Volume 12, Issue 19 ~ May 6-12, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

Electronic Junk Wanted
Millersville landfill hosts eCycling Day

If you’ve ever spilled coffee on your laptop or spent over a thousand dollars on a computer only to find out a year later that what you bought is obsolete, eCycling Day is for you.

If you’ve bought a new cell phone because the old one didn’t take pictures or because you left it in the pocket of your jeans and washed it, please pay attention.

Even if you’ve bought a new laptop because you’re moving to Thailand, you’ve got to scrap your old computer first.

Whether it’s an old remote control, a VCR or a pager, we’ve all got electronic junk growing cobwebs in garages, basements and closets. If it winds up in a bag at your curb, it’s on its way to poisoning the landfill with heavy metals. In 2000, landfills were flooded with an estimated 130,200 tons of heavy metals, predominantly lead but also cadmium and mercury. Discarded consumer electronics — along with batteries, thermometers, electronic and electric switches and pigments — are the sources.

Each year an estimated 60 million computers are scrapped, leading more and more municipalities to begin recylcing computers, cell phones, televisions and more to keep them out of landfills.
Top offenders are computer monitors and television screens, or cathode ray tubes. The CRT can contain from five to eight pounds of lead. Computers also contain lead, as well silver, cadmium, mercury, selenium, and chromium. By next year, experts guesstimate that some 60 million personal computers will be ready for the dump.

Keeping those electronic tools out of the dump is forcing states to think in new ways. Last year California, often the nation’s environmental leader, passed an Electronic Waste Recycling Act. In Maryland, electronic recycling is still county business.

Which is why Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works holds its second annual eCycling Day, for county residents only, at the Millersville Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility in Severn.

On one day only, Saturday May 8, the Resource Recovery Facility will accept any electronics device, from copy machines to a crippled mouse.

Electronics are new to the 22,197 tons of recyclable materials already coming through the large gate of the 564-acre facility each year.

“There’s been an explosion in the last six or seven years,” says Tracie Reynolds, recycling program manager, of the growth in technological waste. “This is why politicians nationwide are pushing manufacturers to take back a lot of the electronic waste and reuse it.”

While waiting for legislatures to push manufacturers to share the responsibility, Millersville is stepping in.

Most electronics junk that comes through the gates on Saturday will avoid the landfill and find new life as a recycled product. If it entered as household garbage, the electronics would be buried in the landfill.

At last year’s eCycling event, more than 90 percent of the electronics dropped off were recycled.

“We’re able to reuse parts, plastics, metals; everything but the glass,” says landfill manager Robert DeMarco. The glass contains lead, which makes it unreusable.

Millersville is the only center accepting electronic waste — and only once a year.

“We’re starting slowly,” DeMarco says, “testing the waters to see how this program is received.” He hopes electronics will one day join the long list of everyday recyclables.

Find Millersville Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility off Rt. 32 at 389 Burns Crossing Rd., Severn: 410-222-7951.

—Louis Llovio

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Ask the Plant & Pest Professor
Who’s been plowing my yard?

Q My lawn is being attacked by an animal. It looks like it has been plowed. There are no tunnels, so it’s not moles. This has been going on for months. I notice no dogs around.

A Lately we have had many e-mail questions and phone calls with your complaint. The animal is either a raccoon or a skunk. Both are nocturnal. Earthworms, grubs and even the periodical cicada nymphs are very appetizing to them. Take heart: the grubs and cicadas will soon leave the soil.

Lay chicken wire in small areas or place rags soaked in household ammonia on the ground to repel the plower.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

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Engineering to Imitate Nature
With restored slopes, Truxtun Park is looking good

It takes a city, a county, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers to make a city park into a walk in the wilds.

To prove the point, environmental activist Anne Pearson took Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer for an early May walk in the Truxtun Park woods.

Pearson, of Alliance for Community Education, was showing off the results of a steep slope restoration project in the Annapolis park. The scenic park trail high above Spa Creek had eroded into gullies at several locations. Pearson’s Site 2 project was set up to contrast with Site 1 in both cost and visual impact.

Site 1 reveals the open end of an engineered pipe diverting runoff to a jumble of rocks at the foot of the bank. Soil was added to restore the contour of the bank, then covered with compost seeded with tussock grass. The cost came to $16,989, with donated compost worth $2,250.

“I hate the pipe, and the white rocks that don’t belong in this ecosystem,” Pearson told the assembly.

Anne Pearson, front right, guides Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, NOAA’s Alison Ward-Maksym, center, and Shannon Walla Sprague along a trail shored up against erosion at Annapolis’ Truxtun Park.
Her project makes its contrast by disappearing into the natural lay of the land. That solution was achieved by installing compost blown into soft mesh tubing into the deep gullies on either side of a huge tree. The tubes — picture nylon stockings with a more open mesh — were then covered with a seeded compost blanket.

Both solutions work. Both have withstood more than 12 rainfalls and an eight-inch snowfall in their first year. But Pearson’s wins for natural appearance and affordability.

“No one believed it would work when we suggested we spray a heavily eroded slope with compost to retain the soils,” said Pearson. “But they were eager to try, and the results are spectacular.”

