable and safe use of resources
- watershed and habitat protection
Conservation & Environment Highlights
Friends of Maryland
Formed as a statewide coalition of environmental groups, businesses,
developers, agricultural and historic preservation organizations,
1000 Friends work to preserve natural resources while encouraging
sensible growth. 1000 Friends has become an effective voice against
haphazard development and a strong advocate for reinvestment in
older communities while preserving open spaces.
In response to major diversion of dedicated Program Open Space funds from FY 2002 through FY 2006, 1000 Friends brought together over 132 environmental groups calling themselves Partners for Open Space to engage in rallying public support to urge restoration of full funding for the Open Space Program.
With increased capacity of a growing coalition of 155 members, in FY 2007 the Partners helped to rally support to restore $120 million to fully fund Program Open Space, followed by a record year in FY2008 with $258 million earmarked for conservation projects. In subsequent years revenue bond funds were issued to keep the program at full funding.
However, during the 2012 legislative session, Program Open Space funding was reduced by $27 million. This upcoming year the Partners plan to continue developing media briefings, staging public forums, and sending out an increased number of email alerts and E- newsletters to more than 30,000 conservation voters to ensure future preservation of high value lands with parkland, natural resource, and recreational attributes. They also will be providing documented case studies that demonstrate best preservation practices and will be making strong connections with other environmental initiatives such as Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plans, Plan Maryland and the Sustainable Growth Act.
Dedicated to conserving farmland and promoting economic viability of the agricultural sector, the American Farmland Trust (AFT) worked closely with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, The Harry R. Hughes Center of Agro-Ecology, and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to formulate a statewide vision for agricultural policy and resource management in 2006. The plan called for the need to continued farmland protection, increased farm productivity, reduction of tax burdens, expansion of local markets, technical assistance for new and next generation farmers on best practices and improvement for agricultural conservation stewardship activities. Since then, a representative from AFT has been serving on Governor O’Malley’s Implementation Committee to refine state farm policies that support efforts to maintain the state agricultural land base and to promote the economic viability of the agricultural sector.
At the Governor’s 2010 Agricultural Forum, AFT played a role in coordinating the process to set into motion an agricultural agenda for the next 15 years, focusing on achieving a balance between environmental regulations for a cleaner Chesapeake Bay and production costs and profitability of agricultural enterprises. To address other concerns such as continued development resulting in loss of farmland, high land costs discouraging next generation farmers, and increasing costly run-off regulations, AFT also sought to promote environmentally sound farming practices while improving water quality and supporting farm viability.
Faced with the 2009 Chesapeake Bay Executive Order to clean up the Bay, AFT turned its focus to its three-year Clean Water for the Chesapeake Bay initiative to engage regional agricultural constituents in adopting practices and developing policies to reduce nutrient runoff from farm lands. AFT introduced an innovative, cost-effective and market-based approach, known as the Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge for Nitrogen Reduction. Basically the Challenge is a risk-management tool that works with selected farmers who made a commitment to reduce their fertilizer use through a combination of vertical drill tillage and computerized systems analyzing various soil conditions for more precise use of fertilizer. Incentives were provided to eleven Cecil County farmers in Cecil County to guarantee their yields. The viability of expanding the BMP Challenge to other willing farmers will be dependent upon funding for incentives through the Department of Agriculture.
for Watershed Protection
Known for its watershed planning services, the Center for Watershed Protection has worked with local and county governments, consultants, as well as watershed partners. They offer comprehensive technical information for effective applications, innovative planning demonstration projects, community trainings, and recommendations for best practices and tools to protect and restore local creeks and waterways.
In partnership with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and Blue Water Baltimore, the Center undertook an extensive initiative, Pollution Source in Baltimore Watersheds, focusing on the Harris Creek Watershed. The primary goals were to reduce trash, nutrients, sediments, metals, and bacteria flowing into the Harbor. By identifying sources of pollution, such as 48 trash dumping sites, 9 clogged catch basins and up to 19 potential hotspots along with 8 water main breaks, 10 sewage discharges, reports of these polluting sources were submitted to the Bureau of Solid Waste and Department of Housing and Community Development and Harris Creek stakeholders for remediation.
The Harris Creek community groups, engaging teams of “community stewards”, are now receiving technical guidance to develop and take on ownership of multiple cooperative efforts to reduce trash and pollution. It is anticipated there will be short term gains; but, for the longer term, undertaking periodic hotspots surveys, extensive communications, training, and ongoing coordination of greening projects will be needed to meet the 2020 swimmable, fishable goals for Baltimore Harbor. And non-storm water pollution source data will be an effective tool to determine the impact of community education and hands-on specific projects.
Climate Action Network
Launched in 2002, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) has focused its efforts on education citizens about the trends of global climate warming and options for renewable energy. CCAN has taken a lead role in the Clean Air Coalition informing citizens about the benefits of the Maryland Healthy Air Act (2006).The Act now requires coal-fired power plants to install pollution control technology to reduce air pollutants contributing to global warming.
CCAN then promoted an educational campaign through grassroots efforts for the State of Maryland to adopt California’s clean-car standards. Maryland’s Clean Car Act of 2007 has been the first regional major step for the reduction of rising carbon-dioxide levels and lowering future fossil fuel consumption. The Maryland’s Green House Gas Emission Reduction Act of 2009 requires 2006 greenhouse gases levels be reduced 25% by 2020.
Not only has CCAN advocated to bring about policy changes in support of clean energy away from dependence upon a dirty fossil fuel-based economy, but to encourage a culture of enforcement at every level of government. CCAN launched their Healthy Communities Campaign designed to bring about more accountability and transparency from the Maryland Department of the Environment in their permitting and enforcement practices of highly toxic coal ash landfills and pollutants from Maryland’s six major coal and oil-burning power plants. Partnering with Environmental Integrity Project, CCAN has taken on the role of organizing aggrieved individuals to serve as plaintiffs, calling for stricter requirements, and internal institutional reform.
The latest challenge is CCAN’s major push to survey Maryland citizens to determine support for calling of a fracking moratorium until a more in-depth study of the dangers of leeching methane into drinking water supplies in local communities can be completed. CCAN is seasoned with its strategies of expanding strong local grassroots memberships, submitting frequent of letters to the editor, actively pursuing media coverage.
In partnership with CCAN, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) launched the Open Government Project, designed for identification of community-based organizations and citizens, located in communities impacted by polluting coal-burning power plants, industrial facilities and mobile sources (vehicle and shipping). They rely on data-driven research, public advocacy, permit challenges and citizen enforcement actions to conduct their environmental justice campaign, now focused in the South Baltimore neighborhoods of Curtis Bay, Brooklyn and Hawkins Point in the heart of industry. EIP will be monitor emission, identify primary sources of air pollution and will help local communities obtain protection from pollution by speaking out for compliance of existing environmental laws.
EIP pushed to improve permits for a number of large facilities in Baltimore and persuaded the EPA to require a planned trash incinerator slated for construction to meet new, more stringent air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The intention is to address the state’s failure to consider cumulative health and environmental impacts on neighborhoods before issuing new and renewing permits. Local schools and community groups will become more familiar with environmental laws and what can be done about ameliorating the issues.
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