Free trees for Maryland residents to help protect our environment

Backyard Buffers

The Potomac Watershed Partnership, in cooperation with the Maryland DNR Forest Service present the Backyard Buffers Program. This program is designed to assist homeowners who have a stream or other waterway on or adjacent to their property to create a streamside buffer of native trees and shrubs. A streamside buffer can create habitat for wildlife, reduce peak winter temperatures, and reduce the amount of sediment, fertilizer, and toxic materials that enter our waterways. Deep-rooted trees and shrubs can also stabilize streambanks, protecting them from erosion…

Backyard Buffer packet reservations are typically taken during the month of March, with bags available for pickup at a designated local site in time for the spring planting season. A limited number of bags are available each year on a first-come first-served basis.

Read more and get contact info.

Lawn to Woodland

Did you know that an estimated one million acres of Maryland’s land is currently lawn, unnecessarily costing land owners like you time and money? Through Lawn to Woodland, the Maryland Forest Service is offering to plant trees on designated property owner’s lawn free of charge if they own one to four acres of unused lawn. Unused lawn can be converted to tree cover at no cost to landowners while simultaneously improving the health of our environment.

Click here to download the brochure.

CEDS News Service: an opportunity to address storm water pollution and management

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Are Coops a way to resolve the stormwater BMP maintenance crisis and to allow Watershed Groups to quickly reduce stormwater pollution?

Read about this and more by following the CEDS News Service.

Construction causing soil to flow into a stream? what to do!

Here are some resources to help you:

- A YouTube video of a workshop presented a month or so ago by Richard Klein of Community & Environmental Defense Services about the big six watershed pollution sources (construction, storm water, new development, pasture, cropland, point sources) and how citizen organizations can tackle them: http://youtu.be/mmERdOw0kCk
- Potomac Riverkeeper’s Get the Dirt Out project: http://potomacriverkeeper.org/get-dirt-out
- To report sediment control problems in Frederick County (Rick Masser): 301 600 3507
Jefferson Tech Park ground breaking

Jefferson Tech Park ground breaking

Keep your eye open to the Jefferson Tech Park construction.  The workers are in close proximity to a stream flowing through the property.  Read more about the development:  - The Frederick Gorilla Magazine article by Katherine Heerbrandt on the boondoggle that is the development of the Jefferson Tech Park: http://www.frederickgorilla.com/sweet-deal-or-foul-play

CLEANWATER_LINGANORE, Inc forms to put stream health in Linganore on red alert!

Email the group at info@cleanwater-linganore.org

FINAL CLEANWATER_LINGANORE (1)

 

FINAL CLEANWATER_LINGANORE (2)

Commissions, just who stands to benefit from weakening stream buffer regulations? WHO?

upright FoFC logoTestimony before the Board of County Commissioners on amendments to ZT-13-09, Winchester Hall, Frederick County MD   October 31, 2013

 

My name is Janice Wiles, Executive Director for Friends of Frederick County, a countywide organization that promotes environmental conservation, fair and open government, and active civic engagement in Frederick County.  We are here today to speak on your proposal (ZT-13-09) to weaken the very important Waterbody Buffer Ordinance adopted in 2007 for the Linganore watershed and in 2008 for the entire county.  Your proposal represents a step backward in terms of water resource protection in Frederick County and we believe that it is undermines the public health, welfare and even safety of the residents and citizen taxpayers here.

 

Every person in the USA today should know that vegetation alongside streams provides ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits.  We read about floods where there are no forests, we see photos of siltation, and we have learned in school about the importance of streamside buffers to protect the aquatic beings and provide terrestrial habitats.  And, the distance between cleared soil and water makes a difference, ie the more the better.

