Earth Day Highlights

This year's Earth Day events highlighted the chapter's urban conservation and resilient forests priorities and reaffirmed our commitment to science.

By Whitney Hall on May 02, 2017

March for Science

The Nature Conservancy was a sponsoring partner of the Earth Day Network/March for Science march and rally in Washington, D.C., because science matters, especially at this critical turning point for nature.

We marched because we know that science holds the key to solving our biggest environmental challenges.

Celebrating Earth Day and celebrating science go hand-in-hand. It was science that first alerted communities and governments to the growing threats against our environment which, in turn, sparked the first Earth Day.

Science gives us hope for a better future by providing solutions to the greatest challenges we face. Science shows us there is a path toward a world where both nature and people can thrive together. And science provides us with the knowledge we need in order to work together to keep our lands and waters strong, healthy, and productive for future generations.

MDDC Earth Day 17 Blog_Kahlil_640x400

Photo © Matt Kane / The Nature Conservancy; © Robb Scharetg

One of the MD/DC chapter's priorities is reducing stormwater runoff in Washington, DC using natural solutions.  Rain gardens and green roofs help absorb stormwater and filter sediment, pollutants, and excess nutrients before they reach the Chesapeake Bay.

Kahlil Kettering, Urban Conservation Program Director, shared this message during a standing room only teach-in session and on-camera with the Weather Channel.  The steady rain provided an appropriate backdrop.


MDDC Earth Day 17 Blog_Staff_640x400

Photo © The Nature Conservancy

MDDC Earth Day 17 Blog_March Signs_640x400

Photo © The Nature Conservancy

38,000 Conservancy supporters signed the pledge to stand with nature and we proudly carried their names during the march.

Meanwhile, in Western Maryland ...

MDDC Earth Day 17 Blog_Cranesville Planting_640x400

Photo © Haimanot Semaiat / The Nature Conservancy

Red spruce (picea rubens) once covered thousands of acres in western Maryland. Logging and burning at the turn of the 20th Century drastically reduced its range.

30 volunteers joined staff from the MD/DC chapter to celebrate Earth Day by planting 4,000 red spruce seedings at Cranesville Swamp Preserve. The weekend's planting is part of an ongoing effort that has seen over 25,000 red spruce planted at Cranesville since 2002.

Bringing red spruce back to western Maryland will help improve habitat quality for rare plants and animals by restoring natural vegetation and ecological processes, reducing erosion, and improving hydrology.  Red spruce keep their needles in winter, which keeps the ground shaded and snow from melting too quickly. A slower melt allows water to percolate into the ground rather than running off into streams, gutters, and roads.

It’s estimated that in the Central Appalachians as much as 90% of the original red spruce forest is now gone. We're working to change that statistic - one seedling at a time.

MDDC Earth Day 17 Blog_Cranesville People_640x400

Photo © Haimanot Semaiat / The Nature Conservancy

"We’ve been planting red spruce in western Maryland nearly every year since 1996, and have begun re-visiting sites planted 10 years ago in order to introduce some age diversity in these restored forests", says Deborah Landau, Conservation Ecologist for the Maryland/DC chapter.  "It’s so satisfying to go back to these sites and see how well the seedlings are growing.  I can’t wait to come back to these sites in another decade and do it all again."

Explore Cranesville Swamp Preserve



A window into ice ages past, Cranesville Swamp is located in a "frost pocket," an area where the surrounding hills capture moisture and cold air that conspire to create a landscape more reminiscent of habitat found much farther north in Canada. Given Cranesville Swamp’s lush forest and wetland, it’s not surprising that it is home to an exceptional variety of animals. In total, more than 50 rare plant and animal species inhabit Cranesville.

Cranesville Swamp Preserve is open year-round during daylight hours for nature walks and birding in designated areas. There are five hiking trails, all less than two miles long. One of the highlights of the preserve is the 1,500-foot boardwalk, which allows for easy exploration over the wettest parts of the bog.

Plan your visit.

Download an audio tour.  It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!

Categories: Science, Urban Conservation, Earth Day

comments powered by Disqus


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.