I enjoyed the opportunity this morning to speak about smart growth and PlanMaryland to the Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment. The group, known as HoLLIE, asked some very challenging questions. What was most impressive was their continuing committment to fostering an educated dialogue about environmental issues. The program is in its fourth year, but this is its first year meeting in the also very impressive James and Anne Robinson Nature Center off Cedar Lane in Columbia. With the Middle Patuxent River running through it, the setting is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in Howard County. The design of the $18-million center, decades in the making, was breathtaking. And its multi-media exhibits were Smithsonian-quality, including a “tabletop” video board that lets you pilot a virtual helicopter over the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help you learn about it. Nature studies have moved way beyond catching lightning bugs in a jar.