For the TV audience who may not know what is happening, this BOCC is requesting that the county weaken stream buffer regulations. This proposal translates to long-term damage to Frederick County’s streams and watersheds, at a time when the Chesapeake Bay states and counties are all working hard to clean them up!  It also translates to increased taxes for you and me to clean up the mess created by siltation and polluted waters (but that’s after these guys are out of office)

 

Specifically this proposed rollback includes:

  • Reducing stream buffer vegetation from 175 ft to 150 feet on steep slopes
  • Reduce stream buffer vegetation from 150 ft to 125 ft on moderate slopes
  • No longer mandate that vegetation needs to cover a moderate or steep slope to the top of the hill
  • Remove the requirement that there should be increased buffer protections in the Linganore Watershed Protection Area
  • Allow some building in buffer zones

 

Throughout Frederick County many steep and moderate slopes historically have not been disturbed, as they are very difficult to farm, graze log or develop.   Disturbing steep (or even moderate) slopes increases the likelihood of serious erosion problems.  Logically,  the steeper the slope, the more velocity that runoff water will accumulate.  The ability of water to move soil is proportional to the slope on which the water flows, making it critical to maintain vegetation (plants) on slopes.

Commissioners, do you recall reading the following in the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan:

Protecting the natural terrain and vegetative features present on steep slopes prevents flooding, stream siltation, and the alteration of natural drainage patterns.  Preserving steep slopes protects the natural environment, manmade structures, and the safety of all citizens.  Steep slope protection also provides aesthetically attractive open space/view sheds and maintains local biodiversity found on many of these slopes.  Preservation of steep slopes adjacent to water courses is especially important because of the impact to water quality and in stream aquatic habitat from soil erosion and sedimentation when slopes are graded, cleared or disturbed.

This leaves citizens wondering why, since vegetation buffers are key to protect our waterways, our safety and pocketbooks, would our county leaders vote to allow their degradation?  

Who stands to benefit from weakening these regulations?  And, who is asking you to weaken them?

Riparian buffers help to attenuate floodwaters, assimilate and sequester nutrients, stabilize stream banks, and filter sediment and potentially harmful bacteria. Due to historic clearing along streams in the Linganore Creek watershed Lake Linganore is the recipient of a high sediment load, which may and often does result in the following awful situations:

  • Ø frequent nuisance 
seasonal algal blooms, due to over-enrichment by nutrients, which interfere with water supply and recreational uses
  • death and decay of excessive algae and subsequent fish kills, in violation of the dissolved oxygen (DO) water quality standard
  • Ø high levels of phosphorus (a nutrient that fosters algal production, a problem in Lake Linganore)  Since phosphorus binds to sediment it arrives in abundance in the lake when erosion occurs.  MDE suggests that addressing the sediment run off would help reduce algal blooms.  And, I have not had time to research but I have heard that there are scientific studies that show some algae (when ingested like say in drinking water, ie Lake Linganore drinking water) can be a neurotoxin.  There is even some suggestion that there are links to some diseases like alzeihmers.  We request that you do some homework on that before actively compromising the public drinking water here for Frederick City residents.

Dr. Jim Gracie, hydrologist with 40 years experience shared with me his greatest concern with your recommended changes.  That is allowing vegetation disturbance on steep slopes to the crest and, in some instances, beyond.  “If a 25% slope is not protected at least to the crest (and it is prudent to protect beyond the crest), then the protection intended for the steep slope will be significantly degraded.”  The disturbed area above (upslope from) the protected part of the steep slope will be highly susceptible to erosion.   Erosion on a steep slope begins with rill formation, which expands to gully formation.  Since the force that erodes and transports sediment (shear stress) down a slope is proportional to the depth times the slope, the flow from the unprotected slope will flow through the protected portion of the buffer at a faster speed than if the steep slope were protected.  Rills and gullies will carry sediment and concentrated flows into the protected portion of the buffer and will likely cause erosion of the undisturbed portion of the slope.  By not protecting the slope to a point beyond the crest of the slope, the protected portion of the slope will be damaged.  Rather than eliminate the requirement that steep slopes be protected to their crest, in fact the legislation should be expanding steep slopes protections beyond the currently-established buffer minimums.”

Additionally, the proposed changes permit structures for recreation (like bikeways and trails) within slopes.  These activities will most certainly accelerate erosion, which in turn will undermine the very structures and activities in the buffer!  Keep your eyes open citizens, if the trail system the developer and county propose are within the sloped buffer zone it will be your county taxes required to maintain it each time it washes away! Development within the buffers will also degrade both terrestrial and aquatic animal and vegetation habitat.

