Spring Will Have a Certain Lift for Friends of The Jones Falls

The FTJF Board has just approved funding from member contributions of a pilot mapping project that will use a drone to create 2-D photographic maps and video footage of a sample portion of the Jones Falls floodway. The maps
and clips will be turned into a baseline set of data about the extent and effectiveness of clean-up, invasive-removal and restoration projects. This data set can then be used to measure and compare with future mapping projects.

Incidentally, you’re right that it’s critical this drone camera work be launched and completed before trees begin to leaf out again.

Katie O’Meara, professor of architectural design at MICA, will use the funding to hire a qualified intern to assist her with the work.

An update about this innovative project will be featured in our Summer or Fall newsletter issue.

Good Deeds Day: Stream Clean Up

Saturday, April 11 | 12:00 pm

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Join us on Good Deeds Day Sunday, April 11th at 12:00 PM for a stream clean-up with the Friends Of The Jones Falls. We will work together to pick up trash and remove invasive species from the area. We will gather in the parking lot of Union Craft Brewery and then walk to the location of the clean-up. If you need any accommodations to make this event accessible to you, please reach out to Harry at harry.marek@werepair.org. 

Intro to Bay-Wise Gardening and Invasives

Thursday, April 8 | 12:00 pm | Free

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The Friends of The Jones Falls is hosting special virtual presentation to get you buzzing for spring gardening, and the start of our Jones Falls cleanups! Consider making a donation to the Friends of The Jones Falls to support programs like this and initiatives that steward the Jones Falls watershed.

You’ll learn about the top 10 alien invasives afflicting the Jones Falls watershed and how to spot and eradicate them.

We will be joined by master gardener Debbie Swartz. Debbie co-chairs the Bay Wise Master Gardening program in Baltimore City through the University of Maryland Extension, and coordinates the Bay-Wise Maryland Yard Stick — the rating system for how gardens and landscapes benefit local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

Books recommended are: Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed (free download) Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas W. Tallamy (updated and expanded version); Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer; The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, by Peter Wohlleben; Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines by William Cullina.

“The Falls” – A Poem

The author Tanaira Cullens

I grew up in Baltimore and though I was an outdoorsy child, I must admit that in my youth I believed the Jones Falls was just the name of an expressway. Having done more exploration, trail navigation and sightseeing as I’ve gotten older, I realize the Jones Falls is really a hidden gem. While it can be missed by those whizzing by in a vehicle, its charms are best captured when observing it while on foot. I’ve captured my thoughts in a poem below, titled “The Falls.”

Water rushing, leaves rustling 
A siren wails in the air. 
Your charms hidden away from plain view, 
But when found, one must stop and stare.  
With exposed rock and variable drops, 
your waters dance with ease. 
For biker, runner, paddler and walker, 
your babbling aims to please.  
Whether tunnels graced with graffiti  
or bedrock marred with time, 
your lapping never ceases 
to take a chance and wind. 
Around and over and under you go, 
your flood waters are respected by all.  
In Baltimore there can only be,  
one place we call “The Jones Falls.”   
Aside forested buffer and channeled concrete, 
you greet the city lover.  
Tis recognized there is no other
and so your praise, we must usher.  

By Tanaira Cullens. Tanaira serves as Board Secretary for the Friends of The Jones Falls. She works as an environmental scientist for Biohabitats and lives in Loch Raven.

President’s Letter

Since incorporating in July 2018, the Friends of The Jones Falls (FTJF) has demonstrated the critical need for a new organization to support and sustain the quality of life and long-term stewardship of the Jones Falls from the headwaters in Baltimore County to the Inner Harbor.

In our first year we won a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to partner with Union Collective on a green infrastructure master plan for its property. This grant is a testament to our incredible Board of Directors—the expertise and resources they bring to the sustainability of The Jones Falls. An accompanying post describes the project and includes a link to the Master Plan. We seek more of this kind of stormwater mitigation work so please be on the lookout!

I’d also welcome hearing from you about if you’d interested in joining one of our three dedicated committees serving as the FTJF workforce: 

  • Communications:  Nathan Dennies & Doug Bothner, Co-chairs 
  • Stewardship:  David Goldman & Chris Attenborough, Co-Chairs
  • Land Use:  Marian Glebes & Nick Lindow, Co-Chairs 

COVID-19 has severely impacted FTJF clean-up projects and planting activities in cooperation with Blue Water Baltimore, but we look forward to re-starting projects all along the Jones Falls in 2021.

Meanwhile, if you’ve already become a member of FTJF, we’re glad for your support. If you haven’t yet signed up, please read the accompanying post by member MTO of Eager Park.

