Plummers Island Threatened by proposed Expansion of American Legion Bridge

Plummers Island is located immediately downstream from the ALB. The Island covers 12.2 acres of land, the widest part of of which is adjacent the American Legion Bridge. 

The current American Legion Bridge Expansion proposal would cut across the Island, move or destroy the channel that separates the Island from the mainland, clear the trees and level a substantial part of the Island, clear the significant healthy native beech tree forest on the mainland side, destroy the wetlands associated with the island and mainland, and result in major infestations of invasive plants. If implemented this DEIS project would jeopardize future research on trends in biodiversity on the Island.

 WBFC considers the DEIS legally faulty and incomplete for many reasons, including: 

– Destruction and disturbance of State of Maryland and National parklands with wetlands, including but not limited to several miles of Rock Creek Regional Park (including moving substantial stretches of Rock Creek), and ca. 80 acres of the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park (CONHP), including ca. 5 acres of the 12 acre Plummers Island and moving “Rock Run”. 

– The destruction of “Rock Run Culvert” in building the American Legion Bridge violates the integrity of Plummers Island (CONHP, Montgomery Co., Maryland). 

– Lack of understanding or recognition of the value of the extensive historical and ongoing biological research on Plummers Island and the WBFC’s 120 years of contributions and commitments to that. Records of many rare plants, animals and habitats from the Island were not considered. 

– Lack of Due Diligence on study of impacts on Plummers Island’s wetlands and rare plant communities, and rare plant and animal species (the evaluation of the organisms on the Island was apparently based on one summertime visit to the head of the Island in 2019).

– Lack of alternatives to condemning part of Plummers Island for the ALB proposed project. 

– Lack of consideration of the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on present and future transportation loads and patterns (many folks are teleworking and attending virtual meetings). With peak traffic flows down due to changed behavior patterns resulting from Covid-19, toll lanes will be unlikely to provide revenue streams of sufficient reward to P3 contractors, likely leaving taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. 

– Lack of forward thinking on Climate Change (only more cars powered by petrol). 

– Lack of accepted Build options with mass transportation options (trains, light rail, monorail, etc.) 

– Because the DEIS’s analysis is incomplete, it is impossible for the concerned Agencies to assess, and the public to comment on, the proposed project’s impacts. The Agencies cannot wait until a final EIS is complete to analyze the project’s full impacts, as it will then be too late for the public to meaningfully comment on them and for the Agencies to consider the public’s comments and choose the alternative that best alleviates the impacts based on this information. We respectfully request that the Agencies conduct a supplemental EIS to provide the public the ability to meaningfully review and comment on the impacts before a final EIS is produced. 

Successful Workday

President Ralph Eckerlin and House and Grounds Committee Chair Steve Sheffield again thank Club members who came out for the special work day on Saturday. We cleared a good path across the rocks connecting to Plummers Island. Hopefully high water will carry some of the remaining debris downstream. On the other hand, more may accumulate, so, if you missed the work day on Saturday, you may have an opportunity to participate in the future.

Passing of Stan Shetler

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Stanwyn G. Shetler on the evening of December 4th at around 9:30 PM, age 84, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. His daughter, Lara, was at his side. Dad was a man of many accomplishments who achieved a goal so few are able to claim; he left the world better than he found it. Rest peacefully, Dad.

Stan was born on October 11, 1933, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He grew up in rural Hollsopple, PA and attended Johnstown Christian School, where his father was Principal and Stan therefore felt it prudent to graduate Valedictorian of his class. His interest in natural history began with bird watching in the sixth grade and was stimulated by his science teacher and fostered by his mother. Ornithology was a lifelong avocation.

Stanwyn earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 1955 and 1958 from Cornell University after first attending Eastern Mennonite College (now University), Harrisonburg, Virginia. He came to the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 directly from graduate studies at the University of Michigan, where he subsequently earned a PhD degree in systematic botany. He spent his whole professional career at the Smithsonian before retiring at the end of 1995. Beginning as an assistant curator, he rose to serve as associate director and then deputy director of the National Museum of Natural History.

Stan’s naturalist interests were wide-ranging, but he was a recognized expert on the bellflowers (genusCampanula) and the flora of the Arctic. His publications number well over 100 scientific, technical, and popular titles, including three books and the Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Washington-Baltimore Area (2 volumes, 2002, 2002). The books are on Russian botanical history (1968), a monograph on the evolution of the New World harebells (Campanula rotundifolia complex) (1982), and the popular Portraits of Nature: Paintings by Robert Bateman (1986), which accompanied a Smithsonian exhibition by the same title organized by him in 1987. He also edited the English translations of the last eight volumes of the 30-volume Flora of the USSR plus the general index volume.

