Friday, December 11, 2015
Walk the Willett Branch stream this weekend in Bethesda
For the first half of the walk, you will travel alongside the creek through the mostly-industrial property off River Road. The hardcore walker can optionally make the return trip via the creek itself, but make sure to bring boots and a flashlight. Currents are usually about 3 inches deep, and you will need to be able to climb a ladder to exit the streambed at the tour's end if you take the stream back.
The walk is being hosted by LFWA to not only increase awareness of this resource and its currently-poor condition, but also to gain additional community support for the potential naturalization of the stream through the Westbard Sector Plan rewrite, which will go to the Montgomery County Council for approval and changes this January.
There have been mixed messages from the County Planning Board on the naturalization plan. A presentation on that topic was well-received by the Board at its December 3 meeting, but new language in the draft plan gives developers a potential loophole to not provide the full stream buffer the entire length of the Willett Branch. And indeed, some of the highest landowner resistance to the idea is right where you might expect some of the heaviest use of any potential streamside trail and parkland "ribbon."
That's one major reason why advocates are urging residents to write to the Board and the Council in support of the naturalization plan.