Reducing the depth of any stream buffer will generally increase the amount of sediment that is carried into that water body, and also tends to raise the temperature of the runoff, thus raising the temperature of the water body itself.   Both of these are damaging to the aquatic ecosystem.

Additional sediments in the surface waters require dredging sediments out of water bodies that serve as reservoirs for drinking water;  Lake Linganore is a case in point.  The County taxpayers, City taxpayers and Lake Linganore Association are currently on the hook for $8 million to dredge the lake of sediments.

This leaves citizens wondering why, since buffer zones are important and protect our waterways and pocketbooks, would our county leaders vote to allow their degradation?

 

State Law and Local Policy

The 1992 Maryland Planning Act (ie state law) requires that the County Comprehensive Plan address streams and their buffers, steep slopes and environmental features.  Section 03-13, a Sensitive Areas Element of the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan does just that.  The Element describes stream buffers as:   “Stream banks and adjoining steep slopes (an incline of 25% or greater) that help to prevent erosion from clogging the streambed and provide plant and animal habitat.”

The County Plan notes that areas adjacent to

  • Bush Creek
  • Linganore Creek and the
  • Monocacy River

all have moderate and, in particular, steep slopes.

The County’s Plan expressly establishes the County’s Waterbody Buffer Ordinance as the mechanism that the County uses to protect waterbody buffers.  It notes that “Development setbacks up to 175 feet from all waterways and water bodies were established based on the degree and extent of slope present in the adjacent stream valley.”

While noting that lots that pre-date the Waterbody Buffer Ordinance in effect in 2010 would be “grandfathered” from these setbacks, the County Plan clearly anticipates that new development would be subject to the standards now in effect. The proposed amendments to the County’s Waterbody Buffer Ordinance are in direct conflict with the recommendations and the intent of the County’s Plan, and will serve to undermine the goals of the Sensitive Areas Element of the Plan and should not be adopted.

Moreover look at two of the areas that were identified as having moderate and steep slopes:  the Linganore Creek Watershed and the Bush Creek watershed.  The Linganore Creek watershed is an area that, should this BOCC have its way, will see construction of 6000 new homes.  The Bush Creek watershed is an area that, should this BOCC have its way, will see construction of nearly 3000 homes.  The construction and paving over of these sensitive areas will surely require MORE vegetation to protect the streams, not less.

This leaves citizens wondering why, since buffer zones are important and protect our waterways and pocketbooks, would our county leaders vote to allow their degradation?

The 1992 Maryland Planning Act (ie state law) requires that the County Comprehensive Plan address streams and their buffers, steep slopes and environmental features.  Section 03-13, a Sensitive Areas Element of the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan does just that.  The Element describes stream buffers as:   “Stream banks and adjoining steep slopes (an incline of 25% or greater) that help to prevent erosion from clogging the streambed and provide plant and animal habitat.”

The County Plan notes that areas adjacent to

  • Bush Creek
  • Linganore Creek and the
  • Monocacy River

all have moderate and, in particular, steep slopes.

The County’s Plan expressly establishes the County’s Waterbody Buffer Ordinance as the mechanism that the County uses to protect waterbody buffers.  It notes that “Development setbacks up to 175 feet from all waterways and water bodies were established based on the degree and extent of slope present in the adjacent stream valley.”

While noting that lots that pre-date the Waterbody Buffer Ordinance in effect in 2010 would be “grandfathered” from these setbacks, the County Plan clearly anticipates that new development would be subject to the standards now in effect. The proposed amendments to the County’s Waterbody Buffer Ordinance are in direct conflict with the recommendations and the intent of the County’s Plan, and will serve to undermine the goals of the Sensitive Areas Element of the Plan and should not be adopted.

Moreover look at two of the areas that were identified as having moderate and steep slopes:  the Linganore Creek Watershed and the Bush Creek watershed.  The Linganore Creek watershed is an area that, should this BOCC have its way, will see construction of 6000 new homes.  The Bush Creek watershed is an area that, should this BOCC have its way, will see construction of nearly 3000 homes.  The construction and paving over of these sensitive areas will surely require MORE vegetation to protect the streams, not less.

This leaves citizens wondering why, since buffer zones are important and protect our waterways and pocketbooks, would our county leaders vote to allow their degradation?

