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Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and Montgomery Parks Announce List of ‘Critters in Crisis’ Due to Water Quality Concerns

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Montgomery Parks are alerting the public about “Critters in Crisis,” at a special event at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, at Maydale Conservation Park in Colesville. Certain insects, fish and amphibians are now considered at-risk in local streams due to water quality issues. 


Maydale Nature Center is located at 1638 Maydale Dr. in Colesville.


According to County natural resource specialists, pollution in creeks and streams has a negative impact on wildlife, including changes to, or losses of habitats. Pollution causes lower oxygen water content and reduces the variety and hardiness of organisms.


“There is a direct connection between the quality of water in our streams and the vitality of local wildlife,” said DEP Director Adam Ortiz. “Clean water allows for wildlife to thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, pollutants, pesticides and even pet waste that wash from our streets and lawns flow into our County creeks and streams. The results are stream critters that should be thriving are instead at risk because of human actions.”


Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks, said cleaning up waterways and protecting wildlife will take an effort of many throughout the County.


“Montgomery Parks is working collaboratively with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to monitor our streams to inform land acquisition, develop stormwater management opportunities and stream protection strategies,” said Director Riley. “There are many ways the public can help protect the streams and wildlife, including picking up litter and pet waste and volunteering for park cleanups.”


Each of the “Critters in Crisis” has a unique history to Montgomery County and interesting attributes. They include:  

  • American Eel—the only fish in the area that begins life in seawater (Bahamas and Bermuda area) and travels to freshwater streams for adulthood.
  • Acuminate Crayfish—unique to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties (found largely in the Anacostia watershed).
  • Giant Stonefly—very sensitive to water pollution. Its lack of abundance is an indicator of less than pristine conditions.
  • Marbled Salamander—has a poison tail that helps fend off predators.
  • Yellow Lance Mussel—Federally-threatened species in Maryland, not found in Montgomery County for more than 50 years until DEP biologists recently found them in the Patuxent Watershed.


DEP’s programs such as RainScapes, Tree Montgomery and Green Streets help to reduce pollution from flowing into creeks and streams.


Every resident can play a part in reducing pollution and keeping water clean by actions that include:

  • Planting native trees and plants.
  • Reducing or replacing non-porous surfaces like driveways and sidewalks.
  • Using environmentally friendly soaps when washing cars at home.


Residents should be aware that any time it rains, everything left on the ground will get washed into creeks, streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.


DEP regularly monitors County creeks and streams for biological, chemical and physical stream changes and trends. Biologists test water for oxygen content and assess habitats and stream features for changes.


For more information about the DEP Stream Monitoring program, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/streams/monitoring.html.


To learn more about Critters in Crisis, visit My Green Montgomery for blog posts on each of the critters listed at  https://mygreenmontgomery.org/.

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Release ID: 21-829
Media Contact: Cindy Pena, 202-875-1563
Categories: Environment