Hundreds of volunteers, including Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, turned out on Earth Day to launch the first part of a major reforestation project at the Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville. The project was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to the Montgomery Soil Conservation District.
The corps of volunteers, that featured students from local high schools, planted 600 trees on a portion of the 10-acre site adjacent to the landfill that operated from 1982 to 1997. Eventually, the entire 10 acres is slated for tree planting.
“This project epitomizes the essence of Earth Day,” said Leggett. “It is about both having residents of all ages coming out and volunteering to help the environment and creating a long-term cooperative effort to establish a forest where forests have been absent since the 1800s. Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for making it happen through their grant and the Montgomery Soil Conservation District for its vision of reforesting this site.
“We have received many benefits from this patch of land over the years,” Leggett said. “Now, establishing a forest will greatly increase the sustainability and value of the community, help clean and cool the air and water, sequester carbon, provide habitat for wildlife and make us all feel a little better for a long time to come.”
During its 15-year operation, the Oaks Landfill processed more than seven million tons of waste. Since it closed, the site has become a resource for the Laytonsville community and is part of the Blue Mash Recreational Trail, offering hiking and bird watching paths.
The new project site was first identified as a potential for reforestation by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District staff who then met with the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that manages the site. DEP officials agreed that a large-scale reforestation project involving the local community in restoring portions of the site to native vegetation was compatible with their long-term management goals.
“I especially want to thank the Chesapeake Bay Trust who bestowed the grant and the Montgomery Soil Conservation District, in turn, for proposing the Oaks Landfill site and providing us these trees,” said Bob Hoyt, director of the Department of Environmental Protection. “We appreciate the addition of 600 trees on this site which will help restore a natural habitat and beautiful forest for the community to enjoy for years to come.”
“It is very rewarding to see so many groups, agencies and individuals coming together to accomplish such a worthy project,” said Wade Butler, a member of the Montgomery Soil Conservation District, Board of Supervisors. “The effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay will only be successful through fostering an appreciation for our environment and finding ways to protect natural resources in our local communities.”
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