Well, we hope that you’ve listened.  We hope that you understand that this proposal is bad for Frederick County does not protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens  and will only serve to provide for the short term profits of a few.  We ask in closing that you explain to all those citizens watching this public hearing just who will benefit from these weakened regulations?  And, who is asking you to weaken them?

 

CLEANWATER_LINGANORE, Inc – new group to look out for the Linganore region’s environment

CLEANWATER_LINGANORE focuses on the area within the Upper and Lower Linganore Creek Watersheds

CLEANWATER_LINGANORE focuses on the area within the Upper and Lower Linganore Creek Watersheds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens living in New Market and Linganore are banding together over concerns with massive rezoning, proposed reductions to stream protective measures and the need for better prevent polluted waters in their area.  CLEANWATER_LINGANORE, Inc. is a voice for clean water and a watchdog for activities that will impact the streams and tributaries to Upper and Lower Linganore Creeks and Lake Linganore, a significant drinking water reservoir in Frederick County (see map).

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Contact CLEANWATER_LINGANORE, Inc on Facebook.

Changes to stream buffer law will exacerbate water pollution

Frederick County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the changes they propose to the ZT 13-09 Waterbody Buffer Zoning Ordinance, a change that would permit more clearing of buffers, more use in buffers and mandate less buffers.  In sum the changes are:

  • changes moderate slope buffer from 150 feet to 125
  • changes steep slope buffer from 175 feet to 150.
  • reduces the stream corridor evaluation zone (used to determine extent and degree of slope) from 175 to 150 feet
  • eliminates extra protection standards in linganore watershed
  • eliminates ‘toe/crest/backslope’ condition
  • allows more recreational uses/activities/structures in buffer

floodplain point of rocksPlease read the bullets below to understand why this is so important and how it will impact your taxes! Speak out at the October 31, 2013 9:30 am public hearing at Winchester Hall.  It is important that we have many many citizens speaking out on this issue.  Download talking points here.

While several of the following talking points address buffer importance in general, there are some specific to the importance of buffers in the Upper and Lower Linganore Creek watershed for the health of Lake Linganore

