CA offers several ongoing programs to residents to improve their energy efficiency or to improve open space and local water quality. Such programs include the Rain Garden Cost Share Program, Stream Waders, Adopt A Spot/Weed Warriors and The Columbia Solar Cooperative, among others.

For more information on any of these programs, please email OpenSpace.ResourceRequests@ColumbiaAssociation.org

CA partners with Baltimore Gas and Electric to offer window air conditioner and dehumidifier recycling each year. This program is currently on-hold due to COVID, but is anticipated to resume in Spring 2022.

Adopt-A-Spot is an exciting new program available to CA’s certified Weed Warriors. The program recognizes spots in open space where Weed Warriors have been removing non-native invasive plants and replacing them with native plants through repeated Pull and Plant Events. The Adopt-A-Spot program also provides Weed Warriors with the opportunity to work with CA staff and select new spots to begin the process of removing unwanted non-native invasive plants and replacing them with more desirable native plants.

Columbia Cleans Day is a long-standing tradition, giving everyone the opportunity to help the environment in their own backyard. Each village will hold its own trash pick-up and nature clean-up event each Spring on a pre-selected day. With the help of grant money from the Forever Maryland Foundation, CA provides trash grabbers, vests, maps, bags and hand sanitizer. CA picks up all the litter after the event.

A rain garden is a shallow, excavated depression or saucer-shaped garden designed to collect water from roofs, pavement, sidewalks and other impervious surfaces after a storm event. Stormwater runoff can contain many pollutants that threaten the health of our lakes, streams and rivers. Rain gardens allow the water to enter the ground, which naturally filters the contaminants in the water as it travels to the groundwater table, as opposed to through the sewer system. Rain gardens are planted with native plants, trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers.CA, through a grant from Maryland Department of Natural Resources will pay 75% of the installation cost and has a landscape firm on contract for installation.

Columbia Association has partnered with Retrofit Baltimore, a program of the non-profit Civic Works, to implement a solar and home energy efficiency upgrade cooperative in the Columbia community. Retrofit Baltimore will guide you through each step of the energy improvement process and ensure you receive quality work from a vetted contractor. Community members will benefit from a bulk discount by purchasing these services together. A typical project saves around 20 percent off general market-rate costs of a solar system.

Free soil testing helps you know what kind of fertilizer to use on your lawn and how much. This helps prevent people from using too much fertilizer, which then washes into Columbia’s streams, ponds and lakes. It also brings homeowners into compliance with state fertilizer regulations. Soil test bags are available from the offices of Columbia’s 10 village community associations. Place your soil sample in the bag and bring it back to your village community association office. CA will then send it to a lab for analysis and contact you with the results and recommendations.

In partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, CA offers residents the opportunity to help sample the local streams. Each year in March and April, several Columbia stream sites are sampled for macroinvertebrates. These insects can provide an index of overall stream health. While on-site, we also remove litter, measure water chemistry and plant live stakes to reduce erosion.

Weed Warriors are trained in hand tool safety, personal protection against insects and toxic plants, non-native invasive plant identification and removal techniques, and appropriate native plants as replacements. Certified volunteer leaders, who complete CA’s training program and meet specific requirements, may supervise and “lead” groups of volunteers onto the open space to perform specific, designated invasive weed removal tasks. Weed Warriors may also work independently if that is their preference.

Yards Alive is an exciting new program established to educate homeowners about more sustainable landscaping practices. We would like to encourage homeowners to consider alternatives to the traditional yard filled with turf grass in favor of ecologically friendly alternatives. Our first pilot program will be located in the village of Oakland Mills. Please contact us if you are an Oakland Mills resident and would like assistance decreasing the grass in your yard or if you are interested in volunteering to help a neighbor transform their yard: yardsaliveom@gmail.com