The cost was kept to $3,000, thanks to a generous discount on compost from Filtrexx and Topmulch. The bill was paid with grants from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — one of 25 grants totaling $2.5 million won by the City of Annapolis to fund environmental projects — and Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Congressman Gilchrest, a supporter of the grant, called the project “encouraging, inspirational and replicable. Nature has its infrastructures,” he said. “We humans have our infrastructures. Projects like Anne’s prove the two can work together.”

At the foot of Truxtun’s steep slope lies another restoration success. Four acres of shoreline have been stabilized with 75 biologs funded in 2002 by NOAA. The coir-fiber logs were staked in place and planted with native grasses with the help of students from Eastport Elementary School. By the time the plants and grasses are well-established, the logs will naturally erode.

“We owe a thank you to Mayor Moyer for having the vision to do things right,” Gilchrest told the environmentalists and interested neighbors. “All of you deserve a vote of thanks from your elected people.”

They deserve our thanks each time we take a stroll in the park.

Learn more: Alliance for Community Education 410-956-1002

—Sonia Linebaugh

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ArtWorks @ 7th
In North Beach, Hurricane Isabel makes room for a new gallery

North Beach’s slate is not yet wiped clean after Hurricane Isabel. Damage all too visibly lingers. But on Mayday, the town celebrated recovery and creativity with two grand openings: the official reopening of the North Beach Boardwalk and Fishing Pier and the grand opening of an artists’ cooperative: ArtWorks @ 7th.

The ArtWorks @ 7th gallery brings together 25 Southern Maryland artists above Nice and Fleazy Antiques on the corner of Seventh Street and Bay Avenue

Artist and Bay Weekly contributor Gary Pendleton in the new artists’ cooperative ArtWorks @ 7th gallery in North Beach.
The new gallery grew out of travels and dreams of founding board member Mary Mattingly. Mattingly loved to visit galleries in other towns, but it wasn’t until Hurricane Isabel that she saw opportunity in her own town.

“Once the water went down from waist deep,” said Mattingly, “the question that kept going through my mind was: What do we not have that would make the best lemonade out of the excess of lemons Isabel left us? I began to look at the empty spaces that had become available for new ventures.”

Dale Thomas, owner of Nice and Fleazy Antiques, had the right space at the right price.

Mattingly put out the call for local artists, and they responded in force: In just three months, the gallery signed on all the artists its space would hold and started a waiting list.

In the new collaborative gallery, everybody works. Members take turns staffing the gallery, handling the sales and representation of artwork. Artists also take turns presenting their work to the members at monthly meetings, so that each member knows and can describe the styles and techniques of the others. Each member also serves on a committee, from Policy to Scheduling to Community Outreach.

First at work was the Gallery Design Committee, whose job was transforming Nice and Fleazy’s upstairs room. Last month, artists met in a circle of antique chairs upon the gallery’s old wooden floor. Walls were bare; the room wide and poorly lit. Now artwork hangs on fresh white walls, and standing screens create a meandering walkway through the room. New track lighting and carpet complete the renovation of the upstairs. Even the stairs have been painted in bright primary hues.

Better than the new gallery space is the art itself: paintings in oil, watercolor, acrylic and pastel, ceramic sculpture, wood sculpture, photography, stained glass, collages, collographs, seashell mosaics, scratchboard art and handmade tile.

“It’s very exciting,” said North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer. “The creation of this gallery certainly supports my vision of North Beach as a cultural arts town.”

“It’s amazing,” said sculptor and painter Mary Ida Rolape, “to see how this diverse group of artists have coalesced into an effective force for bringing art to the community.”

ArtWorks @ 7th: 10am-5pm Thursday through Sunday at Seventh St., and Bay Ave., North Beach: 410-326-6951.

Meanwhile, in Annapolis, a new Art Alliance is preparing their own ArtWorks, a debut extravaganza, for June 3 through 6. Read more in Bay Weekly’s June 3 issue: 410-263-7940 x 8.

—Stacy Allen

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, state officials said no last week to a grand science experiment: creating three circular oyster reefs by dropping pieces of an old concrete pier from the Norfolk Naval Station into the James River. Captain Bob Jensen designed the “aquatic reef habitat” to restore native oysters by providing habitat that is off the bottom, secure from most predators and resistant to storms. But the Virginia Marine Resources Commission refused, observing that the reefs would have been deposited on active clam beds, the Virginian-Pilot reported…

In Germany, there’s a new litter-curbing device that we in Chesapeake Country may want to try: talking waste bins. Mouthy receptacles in Berlin scream goal! when trash passes through their portals. On second thought, maybe we don’t want them disturbing our peace…

In Belgrade, they’re calling it the Case of the Missing Monkeys. And its not just a couple monkeys: Serbian officials are trying to account for 600 simians imported from Africa that disappeared without a trace. Sounds to us like a jail break…

Our Creature Feature comes from Manchester, England, where they’d better keep a German shepherd named Libby away from the Didsbury Golf Club. Club owner Mike Wardrop knew Libby was a prolific ball-finder on their walks. Often, she would appear with five golf balls in her mouth at one time.

But golfers didn’t know Libby’s secret until they operated on her for an intestinal problem: Packed in her stomach were 28 golf balls of many varieties. Wardrop has a new plan. “I’ve had to buy her two footballs. She can’t swallow them,” he told Reuters.

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Last updated May 5, 2004 @ 11:30am.