  • Stream buffers are critical components of the landscape and provide a myriad of ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits. Riparian buffers help to attenuate floodwaters, assimilate and sequester nutrients, stabilize stream banks, and filter sediment and potentially harmful bacteria. They provide leaf and limb litter to the stream and act as wildlife corridors for movement and migration. Riparian areas are transition areas between uplands portions of the landscape and the aquatic environment and contain high plant and animal species diversity plus unique soil types;
  • In 2007, Frederick County adopted a stream buffer ordinance specifically for the Linganore watershed (Linganore Watershed Stream Buffer Ordinance No. 07-24-464).   The ordinance states that new lots and parcels created by a new subdivision shall have no buildings, structures or impervious surfaces constructed inside the stream buffer.   To briefly summarize, the ordinance requires a 100-foot minimum buffer for new developments.  Additionally, if there is a moderate (15% to <25%) slope, the buffer requirement is increased to 150 feet.  Should the slope be steep (>25%), the buffer requirement extends to 175 feet or to the crest of the slope, whichever is greater.  [Linganore Watershed Stream Buffer Ordinance No. 07-24-464];
  • In 2008, Frederick County adopted a stream buffer ordinance applicable to the entire County (Ordinance No. 08-21-497).   The county-wide ordinance generally requires for new lots and parcels created by subdivision the same set-backs as the Linganore watershed buffers except that the buffer is limited to a maximum of 175 feet (it does not have the top of the hill set back requirement for steep slopes).   The ordinance states that all water body buffer areas shall be maintained in a natural vegetative state unless otherwise utilized for reforestation or afforestation to satisfy forest ordinance obligations. [Frederick County Ordinance No. 08-21-497];
  • The buffers identified in the 2007 and 2008 Frederick County ordinances were based on extensive literature research conducted by the Frederick County Division of Public Works.  They are generally consistent with stream buffer ordinances from neighboring counties (e.g., Montgomery), and other jurisdictions (e.g., Albemarle County, VA).   The buffers for the Linganore watershed account for the excessive phosphorus and sediment loading to Lake Linganore. [FCPC, June 2008, FCPC Transmittal Memorandum to Board of County Commission];
  • Over the past 40 years, 23% of the total Lake Linganore water holding capacity has been displaced by approximately 1 million cubic yards of accumulated sediment (sediment has displaced 65% of the upper lake capacity).  [USGS, 2012.  Water Volume and Sediment Volume and Density in Lake Linganore Between Boyers Mill Road Bridge and Bens Branch, Frederick, Maryland];
  • Maryland Department of the Environment has determined that the “water quality impairments of Lake Linganore [sediments and phosphorus] consist of a violation of Maryland’s numerical water quality criterion for dissolved oxygen (DO) (in the hypolimnion) and violations of the general narrative criteria applicable to the designated use of the water in Maryland’s regulations”.  [USEPA, May 2003.  Letter to MDE approving the proposed Total Maximum Daily Loads of phosphorus and sediments for Lake Linganore].
  • Lake Linganore is impacted by a high sediment load.  The lake also experiences frequent nuisance seasonal algal blooms, due to over-enrichment by nutrients, which interfere with water supply and recreational uses. The death and decay of excessive algae can cause violations of the water quality standard for dissolved oxygen (DO), possibly resulting in a disruption of the lake’s ecosystem balance and causing fish kills. Analysis suggests that phosphorus is the limiting nutrient for the production of algae in Lake Linganore. Due to the propensity of phosphorus to bind to sediments, the MDE believes the overall strategy should be to simultaneously address the water quality problems associated with phosphorus and sediments [MDE, December 2002. Total Maximum Daily Loads of Phosphorus and Sediments for Lake Linganore, Frederick County, MD]
  • Lake Linganore’s average sediment loading rate is more than 5 times higher than the MDE / USEPA TMDL of 7,073 tons/ year (~4,700 cubic yards / year). [Based on 2012 USGS study average annual loading = 1 million cubic yards /40 years = 25,000 cubic yards / year]
  • The MDE has estimated that a 90% reduction in phosphorus loads would be necessary for Frederick County to meet the Lake Linganore TMDL for phosphorus.  [MDE, December 2002. Total Maximum Daily Loads of Phosphorus and Sediments for Lake Linganore, Frederick County, MD]
  • Due to the propensity of phosphorus to bind to sediments, the MDE believes the overall strategy for Frederick County to achieve the TMDLs is to address the sediment problem because it will simultaneously address the water quality problems associated with phosphorus [MDE, December 2002. Total Maximum Daily Loads of Phosphorus and Sediments for Lake Linganore, Frederick County, MD]
  • Frederick County recently found that 70% of the Lower Linganore Creek and 40% of the Upper Linganore Creek tributaries to Lake Linganore had “severe” erosion problems based on a 2013 study completed by Frederick County. [June 2013, Versar.  Frederick County Stream Survey, 2008-2011 Four-year Report.]
  • Frederick County recently determined that 80% of the Lower Linganore Creek tributary to Lake Linganore had “moderate” to “high” levels of total phosphorus. [June 2013, Versar.  Frederick County Stream Survey, 2008-2011 Four-year Report.];
  • Frederick County recently reported that 80% of the Upper Linganore Creek tributary to Lake Linganore had a “poor” to “very poor” biological condition and 40% of the Lower Linganore Creek had a “poor” to “very poor” condition. [June 2013, Versar.  Frederick county Stream Survey, 2008-2011 Four-year Report.]
  • Frederick County and Lake Linganore Association (LLA) independent monitoring of bacteria levels in Lake Linganore both have found that bacteria (E. Coli) levels frequently exceed the Maryland safe levels for recreational use during the summer season.  For example, LLA E. Coli counts exceeded the maximum daily threshold on 12 days during June through August 2013 (i.e., over 13% of the summer). [Frederick County Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management Lake Linganore Monitoring Data 1995 through 2003, 2003 through 2012 and Current Monitoring Data; Lake Linganore Association, Water Quality Committee, 2012 – 2013 Data / Analysis];
  • Algae (caused by abundant nitrogen and phosphorus) prompts the county to dose Lake Linganore with copper sulfate to limit potential problems with the City of Frederick’s drinking water supply;
  • Hood college discovered  blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in Lake Linganore and Indian Caves Creek during 2013.  [June, 2013.  Dr. Drew Ferrier, Hood College, A Snapshot of Lake Linganore, June 5, 2013; and Dr. Drew Ferrier, personal communication]
  • High levels of microcystin, natural poison produced by blue green algae were found this summer in nearby Lake Frank and Lake Needwood in Montgomery County. [August 27, 2013. WJLA.com, Whitney Wild, Two Montgomery County Lakes Contain Toxic Mycrocystin]
  • In a few years, Frederick County may be facing MDE fines for failing to meet the State water quality criteria at Lake Linganore since sedimentation rates are currently about 5 times the allowable level.  Instead of trying to address the problem and head off these fines, it seems the county is on a path to making matters worse;
  • Frederick County’s current proposal effectively guts a key element of the buffer ordinance.  More specially, the proposed change from “and” to “or” in the first sentence of Section D alters the meaning from “no buildings, structures or impervious surfaces” within the buffer to “buildings and structures” are allowed to be constructed provided that the clearing / grading disturbs 5,000 square feet or less of the woods adjacent to the water body;
  • Frederick County’s current proposal arbitrarily shrinks the existing stream buffers without providing scientific basis;
  • Frederick County’s current proposal will change the regulations to allow construction on steep (25% or greater), unstable slopes adjacent to water bodies within the sensitive Linganore watershed;
  • Shrinking the current stream buffers and allowing construction within buffers by clearing trees and building on steep, unstable ground increases surface runoff, sedimentation and pollutant loading and reduces infiltration and filtering of sediment, phosphorus, bacteria and other contaminants.
  • The proposed revision to the ordinance does nothing to help address the current violation of Maryland’s sediment and phosphorus TMDLs for Lake Linganore or help address the lake bacteria health and safety issue.  To the contrary, the proposed arbitrary changes can only be expected to make water bodies worse in the Linganore and other county watersheds.
  • Frederick County’s proposal to shrink the stream buffers is at cross-purposes to their other pending proposal for the City of Frederick and Frederick County to share in the costs for dredging of Lake Linganore.  On the one hand, Frederick County is proposing shrinking the stream buffers which will cause more sedimentation and on the other hand Frederick County is suggesting users of the public water supply pay for removal of those sediments.