Dr. Shetler was program director of the international Flora North America Program, which pioneered in the use of computers for taxonomic information and set the stage for the subsequent effort to prepare a modern treatise of North American plants. The data produced from this project was among the first in the world to document the climatic phenomenon now known as global warming. His research travels took him across North America and to parts of South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Stan was a frequent lecturer, teacher, and consultant through the years. He served on the board of the Piedmont Environmental Council (1985-88) and several terms (latest, 2006) on the board of directors of the Audubon Naturalist Society, including three years (1974-77) as president. He was a charter member (1982) of the Virginia Native Plant Society and served on the state board of directors as Botany Chair (1996-2003) and director-at-large (2004-2006). He taught plant identification courses for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School off and on since 1963 and in the 1980s and 90s at Northern Virginia Community College.

Honors include election as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994) for “contributions to the formation of electronic data banks and the computer registry of botanical specimens,” and fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences (2002). Upon retirement he was appointed botanist emeritus by the National Museum of Natural History.

In 1995, he received the Paul Bartsch Medal, which is the Audubon Naturalist Society’s top award for contributions to natural history and conservation. In 1988, he was invited by the Chautauqua Institution to present the featured lecture at the celebration of the late Roger Tory Peterson’s 80th birthday. He received the Piedmont Environmental Council’s Individual Award for Contributions to Environmental Improvement in 1981 for his role in drafting a Vegetation Preservation Policy for Loudoun County, Virginia.

Stan was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1970 and served as vice president from 1981 to 1984 and as president from 1984 to 1987.

Dr. Shetler is survived by 2 sisters, a brother, a step-mother, his wife of 54 years Elaine, two children, and two grandchildren. His remains will be cremated and a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Passing of Ronald Hodges

Ronald William Hodges, 83, died at his home in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday, December 10, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine Rita Snyder Hodges, after 39 years of marriage. Ron was born on August 7, 1934, in Lansing, MI, an only child to parents Elma and Lester Hodges, and became interested in Lepidoptera at age six upon finding a freshly emerged Luna moth in the backyard of his Michigan home. He stated his intent to update Holland’s “Moth Book” as a ninth grader. He received his BS degree in 1956 and his MS degree in 1957 from Michigan State University, where he was strongly influenced by Roland Fischer. He went to Cornell University to work with John Franclemont. During this period he did extensive field work in New York, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Ecuador. He became deeply interested in the microlepidoptera, particularly the Gelechioidea, and was awarded a PhD degree in 1961. He received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and commenced to work on genera of Gelechiidae. This project was interrupted when he accepted a position with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service located in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. He had several roles in the Laboratory, including laboratory chief. He stepped down from this position to continue field and laboratory research on gelechioid moths. At the Smithsonian, he met Elaine, a scientific illustrator, and they married in 1967; Ron adopted her two sons, Steven and Larry. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association for Zoological Nomenclature (president 1993-95), American Entomological Society, Entomological Society of America, Entomological Society of Canada, Entomological Society of Ontario, Entomological Society of Washington (honorary member, 1999), Michigan Entomological Society, the Lepidoptera Research Foundation, the Lepidopterists’ Society (president 1975-76), Maryland Entomological Society (president 1973-74), Ohio Lepidopterists, Northwest Lepidoptera Society, Sigma Xi, and Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica. He received the Thomas Say Award from the Entomological Society of America for his editorial oversight of Moths of North America in 1990, the Karl Jordan Medal from the Lepidopterists’ Society for research on gelechioid moths in 1997, and he was elected an honorary member of the Entomological Society of Washington in 1999. Ron was active until retirement in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club since being elected in 1963. He was president from 1976 to 1979 and participated on various committees and work and field days. He was for many years the lead cook in the kitchen. In 1997, Ron and Elaine retired to Eugene, Oregon, where he continued to work on moths (an illustrated, annotated key to genera of North American Gelechiidae) and, until 2011, to edit and publish The Moths of America North of Mexico. Gardening with a highly diverse array of plants and developing and maintaining a collection of mainly pleurothallidine orchids also have interested him in retirement. In his spare time, Ron gardened a highly diverse array of plants, enjoyed classical music and paired gourmet meals and wonderful wines. Survivors include Steven and Susan Hodges of Santa Barbara, California, and Lawrence Hodges of Germantown, Maryland; two grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; his cousin Ann Haseltine of Ishpeming, MI; and Elaine’s siblings and their families; . Ron will be remembered for his big heart and generosity. He loved to share his garden, food, wine, music passions with his many friends and family. Sensitive to every dangling participle, “can I?” and “may I?” were distinguished, as were the salad and dinner forks. He is missed.