Thursday, April 07, 2011

Earth Month 2011: The Oaks Landfill and... birds!

Posted as part of our Earth Month 2011 "GoGreen News and Tips" series...
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The Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville, MD, received about 7 million tons of trash during its 15 years of operation. It closed in 1997. Today, the landfill is a favorite destination for… birders!

The site’s nearly 545 acres of diverse habitat, with its two large storm water ponds, make it attractive to a variety of birds. Birdwatchers love to come out for the chance to spot rare birds, especially during the spring and fall migration periods. It’s not uncommon for them to find new birds to add to their “Life List” of all the species they have ever seen. See some of the birds spotted by participants on a walk this past winter.

While there are trees on the site, you won’t find any growing on the areas used to store waste. When the landfill was closed, it was carefully “capped” with layers of soil and geomembrane. The cap keeps trash in and surface water out. The lush brush layer which has developed on it is good bird habitat. Because their roots can cause problems, trees are removed if they start growing over the cap area.

Unfortunately, invasive plants have found their way to the Oaks, too. With their arrival, the numbers of bird species have decreased. Volunteers are helping us to keep these plants in check. They are also our partners in studying relationships between bird diversity and habitat.

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