 

 

9/5/13 LTE: Environmental Good Stewardship

Environmental good citizenship

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:00 am

While Farrell Keough makes some good points on environmental decision-making authority in his Aug. 19 letter to the editor, I would add that the general public can also contribute to making our environment cleaner and healthier.

Recently I learned about a Friends of Frederick County project that engages citizens to take a look at streams and their condition (where visible, from public roads); if there is a problem with the stream such as trash, an erosive hillside, farming up to the stream bank or cows in the creek, the individual snaps a photo and sends it in.  Read the rest.

Register NOW to adopt a grid – 4 hours/year of volunteer time ONLY

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE!

It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s relaxing and only requires 4 hours of your time each year.  Moreover the help you give IS SO VERY IMPORTANT to collective efforts of many people and organizations working to help clean up our waters in Frederick County.

There is cause for concern about our streams’ health in Frederick County.  You can help change that.  Please start now.

Read more.  REGISTER NOW!

Thank you.

FNP: New Partners in County Stream Improvement

New partners in county stream improvement

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New partners in county stream improvement

For The Frederick News-Post | Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 2:00 am

John Smucker recently partnered with the Potomac Conservancy as part of a project to remove a fish barrier, an outmoded dam and control bank erosion in Tuscarora Creek. He planted 55 native hardwood trees along with cocoa matts. Brook Hill United Methodist Church helped complete the field and leg work.

Ray Locke, coordinator of the Friends of Frederick County Clean Streams Initiative, is seeking to use similar techniques to improve the health of other streams in Frederick County. Frederick County has 20 different watersheds of which 11 are in poor condition. He is looking for groups to Adopt-A-Grid and install erosion stabilizers to improve water quality.  Read the full story.

Email:  friends@friendsoffrederickcounty or ray_locke@hotmail.com to adopt a grid.