On October 3, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced that $1 million in PENNVEST-funded grants are being made available to assist landowners with planting trees along streams in Pennsylvania to improve water quality. The grant application period opening this week also includes $250,000 for trails and projects related to the use of snowmobiles and ATVs.
Pennsylvania has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of streamside buffers by 2025.
“Simply put, we can improve the water quality in our rivers and streams by planting trees along them to slow down runoff and filter sediments and fertilizers we apply to the land,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
To expand the existing streamside buffer options for landowners, DCNR is piloting a multi-functional buffer option that is eligible for these grant dollars to provide greater flexibility in landowner eligibility, buffer designs, widths, plant species and offer the option of planting some income-producing crops in the buffer zone. For the PENNVEST-funded grants multi-functional buffers are preferred but not required.
“PENNVEST is pleased to be a part of this effort to expand multi-use buffers, as we believe it is imperative that we develop a sustainable funding source to support the streamside buffer goal for 2025 and beyond,” said PENNVEST Executive Director Brion Johnson.
The DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program grant round opened on October 2 and closes December 20 for these grants.
Individual landowners; businesses; non-profit organizations; local governments; and educational institutions are all eligible for the buffer grants, but must be prequalified. Information about how to prequalify is available online on the DCNR grant portal.
Funding for Snowmobile/ATV projects is through the ATV Management Restricted Account and the Snowmobile Management Restricted Account as authorized by Act 97 of 2016. The accounts are supported by registration fees.
Trail projects include acquisition, planning, development, rehabilitation, or maintenance of designated routes on land for motorized recreation activities. This includes the purchase of equipment for trail construction or maintenance.
Dunn noted that DCNR Bureau of Forestry service foresters located in each of the 20 forest districts statewide can assist landowners with information about planting forest buffers.
Forest buffers along stream banks provide critical barriers between polluting landscapes and receiving waterways. Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings filter the runoff of sediments and the fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops; control erosion; improve water quality; reduce flooding; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat.
To apply, visit the DCNR grant portal.