Category Archives: Prince George’s County

Champion Trees, Champion Residents

By Alice Nicolson

Last spring many of us were thrilled to find that Collington almost had a county Champion tree in our woods – almost, because although the tree is about 200’ behind unit 5004, it is just outside our property line in the adjoining county Regent Forest Park. The tree came to our attention in 2016 because neighbors asked Davey Tree Company to clear the woodland behind their homes. The Davey arborist noticed the big tree, misidentified it as an ash, and recommended that it be treated against Emerald Ash Borer infestation (a recently arrived pest which is killing ash trees all over the country). Jane Engle contacted her friend Mike Ellis, a Prince George’s park ranger, and asked him to come over and check out this large ash since it might be a county record holder. Mike came, determined that the tree was a mockernut hickory, not an ash (so definitely not needing protection against the EAB!), took its measurements, found its location was just outside Collington property (alas!), and determined that it was indeed a Champion tree for the county. Jane was credited with nominating it (and she and Mike co-nominated two other county champions in other parks). Jane and Mike did some other tree hunting in the neighboring woodland and found one other likely candidate, but had not measured it at the time. 

tree1Pfund, Nicolson and Engle with Mockernut

This week Mike Ellis and his supervisor, Chris Garrett, came over to meet with Ken Burton, Jane’s husband, to have another look at the Mockernut and to relocate and measure the other large tree. (Kyle Olsen and I came along as well). The tree is located several hundred feet downstream from where the trail behind 5110 goes into the swampy woods and meets the stream (Bald Hill Branch) at the white bucket marker. It also is not on Collington’s property, being across the stream where the beaver was very active earlier this winter, in Enterprise Park. However, it is easily seen from our side. Chris and Mike waded across the stream (I clambered across on fallen tree trunks) determined that the tree was a bitternut hickory, measured it and checked the current record listing for that species – and we have yet another county Champion  tree not quite on Collington land!

tree2Bitternut with sign

Chris and Mike placed plaques designating both champion trees on stakes at the foot of the trees, facing Collington viewers. Both trees remind us of Jane Engle, whose love for trees inspires all who worked with her.  If you walk the woodland trail behind the 5000’s, look for the new sign there and, if you are nimble, ramble down our side of the stream and see if you can spot the big tree just across the water!

Volunteer Opportunities

Dave Montgomery has put together a rather comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities both at Collington and in greater Prince George’s County. You can find this list under the Getting Around tab –> Volunteer Opportunities. Or click here to see the page now!

Thanks Dave!

Politics in Action at Collington — Good News, Bad News

On Saturday, November 4th, the League of Women Voters of Prince George’s County graced Collington with its presence and that of newly elected junior U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.  He is a member of the powerful Appropriations and Budget Committees.  Many of us found his presentation very impressive.

After an open meeting of the League, Senator Van Hollen addressed a crowded auditorium.  The Senator first shared the good news.

A bipartisan Congress authorized the formation of a commission to commemorate the life and work of Maryland born Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.  Douglass was a runaway slave who became an orator, abolitionist, author and advisor to President Lincoln.   You can go to http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bs-md-trump-douglass-20171102-story.html to learn more about Douglass and the commission.

Another good news story for many there, was, of course, the prevention of the complete demolition of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This would have included 1 trillion dollars in cuts to medicaid (2/3 of which would have affected seniors and people with disabilities).  The Senator praised the effectiveness of the two single-spaced pages of advocacy and provider groups who opposed repeal of the ACA.  National organizations like AARP also played a very significant role.

However, the Senator reported that our biggest challenge ahead is now the proposed tax bill which he vehemently opposes.  The bill offers big, big tax breaks to big corporations, to the tune of 2 trillion dollars.

The means to pay is to increase the taxes on many middle-class families.  One proposed change is to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes.  This is basically double taxation.  Corporations, of course, will continue to deduct these taxes.  This bill also authorizes increasing the national debt to $1.5 trillion, something Republicans talk about being against.  Therefore Senator Van Hollen believes that if this bill passes, the Republicans will implement severe cuts to important programs in health, education, housing, etc.

