FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2019
Anne James, Secretary/Past President: 301-648-6841
Diane Cameron, Board Member: 301-933-1210
TEN MILE CREEK RELIES ON EPHEMERAL STREAMS
Our cleanest drinking water source is the flagship of biodiversity in Montgomery County
SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND - Friends of Ten Mile Creek will testify before the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday June 13, in support of proposed updates to the Guidelines for Environmental Management of Development in Montgomery County. These updates are needed to implement present standards for new development in the Ten Mile Creek watershed, which were adopted by the County Council in 2014, in the “10 Mile Creek Limited Amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan and Hyattstown Special Study Area”.
A significant change in the 10 Mile Creek Limited Amendment was the requirement for protection of ephemeral streams in the Ten Mile Creek watershed with a 50 foot buffer, in addition to the requirement for 200 foot buffers for intermittent and perennial streams. Ephemeral streams are very small streams, typically in headwater areas, that only flow only during or shortly after a rainfall event or when snow melts, because they are above the groundwater table. Nevertheless, they play an important role in keeping water clean and, combined with intermittent and headwater streams, nationwide, they supply at least part of the drinking water to over 117 million people
. Protected ephemeral streams in the Ten Mile Creek watershed would include those upstream from, or that touch or overlap with buffers of other hydrological features including perennial and intermittent streams, wetlands, seeps, springs and floodplains.
Development plans submitted by Pulte in August 2018
did not identify any ephemeral streams and the process was put on hold by the Montgomery County Planning Board pending an update of stream type definitions, consistent with the Council decision. Friends of Ten Mile Creek also asks that ephemeral streams be identified and mapped prior to a review of development plans and given priority for acquisition, permanent protection and forest restoration.
In approving the 10 Mile Creek Area Limited Amendment, which has since withstood a court challenge by the developer, the Council recognized and re-affirmed the County-wide significance, unique characteristics, and need for an extraordinary level of protection for the Ten Mile Creek watershed, which had been recognized in the original 1994 Master Plan.
Ten Mile Creek, located in Clarksburg and Boyds in Montgomery County, Maryland, is part of the greater DC region’s life support system and is one of Montgomery’s flagship watersheds for biodiversity and nature-based solutions to climate change. Ten Mile Creek and its tributaries are designated by the State of Maryland for three kinds of use: protection of aquatic life, drinking water supply, and water contact recreation and it is the cleanest source of water to the greater DC region’s only nearby emergency drinking water supply, the Little Seneca Reservoir.
Ten Mile Creek is threatened with development projects that include proposed road building, housing subdivisions and pressure from other development in the nearby up-county area. It has, a roughly five-square mile watershed with 22 miles of stream length including tributaries, and is located in Clarksburg and Boyds, Maryland. The land use plan enacted by the Montgomery County Council in April, 2014 restricts building and construction in the most sensitive areas of watershed to a cap of 6% of imperviousness (roofs, roads and other hard, paved surfaces). Despite these restrictions, the science of protecting sensitive, fragile areas like Ten Mile Creek indicates that only full protection – meaning no construction of any additional roads or buildings – will maintain its current high levels of biodiversity and ecosystem functions.
The term “biodiversity” (short for “biological diversity”) refers to the variety of living things – plants, animals, and fungi – that live in a particular place and maintain ecosystem functions. In May of 2019, the United Nations issued a report sounding the alarm on worldwide loss of biodiversity.
The report found more than one million species of plants and animals are at risk of rapid extinction within our lifetimes. These plants and animals, and the ecosystems of which they are a part, form planet Earth’s life support system.
Scientists who study Ten Mile Creek and its tributaries say that it has highly diverse communities of plants and animals, including fish, aquatic insects and other water-dependent animals. Two species found in the watershed that are considered rare in Montgomery County are the red salamander (
) and shagbark hickory (
The Ten Mile Creek watershed also serves as an important habitat corridor between existing County, State, and Federal protected areas, which include Little Bennett Regional Park to the north and Black Hill Regional Park, Hoyles Mill Conservation Park, Little Seneca Stream Valley Park, Seneca Creek State Park, the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park and McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area to the south. Such connectivity between natural areas is going to be critical to helping species adapt and survive climate change.
Sylvia Tognetti, President of the Friends of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Reservoir, noted “Ephemeral streams in up-County watersheds are part of the critical and irreplaceable natural infrastructure that supplies drinking water for everyone in Montgomery County who relies on the public water system. The Council’s 2014 decision was just the start. We need to continue to work with the County and our partner organizations to ensure the fullest possible protection of Ten Mile Creek.”
Scott Fosler, Board member of Friends of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Reservoir, added, “In addition to biodiversity protection, the urgent need for climate change adaptation requires us to protect and restore existing forest and farmland in Montgomery County – starting now with Ten Mile Creek -- as a crucial strategy.”
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 2019
Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’ Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’
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