Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Wednesday joined the Western PA Conservancy and volunteers in planting two acres of trees along the lake at Yellow Creek State Park in Indiana County to improve water quality.
"April, which hosts Earth Day and Arbor Day, is a good time to take action for our environment, and volunteer, tree-planting and clean up opportunities are scheduled," Dunn said. "Through the remainder of the month, DCNR staff will be working alongside our Friends groups and volunteers to encourage everyone to give back by planting trees, volunteering or trying some conservation practices at home."
The secretary joined more than 50 people planting 400 seedlings at Yellow Creek, as part of an effort coordinated by WPC and the Friends of Yellow Creek State Park.
"This planting is a great and tangible education tool on the importance of riparian trees, partnerships and restoring places that the public can immediately see and experience," said Alysha Trexler, a watershed project manager who coordinates riparian tree plantings for WPC.
Since 2013, WPC's watershed conservation riparian restoration project has planted 140 acres with more than 30,000 trees to reforest and restore areas along streams, creeks and rivers in western Pennsylvania to help protect water quality.
Other partners in the Yellow Creek project include Evergreen Conservancy, Bobcat of Indiana and the Indiana Rotary Club.
Cindy Rogers, a volunteer with the Friends group, said "it's wonderful that all these groups and volunteers came together to do this much-needed tree planting."
DCNR's Bureau of Forestry is leading an effort to work with numerous agencies, partners and landowners to expand forest buffers along waterways in the commonwealth.
"Just as people depend on water, rivers depend on woodlands. Trees and shrubs along stream banks help control stormwater and runoff, provide shade to cool the water and provide habitat and food for life in the streams," Dunn said. "Planting trees – anywhere – is something that anyone can do to make a difference."
Forest buffers along stream banks provide critical barriers between polluting landscapes and receiving waterways. Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings filter the runoff of sediments and the fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops; control erosion; improve water quality; reduce flooding; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat.
Dunn noted during the past 15 years tens of thousands of acres of buffers have been planted in Pennsylvania. The rejuvenated initiative will look to complement existing programs and provide greater flexibility in landowner eligibility, buffer designs, widths, plant species and innovative maintenance practices.
Yellow Creek State Park has implemented many green and sustainable practices as part of its operations, and educated visitors about them. They include:
-- Using more energy efficient watercraft and lawn mowers;
-- Planting native wildflower meadows, significantly reducing the need for mowing;
-- Using programmable thermostats and more efficient lights bulbs;
-- Installation of a wind turbine, which is also used to educate visitors about this alternative form of energy;
-- Cleaning with biodegradable soaps; and
-- Retrofitting buildings for efficiency.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
There are dozens of volunteer opportunities listed in the DCNR Calendar of Events throughout the remainder of the month. Some highlights include:
-- Jennings Environmental Education Center Take Back the Woods invasive species battle in Butler County, April 16;
-- Earth Day cleanup with Friends of MK Goddard State Park, Mercer County April 21;
-- Earth Day tree planting event at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Northampton County April 23;
-- Delaware Canal State Park paddle and clean up in Bucks County April 24; and
-- Friends of Cook Forest spring work day in Clarion County April 28.
Visit DCNR’s Calendar of Events webpage for more information. Click Here if you want to part of DCNR’s formal Conservation Volunteer Program. Visit the PA Parks and Forests Foundation website for information on State Parks for Forests Friends group near you.Visit DCNR’s website for information on all of Pennsylvania’s State Parks, Forests, hiking trails and much more.