Communities in Maryland have been awarded portions of a $1 million grant to support infrastructure projects such as improving local waterway health and increasing green space in urban areas. Environmental advocates said it can help improve quality of life.

The Chesapeake Bay Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant was awarded to 13 projects across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Jana Davis, president of Chesapeake Bay Trust, a Maryland-based partner in the grant, said a lot of the awarded communities will use the funds for stormwater runoff control, which can address flooding.

“It encourages water to soak into the ground instead of flooding local streets,” Davis explained. “Getting water to flow through the ground and get filtered helps clean the water so that when it enters natural systems it’s cleaner than rolling off the surface of a parking lot where it picks up pollutants and goes right into the local stream or bay.”

Stormwater management projects include green roofs and vertical rain gardens. Maryland recipients include community organizations in Baltimore, Mount Rainier, Preston, and Columbia. The towns of Emmitsburg, Galena, Glen Echo, and Millington also received a share of the grant.

The grant is supported in part by the Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. It also will help local communities increase the amount of green space, such as tree canopies and conservation meadows.

Davis argued every community should have green space within walking distance of all residents.

“It’s so important to have an oasis that’s green, that provides both a beautiful space to spend time,” Davis contended. “But also a place where air quality is locally just a little bit better, where there’s shade and where community amenities can be found, whether it’s a park bench or a water feature.”

Research has shown tree canopies and urban forests can help cities retain stormwater, provide habitat for animals, reduce summer temperatures and store greenhouse gases. Increasing tree canopies is a goal of cities such as Baltimore. Officials want to get the city to 40% canopy coverage by 2037.

Emily Scott is a reporter and producer in Philadelphia. She previously worked at WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and is a 2018 graduate of Temple University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

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