On March 1, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) awarded $1.1 million in grants for stream buffer projects to eight recipients across Pennsylvania. The funding will support projects that involve planting trees and income-producing species along streams, which improves water quality by reducing the amount of sediment that reaches waterways.
All projects include multi-functional buffers, which incorporate species such as nut trees, berries, and willows in buffer zones. Landowners could potentially sell these products, earning some extra income from land dedicated to buffers.
“Streamside buffers offer multiple benefits, including filtering pollutants, cooling water, and providing habitat for pollinators and wildlife,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams-Dunn. “These grants are intended to encourage some really unique projects to explore an added financial benefit to the farmer or landowner by including plant species that have harvestable products that can be marketed.”
The grants are administered through DCNR with funding provided by PENNVEST.
“Partnering with our DCNR colleagues on this important multi-functional buffer venture increases the availability of funds being channeled through existing structures,” said PENNVEST Executive Director Brion Johnson. “It will help with our clean water efforts and provide important information regarding possible revenue generating opportunities that could be used to help provide a sustainable funding source for future efforts.”
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.
The two-day Riparian Forest Buffer Summit sponsored by DCNR and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is intended to engage conservation professionals, officials and citizens and provide information and skills – from creating planting plans to working with contractors.
Through two previous grant rounds, DCNR has provided nearly $1.4 million statewide for stream buffers. Buffer grants also are available in the current open grant round, which closes April 11.
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.”
Below are the grants, listed by county:
$50,000 to Snipes Farm and Education Center for approximately two acres of multi-functional riparian buffers along water ways in the Central Delaware River watershed. The education center will use the buffer as a demonstration site for visitors.
$94,750 to Native Creations Landscape Services for approximately 16 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed. Working with local watershed partners and using prioritization tools developed by Chesapeake Conservancy, this business will work with private landowners to install multi-functional buffers.
Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster
$100,000 to Earthbound Artisan LLC for approximately four acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Lower Delaware and Lower Susquehanna River watersheds. Earthbound will primarily work with farmers to demonstrate the potential profits that could be made by installing and managing multi-functional buffers. The majority of buffers will be managed by Earthbound using organic techniques.
Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union
$353,000 to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy for approximately 56 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the West Branch and Central Susquehanna River watershed. This work will add buffers to sites that were already restored in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, primarily using Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener funding. The multi-functional aspect of these often narrow buffers will be in tree nuts and syrup.
$57,000 to the Lititz Run Watershed Alliance for three acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Lower Susquehanna River watershed. One of the proposed buffers will be planted on a floodplain restoration site, with potential to contribute harvests to nearby gourmet restaurants.
$142,000 to Friends of Johnston Inc. for approximately 15 acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Central Delaware River watershed. The Johnston Estate will offer public education and guided tours of the multi-functional buffer.
$50,000 to the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley for two acres of multi-functional riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Central Delaware River watershed. This project will support a partnership with a CSA program that may include the buffer harvest as part of the CSA offerings in the future.
$250,000 to the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc. to support support conservation districts in constructing approximately 45 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.