Aerial view looking over an area of heavy industry--train yards, coal storage and oil refineries--nestled between a river inlet and homes of a residential neighborhood.
Curtis Bay An aerial view shows heavy industry--train yards, coal storage facilities and oil refineries--situated next to residential neighborhoods in South Baltimore. © Yazan Aboushi

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The Nature Conservancy Kicks Off New Baltimore Program Focused on Climate Adaptation and Environmental Justice

The new urban conservation program will focus on climate adaptation and environmental justice in the Patapsco River Watershed with an emphasis on the Baltimore Metropolitan Region.

The Nature Conservancy announced today that a new urban conservation program in Baltimore, Maryland is officially underway. The Baltimore Program will focus on climate adaptation and environmental justice in the Patapsco River Watershed with an emphasis on the Baltimore Metropolitan Region.

The program is being led by professionals with a long track record in Baltimore—Program Director Isaac Hametz and Community Project Manager Andrea van Wyk. The program is supported by a grant from the France-Merrick Foundation.

“Baltimore is a vibrant and resilient collection of individuals and communities working together to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and environmental injustice,” said Tim Purinton, Executive Director of TNC’s Maryland and DC chapter. “Isaac and Andrea have a proven track record listening to and learning from partners and delivering meaningful results. The Nature Conservancy is excited to join the region’s robust network of non-profit organizations, institutions, industry and government agencies delivering collective climate adaptation solutions and environmental justice outcomes.”

The program has hit the ground running in two locations where Baltimore Program staff have longstanding relationships—South Baltimore (Baltimore City) and Turner Station (Baltimore County). In South Baltimore, TNC is partnering with the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, the Urban Studio and Baltimore City on the Reimagine Middle Branch Community Design Lab, which is providing high school students with landscape architecture training and mentorship to shape the future of their neighborhoods.

“TNC’s team in Baltimore has been a pleasure to work with,” said Brad Rogers of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. “They collaborate authentically and think creatively. They have contributed expertise and resources to strengthen the Reimagine Middle Branch Community Design Lab and we are excited to explore other collaborative opportunities to improve the health, wealth and resiliency of South Baltimore.”

In Turner Station, TNC is collaborating with the Turner Station Conservation Teams, Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition and Baltimore County on the Witness Trees Project to celebrate the community’s rich cultural history through public art and tree planting. The work kicked off with a series of community design workshops this summer, which will culminate in a tree planting and public art dedication in the fall.

“Turner Station Conservation Teams strives to develop a safe and healthy historic community through connecting people, resources and ideas,” said Gloria Nelson, President of the Turner Station Conservation Teams. “We appreciate our partnership with TNC for their commitment to helping us maintain our legacy, develop our next generation of leaders and improve our social and ecological resiliency. TNC has been a great asset to the community of Turner Station.”

The Baltimore team is continuing to refine the program’s strategic plan, while bringing projects to fruition. “The Baltimore Metropolitan Region has a rich ecosystem of partners who are doing incredible work across issue areas and sectors,” said Program Director Isaac Hametz. “As someone who’s worked in this ecosystem for nearly a decade, I’m focused on leveraging TNC’s expertise, relationships and resources to support collective impact opportunities that deliver equitable co-benefit outcomes that unite people and nature. Our work with partners in South Baltimore and Turner Station reflects this approach and we are committed to deepening our engagement and positive impact in the region in the months and years ahead.”

“I have much gratitude for the opportunity to collaboratively work with local community leaders and partners on improving Turner Station’s climate resiliency,” said Community Project Manager Andrea van Wyk. “Everyone has this deep-rooted passion and dedication to the greater good, and to witness it firsthand has been an invaluable experience, especially during these challenging times.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.