Butler County will receive more than $50,000 from the state to plant trees along with Butler-Freeport Community Trail.
Officials say the trees serve as a buffer zone to keep runoff from entering the Ohio River watershed; which keeps nutrients and sediments from the land from impacting water quality.
The Buffalo-Freeport Community Trail council will partner with the Audubon Society of Western PA to plant trees along six acres.
Goods harvested from the buffer- including nuts and berries- will potentially be sold at local farmer’s markets and nature centers.
In total, the Wolf Administration will award close to $1 million in grant investments to five recipients throughout Pennsylvania for planting trees and income-producing species along streams.
All projects include multi-functional buffers. They 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.
“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.”
DCNR adminsters the grants with funding from PENNVEST.
“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 (ASWP) 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.
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.
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.
Statewide/Regional – Pennsylvania 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.
Buffer grants also are available in the current DCNR open grant round, which closes April 10.
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.
For more information about stream buffers visit the DCNR website at www.dcnr.pa.gov and choose “Water” under “Conservation.”