Thursday, November 9, 2023

Love It or Leaf It: HoCo’s Seasonal Woes


Columbia/HoCo has a split personality when it comes to leaves. Autumn leaves. We all love looking at the changing colors and sharing photos of the best ones near where we live. But, once they start falling…

Environmental groups tell us to “leave the leaves.”

Our HOAs tell us to rake them and how to bag them and dispose of them. My village, Oakland Mills, publishes an entire page on the accepted protocol for dealing with Fall leaves.

So, which is it?

From Columbia Families in Nature, an arm of the Community Ecology Institute:

Bumblebee Queens Spend The Winter Hidden Under Fallen Leaves. To Protect The Queen Leave The Leaves Wherever Possible. And Don't Use Leaf Blowers or Pesticides.

Where I live the yard work is handled through our HOA. They definitely use leaf blowers. Here is a picture of our birdbath after the leaf blowers came through.

So, make up your mind, folks. Are autumn leaves a natural phenomenon that we shouldn’t interfere with, or an untidy mess that make the neighborhood look bad and bring down property values? I don’t see how we can have it both ways.

This week a post appeared on the Celebrating Columbia Facebook page bemoaning the noise created by leaf blowers used by the Columbia Association workers as they cleared the areas around neighborhood tot lots. Most of the respondents didn’t appear to have much sympathy. It’s an interesting conversation. I must admit that I don’t quite see the necessity of leaf eradication around the tot lots. I do know that wet leaves on paved pathways can be very slippery. So, perhaps it’s a liability issue?

But complaints about leaf blowers are not new, especially gas-powered ones. Here’s an advocacy piece outlining their impact on the environment.

Think Globally on Climate, Act Locally on Leaf Blowers, Mark Nevitt, The Regulatory Review

  • First, their environmental and climate impacts are horrific. 
  • Second, gas-powered leaf blowers are loud. Really loud. 
  • Third, gas-powered lawn care has been linked to debilitating health issues, such as cancer, asthma, heart disease, and hearing loss. 
In neighboring Montgomery County, County Executive Marc Elrich recently signed a bill which will phase out the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums because of their negative environmental impact. Why haven’t we done this here? Are we working on it?

I wonder. We seem to be equally torn between wanting to care for the planet and wanting all our neighborhoods to look neat and tidy in just the same way, every single year. It takes time for attitudes to change, I guess. 

“What do you mean, I shouldn’t rake my leaves? What will the neighbors say?”

What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.