Maryland Department of the EnvironmentMedia ContactsRobert Ballinger(410) 537-3012Kim Lamphier(410) 537-3003
Baltimore, Maryland February 18, 2009 - The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Volunteer Maryland, an AmeriCorps program of the Governor’s Office, are recruiting volunteers for an innovative program to prevent sediment runoff pollution. The Volunteer Enforcement Corps is MDE’s first long-term volunteer program to focus attention on a region-wide environmental need: the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s waterways. MDE is seeking talented, energetic students and citizens with an interest in helping to preserve Maryland’s waterways to volunteer.“This program provides a unique opportunity for participants to protect the Chesapeake Bay by helping MDE to assess stormwater information,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “We look forward to great results from our volunteers.” Volunteer Enforcement Corps participants will work with MDE to prevent sediment pollution caused by stormwater runoff, one of the major contributors to the degradation of Maryland’s waterways. Corps volunteers will audit construction site inspection logs, required under MDE’s General Permit for Stormwater Discharge Associated with Construction Activities, to help MDE identify matters that require further review.The program is using Google Earth to combine multiple static, two-dimensional data sources and produce an easy-to-interpret, colorful, and interactive way of displaying data that ties all of the sources together in one easily accessible location. This will turn a time and resource intensive task into a streamlined process allowing for swift enforcement action and remediation of any pollution. Reductions in sediment pollution will help to improve Maryland’s waterways for people and for native wildlife, including the iconic blue crab.The Volunteer Maryland Coordinator and MDE are building partnerships with local high schools and colleges so that students who are interested in helping MDE can use their time spent volunteering with MDE to fulfill their schools’ service requirements. “The volunteer program is an exciting opportunity for Maryland citizens to work with their government and to better understand how their government works for them,” said Michael Nealis, Volunteer Maryland Coordinator. “It gives citizens an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the preservation of their environment both in the short-term and long-term.”Funding to support development of this program was provided by the Keith Campbell Foundation.For more information visit www.mde.state.md.us/CitizensInfoCenter/Volunteering/vec.asp or contact Michael Nealis at 410-537-4480.
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