Environmentalist wins award for ICC documentary
Aug. 2, 2000
Monica P. Wraga
Staff Writer

Roswitha Augusta of Potomac combined her love of nature with the ICC issue to create an award-winning documentary.

The documentary, which took a year to film, focuses on the area near Shady Grove that will be affected by the ICC. In it, Augusta examines the effects of impervious road surfaces, pollution and the destruction of wildlife on Milk Creek, Rock Creek, Cabin John Creek and other local ecosystems.

Galen A. Lentz/The Gazette



Roswitha Augusta of Potomac is a self-proclaimed "tree hugger."

"I'm hooked on nature," Augusta said. "I sort of believe that we are trashing nature in a big-time way. We as a society need to look at what we're doing before we leap."

That's why Augusta produced and directed a documentary titled "Preserving the Future," which shows how Montgomery County's natural resources would be negatively impacted by the Intercounty Connector, a proposed highway linking Route 1 in Laurel with Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg.

"It seems the goal in Montgomery County is not to rest until everything is paved and developed," Augusta said. "I don't believe we need to move farther and farther out and destroy more trees. Everyone points at the rainforests ... but we have to look locally."

Although her documentary looks locally, it has been receiving national praise. On July 15, "Preserving the Future" won an award in the Hometown Video Festival in Olympia, Wash.

"To me, this award means, 'Yay! I'm on the right track," Augusta said.

The documentary, which took a year to film, focuses on the area near Shady Grove that will be affected by the ICC. In it, Augusta examines the effects of impervious road surfaces, pollution and the destruction of wildlife on Milk Creek, Rock Creek, Cabin John Creek and other local ecosystems.

"It's a great tool to use to reach a larger audience than we normally would have," said John Parrish of Silver Spring, a self-taught botanist.

Parrish helped film "Preserving the Future" and is the unofficial "star" of the documentary, Augusta said.

"He deserves so much credit because he lugged me around the woods and showed me the plants," Augusta said.

"I'm overjoyed with the finished product," Parrish said. "It's not Hollywood perfect, but Roswitha brought a lot of people together to complete this. It was a very grassroots effort."

Augusta also consulted with the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, and Tom Brown Jr., a New Jersey resident who operates a wilderness tracking and survival school.

"He gives me national credibility," said Augusta, who works in an industry that must often put the needs of the environment behind the needs of its customers. She owns Augusta Properties, a Bethesda company that invests in and manages apartment communities.

Augusta doesn't see this as a conflict, but as more of a challenge.

"I want to be an example in my industry as to how to run a business for profit and not ruin the world," she said.

Augusta Property incorporates its owner's environmental awareness in its management policies. According to Augusta, the company does not use weed killers, uses only organic fertilizer, and is developing a nontoxic program for apartment management.

She is working on a sequel to the documentary, which will try to alert the whole nation to the dangers of urban sprawl by using Montgomery County as an example.