Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today joined in a streamside tree planting event at a farm in Lancaster County to kick off a local, state, and federal partnership to plant 10 million trees to improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, and Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding participated in planting about 100 trees along Little Chiques Creek. They were joined by farm owner Rodney Garber, EPA Region 3 Administrator Cosmo Servidio, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker, Lancaster County Conservation District Manager Chris Thompson, Future Farmers of America students, and a host of water conservation organizations.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation coordinates the “Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership,” supporting the effort with federal and private funding as well as some of more than $800,000 in state funding provided to the foundation from the DEP Growing Greener Plus and Environmental Education Environmental Justice Grant Programs and the DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program.
The goal is to plant 10 million trees by the end of 2025 to help Pennsylvania make significant progress in reducing nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment levels in streams and rivers.
“We’ve all seen fast-moving uniformly brown water in streams after a rainstorm, and many people have come to take it for normal,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It’s not. It’s sediment—literally the earth beneath our feet—eroding from banks to damage water quality and aquatic life.
“With 43 counties in the Bay watershed, Pennsylvania faces a great challenge to restore local water quality and help farms, towns, businesses, and residents make changes to prevent further pollution. The only way to meet the challenge is to combine innovative ideas with committed partnerships, as the Keystone 10 Million Trees initiative demonstrates today.”
“When we look at solutions for some of our conservation challenges, such as managing stormwater from very heavy rain events, having clean drinking water, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife, it turns out that trees are the answer,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are excited to work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many other partners on this movement to plant trees along streams and in communities across Pennsylvania.”
“A farm is the perfect place to kick off this initiative,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Prosperous farms and a safe, abundant food supply depend on clean water, and a clean water supply depends on strategic farm management practices like forested buffers. Pennsylvania’s farmers are key to clean water for our region and we are pleased to support them as stewards of our resources.”
While the partnership will plant trees throughout Pennsylvania’s part of the Bay watershed, special emphasis is placed on five southcentral counties, where land is under intensive agricultural use, which collectively put more than 30 million pounds per year of nitrogen pollution into local waters.
Trees will also be planted in parks, on municipal properties, and on private properties. Trees are cost-effective tools to filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing streambanks, and improving soil quality.
By the end of April, the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership will plant more than 30,000 trees at over 50 locations.