Working Together for a Healthy Environment


Working Together for a Healthy Environment 

Article by Janette Rosenbaum, Chairperson of The Environmental Affairs Committee 

If you live, work, study or play in Gaithersburg, the Environmental Affairs Committee is advocating for you. We are the official group that advises the mayor and council on environmental challenges and opportunities to ensure that everyone in Gaithersburg can enjoy a healthy environment. 

Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee pictured above   

As we start a new year, we invite everyone to get involved in six key initiatives for 2024.

First, we are working with the City to create and implement a climate action plan. Montgomery County already has a climate action plan, as do our neighboring cities of Rockville and Takoma Park. A climate action plan helps a community reduce its contribution to the climate emergency while also becoming more resilient against climate impacts. Key elements of the plan will include more efficient buildings and more sustainable transportation options – changes that make our homes more comfortable and our commutes more pleasant, along with reducing our emissions

Picture above shows a tree planting and is courtesy of 

 The climate action plan will also include planting more trees, as well as protecting the trees we already have. Gaithersburg currently has the least tree canopy of the communities in Montgomery County – even NIST, in the center of our city, has more tree cover. We know we can do as well as our neighbors on stewarding our urban forest to absorb carbon, soak up stormwater, and provide a critical buffer against heat. In addition to being a component of the climate action plan, securing stronger protections for trees and forests is a top priority for Gaithersburg in 2024.

In order to protect our forests, we need to help them fight back against non-native invasive plants. Exotic plants like oriental bittersweet, porcelain berry, and Japanese stiltgrass are overrunning our natural areas while not providing the same benefits as the native plants that should be in those spaces. A management plan can help restore oak trees, American holly, orange coneflower, and other authentic natives of our Mid-Atlantic region. Creating this plan is the Environmental Affairs Committee’s third objective for the coming year.

Photo above is courtesy of 

While Gaithersburg is doing worse than our neighbors on tree preservation, we are doing better on implementing smart salting practices. We are using barely a third as much road salt as Rockville and less than half of what is being spread on county roads – but that is still two to three times as much as best practices call for. The extra salt does not melt snow and ice any faster; it only runs off into our streams, where it poisons aquatic creatures, corrodes pipes and other infrastructure, and contaminates our drinking water. Gaithersburg is making progress towards using just the right amount of salt, and the Environmental Affairs Committee will be working this year to help the City close the remaining gap.

In 2023, the Environmental Affairs Committee conducted a survey to find out whether Gaithersburg residents feel that everyone in our city has equal access to clean air, water, and land. In 2024, we’ll take action on the results of that survey to make sure our whole community can enjoy convenient public transportation, neighborhoods free from litter and illegal dumping, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and other environmental benefits.

Picture sourced from 

Finally, after organizing successful Fix-It Fairs in 2022 and 2023, the Environmental Affairs Committee will host two more in 2024. At these events, you can bring broken items like lamps, jewelry, and textiles, and volunteer fixers will restore them to working order. The service is free and helps you continue to use items you love. Watch for announcements about the Fix-It Fairs and how to sign up for a time slot.

These initiatives are possible because of the volunteer members of the Environmental Affairs Committee and support from people like you. If you would like to be a leader of these initiatives, you can join the committee by sending a resume and letter of interest to If one initiative in particular excites you, you can join a workgroup for that project. Email for more information. 


With your help, people and the environment can thrive together in Gaithersburg. Make a resolution to get involved in environmental action in 2024!

Janette Rosenbaum is the chair of the Gaithersburg Environmental Affairs Committee.

(Images other than committee members inserted by editor)

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