The Halfmoon and Pequea Creek Watersheds Renewal Project, coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), is accelerating progress toward bringing impaired streams in the two Pennsylvania watersheds back to health.
The project uses a multipronged approach to help restore the health of streams in both watersheds that are impaired by nonpoint source runoff, like certain agricultural activities. Its goals are to restore and protect those streams for the health, well-being, and quality of life of watershed residents.
The basis for the renewal project is two innovative watershed management plans that combined emerging high-resolution watershed data and modeling with extensive local stakeholder engagement.
Partners developing and implementing the Pequea and Halfmoon plans with CBF included county conservation districts, local watershed and conservation organizations, academic institutions, state and local government agencies, local businesses, planning agencies, landowners, farmers, and residents.
Funding acquired by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is moving the five-year project forward. The senators requested $2.18 million for the Pequea Creek Watershed renewal plan in Lancaster and Chester counties. Senator Casey sought an additional $1.06 million for the Halfmoon Creek Watershed restoration plan in Centre and Huntingdon counties. It was the first time in a decade that senators were able to request funds for specific projects in annual appropriations bills.
Funding vital for development of the Pequea and Halfmoon watershed restoration plans was made possible by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
The Halfmoon and Pequea plans also are eligible for federal funding through the Clean Water Act and other sources.
The project increases critically important conservation technical assistance to farmers in both watersheds, access to specialized equipment for use by Plain Sect farmers in Pequea Creek, and meaningful hands-on experiences to actively engage and inform farmers about issues like the interrelationships between soil and stream health, conservation tools and techniques, and the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
A dedicated position will be added in each watershed to cultivate and implement conservation opportunities with agricultural producers, landowners, agribusinesses, partners, and contractors.
Contractual technical assistance will help create conservation plans and design practices. In the Pequea watershed, access and use of non-motorized cover crop and no-till equipment will be available for use by Plain Sect farmers.
The project will also offer a series of hands-on farmer-to-farmer conservation field days to teach and engage farmers through hands-on experiences.
“The Renewal Project represents an evolution in CBF’s work to reduce pollution to Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams. Using our plans as a guide, this project will accelerate implementing key practices to bring streams back to health, improve wildlife habitat critical to critters like the brook trout, and enhance local appreciation of our local waters,” said Harry Campbell, CBF Science Policy and Advocacy Director in Pennsylvania.
Under the Pequea plan, funding will be used to keep soils and nutrients on the land with such practices as cover crops, no-till agriculture, riparian buffers, streambank fencing, streambank stabilization, and other practices.
The goals for Halfmoon are to reduce sediment, preserve critical landscapes, restore degraded landscapes, and foster stewardship of the watershed.