College students presented their ideas for a more sustainable Frederick after a semester-long study of the city.
Students in the University of Maryland’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability program gave the city’s aldermen a brief overview of their projects at City Hall on Feb. 4.
Six projects were presented, including two about the watershed.
One student group counted invasive plants in randomly selected spots in the watershed. They concluded that invasive species may be spreading along the unsanctioned trails, which are not officially maintained.
“The (unsanctioned) trails are, to some extent, the problem,” University of Maryland student Robin Graber said.
The students recommended closing trails that are deeper in the watershed to restrict invasive species movement. Invasive species management efforts should be focused along paved roads and trails that are close to the roads, they said.
The city’s watershed ad hoc committee is working to identify a means of rating existing trails to determine whether they would add to the watershed’s recreational value if maintained.
According to Frederick Department of Public Works Deputy Director Marc Stachowski, the city uses the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ expertise to manage invasive species in the watershed.
Another student group studied “human dimensions” of the watershed but did not present their findings at City Hall.
According to a report from that group, they recommend creating a recreation management plan, volunteer programs to help clean up the watershed and keep invasive species in check, a website with safety tips and trail information and educational signs about the watershed’s species.
The city’s watershed ad hoc committee is currently working to update the Forest Stewardship Plan to better define appropriate recreational uses for the watershed and take stock of land features, sensitive areas and other assets. The committee held its first meeting last August.
According to Keryn Gedan, a University of Maryland lecturer who guided some of the projects, the students working on the watershed-related projects were advised by Frederick sustainability manager Jenny Willoughby.
Students in the program also studied algae in Carroll Creek and presented their findings.
Dylan Reilly, a University of Maryland student, recommended using algaecides and installing floating treatment wetlands on the creek to help control the algae.
Some plants have already been installed, and have helped, Reilly said, but further steps need to be taken to reduce the nutrients that wash into the creek.
Reilly also suggested creating a Carroll Creek watershed advocacy group to increase awareness about the issue.
Color on the Creek, a local volunteer group, has been working to address the algae overgrowth, according to chairman Dr. Peter Kremers. The group has been planting lilies, lotuses and bog plants in special containers in the creek since 2012 and will expand the garden this spring.
The students’ presentations got a warm reception from the aldermen in attendance.
“This has been just really exciting, and I’m looking forward to us implementing some of these findings,” Alderman Kelly Russell said.
Alderman Michael O’Connor said he was also looking forward to putting the students’ conclusions to good use.
“If we can do 10, 5, 1 percent of what you have presented, it will be worth it,” he said.
The students completed 22 Frederick-oriented sustainability research projects during the fall 2014 semester. They were focused on community development, the environment and the economy.
The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability program chose Frederick as a pilot city for the students’ research. Students enrolled in the spring semester of the program have already begun their projects.