Thank You, Mayor Moyer,
For Keeping Annapolis Green
Mayor Ellen Moyer has a long history of involvement with environmental initiatives. Since the days of Ladybird Johnson and the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign of the 1960’s Mayor Moyer has been at the forefront of nearly every environmental, greening, climate change and open space program in the City of Annapolis. But her love of the out doors and the world around her began even earlier,
“When I was 6 years old, we had four big oak trees in our yard and I would rake up the acorns and throw them in other places to try and grow more trees. I spent all of my time out of doors, sitting by a frog pond or hiking with my friends on a dirt trail that had been an old trolley line in Towson. We would take lunch in our backpacks and stay out all day. It made a big impression on me.”
The City of Annapolis has had legislation on the books for over a decade protecting the tree canopy. The canopy currently stands at has a 42%, and Mayor Moyer has signed a written commitment to increase that cover to 50% in the near future. Rather than raking up and tossing out acorns to reach that goal, the city has given away over 2500 trees to Annapolis residents in the past 4 years, with the stipulation that those trees be planted inside city limits.
“Green roofs” are one way the City hopes to reduce its impervious services in from the current 40% to 20% over the next few years. There are now three green roofs in Annapolis, including one on the new Annapolis Police Department building. Green roofs are vegetated roof covers constructed atop and across a roof deck. They are living roofs that cover impervious roof surfaces with permeable plant material. Healthy, sustainable, and regenerative, green roofs help diminish the impact of development. The use of green roofs is encouraged when people come to the City for development permits.
Annapolis also has a storm water utility that provides the city with additional funding resources to monitor and improve other storm water infrastructure in the city. Over the past four years, the City has developed over forty bio-retention areas. These areas are designed to capture and filter rain water and storm runoff before it goes into the Chesapeake Bay.
Annapolis is an activist city, full of volunteers eager to take part in the positive changes. The Back Creek Nature Park is perhaps the best example of what the Mayor likes to call “sweat equity”- the work of volunteers. Back Creek Nature Park includes water front, forest, deep banks and prairie, and this urban park has become a model of how to preserve open space in an urban environment. After meetings demonstrated the viability and vitality of the park, the city received significant grant money to develop a storm water educational center that will instruct both children and adults in different methods of storm water runoff. Much deep bank restoration has already been done, and when the park is finished it will be one of the benchmark environmental teaching parks in the country.
The Mayor and the city created a groundbreaking clean air program called “Take a Deep Breath” that was taught to 4 th grade public school students in Anne Arundel County. The course was designed to educate the students about clean air and encourage them to plant a tree. It also asked the students to encourage their parents to commit to driving ten miles less each week. Beyond the environmental materials, the program contained workbooks that helped the children develop their math skills by computing the amount of pollution that planting a tree and driving less would remove from the atmosphere. The mayor hopes to see this program expand locally and nationally.
The City Council recently passed a resolution accepting the recommendations of the Energy Efficiency Task Force. Among other things, Annapolis is committed to replacing both city and transit vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles, and joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Power Switch Program to find alternative sources for the purchase of energy.
The subject of Climate Change has recently become a regular part of the daily news. The City of Annapolis and Mayor Moyer have long been at the forefront of Climate Change initiatives. In November 2005, the Mayor was one of only 50 mayors nationwide personally invited by Robert Redford to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah to view the premier of the Academy Award winning Climate Change film, “An Inconvenient Truth”. She was among the first 50 people worldwide chosen from among thousands of applicants to attend training in Nashville to facilitate the work of the Climate Project. This intensive three day national program was personally hosted by former Vice-President Al Gore.
Annapolis is considered a model for urban areas everywhere, and the Mayor has met with and counseled many other jurisdictions, both in and out of Maryland, to share the city’s environmental history. Mayor Moyer says,
“‘The environment’ isn’t just some non-specific buzzword. The environment is the world that we live in, the air that we breath and the water we drink. And beyond the obvious health and quality of life concerns are the things that touch our senses; the sun on our face and the ripple of the water…”
It is obvious when she talks about it that Ellen Moyer’s stewardship of the environment comes from a place deep inside of her…and that bodes well for the city that she serves.