Living tribute, dying tributary Effort to preserve stream will brook no opposition

March 05, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

For now, the vandals and the careless are winning the battle of Towser's Branch. But seventh-graders at Arundel Middle School in Odenton hope to turn the tide with the help of the community.

Students have worked for the past four years to make the steam that runs just a few yards from their homes and school a place to study and picnic. They have plucked bottles and trash from its banks and pulled tires and debris from the water.

Each time, they have been forced to start again.

Flowers and shrubs planted by the students have been dug up by vandals, who also have written on wooden benches and set fire to two podiums that serve as part of an outdoor classroom.

The stream bank near the school has been denuded; most of the young trees were torn out or snapped off.

"If people keep going and throwing their trash out into Towser's Branch, it'll just look like a junkyard," said Kayla Broznowicz, 12. "No one knows how good it would look if it hadn't been vandalized."

Students hope community members will come forward with money, tools and supplies, or a helping hand to save the dying tributary of the Little Patuxent River. They will begin several projects at the end of the month.

"We want people to be aware that this is an area we're taking care of," said Don Counts, the enrichment teacher who coordinates most of the Towser's Branch projects for 25 students. "Students have been checking on the water quality, identifying the fish that live in the stream and the plants around the stream."

Amanda Ott, 12, and Tiffany Tiani, 13, will send letters to community organizations to inform them about projects that will:

Put down wood chips on muddy paths.

Plant flowers and shrubs along the banks to control erosion;

Repack eroded, dirt-filled steps with sand.

Kayla and Neelum Khattak plan to apply for a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to enable them to purchase plants and shrubs, but they say help from the community will make their job easier.

The two 12-year-olds are taking an inventory of plant life along the stream and planning where shrubs need to be.

The bay trust helped Doreen Koke, head of the school's science department, start the stream restoration efforts in 1992 with a $4,500 grant. The trust has awarded $1,000 grants in subsequent years.

Even with the setbacks caused by vandals, the students and their teachers feel they are making a difference.

"Four years ago, the stream was filthy and eroded and dirty," Ms. Koke said. "Now it's much cleaner, it flows faster, there's more fish and more wildlife."

Pub Date: 3/05/96

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