All the best, 

Sandy Sparks, President    
410-980-5844
srsparks@verizon.net

What We’ve Been Up To and Where We’re Headed

The Friends of The Jones Falls [FTJF] is a volunteer-based organization incorporated to support and sustain the quality of life and long-term stewardship of the Jones Falls Watershed. As per its mission, our Board of local leaders engages communities and property owners located in the Watershed to preserve, protect, enhance, and conserve its environmental integrity while promoting sustainable development from the Inner Harbor to its headwaters near Caves Rd. in Baltimore County.

What We’ve Been Up To

Our first major project is partnering with the owners of Union Collective on a Green Infrastructure Master Plan for its property which includes the former 155,000 sq. ft. Sears Warehouse on 10.5 acres at the banks of the Jones Falls—now housing Union Craft Brewing Co. and a number of inviting shops in its Baltimore City neighborhood of Medfield, adjacent to Woodberry and Hampden. Earlier this year FTJF was awarded a $49,595 grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to seed project design.

The property is located in an area near many homes and other businesses that are at high risk of flooding, not to mention pollutants running off into the Jones Falls river. With severe flood events occurring on an increasingly regular basis, stormwater remediation projects along the Jones Falls are a high priority for our organization.

The project is being completed in partnership with Union Collective ownership. It’s being managed by Ashley Traut, of Gaiacene Services LLC, and includes professional services by CityScape Engineering and the landscape design firm Rain Underground, LLC. The design team is exploring a number of proven green infrastructure solutions such as a large, constructed native meadow, bioretention systems, green roofs, cisterns and many new native trees and other plants. Also being explored are opportunities for making the Union Collective property as inviting and accessible as possible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic from the surrounding neighborhoods, and from the nearby light rail station. New connector trails and pathways are planned.

While the project timeline has been stretched due to COVID-19, masterplan design work has been completed and engineering site analysis and design have begun to further develop the various stormwater infrastructure needs of the project.

View The Master Plan

Executing another element of the FTJF mission, we strongly advocate for designating the Woodberry neighborhood a Local Historic District in Baltimore City which passed into law earlier this year. Stewardship of the Jones Falls includes preserving its rich history, and neighborhoods like Woodberry represent the most intact urban mill villages in the country.

Where We’re Headed

The highly visible Union Collective site along the Jones Falls Expressway and the river will surely benchmark visionary stormwater and flood resiliency infrastructure design and implementation in Baltimore City and County. What’s more, it’ll set the standard for private owners along the Jones Falls in supporting similar, critically needed solutions to Watershed degradation and contaminated waterways. So, please help us connect with those property owners near the Jones Falls that have solvable stormwater issues.

Next spring, we plan to again ramp up our volunteer stream cleanup program. A tool shed is being erected at Union Collective that will provide FTJF member communities with materials needed for successful stream cleanups.

Much of what we’re doing is bringing stakeholders together to support efforts benefitting the Watershed, both as to remediation and sustainable redevelopment/development. It takes a community to move these important projects forward and to steward a healthier Jones Falls Watershed now and for future generations.

What More You Can Do

Please contact our Communications team if you’d like to become more involved in Friends of The Jones Falls. For your friends, please alert them to our mission by recommending they check out our website, follow us on our Facebook page and engage with us. Thanks!

Nathan Dennies – ndennies@gmail.com
Dick Williams – dwgreenassoc@gmail.com

Member Post – Why I Support Friends of The Jones Falls

With social distancing a priority, is there a better urban resource during a pandemic than our shared outdoor spaces such as parks and local trails?

In these unprecedented times, the Jones Falls Trail is a particularly strong (and free) community asset for exercise and mental health rejuvenation. The Trail features segments that are drenched in nature and enable users to forget they are still in the City. Even for the most experienced hikers and bikers, the newly completed portion of the Jones Falls Trail east down Rogers Avenue from Northwest Park is unique and consists of an elevated, winding boardwalk through the hillside woods. Other notable landmarks of the Trail include the Cylburn Arboretum, the Maryland Zoo, Druid Hill Park, and the Inner Harbor all connected by just enough urbanization to give the day-tripper a taste of Baltimore’s gritty, industrial past while providing context of its modern progress.

For a biker, the switchbacks and gradual, fast downhill curves going south from the Arboretum to Druid Hill Park inspire child-like joy that is sure to make the rider feel ten years younger. For a real biking treat, take advantage of the natural elevation gradient and public transportation by following the Trail and water south to the Harbor from the public parking lot off Kelly Avenue, then return from the Convention Center on the light rail (bikes allowed, masks required) and disembark at the Mount Washington Station where local restaurants offer copious post-ride, outdoor sustenance and libation.

