Tuesday, December 11, 2018

DCNR, PennVEST Award Nearly $1 Million In Grants To Support Multi-Functional Stream Buffers

On December 10, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and PA Infrastructure Investment Authority announced the award of nearly $1 million in grants to support the planting of multi-functional stream buffers.
“These grants are for some really unique projects to explore an added financial benefit to the farmer or landowner by including plant species that can be harvested and sold,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Essentially, they let landowners take care of the land and water, and still pay attention to their bottom line.”
Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings filter the runoff of sediments and fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops; control erosion; slow stormwater runoff; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat.
Multi-functional buffers contain species such as nut trees, berries, and willows in buffer zones so that the landowner can sell these products, and realize some income from land dedicated to buffers.
“The PennVEST Board approved funding for this innovative program, not only to address water quality issues, but also to provide the basis for the development of a long term sustainable fund in order to support these sorts of projects into the future,” said PennVEST Executive Director Brion Johnson. “We look forward to helping these projects get underway.”
The grants by county are:
-- Butler -- Butler-Freeport Community Trail Council, $54,000, for approximately 6 acres of multi-functional riparian buffers in the Ohio River watershed. The council is partnering with the Audubon Society of Western PA to install buffers throughout the Important Bird Area and high-quality watershed of Buffalo Creek. Goods harvested from the buffer will potentially be sold at ASWP’s nature centers, local caterers, and farmer’s markets.
-- Centre/Clinton Counties -- Native Creations Landscape Services, $40,000, Construction of approximately 4 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Susquehanna River watershed. In partnership with major land conservancies, the organization plans install income-producing buffers related to fruits, nuts and flowers, uniquely designed for each individual landowner’s interests.
-- Westmoreland -- Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, $172,000, for landowner outreach and construction of approximately 9 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Ohio River watershed. The association aims to partner with several local organizations, such as the West Overton Village and Museum, to eventually sell the harvested products such as honey and jams, floral centerpieces, and brandy.
-- York -- Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, $191,600, for construction of approximately 20 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Lower Susquehanna River watershed. The plantings are part of a recently completed Land Use Management Plan for the 186 acre farm property, and will include a diverse array of harvested products from nuts and medicinal herbs to florals and biomass. In partnership with Franklin & Marshall College, data related to the ecological impacts of the buffers will be collected throughout the stages of buffer installation and growth.
-- Statewide/Regional -- PA Association of Conservation Districts Inc., $451,000, to support conservation districts in constructing approximately 85 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways throughout Pennsylvania. This sub-grant program will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to complete demonstration projects statewide, in partnership with local conservation districts. Each buffer will be designed for the needs of the watershed and interests of the landowner, resulting in a diversity of harvested products.
Pennsylvania has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of stream buffers by 2025.
Maintaining and restoring buffers along rivers and streams is a key strategy for improving water quality and aquatic habitat.
For more information on buffers, financial and technical assistance available, visit DCNR’s Forest Buffers webpage.
New DCNR Grant Round
To learn more about grant opportunities to support riparian buffer, trail and recreation projects, visit DCNR’s Community Conservation Grant Program webpage. A new grant round is opening January 22 and will close April 10.
Forest Buffer Summit
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Western PA Conservancy will be hosting a Riparian Forest Buffer Summit on February 20-21 at the Best Western Premier Conference Center, 800 East Park Drive in Harrisburg.
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