Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding Thursday joined students from the Midd-West FFA Chapter planting trees along an unnamed waterway in Snyder County to protect and improve water quality.
"As we approach Earth Day on Saturday, it's a good time to think about the difference each of us can make protecting our land and water. Planting trees, especially along streams, helps improve the quality of our water nearby, and downstream," Dunn said. "Another benefit today is that the trees are being planted by students, raising awareness about of the role farming can play in conservation efforts for young people who are the farmers, teachers, government officials and community leaders of the future."
The trees are being planted on the 15-acre Midd-West School District Agricultural Education Center and are intended to buffer the waterway from any impacts from a nearby livestock barn on the property.
"Farmers are among the original stewards of our land and water resources, so it's appropriate that these young people who are studying agriculture as part of their education are learning good water and soil stewardship," said Redding. "With more than 33,000 active Pennsylvania's farms located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we must balance our commitment to a vibrant agricultural sector with our commitment to water quality."
The Midd-West FFA Chapter is a student-run leadership organization of 330 members enrolled in agricultural education courses at Midd-West High School.
"The agricultural education program at Midd-West High School is committed to providing the most authentic, yet sustainable learning environments for students," Agricultural Science Instructor David Bittner said. "This includes managing our fields, forests, and waterways just as agricultural producers do every day."
Dunn noted that DCNR Bureau of Forestry service foresters located in each of the 20 forest districts statewide can assist landowners with information about planting forest buffers.
Forest buffers along stream banks prevent sediments and nutrients from the land from entering the water, and provide shade to help keep water temperatures cooler for trout and other stream life.
DCNR's mission is connected to water conservation and quality through:
-- Protecting forested landscapes -- including woodlands, stream buffers and community trees – that serve as natural filters for pollutants entering waterways;
-- Rivers conservation;
-- Management of lakes, rivers, streams, beaches and shorelines for habitat and recreation;
Groundwater knowledge and role in water well drilling;
-- Managing resources to provide water-based recreation; and
-- Grants for green infrastructure in local parks and recreational facilities.
For more information, visit DCNR’s Stream Buffers webpage.
(Photo: Secretary Redding (left), Secretary Dunn (3rd from left) and the important people-- FFA students.)
Related Story:DCNR Leading Statewide Forest Buffer Planting Effort To Improve Water Quality