SHA plants thousands of trees to mitigate filter highway runoff

BALTIMORE - The State Highway Administration (SHA) is planting more than 55,000 trees in Carroll, Frederick and Howard counties as a part of Maryland's Reclaim the Bay.

The trees will act as natural filters to help reduce harmful nutrients that wash into waterways and finally into the Chesapeake Bay.

"Every acre of trees absorbs carbon dioxide equal to the amount emitted by a car driven 26,000 miles," said David Coyne, SHA District Engineer for Carroll, Frederick and Howard counties.

The planting sites along highway interchanges and grassy areas will not hinder visibility for drivers.

Each tree will help to slow water velocity from heavy rain, preventing stream bank and soil erosion. The trees will also absorb nutrients such as nitrogen that can enter the Chesapeake Bay and lead to "dead zones" where plants and animals cannot live due to low oxygen levels.

The water quality project is a part of the national Clean Water Act (CWA) that requires states to establish a list of impaired waters and develop projects to help reduce pollutants and nutrients from entering streams and tributaries.

The total cost for the tree plantings is approximately $2.2 million and should be completed by fall 2014.

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