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[ Planting Ten Million Trees for Clean Water ]

A statewide partnership launched a major effort Tuesday to help protect rivers and streams by planting 10 million trees in the state by the end of 2025.

Trees planted next to streets and waterways form natural buffers to keep sediment and pollutants from reaching the water. The Keystone State failed to meet its goal of having 60 percent of its practices to clean up rivers and streams in place by the end of last year.

Harry Campbell, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania, said the project is critical to putting the state on track to meet its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.

“By putting our resources in this partnership,” he said, “we will substantially galvanize our efforts toward cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and our rivers and streams.”

He said the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership will put special emphasis on planting trees in Lancaster County and south-central Pennsylvania.

About 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in the state are impaired by sediment, agricultural runoff and the legacies of coal mining. Campbell said trees are the most cost-effective tools for cleaning and protecting the water.

“In fact,” he said, “streamside trees are the second leading best-management practice that Pennsylvania is relying upon to meet its Chesapeake Bay commitments.”

The state is required to have all its practices to restore rivers, streams and Chesapeake Bay in place by 2025. The partnership consists of national, state and local agencies, conservation groups, businesses and individuals.

Campbell acknowledged that planting millions of trees over the next seven years will be a challenge.

“Together, with our collective experience, ingenuity and enthusiasm, we can do this,” he said. “As a partnership, we will do this.”

When complete, he said, the project could achieve as much as two-thirds of the 95,000 acres of forested buffers called for in the Commonwealth’s Clean Water Blueprint.

More information is online at tenmilliontrees.org.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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