This project addresses these needs by focusing strategic forestry practices in priority watersheds to optimize water quality benefits in the Chesapeake Bay. It also serves as an implementation model for local, regional, or state agencies designing restoration approaches that include forestry practices. Pennsylvania is focusing this grant on expanded riparian forest buffers and tree planting in priority areas.
Forests and trees play an essential role in meeting and maintaining water quality goals. The Chesapeake Bay was identified as an important multi-state priority in the Bay State Strategies and Assessments, and the Potomac River is the second largest source of freshwater into the Bay. This project works toward state and regional water quality goals through a two-pronged approach:
- restoring trees and forested buffers where they will have the greatest water quality benefits and
- managing and conserving existing forests to preserve current benefits.
Efforts are concentrated in priority watersheds with high pollution loads. CBF leverages the innovative programs and diverse partner network established by the Potomac Watershed Partnership (PWP) and others to assist in program targeting and delivery.
The Pennsylvania focus areas are identified by areas with significant need for forest buffers and other tree plantings for improving water quality.
- The Potomac watershed portion of Franklin County is an intensively farmed area with noted needs (per Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection assessments) for forested buffer restoration.
- The Antietam Creek watershed has a 319 implementation plan and will be a particular focus within Franklin County. The area adjoins the South Mountain with its largely-intact forests. Thus, forest and stream habitat gains in the Antietam basin will bolster this larger area's integrity.
Works will also "plant seeds" of conservation in the wider Potomac watershed to increase awareness of forested riparian buffer restoration. This will include outreach and buffer restoration projects that will generate discussion and awareness in a long list of local communities.