In passing, a life devoted to conservation

Michael Beer, advocate for Baltimore's streams -- and a green roof

  • A touch of green on the roof of Roland Park Place, where Michael Beer, founder of Jones Falls Watershed Association, spent his final years. He pressed for installation of the pollution-absorbing green roof.
A touch of green on the roof of Roland Park Place, where Michael… (Brigid Forney )
August 27, 2014|By Tim Wheeler | The Baltimore Sun

For some people, environmentalism is a lifelong passion. That would be true of Michael Beer, retired biophysics professor at Johns Hopkins University, who died Friday at age 88. 

He was devoted to protecting and restoring the Jones Falls, the stream that runs through the heart of Baltimore, as well as one of its most popular tributaries, Stony Run. Rallying others to his cause, he founded the Jones Falls Watershed Association, which later merged with other stream watchdog groups to become Blue Water Baltimore.

Even late in life, his environmental advocacy never wavered. As a resident of Roland Park Place, he successfully pressed management of the continuing-care retirement community to put in a 7,000-square-foot green roof. With plantings of grasses and sedum just finished this summer, the roof insulates the dining room below and helps reduce storm-water runoff, one of the sources of pollution to his beloved Stony Run.

Through a publicist for Roland Park Place, Dr. Beer invited me to come see the new green roof. I regret I never found the time, if only to visit with him once more. But his remarks in a press release about the installation strike me as a fitting tribute:

"Aside from all of its other obvious traditional green benefits, this cause will nurture Baltimore's tributaries in the long run and benefit families and children in this city for generations to come."

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