Sappey, Comitta and DCNR Announce State Investment in Environmental Pilot Project in Chester County

Harrisburg, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced $333,991 in Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund grant funding for a Stroud Water Research Center water quality pilot project aimed at finding market-driven solutions to improving environmental conditions.

“This project represents a unique and innovative look at addressing a critical need to help improve water quality and stewardship of our freshwater systems in Chester County,” Dunn said. “We are proud to award this grant to Stroud Water Research Center and look forward to seeing the ecological and economic impact strategic agroforestry initiatives can have when focused on and incentivized.”

The grant will help fund Stroud Center’s implementation of 60-acres of multifunctional riparian forest buffers. Mutlifunctional buffers are an agroforesty practice that provide ecological benefits while producing income. Stroud Water Research is partnering with Propegate Ventures to demonstrate proof of concept for investment in agroforestry practices that improve water quality and soil health, while assisting landowners in meeting their production and income goals.

“Stroud Water Research Center deeply appreciates support from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to demonstrate agroforestry as a way of increasing forest cover in Pennsylvania to meet a long list of societal needs from clean water to climate change,”  said Matthew J. Ehrhart, Director of the Robin L. Vannote Watershed Restoration Program within the Stroud Water Research Center. “The unique contribution of Propagate Ventures to this partnership is their ability to help a farmer plan and execute a financially sound and profitable business model that turns a profit while improving natural resources.  We hope this 60-acre demonstration project on three farms will help unleash the private sector potential for this valuable work.” 

Analysis supported by the William Penn Foundation supports this pilot project and its intent to encourage farmers to plant trees and shrubs to create or improve freshwater buffers with the long-term goal of measuring the impact buffers have on water quality. The project will focus on the lower Susquehanna and Delaware watersheds and will include landowner outreach and engagement, buffer plantings and post-planting establishment, and other related site improvements.

“Our streams and watersheds not only a source of outdoor recreation in terms of fishing, boating, and supporting wildlife, they’re also a defining aspect of our regional landscape,” Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-19) said. “I thank DCNR and Stroud Water Research Center for supporting this project. By investing in riparian buffers, we’re investing in the future of waterways and our ecosystems. And when we protect water, we protect our way of life.”

DCNR provides grants to myriad projects across the commonwealth annually. Its Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants can fund:

  • Planning, acquisition, and development of public parks and recreation areas
  • Motorized and non-motorized trails
  • River conservation and access
  • Heritage areas and facilities
  • Conservation of critical habitat, natural areas and open space

Eligible applicants for these grants include counties, municipalities, municipal agencies, nonprofit organizations, state heritage areas, prequalified land trusts, and for-profit enterprises (for some grant types). Grant funding for the program comes from a variety of state funding sources including Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, Environmental Stewardship Fund, ATV and Snowmobile Management Restricted Accounts, Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program and federal sources including the Recreational Trails Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. DCNR selects the most appropriate funding source based on the applicant and proposed project.

“Stroud Water Research Center, which is located in the 158th legislative district, is world-renowned for its research and conservation work. I’m thrilled they have been awarded these funds, especially for riparian buffer installation, something I have worked on for many years,” Rep. Christina Sappey said. “Riparian buffers prevent flooding and stream bank erosion, ensuring healthy waterways while also providing natural habitat. As our region faces more frequent and severe storms, these buffers are becoming an increasingly important investment.”