Despite this year's challenges, we remain steadfast, persistent, and focused on our mission to Save the Bay. From CBF staff and volunteers to advocates, teachers, and students, We the Watershed are finding innovative ways to carry on our important work for clean water. Find these stories and more in our Fall/Winter issue of Save the Bay magazine.
It was cold and pouring rain on Arbor Day 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The global COVID-19 pandemic was dampening spirits and plans. The official Lower Paxton Township celebration—complete with food trucks, music, awards, and games for kids—was canceled. But there were still trees to plant. So, Anne Ely Wain and eight other volunteers with the Paxton Creek Watershed & Education Association, taking care to stay distant from one another, brought some of the biggest saplings from their nursery to Centennial Acres Park, near the creek’s headwaters.
“The basketball courts, the tennis courts, the playground were all taped off, and the basketball court was locked,” Wain remembers. “We were all able and willing to do the work however we needed to do it. We decided to go ahead. It’s always a good thing to plant trees.”
Despite the surreal and difficult conditions, they put 30 trees in the ground. And while they may have been socially distant, they weren’t alone in this endeavor. The Paxton Creek Watershed & Education Association is a partner in the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, an initiative managed by CBF to improve water quality by planting 10 million trees in Pennsylvania by 2025. Collectively, partners planted 87 percent of the trees that were initially ordered from the spring tree drive.
When the partnership called Wain to confirm the planting was still on, taking delivery of the trees was an easy decision. She grew up in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania and says the forest was a big part of her childhood. She’s been a self-described tree hugger ever since and became an advocate for Paxton Creek after retiring to the Harrisburg area.
“One of the things we love about this area is the geography,” she says. “The Juniata and the Susquehanna, all the creeks, there are so many neat streams that feed into the Susquehanna. The waterways really connect people with nature here.”
Wain says the pandemic underscored the value of their work for a healthy watershed.
“People suddenly had time on their hands, so they started walking and going out canoeing and hiking,” she says. “Hopefully, it was opening their eyes to the importance of nature.”