Thursday, December 10, 2020

Greg Wilson, Donegal Trout Unlimited - Another DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanian Improving Water Quality, Fish Habitat

Greg Wilson is a volunteer and conservation co-chair with the
Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Lancaster county.

Ever since he can remember, Greg has been interested in fishing. After hearing many stories from a high school teacher, Greg started fly fishing and traveling all around Pennsylvania to do so.

Eventually, Greg wanted to work to improve his local waterways and began searching for resources to learn the best practices.

“There weren't many publications on stream restoration for non-professionals, so I was always looking for information,” says Greg. “Our main approach was to roll rocks, which protected the banks and discouraged livestock from entering the stream.”

Greg met with organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Stroud Water Research which gave him the tools he needed to make an impact.

“This opened a whole new dimension,” he says. “Native plants to anchor and shade our streams, and native leaves to feed the macroinvertebrates.”

He approached Donegal Trout Unlimited about starting a stream restoration project on a local limestone spring creek.

After 30 years of volunteering with the organization, he has seen a large improvement in water quality.

The group has been testing water quality for more than 25 years and documented a 50 percent improvement, with stream-bred trout now reproducing for several years. The plants they planted years ago are looking like a forest in a former barren pasture.

Greg always thought that if there were wild reproducing trout their work had succeeded, but he’s learned that it is an ongoing process with always more to be done.

On one of their projects the stream starts in town and then runs through farmland, so multiple issues of stormwater, sewage discharge, agriculture and suburban areas create many facets to work on.

One thing Greg has seen during his restoration work is the invasion of invasive plants, and the toll they take on our forests.

“I would never have guessed it is this difficult to build a forest,” Greg says. “We have voles and mice attacking the bottom of the trees, we have deer browsing the tops, we have invasives moving in and in some cases strangling them. But the rewards outweigh the risks, when we visit these sites and the trees and shrubs are doing well and water is improving, we see wild trout and birds and insects in the buffers -- that’s a good thing.”

Depending on where you live, there are many opportunities to volunteer. Many watershed groups are always looking for members willing to get involved.

For people that don't want to do the physical work, Greg says more water quality testers are always needed to collect important information to help identify problems and improvements.

Volunteer tree plantings and litter clean ups bring people together and help build pride and unite communities, with the benefit of getting kids outdoors participating and learning.

Greg says that “volunteering is very rewarding, especially if you are from the area and can view the projects growing up. At my age, I continue to plant trees knowing I may not get to enjoy their shade, but knowing someone will.”

Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending email to: to nominate someone.

  For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

(Reprinted from the December 9 DCNR Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Profiles In Leadership This Week:

-- Bart & Vivian Bartolacci Make Woods & Water Conservation Gift To The Future In Monroe County

-- The Miller Family's Farm, Stream Restoration Adventure - 4 Years Later In Berks County

-- The Tenacity Of Tree Planters Like Ann Wain Of Paxton Creek Watershed Assn. And PA Student Leader Lenka Platt Work To Improve Environment

-- The Witmer Family & Manada Conservancy Permanently Protect 89 Acres Of Woodland Along Kittatinny Ridge In Dauphin County

-- Farm Families & PA Farmland Preservation Program Permanently Protect 14,727 Acres Of Farmland In 2020

-- Farmers, Scientists In 15 Organizations Partner In New PA Soil Health Coalition To Achieve Water Quality, Farm Production Goals

-- 2 Chester County Townships Join Brandywine-Christina Watershed Pay-For-Success Water Quality Cleanup Initiative By i2 Capital, The Nature Conservancy

-- Volunteers, Landowners & Staff Of Lebanon Valley Conservancy Highlight 2020 Accomplishments & Goals

-- Volunteers In Darby Creek Valley Assn., Partners Cleanup Darby Creek Watershed In 4 Southeast Counties

-- Students, Adults Recognized By PA Resources Council As Winners Of 2020 Gene Capaldi Lens On Litter Photo Contest

-- Grateful For Our Volunteers - The Department Of Conservation & Natural Resources

-- Students Recognized At Westminster College Symposium On The Environment

-- Custodians Of Our Ecosystems - Women, Raptors And Unsettling Words Virtual Program Dec. 17, Lehigh Gap Nature Center

-- PA Architects Recognized In First Awards For Commitment To The Environment, Fighting Climate Change By PA Chapter American Institute Of Architects

[Posted: December 10, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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