February 2022 Newsletter
Farewell Letter from our Executive Director
This March marks the end of my third year as part of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC) family. It has been a wonderful time full of great memories, beautiful places, and, most importantly, countless new friendships. The great group of staff, volunteers, and board members are the sprinkles on top! It is truly a family and I appreciate being allowed to partake in its sweetness, even if only for a brief amount of time.

It is now time for me to move on and let a new Executive Director guide GVC to its next level of growth. I consider myself a mechanic, able to diagnose and fix practices towards greater efficiency and focus. Our work here has been mostly tweaking what was already a successful model of restoration and land preservation practices. I use the term "our" as any successes over these three years, and there have been many, are attributable to the entire GVC family working together for the greater good.

In my opinion, GVC is ready to make the jump to a more impactful presence towards clean water and healthy lands in the Gunpowder Watershed. The organization is positioned to be a leader at the County and State level guiding our communities towards greater environmental success. The new Executive Director will help guide this movement.

My decision to move on now came down to two factors. First, GVC is in a great place for a transition. We have new, inspired board leadership, sound administrative practices in place, and two years of grant funding to cover an expanding amount of restoration work going forward. The second factor is more personal. I am simply ready for the next step in my career downsizing! After almost thirty years of working to protect the lands and waters around the Chesapeake Bay, my energy for administrative duties is waning. I am ready to spend the last few years of my career getting back to the reason I got into environmental work in the first place, getting outside and enjoying the Bay and its watershed.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and would like to thank the GVC staff, board and volunteers who welcomed me into their family. Thank you for the support and guidance you all have provided. And most importantly, thank you for your friendship, of which I expect will continue on after I leave.
See you on the water,
Lou Etgen
Welcome new Advisory Council member
What a difference a year makes! Last year, Nick Capecci was just learning about GVC as a Business Volunteer Maryland GIVE Fellow. We are thrilled to have him join our Advisory Council and share his HR expertise to help us grow.

Nick is currently serving as the Employee Relations Specialist for the Baltimore City, Department of General Services. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Business Management from the University of Baltimore in 2020, and is currently completing his MBA program within the same university. As a resident of Baltimore, Nick enjoys spending time outdoors, including hiking, collecting trash, and playing Ultimate Frisbee. Nick has started to scuba dive in local waters and hopes to share his passion of diving with GVC, continuing his efforts to clean up Maryland waterways one dive at a time.
New Year, New Opportunities
This winter, GVC staff are preparing for a busy 2022 full of expanding programs and new initiatives!

GVC received a $10,000 grant from BGE to create a non-native invasive plant training program where participants will learn how to identify and manage plants commonly found in riparian areas and encroaching on residential landscapes. We hope to recruit 20 volunteers throughout the year to take a combination of classroom and field-based trainings. Armed with knowledge (and access to our growing tool library!), participants will then be encouraged to lead their own invasive control events! Contact Darcy Herman, GVC Program Manager, to find out more.
Non-native invasive plants affect the health of native plant communities, including this riparian area of Cromwell Valley Park.
"The ability to successfully manage non-native invasive plants complements many other GVC initiatives but until now has not been a specific area of focus for a workshop. I've had Stream Captains ask what else they can do to improve the health of their adopted stream segment, so this training will be a welcome addition.

What's great is that conservation garden owners, tree stewards, land owners with conservation easements, and residents seeking to certify their yards as Bay-Wise can also benefit from our new program."

Darcy Herman, GVC Program Manager
It's official! The GVC's Clear Creeks Project received funding to continue cultivating strong partnerships for clean water within the Gunpowder watershed. We are beyond humbled to have received continuous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the Clear Creeks Project, which is now in its 9th year. Thanks to a $364,585 award from NFWF's Small Watershed Grant program and a $564,480 award from DNR's Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, we will be able to offer our 50 - 80% discounts on rain barrels, Bayscapes, rain gardens, and microbioretention practices to residents, organizations, and businesses within specific sub-watersheds through December 2023.
Better yet, we are EXPANDING our project area back to our roots in the Little Gunpowder Falls watershed of Baltimore and Harford County. This will include neighborhoods in Joppa, Upper Falls, Kingsville, and Sweet Air. View our interactive map to see if you live within the Clear Creeks Project area.
GVC also received a $40,000 Chesapeake Bay Trust Outreach and Restoration grant to install multiple stormwater best management practices (BMPs) at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Cub Hill. We are excited to officially meet the St. Demetrios Green Team, church, and school representatives later this month! This project will also be in partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC). Together, we hope to assist at least 5 faith-based organizations within the Clear Creeks Project area in installing rain barrels, rain gardens, Bayscapes, and/or microbioretention practices between 2022-2023.
Partner Highlight: The Healing Power of the Pandemic
"Even throughout the pandemic many of IPC's congregations planted and maintained their native plant and rain gardens, planted trees and cleaned streams. Volunteers reported being glad to be able to connect with congregation members while they worked socially distanced but still side-by-side, safely outdoors. They found that caring for creation together helped them spiritually and emotionally to cope better through these trying times."

Bonnie Sorak, Outreach Manager
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Not affiliated with a local congregation? No problem! You can still benefit from Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake's online programming. Their One Water Partnership is offering several Chesapeake Conversations in the upcoming months:
  • Promoting Pollinators (February 16th)
  • Engaging Youth on Climate Change (March 27th)
  • Celebrating our Most Successful Bay-Policy (TBD)
Rain Barrel Workshop & Curbside Pick-up: March 19th
Learn all about rain barrels and how to install them on your property at this FREE workshop at TALMAR Horticultural Therapy Center @ Cromwell Valley Park. Rain barrels help reduce stormwater runoff that can carry pollutants to our creeks and the Chesapeake Bay. Water your garden and lawn, or wash your car with the water that you conserve!

We are offering a brief workshop (11 am - 12:30 pm) and curbside pick-up (12:30 pm - 1 pm). Click here for more information.
Adopt-a-Stream Training: March 5th
Are you the designated trash "picker upper" in your neighborhood? Does the sight of disposable masks on the ground make you want to scream?! Consider becoming a GVC Stream Captain!

Our Adopt-a-Stream training will provide you with the skills you need to coordinate your own stream clean-up events. Topics will include how to safely remove trash from the waterways, how to properly identify problems such as sewer breaks and illicit discharges, and who to contact to report such problems.

Our next Adopt-a-Stream training will be Saturday, March 5 (10 am - 1 pm) at St Paul's Lutheran Church in Kingsville. Click here for more details.
Thanks to our GVC 2021 Sponsors