The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 5, 2003
May 5, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 33


JHU Volunteers Assist Cleanup of Historic Fort McHenry, Wetlands

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

On Saturday morning, April 26, Johns Hopkins staff members were among those from several Baltimore workplaces who braved the rain to volunteer at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and the adjoining restored tidal wetlands and nature preserve, which are maintained jointly by the National Park Service and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. According to JHU volunteer coordinator Lesley Giles, the park's staff had "nothing but praise" for the volunteers' efforts and asked when they would return.

Protected from the rain in a large warehouse, fast-moving teams of adults and children stacked 28 pallets of bricks, each weighing about a ton. Some of the bricks are historically accurate reproductions of the fort's original bricks that will be used to restore damaged walls. Those that are not exact matches will be donated to Sandtown Habitat for Humanity for home construction and to the Loading Dock, a nonprofit distributor of reusable building materials for low-income housing and community projects.

Eric Arneklev of Accounts Payable spreads gravel on a path to prevent erosion as part of a volunteer effort in the tidal wetlands adjoining Fort McHenry.

Volunteers who preferred to work in the fresh air joined the park's staff to spread gravel and straw on footpaths through the hillside above the wetlands beach area and to pick up the enormous quantities of litter that had washed ashore. In addition to keeping the area clean, Park Service horticulturalist Paul Bitzel said that the staff and volunteers are working to re-establish native vegetation to support the preserve's abundant wildlife. More than 200 species of birds and numerous species of fish, amphibians and mammals make their homes in the wetlands.

At the request of their families, two victims of the Sept. 11 attacks were honored by the project: Darin Pontell, age 26, who lost his life at the Pentagon, and Daniel Walker McNeal, 29, who died in the World Trade Center.

The project was coordinated by the Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs in cooperation with the Corporate Volunteer Council of Central Maryland. For more information on community service opportunities for faculty, staff, retirees and students, go to the FSRP Community Outreach Web site at The next quarterly cleanup of the wetlands area is scheduled for Saturday, June 7. Anyone interested in participating should contact Greg McGuire at or 410-962-4290, extension 232.
--Caterina Provost-Smith