Longwell Run and the Exxon Valdez Carroll County: Westminster stream benefits from Alaska oil spill fund.

March 25, 1997

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED over the past few years for Longwell Run, the tiny stream that meanders through the eastern part of Westminster along Railroad Avenue before reaching the Patapsco River.

For a decade, protection of that creek from chemical pollution and refuse dumping was the singular obsession of private citizen Monroe G. Haines, who walked the stream almost daily to look for signs of deterioration. He inspired formation of a volunteer task force four years ago, which then pressed for government action. That led to authorization of a $600,000 cleanup plan with federal, state and county money.

This month, word came that Longwell Run is to get a $12,000 grant from a fund created as part of a claims settlement of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska.

The Carroll County project was one of three in Maryland chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency to receive fund money to repair stream banks and stem erosion.

The award will be used to plant trees and natural vegetation as stream runoff buffers along a section of Longwell as part of the overall restoration plan, which includes construction of a small dam, storm water management controls and wetlands stabilization.

More important is the wider recognition of the shallow rivulet as a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, one that has suffered from decades of uncontrolled erosion, dumping and general neglect. Longwell Run was selected by EPA from some 200 nationwide applications for the grant.

The money is left from a fund for cleanup of shoreline and beach in Prince William Sound, Alaska, where the tanker's grounding caused the nation's worst oil spill. The small, one-time grants are earmarked to aid ongoing local restoration projects. The Exxon fund will also pay for reforesting 50 acres of watershed along the Anacostia River in Montgomery County and for streamside buffers of the Little Paint Branch in Prince George's County.

The Longwell Run project is in the third year of a five-year restoration plan. Local officials note that the work has proceeded quietly for the most part. This is a chance to celebrate that work, and the environmental revitalization of this urban stream.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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