I’ve recently come upon a non-profit advocacy group, Friends of The Jones Falls, whose volunteers remediate litter and invasive species, plant trees along the Jones Falls, and sponsor important green infrastructure projects such as the one at Union Collective in the Medfield neighborhood. Will you join me in supporting the Friends of The Jones Falls various worthy efforts by making a membership contribution?

-MTO
Eager Park Neighborhood

The Friends of The Jones Falls Joins BALTIMORE • Blue+Green+Just and the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition

Baltimore, MD (February 8, 2020) – The Friends of The Jones Falls Board of Directors voted unanimously to join two likeminded organizations with a stake in the health of the Jones Falls watershed: BALTIMORE • Blue+Green+Just and the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition.

BALTIMORE • Blue+Green+Just is an alliance of environmentally-minded nonprofits and community activists that hold a common vision for health, safety and prosperity for all Baltimoreans in this new epoch of climate emergency. As part of this critical advocacy, they are hosting the Mayoral Candidates Environment and Equity Forum on February 24 at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church at 5:30 pm.

The Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition is a coalition of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working through a collective impact model to connect people to greenspaces through the four pillars of equity, discovery, biodiversity, and resilience.

By joining these two important organizations, the Friends of The Jones Falls is supporting its mission to engage communities of the Jones Falls Watershed to preserve, protect, enhance, and conserve the environmental integrity while promoting sustainable development of the Jones Falls and its watershed.

[Press Release] Friends of The Jones Falls and Union Collective Awarded $50k Grant For Green Infrastructure

Baltimore, MD (February 4, 2020) – The Friends of The Jones Falls and UNION Collective, the business and manufacturing hub located in the Medfield neighborhood of Baltimore City, have been awarded a $49,595 grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to develop a green infrastructure master plan for its formerly industrial property located along the banks of the Jones Falls. The initial design phase is expected to begin within the next six weeks.

The grant application was prepared in partnership with the recently formed Friends of The Jones Falls, and with the Central Baltimore Partnership as their Fiscal Sponsor.

Opportunities that the design team plans to explore with the Union Collective tenants, patrons, and other stakeholders include a large, native meadow, several bioretention systems, green roofs, and trees. The group will also explore opportunities for making the Union Collective property as inviting and accessible as possible to pedestrian and bicycle traffic from the surrounding neighborhoods and from the nearby light rail station.

“This project is just the start of improving the relationship that the Union Collective site has with environmental sustainability, engagement, and connectivity with the community that surrounds us here,” says Chris Attenborough, Union Craft Brewing’s General Manager and Project Manager for Union Collective. “We hope it will also encourage similar projects along the Jones Falls Valley, connecting more urban open space for everyone in Baltimore.”

The Friends of the Jones Falls is a volunteer-based organization incorporated to support and sustain the quality of life and long-term stewardship of the Jones Falls. Its board of local leaders engage communities of the Jones Falls Watershed to preserve, protect, enhance, and conserve its environmental integrity while promoting sustainable development of the watershed. With severe flood events occurring on an increasingly regular basis, stormwater restoration projects along the Jones Falls are a high priority for the group. “The highly visible Union Collective site along the Jones Falls Expressway will serve as a visionary stormwater and flood resiliency infrastructure design for the City,” said Sandy Sparks, President of the Friends of The Jones Falls. “This IWIF project sets the standard for private partners along the Jones Falls to support critically needed solutions that support the whole watershed from the Inner Harbor to Baltimore County.”

The design efforts for the project will be managed by Ashley Traut, a Holistic Sustainability Consultant at Gaiacene Services LLC who has over a decade of experience facilitating green infrastructure projects in Baltimore.

Friends of The Jones Falls Letter of Support for the Woodberry Local Historic District

Dear Mr. Liebel.

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of The Jones Falls to express our strong support for the proposed Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) local historic district designation for Woodberry. 

The Friends of The Jones Falls stands with the many community members who have shown and continue to show support for the full boundaries of the district as presented at the first hearing. 

Woodberry is a special place worthy of preservation, from the original mill village developed on Clipper Road in the 1840s, to the booming industrial center it became in the late 19th century, and to its tremendous role during the efforts of both World Wars. Remarkably, the neighborhood’s historic fabric has remained intact and remains integral to the community’s identity today. It had an outsized role in Baltimore’s industrial history, a story that can still be seen and felt walking through the neighborhood today. Woodberry is to Maryland what Lowell is to Massachusetts. 

The Friends of The Jones Falls supports the Woodberry CHAP District because we support sustainable development that is in keeping with the historic character of the neighborhood. Woodberry deserves to be protected and the community deserves to have a voice about the future of the neighborhood. 

Sincerely,

Sandy Sparks, President
Friends of The Jones Falls