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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I voted to protect Ten Mile Creek

The County Council is about to make a monumental decision on the future of the Ten Mile Creek watershed in the upcounty. I want you to know where I stand on this critical issue.

The Ten Mile Creek watershed is a special place and an invaluable environmental resource for Montgomery County. Long term study of the watershed confirms that it is home to a diverse and healthy ecosystem. It is of such high quality that it is considered one of the County's "reference" streams, serving as a measuring stick for the health of other streams in the County.

In fact, according to our county environmental scientists, it is the healthiest stream they have found in Montgomery County, Howard County and Carroll County.

In 1994, the Montgomery County Council made the mistake of upzoning development plans in this precious watershed. Those plans, if enacted, would degrade the creek and its surrounding watershed environment irretrievably.

The Council's planning and transportation committees reviewed that zoning plan. Along with my colleagues Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, I have put forward a proposal to restrict development there in a way that will protect the environmental resource of Ten Mile Creek. These committees passed our plan, and soon the full Council will vote on it.

Here is why this matters.
  1. Ten Mile Creek, as a complete watershed, is well preserved today. Therefore the benefits of preservation are much more significant because they apply to an entire watershed.
  2. A development plan that preserves the health of the watershed provides benefits such as preserving open space in a more natural state, with great biodiversity. As a result of this vote, we hope that future generations will always have a healthy watershed right here in Montgomery County.
  3. The watershed and the reservoir that it feeds are important recreational resources. The more they are preserved, the better. The reservoir, for example, supports fishing, canoeing, and wildlife.
  4. The watershed and the reservoir are a source of regional drinking water. The less pollution in this supply, the better.
  5. As a reference stream, Ten Mile Creek can help us understand how development is impacting the environment in areas that are planned for significant growth in the future, such as Germantown and Clarksburg. The watershed is an important environmental science resource.
As you know, I am an advocate for smart growth. For me, that means making sure our future development creates walkable communities near public transportation. It also means restricting development where it is most harmful and expensive.

That is why from day one I have advocated to protect the creek and watershed from degradation.

Future generations of Montgomery County residents will judge what the County Council chose to allow on this most sensitive of environmental resources. I hope they judge us favorably, which is why I voted to protect the creek.

Hans Riemer at 10 Mile Creek
Hans Riemer examines the biodiversity in 10 Mile Creek