Written by ClearWater Conservancy
Work on the Schaeffer family’s 3.7 acre buffer along Halfmoon Creek began in fall 2020. Initial efforts on the family’s organic farm included site preparation with assistance from local farmers, invasive species removal by ClearWater’s AmeriCorps member, Sidney Shultz, and planting of native trees and shrubs along Halfmoon Creek by Native Creations.
Soon, the buffer will be completed with the planting of two native grass and wildflower meadows adjacent to the trees and shrubs. Some of the eroding stream banks will also be strengthened with live stakes (planting branches of live plants directly into the stream banks), and work to control invasive plant species will continue. Native wildflower meadows will benefit pollinators and will be gently harvested for cut flowers. While the native plants grow to protect the stream and soil and provide wildlife habitat, the Schaeffer family also plans to steward their multifunctional buffer in order to harvest fruit, nuts, and herbs for cooking, and flash graze their pigs in the meadows. Of course they’ll also enjoy the beauty of the newly planted streamside forest-stay tuned for more photos as the trees and shrubs leaf out and the wildflowers and herbs start flowering.
Implementation of the 9-acre buffer along Slab Cabin Run on Joe Dionisio’s property began in summer 2020 with the removal of a large thicket of invasive shrubs along the stream. Due to the impenetrable thickness and size of the invasive shrubs, the work could not be completed by hand, but Bud Snyder Excavating was able to use a forestry mulcher machine to remove the invasive shrubs in a few days. In Fall 2020, Native Creations was able to then plant native trees and shrubs, a streamside forest, along Slab Cabin Run.
Due to powerlines over the stream, strategic location of the trees and shrubs was carefully planned to avoid creating any future problems for local electric service. Walking paths for the landowners and access points to the stream for the family dogs were also planned into the strategy for the streamside forest.
The Dionisio buffer installation will soon be completed with the planting of three acres of switchgrass, a native grass with deep roots for great soil conversation. Switchgrass can be harvested as a perennial crop for silt sock stuffing, biofuels, hay, pasture and other markets. Additional steps include planting a 3-acre wildflower meadow for pollinators, live staking to stabilize eroding stream banks and continued invasive species control work. Mr. Dionisio plans to enjoy his multifunctional stream buffer by harvesting switchgrass, fruit, nuts, and an existing hay field on the slope above the trees. Most importantly, though, he looks forward to walking his dogs on the paths throughout the buffer.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) approved both streamside forest projects as part of the DCNR multifunctional riparian forest buffer grants (funded by the Environmental Stewardship Fund, also known as Growing Greener) awarded to ClearWater Conservancy. The required funds to match DCNR grants are provided by partners at Native Creations Landscape Services, North Central PA Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Conservancy. In-kind match is provided by the landowners and ClearWater’s wonderful cadre of volunteers who help complete different aspects the buffer work, like planting wildflowers and live staking streambanks. A big thanks to all those involved with this important work!