Native Plantings & Stream Buffers

Volunteers planting stream buffers. Photo by CBF StaffBy planting forested buffers (above) and living shorelines, CBF is creating natural pollution filters throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Photo by CBF Staff

The Importance of Rivers and Streams

Five major rivers—the Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James—provide nearly 90 percent of the fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay. These and the hundreds of thousands of creeks and streams that feed them, provide vital habitat for many aquatic species, including anadromous fish species like shad and sturgeon,turtles and amphibians, and important plants and grasses.

The Problem

Stormwater runoff from farmland and urban and suburban areas wash nutrients—often excessive amounts of them—into our streams and rivers eventually leading to the Bay. Too much of these nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus in particular) do great harm to our waters' critters, plants, and underwater life.

What We're Doing About It

By building and restoring forested buffers (multiple rows of native trees, shrubs, and grasses) along streams and rivers, we are able to capture and filter out the pollution from runoff through these buffers. They also provide important habitat for wildlife and aquatic species, stabilize stream banks against erosion, and help keep rivers cool in summer.

In addition CBF creates living shorelines along river and Bay waterfront with native wetland plants and grasses. These areas help restore habitat, prevent erosion, capture sediment, and filter pollution.

Nearly 100 volunteers planted a streamside buffer at Oregon Dairy.  Photo by CBF Staff.Nearly 100 volunteers planted a streamside buffer at Oregon Dairy.  Photo by CBF Staff.

Volunteers Create Pollution-Reduction Demonstration Project at Oregon Dairy

The water quality of a local Lancaster stream is looking up these days, thanks to a group of nearly 100 CBF members, volunteers, staff, and partners. The Oregon Dairy, owned and operated by the Hurst Family in Lancaster, may be best known for their award-winning bakery and their annual "Family Farm Days," but on May 5, 2012, nearly 100 volunteers got to know the dairy a whole lot better by investing their time and energy into making improvements that will not only help the farm, but everyone downstream.

CBF members and volunteers from around the region planted 1,800 native perennial plants, and 50 native shrubs and trees along Kurtz Run, a small stream that runs through the Hurst Farm, and a tributary to the Conestoga River.

Both the trees and the perennial plants and shrubs will assist in curbing stream bank erosion, help filter pollutants before they reach the stream, and provide habitat. The perennials will also provide much-needed food sources for pollinators.

"The riparian area is near the entrance to the dairy, so we chose trees and plants that would offer visual appeal throughout the year," said Andrew P. Korzon, Environmental Designer for LandStudies, Inc. "We hope that visitors to the dairy will see the beauty of these trees and want to learn more about forested riparian areas. In addition to offering a beautiful setting for the Hurst's, this site will also serve as a blueprint for implementing similar projects at other locations."

The planting is part of a demonstration project at Oregon Dairy that illustrates the many options available to landowners interested in planting a stream side buffer.  "We'd like to help the public better understand that there are a host of benefits to planting native species, and that they are quite beautiful," said George Hurst, a partner in Oregon Dairy. "The riparian area will not only improve the stream but it will also serve as a tool for public education, and we're excited about that."

Volunteers are essential to completing this type of hands-on project, but they also play a tremendous role in CBF's advocacy efforts. After accomplishing their hands-on work, volunteers engaged in a legislative discussion with updates on the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint and also on the federal Farm Bill.

 CBF member Shelly Colehouse-Mayhew of Hanover helped with the planting. "I plan to visit this summer to see the progress of the numerous trees, perennials, and grasses that were planted," she said. "I hope they fill in the area quickly, so they can begin to provide the water quality benefits needed for this stream and the Chesapeake Bay."

Partners on the project include Oregon Dairy and the Hurst family, LandStudies, Inc., Lancaster County Conservation District, Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, North Creek Nursery, and Ernst Conservation Seeds.

Check our calendar for an event near you.

You may also be interested in:
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Landowners in Pennsylvania can protect water quality in the rivers and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay by making their streamside property or farmland more conservation-friendly with help from this program.
  • Antietam Farm Stewardship Program Providing resources to help restore streams in this highly erodible watershed.
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Landowners in Pennsylvania can protect water quality in the rivers and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay by making their streamside property or farmland more conservation-friendly with help from this program.

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