Bick, Long re­ceive con­ser­va­tion awards from na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­ Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

Jim Long and Bon­nie Bick have been work­ing to­gether for years to make Charles County more en- vi­ron­men­tally friendly and safe for the wildlife in the area. In late Novem­ber, both were rec­og­nized by the At­lantic Coastal Fish Habi­tat Part­ner­ship for their decades of ef­fort and ded­i­ca­tion to their cause.

Long, the pres­i­dent of the Mat­ta­woman Wa­ter­shed So­ci­ety, and Bick, a mem- ber of the Smarter Growth Al­liance, re­ceived the Me- lissa Laser Habi­tat Conser- va­tion award. The part­ner- ship cited their ef­forts in con­serv­ing the Mat­ta­wom- an and pro­tect­ing fish habi- tats as the main rea­son why they were both re­cip­i­ents.

Melissa Laser was a bi- ol­o­gist who worked to pre­serve fish habi­tats and re­store aquatic habi­tats off the At­lantic Coast. Bick said “it was an honor” to re­ceive an award in her name.

“Melissa Laser’s fam­ily was just beau­ti­ful. I found that we had a lot in com­mon,” Bick said. “She loved fish and loved the for­est. One of our key points is that fish love forests. She said some­thing sim­i­lar to that.”

Bick and Long trav­eled to Maine to re­ceive the honor. Bick has won awards be- fore as a re­sult of her con- ser­va­tion ef­forts, she said, but this was the first time she had ever re­ceived rec- og­ni­tion on a na­tional scale. Long had the same ex­peri- ence.

“We didn’t ex­pect this. We didn’t know we were nomi- nated,” he said. “But it is an honor.”

Long said the award was not a tes­ta­ment to the work both he and Bick have done with the Mat­ta­woman Wa- ter­shed So­ci­ety, Smarter Growth Al­liance and the Sierra Club, but rather a re­flec­tion of the work that the in­di­vid­u­als from those groups have put in over the years.

With­out them, Long said, he and Bick would not have the sup­port that they do. And it takes more than just two peo­ple to cre­ate envi- ron­men­tal change, he said. It takes en­tire com­muni- ties — and that is the kind of sup­port they have, Long noted.

“It’s an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of suc­cesses in us try­ing to bet­ter con­serve Mat­ta­wom- an Creek,” Long said.

Still, he said, the ef­forts are not over. Awards do not re­duce the Mat­ta­woman’s pol­lu­tants and stormwa­ter runoff still has an ef­fect on the stream, he said.

The Charles County com­pre­hen­sive plan, which makes sweep­ing changes to con­ser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment zon­ing in the county, has been ap­proved and it should be largely ben­e­fi­cial to the en­vi­ron­ment, Long said, but the next step is mak­ing sure that those rules are en­forced and en­sur­ing of­fi­cials zone the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion dis­trict the right way.

An­other thing that needs to be worked on is dis­tribut­ing the proper in­for­ma­tion to cit­i­zens about the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion dis­trict, Long said.

“At the last meet­ing, there seemed to be a lot of in­for­ma­tion that was just off get­ting out,” Long said.

Bick agreed and said there was work to be done with get­ting the word out about how the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion dis­trict works and en­sur­ing the zon­ing process goes over smoothly.

And over­all, Bick said, just con­tin­u­ing to do the work that got them to where they are in the first place.

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