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New partnership for watershed restoration launched at Howard County Detention Center

April 20, 2016

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Lori Lilly, READY Program Manager, llilly@allianceforbay.org

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – An innovative partnership promoting water quality improvement and socioeconomic development celebrated the opening of a new native plant nursery in Howard County this week. Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY), a young adult workforce program, has partnered with the Howard County Department of Corrections to establish the nursery at the County’s detention center in Jessup.

“This is a win-win on so many levels. We are restoring the environment, developing youth and helping the inmates who have been approved for work release obtain skills and experience that will help reduce the recidivism rate. This is yet one more way we are providing an opportunity to grow a skill set that will help them when they return to the community,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Killleman. “And since these plants can be used by Howard County Government in many of our projects, we are making our community more sustainable.”

READY, administered by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is managing the garden with seed money from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The project will reduce READY’s need to purchase plants for installation and maintenance of stormwater facilities that move the County toward its federally mandated water quality goals.

While managed by READY, selected work release inmates will tend the garden. They will water, remove weeds, pot plants and monitor the health of plants once the nursery is actively producing.

“This innovative collaboration is a model initiative reflective of our dedication to both opportunity and our environment. It’s coordinated efforts like this that will be necessary in order for Howard County to not only meet our federal mandate but also save our environment for future generations and I’m grateful for this partnership,” said Howard County Council Chairperson Dr. Calvin Ball. “By working in this garden, detainees will gain a sense of pride in their work, learn valuable skills they can then market to employers upon their release, and become accustomed to managing work responsibilities. I believe this program will also help remove some of the barriers to reentry as inmates seek out a second chance upon release.”

The READY program, which started five years ago, is funded primarily by Howard County Government. The program, traditionally a summer-only workforce program, has expanded this year and now includes a year-round crew that builds and maintains environmental projects throughout the County.

"Plants are a very important part of the functional aspect of rain gardens and other stormwater best management practices. They absorb and transpire excess water, utilize nutrients, assist in chemical processing and, equally as important, make the stormwater management practices beautiful,” said READY Program Manager Lori Lilly. “Native plants in particular are lower maintenance, requiring less water because they are adapted to local conditions and help to improve our County’s Green Infrastructure Network by supporting pollinators and wildlife."

Video from this week’s news conference at the Howard County Detention Center can be viewed at www.facebook.com/HoCoGovExec/videos/1078746818852765/.

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