Susquehanna Watershed Restoration


A six-year-old buffer on Lititz Run in Millport, Pennsylvania.

CBF Staff

One of the longest rivers in America, the Susquehanna River extends over 400 miles from its headwaters in New York to its confluence with the Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehanna provides over half of the fresh water entering the Bay, and along the way it provides drinking water to thousands of people. Unfortunately, the Susquehanna and many of her tributaries suffer from pollution, pollution created largely by the nearly 4 million people living within her watershed. The pollution comes from a variety of sources, some, like our own daily activities, and others that come from industries and agriculture. Not surprisingly, the largest amount of pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay comes from the Susquehanna. And the largest source of that pollution comes from agriculture.

CBF's efforts in the Pennsylvania portion of the Susquehanna watershed are focused on helping communities and farmers improve water quality by starting locally. Whether it's working with farmers to implement better farm practices, or with local watershed associations and other groups to plant trees along streams—we work one-on-one with people to make change happen. Our staff of restoration specialists provide one-on-one technical assistance in the implementation of agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) that improve farm sustainability and significantly reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution to local waterways.

CBF's approach to restoration integrates multiple programs, funding sources, and BMPs into a whole-farm approach. Our creative and cost-effective methods improve water quality, and solve on-farm production, management, and waste problems.

Our restoration team recognizes the need to balance economic viability with environmental sustainability, and that each farm and situation is unique. Working with farmers and partners like the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, county conservation districts, and private consultants, our team provides the right technical knowledge and assistance to addresses natural resource concerns while improving farm management.

The end result is cleaner waters and more profitable, sustainable, and environmentally responsible farms.

Public and private funds are strategically utilized to restore watersheds in areas with high concentrations of polluted runoff from agricultural activities. Some of the BMPs include: conservation and nutrient management plans, forested riparian buffers, streambank fencing, barnyard improvements, and field practices such as rotational grazing and no-till. Many of these practices result in reduced soil erosion, improved soil health, and healthier streams.

Since 1997, CBF has directly invested more than $25 million in helping over 5,000 Pennsylvania landowners, primarily farmers, to implement conservation measures. CBF funds have leveraged well over $100 million in additional funds and modeled effective conservation strategies. Seven field staffers provide technical assistance on forested buffer installation through USDA's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Since 2001, CREP forested buffers have leveraged roughly $95 million in state and federal funds and aided over 4500 PA landowners (available to non-farmers & farmers).

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