(Perhaps of even greater concern to Collingtonians —and indeed Collington and all life care communities — is the proposal to eliminate the medical expense deduction.  Given the importance of that deduction in our personal budgets, and those of future residents of all lifecare communities, this is going to have a big impact — if it goes through.  The Washington Post reported on this issue here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/they-spent-years-planning-to-live-with-alzheimers-disease-the-gop-tax-bill-threatens-those-plans/2017/11/04/83ac1ffa-c098-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.d5130d1643b8.)

Van Hollen reported that Republicans will try to strong arm this bill through this week without hearings or amendments.   What can we do since our Senators are already against this tactic?   Well, Senator Van Hollen suggests we contact organizations with national chapters who can represent us and also reach out to people in other states and encourage them to contact their own legislators.

Not bad ideas at all, considering what is at stake.

Collington MaCCRA October Program

For many new residents, exactly where Collington is located is something of a mystery.  Mitchellville?  Bowie?  Whose local government do we fall under?  Do we have a mayor?  A school board?

The answer is we are not part of any of incorporated city or town with its own local government.  We live in an unincorporated part of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and are under the jurisdiction of the County government.

We are fortunate that one of our newer residents, Mary Godfrey, has lived here most of her life and worked for the County government in a number of important positions. At the October 24 meeting of the Collington chapter of MaCCRA (Maryland Continuing Care Residents Association) Mary Godfrey spoke of her long-term career in personnel as well as director of Parks and Recreation. Her talk covered the demographics of the county as well as the function and roles of the county executive, the council members, the elected offices and other 2018 ballot issues.

She stressed how important it was for Collington residents to stay informed so that they could vote in the general election in November 2018 and other elections that influence the Sixth District, where Collington is located. MaCCRA members have work to do!

Please join the Collington Chapter of MaCCRA. MaCCRA is the only organization which is solely dedicated to protecting and advancing the interests of residents of continuing care retirement communities through advocacy and education. Contact Charlotte Melichar at cmelichar@yahoo.com for information about the annual dues.

Contributed by Nadine Hathaway; Pictures by Pete Peterson

Collington MaCCRA Board

 

The Collington Silt Warriors

Wall Pic 3

Karen Boyce launched our reporting on the silt amelioration project with this photo and the below information about the group that is spearheading the work:

The Clean Water Partnership is a Public-Private Partnership (P3) between Prince George’s County and Corvias. The CWP is the first of its kind to design, build, finance, operate and maintain urban stormwater infrastructure to meet MS4 regulatory requirements and is committed to retrofit up to 4,000 impervious acres.

Please visit www.thecleanwaterpartnership.com to learn more about this innovative partnership.

So your investigative team, soil and water expert Jacob Kijne and I, wandered down and gathered more provisional information — and some more photos, about this important work.

The idea is that the incoming silt-laden water is slowed down by the rocks, and drops its load of silt into the area between the inlet and the rocks.  The rocks, by the way, are kept in “cages” of PVC coated cable, so the containers will not rot.  Every few years, the trapped silt can easily then be removed.  The rocks will be much less visible than now, since they should be largely covered by water one water is allowed back into the lake.

Obviously, we can not plant trees directly onto the rocks, but maybe we will be able to think of some ways that we can use the new feature as an opportunity.  Maybe we need a “Lake Group,” just like we have a “Courtyard Group.”  Time for some Collington creativity.  Part of the opportunity is to think about how we can apply the emerging goal and value themes of the strategic planning process to an exploration of the lake’s potential — boat trips for staff kids, sustaining our water?  Educational programs from our experts?  More ideas?  It is perfect that our new horticulturalist will be onboard soon and can help us think about the relationship between our values and our landscape resources.

More photos: