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How close to the goal is the initiative to plant 10 million trees across Pennsylvania?

Photo Credit: USDA

Despite lingering pandemic restrictions, the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership will plant about 65,500 native trees this fall, bringing the total planted since the 2018 campaign launch to more than 3 million.

In addition to helping to address climate change, trees are the most cost-effective tools for cleaning and protecting waterways by filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing streambanks and improving soil quality.

More than 25,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams are impaired by polluted runoff and the legacy of coal mining.

Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Blueprint calls for about 95,000 acres of forested buffers to be planted in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Adding 10 million new trees alongside streams, streets and other priority landscapes by the end of 2025 would accelerate the state toward its clean-water goals, achieving as much as two-thirds of the 95,000-acre goal.

The additional 95,000 acres of streamside buffers will provide incredible pollution-reduction benefits. Reductions from agricultural landscapes alone would include more than 4.6 million pounds of nitrogen reductions, 22.2 million pounds of sediment reductions and 43,000 pounds of phosphorus reductions.

Native tree species are preferred and support natural ecosystems by providing habitat and food for birds, mammals and insects. More than 130 native tree species grow across Pennsylvania. Popular types include the oak, hickory, maple, dogwood, red bud, sycamore and honey-locust.

The partnership, coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, this fall also will be making site visits to landowners to plan for 2022, for which 453,000 trees have been ordered.

“That is more than double the number of trees we planted in 2021 and actually more trees than we’ve planted to date in one year,” said partnership manager Brenda Sieglitz.

“We’ve rebounded in 2021 to actually have a backlog of projects and high demand of landowners waiting for trees for next year and we are excited for that.”

Collective efforts by the 200-member partnership and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have added more than 3 million trees along local streams and in urban settings since the campaign launch in 2018.

Marcus Schneck Penn Live

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