MANCHESTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Twenty acres of land surrounding Shallow Brook Intermediate School will soon be filled with trees.
It’s part of the effort to reach Pennsylvania’s goal of adding 95,000 acres of forest buffers near streams by 2025.
The work aims to improve water quality and meet the Chesapeake Bay’s restoration goals.
The largest project in York County involves hundreds of local volunteers and students.
The state, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Penn State Cooperative Extension Master Watershed Steward program all teamed up with Northeastern School District for the project.
“The stream sort of snakes through this bottomland area,” said Ryan Davis, the forests program manager at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
Students started planting this week.
“We were finished in no time planting hundreds of trees,” said Jodi Sulpizio, a Penn State Cooperative Extension natural resources educator and the Master Watershed Steward coordinator.
Tubes protect the newly planted trees from deer.
“As you can see, it’s really tiny right now, but probably within a year, it’ll be outside of the shelter,” Davis said about one of the trees.
Experts admit 95,000 acres is an ambitious goal in less than six years, but this large-scale planting involving students keeps them hopeful.
“This is one of the many ways that Pennsylvania can reduce its nitrogen, sentiment and phosphorus,” said Davis.
“They’re going to help to filter pollutants that are running off the landscape,” said Sulpizio. “They’re going to help control the erosion.”
Organizers say the project, which will take years to complete, will be incorporated into lesson plans.
“Instead of just doing statistics with stuff on paper, they can do statistics here with what trees survived, so this is intended to be a living classroom too,” said Davis.
“They’ll be able to incorporate some of that into community service hours,” said Sulpizio.
The alliance says it’s not just up to farmers and scientists to join restoration efforts.
Like the school, any company, organization or homeowner with a stream in their backyard can help.
The group works to get funding so landowners don’t need to pay.
“Anywhere someone wants to plant trees, I’ll figure it out,” said Davis.
Similar projects are happening across the state, oftentimes on township or municipal land.
There was another planting in Lebanon County on Sunday afternoon.