Heartened by volunteer efforts to help restore Little Pipe Creek near Union Bridge, a group of Carroll residents is joining forces to protect the county's other 600 miles of streams.
Called The Friends of Carroll County Streams, the group's plans include restoration projects and education. Organizers said the group also might play an advocacy role in county environmental issues.
The group will hold its first public meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Bear Branch Nature Center near Westminster.
A crew of 100 volunteers helped plant trees along Little Pipe Creek, part of a much larger effort to restore the quality of the streamand reconfigure it to its original meandering route.
Their enthusiasm to improve stream quality was so strong after that November outing, a group of them decided to expand the effort across the county.
"I was just delighted and astonished, frankly, that so many people turned out," said Sher Horosko, a Westminster resident and one of the founders.
Horosko said the group would look to organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for expert counsel and project funding. It also hopes to get support from the county.
"It's not often we have folks up this way that have this interest," said Neil Ridgely, citizens advisory committee coordinator for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. "There's a lot of new faces and enthusiasm that we haven't seen around these parts in a long, long time."
In September, the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a comprehensive study of the state's small and medium-size streams. It found almost half of them were in poor health and that the rest show signs of ecosystem stress.
Development was fingered as the biggest cause of stream degradation. Impervious surfaces, such as roads, driveways and parking lots, increase the runoff that can wash away stream banks and destroy animal habitat.
"The largest single impact is certainly impervious surface," said Paul Kazyak, a Carroll County resident who runs the statewide stream survey for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Kazyak said the DNR is working on a stream report specific to Carroll County.
The group plans to determine its first restoration project at tomorrow's meeting. It will also hear a presentation about the impact of development on streams, and the keys to establishing a successful organization.
Bear Branch Nature Center is at 310 John Owings Road, off Route 97 North, outside Westminster. Information: 410-848-8015.