Nanjemoy, MD – There are more than 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone, and that number is growing at a rate of 22 percent per year. Sadly, the overwhelming majority—95 percent—of the raw material used to make this paper comes from trees. In order to make paper from trees, the raw wood must be turned into wood pulp, which is a liquefied mixture of wood fibers, lignin, water, and various chemicals used during the pumping process.  

According to The Baltimore Sun, about 240 acres worth of beautiful Maryland hardwood trees are in jeopardy of being destroyed, but not for the creation of paper. Rather, they will be razed to develop a massive solar farm in Charles County.  

In order to reduce Charles County’s carbon footprint by as much as 50 percent, Georgetown University has announced its plans to clear-cut 240 acres of forest, much to the chagrin of area residents and environmentalists. It’s an ironic move for a green project.

Modern solar panel systems can last for 25 to 40 years, but some local environmentalists believe the project’s creators are being short-sighted. 

“It’s thoughtless of the future,” said Bonnie Bick, an activist in the Southern Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club. “It’s not sustainable.”  

Georgetown needs the land for 100,000 solar panels, which would improve the county’s carbon footprint, but devastate all the area hardwoods.

Hardwood trees can take upwards of 20 years or more to reach maturity and though the forest is relatively young today, it is still closer to becoming mature than any newly planted trees.  

“It’s good that these people are promoting solar energy, but we think they need to study a little bit more if they’re taking one step forward and two steps back,” added Bob Lukinic, a Charles County resident. 

Here are some of the hardwood trees found along North American forests, many of which are in jeopardy in Maryland as a result of the solar efforts: Ash, Beech, Basswood, Birch, Black cherry, Black walnut, Cottonwood, Elm, Hickory, Holly, Locust, Magnolia, Maple, Oak, Poplar, Red alder, Sassafras, Sweetgum, Tupelo, Willow and Yellow-poplar.

The particular forest that is in jeopardy of being clear-cut enjoy the company of kayakers, cyclists, and bird watchers, all who come from far and wide because the area is so pristine and beautiful. “It’s one of the last, best places,” said Loretta d’Eustachio, Nanjemoy resident. “We’re trying to preserve that.”