Written by Clear Water Conservancy
In Autumn 2020, ClearWater Conservancy and Native Creations Landscape Services partnered with local landowners, Jodi Hakes and Michael Beck, to plant one acre of native streamside forest, or streamside buffer, along Spring Creek.
As Jodi and Michael were planning and building their dream home, practicing responsible land stewardship for their floodplain and the segment of Spring Creek flowing through their property was a top priority.
“The very reason we selected this site for our home was the natural beauty of Spring Creek, forested banks, and surrounding floodplain, so for us it was a foregone conclusion that we would learn proper stewardship of the land and its inhabitants,” the landowners shared when asked about why the project was important to them. “Partnering with Clearwater Conservancy and Native Creations has helped us tend to the land in a way that promotes the kind of habitat that our wildlife neighbors depend on.”
Before the native streamside forest could be planted, invasive plants and shrubs had to be removed first, requiring a great deal of expense and hard work. Propelled by their enthusiasm for the project, Jodi and Michael took a hands-on approach to site preparation for the incoming plants and shrubs. They hired Native Creations to remove solid shrub thicket of invasive species, including honeysuckles, privet and multiflora rose. In addition to speeding up the site preparation process, Jodi and Michael also provided matching funds for grants that make it possible for ClearWater to assist landowners with stream buffer projects.
Following site preparation, the streamside forest, or buffer, was planted with trees and shrubs to create a habitat referred to in conservation terms as a multifunctional forest buffer (MFB). MFB’s consist of native trees and shrubs that thrive in floodplains and also produce fruits and nuts that landowners can harvest for their own use or to sell. Typical native species that have value as food for people include elderberry, hazelnut, blueberry, and serviceberry.
Following the site prep and initial plantings, the project shifts into the next phase which is forest stewardship. Ongoing stewardship is needed for many years to ensure that plantings grow successfully into larger trees and a healthy mature forest. During this time plants may need to replaced, competing vegetation needs to be removed, and invasive species must be monitored and controlled as needed.
These efforts require a long-term commitment from landowners and support from conservation partners with the right blend of technical expertise, resources and funding. Pennsylvania provides funding to non-profits and small businesses for these buffers through PA Department of Natural Resources (PA DCNR) MFB grants as well as PENNVEST MFB grants.
Many thanks to Jodi and Michael for the contributions and excitement they bring to this stream buffer project. ClearWater Conservancy is grateful for their partnership and look forward to working with them for many years as their streamside forest grows!
Partners and funding sources on this stream buffer include Jodi Hakes, Michael Beck, Native Creations Landscape Services, North Central PA Conservancy and ClearWater Conservancy using PA DCNR and PENNVEST grants. We are grateful for all the partners who work with us to restore streamside forests.