The 2nd Annual Volksmarch on Saturday, Oct. 12 highlighted a beautiful natural resource in our neighborhood. On the sunny and crisp fall day, 118 people walked the Muddy Branch Trail that partially meanders through Lakelands.
Sponsored by the Muddy Branch Alliance, a local watershed non-profit organization, in partnership with the City of Gaithersburg, AstraZeneca and Seneca Valley Sugarloafers Volksmarch Club, this non-competitive 5K and 10K free walk was organized as a way to highlight the miles of naturally preserved nature trails that lie next to the Muddy Branch stream flowing next to the homes and throughout neighborhoods in Gaithersburg.
The Muddy Branch Alliance (MBA), led by Vice President Bridget Ryder (Kentlands resident) and President Tracy Rouleau, (Lakelands resident), has made great strides to bring awareness and volunteers to the Muddy Branch. This important stream flows into the Potomac, a source of Gaithersburg’s drinking water. In addition to organizing the Volksmarch with other organizations, the MBA also holds bi-annual cleanups and invasive plant removals around the stream, involving volunteers from all over Gaithersburg.
“I am involved in Muddy Branch Alliance because I believe in acting locally to make a positive difference in my community,” said Ryder. “When I choose to volunteer my time, I specifically look for organizations that are aligned with my personal belief system, give me an opportunity to leverage my experience and teach me new things, and allow me to spend time with good people, people I enjoy. The Muddy Branch Alliance fit all of my criteria—and an added bonus is the satisfaction I have of enjoying the Muddy Branch Trail as a walker and runner. “
Tracy Rouleau, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief economist and currently an environmental economic advisor, knows how important protecting the health of the Muddy Branch stream is. “I make a living measuring how people value the benefits that nature provides—our community is such a special place largely because we have an amazing mix of developed areas and parks and natural spaces. It’s these green spaces that make people want to live here, and I don’t want to see that disappear.
“People protect what they know and love, and so I hope that if they grow to know the Muddy Branch stream and trail, then they will be willing to protect it,” she added.
Muddy Branch Alliance activities, including cleanups and future annual Volksmarches, are posted on the Muddy Branch Alliance website, muddybranch.org, or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MuddyBranchAlliance.