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Silver Spring and Bethesda Community Leaders Receive Environmental Award for Volunteer Work on Montgomery County Tree Laws

Caren Madsen of Silver Spring
Caren Madsen of Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD. Feb. 18, 2014  – The local nonprofit Neighbors of the Northwest Branch (NNWB) will honor Arlene Bruhn and Caren Madsen of Conservation Montgomery with the NNWB “Great Blue Heron Environmental Neighbor Award” this year for their work in organizing communities to help win passage of two county tree bills in 2013.  The award will be presented at the March 4th meeting of NNWB at 7:30 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.

Ms. Bruhn is a longtime resident of Bethesda where she has been involved in advocacy for protecting street trees over the past eight years.  She worked with County Councilmember Roger Berliner’s office to draft Bill 41-12, a street and roadside tree bill.  Ms. Bruhn was also instrumental in gaining passage of an update to the State Roadside Tree Law in 2009 so that Maryland counties could enact their own street tree legislation.  Ms. Madsen is a 17-year resident of Silver Spring who, as a volunteer, began working with the County Executive’s office in 2006 on Bill 35-12, an urban canopy bill, to supplement the county’s Forest Conservation Law.  That legislation, along with Bill 41-12, were signed by the Executive in 2013 and will take effect on March 1, 2014.  

The two women were among the founding board members of Conservation Montgomery when it was established as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization in 2010.  For more than a year, Conservation Montgomery led other community organizations to create Trees Matter, a public awareness campaign designed to inform residents of the importance of the need for new tree laws which will protect street trees in the county rights of way and create a fund for replanting urban trees that are destroyed to make way for new construction on private property.  The tree bills were opposed by the infill building community but were adopted by the Council in July 2013.  

The Northwest Branch watershed is the largest sub-watershed of the Anacostia River with the majority of the watershed located in Montgomery County and Prince George's County Maryland. It stretches over 19 miles from the headwaters in Sandy Spring, MD to Bladensburg, MD where it joins with the Northeast Branch to form the Anacostia River. 

Conservation Montgomery is a coalition that helps county residents understand their role in environmental stewardship. Over the past year, Conservation Montgomery has been responsible for adding over 60  trees to the county tree canopy by engaging volunteers in community planting projects. Neighbors of the Northwest Branch is one of 25 Conservation Montgomery coalition partners.  For more information:  www.conservationmontgomery.org

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