By Harry Campbell, PA Executive Director, CBF
Penn Manor High School junior Rose Drumm nestled an 18-inch red bud seedling into a small hole in the soil of an Amish farm in Lancaster County. Its moist bare roots, when gently covered with dirt, anchored a single branch bearing small green buds. It stood firm and hopeful in the April afternoon sun as Pequea Creek rolled by.
The red bud seedling is among the thousands of sycamores, oaks, maples and other trees making their way to Pennsylvania stream sides and hillsides this spring. Some have come a long way to do an important job.
Trees like those planted by Rose Drumm came from Michigan.
We are proud of our tree-planting efforts in Pennsylvania. Trees play a significant role in reducing water pollution, whether it be on a farm or in a city.
Planting red buds and other trees as streamside buffers is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce polluted runoff.
Trees and their roots can filter as much as 60 percent of nitrogen, 40 percent of phosphorus and nearly half of sediment in polluted runoff. A single mature oak tree can absorb more than 40,000 gallons of water per year.
Trees also provide flood control, cool water for brook trout, wildlife habitat, and even improve the air we breathe.
With financial support from the Arbor Day Foundation, CBF purchased roughly 14,000 trees through local conservation district tree sales for planting this year.
Last year, we gave away 12,280 trees to 148 landowners in 14 Pennsylvania counties through the same partnership. These trees are used to repair existing streamside buffers and to plant new ones.
Though awards are not the true reward, we are pleased that our restoration efforts and providing trees through the Arbor Day Foundation were recognized at the state and national levels.
In April we received the prestigious Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence for helping landowners plant thousands of trees, reduce pollution of rivers and streams, and improve water quality in the Commonwealth.
Later that month, we were in Nebraska to accept the Good Steward Award from the ADF's 2016 National Awards Competition.
ADF said the award "recognizes landowners or organizations whose creativity, outlook, and accomplishments exemplify wise stewardship practices and sustainability on private land from which others can learn."
Our tree planting program in Pennsylvania also provides the perfect educational opportunity for students who are considering careers in agriculture. While planting trees on that Amish farm, Rose Drumm worked with CBF restoration specialist Ashley Spotts as part of our new Mentors in Agricultural Conservation job-shadowing program.
About 25 students signed up for the mentoring program to participate in restoration work and learn first-hand about conservation projects on farms.
Restoration specialists Jennifer Johns, Kristen Hoke, Frank Rohrer, Steve Smith, and Ashley Spotts help farmers install soil and water projects that ensure a healthy, profitable farm for future generations.
We are proud of what they do. Our tree planting work and mentoring program influences the futures of farming and water quality. It's an effort rooted in the goal of leaving a clean water legacy for future generations.
Visit CBF’s Clean Water Counts webpage and find out how clean streams are near you and let others know that Clean Water Counts!
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the CBF-PA webpage. Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).
(Photo: Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Adams) [black shirt] and tree planting team in Adams and Franklin counties.)
(Reprinted from CBF-PA’s Spring 2016 BayBound quarterly newsletter.)
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