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New Forest Society votes dissolution

Members hope reforestation and education efforts will continue

(7/17) The Board of Directors and members of the New Forest Society voted to end its existence “as a corporation and separate legal entity” by the end of 2008. The vote was taken at their meeting on June 21. NFS attorney Marcia Watters will draw up articles of dissolution by November. Watters handled the incorporation of the organization as a 501-3C nonprofit in 2000.

Chairperson Elizabeth Prongas organized the group in 1999 to support local landowners who had enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Under CREP, property holders agreed to reforest areas adjoining the Monocacy River and the creeks and streams that feed into it. Many had lost their initial trees due to extended drought in the area in the mid-1990s and were required to replant at their own considerable expense. The NFS’ first goal was to provide new seedlings to them at no cost. In eight years, the society has distributed 10,000 trees, many purchased from the state nursery in Easton, Md. and others propagated from native nuts and seeds at their own experimental grow-out station on Old Frederick Road. Streamside restoration remains an ongoing effort as the members voted to order trees for distribution in spring 2009.

The NFS also developed a focus on education concerning reforestation, erosion, water pollution, and other environmental issues. Prongas has led classes of kindergarten students from Emmitsburg Elementary and Mother Seton schools on tree-planting field trips. This year the NFS received an unsolicited grant from the Scheuer Foundation in New York that enabled it to donate $1,000 to each school to support their outdoor classroom and “green schools” projects. Mount St. Mary’s University received $400 from the same grant, designated for water-testing equipment for the department of environmental studies. NFS members raised funds to establish a New Forest Society scholarship with the Community Foundation of Frederick County. The organization also sponsored educational forums and guest speakers at their meetings which were open to the public.

Prongas and the NFS board hold out the prospect that the organization and its purposes will be adopted by another nonprofit corporation. Other, larger organizations have come into the northern Frederick County area to work in the arena of forest preservation, streamside restoration and wetlands protection. She praised the NFS members as “loyal, supportive … ambassadors for the environment” and believes they continue to be willing to work toward the same goals.

NFS meetings will be held until the end of the calendar year and its members will be collaborating with other individuals and organizations as future projects are discussed. By law “The New Forest Society” name may be retained for up to 10 years with payment of an annual fee and could be attached to a project or committee under the auspices of another regional entity.

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