Montgomery Parks Celebrates Friends of Sligo Creek’s 20th Anniversary

by MCS Staff

Per Montgomery Parks: Montgomery Parks recognizes the Friends of Sligo Creek — a non-profit community organization that has dedicated the past 20 years to protect the health of the eight-mile-long tributary, which feeds into the Anacostia River.

The group’s mission is to protect and steward the creek by monitoring water quality, informing the public about the creek’s health, educating communities about upcoming projects and documenting the creek’s natural history as well as wildlife. They also prioritize removing invasive plants from the creek’s gulley and nearby areas and restoring the creek with native plants afterward. “The Friends of Sligo Creek are simply leaders in what they do. Their stewardship consistently shows us what’s possible when a community with a clear goal in mind comes together and focuses on what’s literally in their back yard,” Lynn Vismara, senior volunteer services and partnerships coordinator, said.

“They started their group before it was ‘cool’ and continue to show other watershed groups how it’s done. As the name says, the Friends truly are friends to Sligo and Montgomery Parks, and we look forward to continuing our relationship in the years to come,” Vismara said. Edward Murtagh, a founding member of the group, along with a few dozen other members established the group in 2002. Today, the Friends of Sligo Creek has around 1,800 members.

Murtagh recalled one of the first times he swept Sligo Creek for garbage: “To me, it was just astounding how much trash we pulled out of the park. It was just unbelievable. I mean, I know I pulled out myself like six bicycles, tires, just dozens of bags of trash.” In its 20 years, the group has dedicated about 30,000 hours to creek stewardship. Murtagh said he has witnessed many changes for the better, such as the public’s growing understanding of how to care for the environment and the steady improvement of the creek’s water quality, which he said still requires attention as the tributary could appear “trashy” to an unfamiliar eye.

Sligo Creek begins in Wheaton, flowing for over eight miles before reaching Hyattsville. From there the water runs into the Anacostia River, making its way to the Potomac River and then finally into the Chesapeake Bay. Sligo Creek is the most urbanized sub-watershed within Maryland’s Anacostia watershed, with just 15% left undeveloped, according to the Friends of Sligo Creek’s website. The group is comprised mainly of volunteers who are trained to lead nature walks, birding trips, and conduct outreach events. They also actively keep each other up to date on the latest local and global environmental news.

To learn more about the group, including volunteering opportunities, Montgomery Parks’ Weed Warriors Volunteer Program and the annual Sweep the Creek event, visit The Friends of Sligo Creek’s website.

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