Dorsey's Search may be home to new environmental foundation Nonprofit would rely on donations WEST COLUMBIA

September 29, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Dorsey's Search village is creating a nonprofit environmental foundation that would use donations to improve and maintain the community's abundant natural resources and open-space areas.

Donations from individuals or businesses would be used for planting and landscaping projects, shoring up eroding stream banks, creating recreational opportunities, developing environmental education activities and maintaining work that has been done, said village board member Dan Bucks, who came up with the idea.

"There are major portions of open space for which there is a potential for more extensive landscaping that would require some continuing source of maintenance and upkeep," said Mr. Bucks. "It's just not possible to expect the Columbia Association or the county, with limited resources, to provide maintenance funds."

Village officials are seeking an attorney with expertise in nonprofit corporations to help them establish the foundation and register it with the Internal Revenue Service.

The easiest way to establish credibility as a community group is to apply for nonprofit designation through the IRS, said Rick Leader, assistant director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which granted the village $1,000 last year for a planting and erosion-control project. Incorporated groups are more likely to receive larger grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust than nonincorporated ones, he said.

The Little Patuxent River and several of its tributaries run through Dorsey's Search. The village has two networks of paths -- Plumtree and Gwynn Acres -- that meander along streams, woods, wetlands and open-space areas, and is home to a beaver population and other wildlife.

"We're lucky with what we've got here," said village Manager Anne Darrin. "We want to keep it. The paths are quite beautiful."

The village has been successful in recruiting volunteers and obtaining donations and grants for projects to clean up and revegetate natural areas, say village officials. An environmental foundation could build on those efforts, they say.

Mr. Bucks said his goal would be to form partnerships with businesses that have an interest in preserving the natural areas, such as utility and petroleum companies that own easements, landscaping firms, nurseries and home improvement contractors. The village also would work with CA and county government, both of which own land in the village, he said.

He envisions using donations to educate residents in the village's "unique open-space characteristics," changes taking place in habitats and the interaction between humans and wildlife.

"Most folks are enthralled with the beaver, but a few want to do the beaver in," Mr. Bucks said. "We need information on what our nonhuman neighbors are doing and why they're there."

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