Friends of Rock Creek's Environment*
Friends of Rock Creek's Environment (FORCE) is a nonprofit organization working in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington, DC, to protect and restore Rock Creek. Since its founding in 2005, FORCE has become just that--a force for positive change in the Rock Creek watershed.
FORCE is the only organization that focuses on the Rock Creek in its entirety. The creek meanders 33 miles through the Washington metropolitan area, crossing federal lands as well as district, city, county, and state boundaries. Although parkland borders much of the creek, the surrounding development threatens the health and beauty of these natural areas. FORCE is uniquely positioned to foster watershed-wide outreach, education, and protection efforts to overcome threats to Rock Creek.
Our mission is to promote a healthy and sustainable Rock Creek watershed through conservation, education and restoration. We pursue this mission through public outreach, advocacy, and on-the-ground action.
For years, people knew of both the enormous value of Rock Creek and the threats it faced, but there was no agency or organization that focused exclusievly on this natural treasure. Several federal, state, and local agencies recognized the need for an organization that could be a voice for Rock Creek and worked together to launch a new organization to serve this purpose.
In 2005, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) to promote formation of a group to focus on overcoming threats to Rock Creek. This grant provided funding to hold informational meetings, create an organization, develop a board of directors, and improve awareness of the creek and its issues. Partner organizations included the Montgomery County Government, the National Park Service, the DC Government, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the City of Rockville, and the Audubon Naturalist Society. Then-ICPRB staff member Steve Saari wrote the original grant proposal and was deeply involved with the early development of the group that became Friends of Rock Creek's Environment. Steve is now with the District Department of the Environment and is still an active FORCE member.
From the outset, FORCE was concerned with responding to environmental challenges across the entire watershed rather than on a jurisdictional basis. As such, FORCE has concentrated on building partnerships with organizations and governmental agencies in both Maryland and District of Columbia, and has grown quickly into a vibrant organization of people who love Rock Creek and work to protect it.