Summer Sustainability Highlights at CA
Guest Post by Natalie Yee, Environmental Program Manager
It’s been a summer of sustainability at CA! Here’s just a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work our Open Space team puts in to make this summer a great one for the community.💚💙
Getting all 23 outdoor pools ready for opening day and maintaining them throughout the summer requires significant collaboration between the Aquatics and Open Space team.
The preparation and planning behind Lakefront Live🎉 is a year-round job for CA’s Open Space team, and summer is when we get to see their efforts shine! CA Special Projects Foreman Rene Ordonez and his team help ensure that 60 nights of free entertainment runs smoothly, handling everything from coordinating with community partners to event set-up and breakdown.
It was great to see CA’s commitment to planting and nurturing pollinator gardens in open space pay off in early July, with a sighting of the Golden northern bumble bee. Listed as “threatened and vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, this bee was spotted foraging on scarlet bee-balm in the pollinator garden below Wilde Lake Dam.
More than 50,000 people came together at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront to celebrate July 4th at CA’s annual event (co-hosted with Howard County Parks & Rec). As soon as the fireworks were over, CA’s Open Space team was on the job to make it look like nothing ever happened at the Lakefront!
CA is committed to removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native species to help our ecosystem thrive. We recently replaced miscanthus with a native wildflower mix near Lake Elkhorn. 😍
Bamboo removal is another component of CA’s invasive plant management strategy. Throughout the summer, Open Space revisited “in-progress” bamboo control sites to address regrowth and replace with native plants, including this site at Swansfield Neighborhood Center.
This summer marks the end of an era: The last liquid petroleum tank is being replaced with a new high-efficiency heat pump at Huntington Pool. Once this is complete, all 23 outdoor pools will be heated with this electric option, which is more energy-efficient.
The Open Space team recently installed new a bioretention facility below Bird Song Pass in Hickory Ridge. Bioretention facilities are one way that our Open Space team manages stormwater runoff — which is super important for protecting our local ecosystem.
In July, we were honored that Onlyinyourstate.com recognized Wilde Lake as one of the best places in Maryland for summer wildflowers. Our Open Space team takes pride in keeping these wildflowers thriving, high temperatures and all.🌼🌸🌾
Our Open Space team loves partnering with local organizations (and individuals) who are interested in volunteering. We had a great time doing a trash clean-up with the awesome people at Lotame this summer!
The Adopt-a-Spot program continued to thrive this summer, thanks to the efforts of our awesome Weed Warriors. Our Open Space team was thrilled to see the dedication from our volunteers to remove non-native invasive plants and replace them with native plants.
Our annual Hooked on Fishing events were a major highlight! CA and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources partnered with multiple community associations to co-host free fishing tutorials for kids ages 8-15 at various spots across CA open space.