Field of solar panels. Courtesy, Baltimore Sun.

Plan to Clear Cut 240 Acres of Charles County Forest Hits Local Opposition

02/20/2019
By Kimberly Golden Brandt

Smart Growth Maryland and its partners in the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County recently announced their opposition to Georgetown University’s plans to clear-cut 240 acres of Southern Maryland’s largest forest for an industrial-scale solar facility.

Green Projects SHould Not Destroy Green Resources

In the recent Washington Post article, Charles County resident Linda Redding addressed the core issue with the Georgetown University solar project, stating “Green projects do not destroy green resources. If you destroy what is saving our climate in the name of fighting climate change, the effort is hollow.” Our forests sequester carbon, mitigate flooding, support groundwater recharge, and provide critical wildlife habitat. Solar panels do not.

The project site is located within an Audubon Important Bird Area, a critical habitat for numerous at-risk birds like bald eagles, warblers, eastern whip-poor-wills, and wood thrushes. The site is also within a Department of Natural Resources Targeted Ecological Area, a designation given to the most ecologically valuable areas in Maryland – generally described as “the best of the best.” In addition to destroying forest, this project will also degrade two high-quality streams.

Forests are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and act as an important filter.

Smart Growth Maryland remains supportive of renewable energy – but believes such projects should be targeted on marginal lands and rooftops and not areas with significant cultural, natural or agricultural value. There can and must be a balance when expanding the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is holding a public hearing for this project on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 in the Charles County Government building at 200 Baltimore Street in La Plata. Sign-in for speakers begins at 6PM. The hearing begins at 7PM. MDE staff will be available to answer questions from 6PM to 7PM. This hearing is an important opportunity to oppose this destructive project and ask Georgetown to employ their considerable resources to advance sustainability without destroying forests and degrading streams.

The comment period for this project is open and will remain open for two weeks following the hearing. Comments are strongly encouraged and can be emailed to MDE at jeffrey.thompson@maryland.gov and the leadership at Georgetown University at president@georgetown.edu and vicepresident@georgetown.edu.

Learn More about Smart Growth Maryland

 

Kimberly Golden Brandt · Director of Smart Growth Maryland

Kim Brandt leads Smart Growth Maryland, a project of Preservation Maryland, dedicated to the preservation of forests, farms and open space, and revitalization of Maryland’s cities and towns.

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