On September 6, ClearWater Conservancy was awarded a grant from the Community Conservation Partnership Program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to install new riparian buffers, also known as streamside forests, along streams on seven properties in the Spring Creek, Spruce Creek, and Penns Creek watersheds.
ClearWater received $268,600 for stream restoration projects and will match the state funds, dollar for dollar, for a total community investment of $537,200. This is ClearWater’s sixth Riparian Forest Buffer grant from DCNR.
“This is the largest grant ClearWater ever received from DCNR for stream restoration,” said Colleen DeLong, habitat stewardship biologist, ClearWater Conservancy. “This level of support will make a substantial and long-term impact on the health of local waterways as well as the communities and wildlife they support.”
The grant will be instrumental in supporting multiple phases of new stream restoration projects planned for 2023-2026 and beyond. From planning, site preparation, and planting new trees and shrubs, to long-term stewardship to grow mature forests, ClearWater Conservancy will manage these projects from start to finish alongside landowners and conservation and community partners.
“Pennsylvania’s streams support wildlife and habitat that Pennsylvanians rely on for healthy and beautiful places to live, work, and play,” said Tom Ford, director of DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. “The 86,000 miles of streams throughout the Commonwealth define and strengthen our communities. Our grants help our local partners meet the vision and goals they have for their communities and the waterways flowing through them.”
Streamside forests support the health of streams and watersheds by improving water quality, providing wildlife habitat, reducing soil erosion and filtering flood waters and stormwater.
Additionally, the grant allows for the planting of "multifunctional forest buffers" which include fruit and nut producing species for landowners to harvest for their family's use or to sell. Examples of native species that might be planted on a multifunctional buffer include elderberry, hazelnut, blueberry, and serviceberry.
Projects supported by the grant will take place on agricultural and residential properties in Centre and Huntingdon Counties and advance Pennsylvania’s Buffer Initiative led by DCNR that includes a goal to install 95,000 acres of buffers in Pennsylvania by 2025.
Below are before, during, and after photos of a stream restoration project in Centre County that illustrates 1) the stream prior to the streamside forested buffer being planted, 2) the streamside forest beginning to grow, and 3) the streamside forest maturing over time.