Steward Spotlight: Molly LaChapelle


Molly LaChapelle, Class 7

Why did you become a Watershed Steward? I became a Watershed Steward because as a resident of Berrywood, I witnessed the degradation of Cattail Creek by upstream construction and storm water runoff. The Berrywood Community Association was searching for help to “fix” the creek. WSA is the agency that has the knowledge and network with DNR, MDE, AAC, CBT, Chesapeake Alliance and other organizations to make a project like this happen. The BCA sponsored my class registration fee.

How did you hear about WSA?  Many years ago a gentleman from the WSA first Stewards class came to see me at St John the Evangelist School. He lived on Cypress Creek and was working on a storm water project in the community behind the school. His project coordinated with the AAC Cypress Creek Restoration Project. I was Assistant Principal and he invited our students to participate in the project. They did and learned first-hand about rain gardens and the slow, store, seep concept. I also had contact with WSA when St John’s applied for Green School accreditation.

What was your capstone project?  My capstone project is still in process. My focus in attending the WSA class was to help restore Cattail Creek.  At the time, BCA Watershed Committee was organizing to write a CBT Grant application for design money for the “Berrywood Community Water Quality and Habitat Enhancement Project”. Suzanne approved my grant writing participation as my project.

Why is improving the waterways important to you? When my family moved to Berrywood years ago, my sons fished, explored for frogs, walked the shallow water for soft crabs, watched the water ‘dance’ during early spring yellow perch run to spawn upstream. The water used to be clear in the winter as soft bottom sediment would drop out before the tidal area near our house. That no longer occurs due to upstream construction and storm water runoff.  I want my Grandchildren to enjoy the water their fathers experienced.

What advice would you give to the Class 10 Candidates? Build the project on a strong foundation of support with the stakeholders. Be committed to stay the course because it may take longer to accomplish than projected.

How did the WSA course prepare you to lead the Berrywood project? WSA exposed me to all the resources available in the community to Stewards and communities for funding and project assistance. The course also introduced me to environmental techniques as well as project planning.

Five Easy Steps to Prepare Your Garden for Spring

Plan, Plan, Plan:  This is the time of year to walk around your property and take stock.  If you don’t have an existing a plat or landscape plan, start with a GIS map of your property.  You can create one using Anne Arundel County’s WPRP Interactive Mapping Application. Walk around your yard with your map and take notes about what you love, which parts need tweaking, and, especially, any trouble spots that need to be addressed.  You can use this annotated map as a jumping off point to create a year-long plan for your property. 

Buy Your Seeds:  It’s no coincidence that seed catalogs are clogging up mailboxes these days.  This is the perfect time to order them and start seeds inside.  If you don’t have a sunny window or room to use, try this outdoor winter sowing method.  Remember, seeds are cheap compared to live plants, so take this opportunity to experiment.

Repair Structures:  Take a look at any structures on your property, such as sheds, fences, and retaining walls, and make any necessary repairs or improvements.  Add those potting shelves you’ve been dreaming about, create a compost bin in an unused corner of your yard, or build a trellis for those peas you will soon be planting. 

Move Deciduous Shrubs:  If you have deciduous shrubs that are not doing well in their current locations, now is the time to make a move when they are dormant.  Choose a day that is calm so that the roots don’t dry out as you are transporting the shrub(s).  Make sure to dig shrubs with plenty of room so that you can take as much of the root structure as possible.  Remember to plant them at the same level as they were previously, and water them well. 

Clear Stormwater Practices:  Make sure to remove leaves and other debris from any stormwater practices that require it.  RainScaping structures such as rain gardens and swales must be clear of debris to allow stormwater to flow freely and soak in effectively. 


Steward Spotlight: Lara Mulvaney


Each month, WSA will highlight a Master Watershed Steward. This month, we're highlighting Lara Mulvaney, Class 1 Steward and former WSA staff member.

Capstone project: Rain garden installation at a private residence

Why did you become a Master Watershed Steward?

I became a Master Watershed Steward because I wanted to take a more active role in improving the environment. I recently moved to Anne Arundel County rom out of state and was looking to get more involved. WSA was starting up its first class back then, and it looked like a great way to get started. I’m so glad I did because not only can I be a community resource person, but I am part of an amazing family of like-minded people.


How did you hear about WSA?

I first heard about WSA from talking with someone at South River Federation, where I had been volunteering doing water quality monitoring. I then inquired with Suzanne while chaperoning a 5th grade field trip to Arlington Echo with my daughter Hannah. The rest is history!

Why is restoring the waterways important to you?

The connectedness of the watershed is something I have a long history with and something I am compelled to improve. As a child, I walked down the steams in my neighborhood often. As a tween, I took a canoe down the stream and all the way to the Hudson River. When I moved to Anne Arundel County, I found myself following the stream in my back yard all the way to the South River. I want my river to be healthy for fishing, swimming and living…for all creatures.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the certification course?

Man, I had no idea how much water could be generated even in a one inch storm. 623 gallons will stick with me forever.

How have you used the knowledge gained from the WSA course since graduation?

I think I have passed on a significant amount of knowledge to neighbors, friends, family and the public. I have been able to use the knowledge and my relationships to help coordinate many small restoration projects and outreach events over the years.

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What was your favorite project you worked on after becoming a Master Watershed Steward?

Since 2012, I’ve planned a tree planting or conservation landscape in my neighborhood on an annual basis. Every one of these is a favorite, because it makes me feel great to work alongside neighbors doing something good!

The other favorite is more dramatic…I think it was about 2011 when I worked alongside many volunteers at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis to prepare for a new rain garden. My friend Sarah, who was an engineer, organized the project. We volunteers removed something like 500 sq. ft. of gravel from the parking lot that had previously been covered with asphalt. The resulting rain garden was so much more functional and beautiful…the hard work was very rewarding.