Riparian Conservation

riparian_conservation

The riparian area is the zone of transition between land and water. A healthy riparian area is vegetated with appropriate native plants and is essential for stream health and water quality.

When people live or farm close to streams, vegetation in riparian areas is commonly disturbed or removed. This disturbance quickly begins to unravel the delicate balance that once existed between soil, water, plants and animals. Stream banks quickly become destabilized, streams become silted and warm, invasive plant species begin to colonize, and riparian-dependent wildlife disappears.

The goal of ClearWater’s Riparian Conservation Program is to improve stream quality throughout Central Pennsylvania through the program’s four areas of focus: stream assessment, stewardship, restoration, and protection. The program educates streamside landowners on the role of vegetated buffers, restores streamside buffers with native trees and shrubs, and permanently protects riparian areas through conservation easements.

Growing Native Program

A bird's eye view of a ClearWater tree tube. The staked tubes protect our young trees and shrubs from deer and other animals as they establish themselves and grow. Most tubes get covered with a biodegradable mesh sock to keep birds from flying in and getting trapped.
A bird’s eye view of a ClearWater tree tube. The staked tubes protect our young trees and shrubs from deer and other animals as they establish themselves and grow. Most tubes get covered with a biodegradable mesh sock to keep birds from flying in and getting trapped.

Growing Native Programs are well established in the Potomac area and are growing across Pennsylvania. ClearWater’s Growing Native Program in Centre County collects and propagates locally native species for use primarily in riparian restoration projects. The use of local populations of target species ensures success because these resources have the most suitable genetic material for the local environmental conditions and expanding the occurrence of these plants improves our local watersheds. The program is grant-funded and directed by biologist Katie Ombalski with Lucy Boyce and Steve Schroeder as lead volunteers. Penn State University is a partner and has furnished a site for Growing Native’s activities. The program relies heavily on volunteers for many tasks throughout the seasons. Most riparian species are grown from cuttings which are set to root in outdoor beds, under shade cloth, with drip hoses, including: various dogwoods, shrub willows, common elderberry, red-berried elder, common ninebark, American blackcurrant, and various viburnums. Other species are grown from seed, including: bladdernut, spicebush, honey-locust, black locust, redbud, winterberry, hornbeam and hawthorn Volunteers assemble at “potting parties” whenever they’re needed to get the seedlings and cuttings planted into pots. If you’d like to work with the Growing Native program please Click Here to fill our our online volunteer form. For more information about how you can enhance or protect your riparian property or to volunteer for the Riparian Restoration Crew, please contact Colleen DeLong at (814) 237-0400 or colleen@clearwaterconservancy.org.