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Riparian Buffer Message Delivered at County Fairs

Posted: August 25, 2014

Penn State Extension Water Resources Extension Educator, Jim Clark, put together a riparian buffer water message that he is displaying at the county fairs in North Central Pennsylvania this summer. The message is simple, “Find a Stream and Plant a Tree”.
Caption: Penn State Extension Riparian Buffers Display at the Potter County Fair in North Central Pennsylvania

Caption: Penn State Extension Riparian Buffers Display at the Potter County Fair in North Central Pennsylvania

The most important step that homeowners could take to improve the quality of water in streams that flow through their property is to establish a riparian buffer. It would be great if it could be 50 feet wide, but this would not be practical on a lot of properties, so homeowners are encouraged to do as much as they can. This best management practice can save time, labor, and energy, because homeowners just need to stop mowing to the edge of the stream or water body.

Riparian buffers have several benefits including preventing sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous, pesticides, and other pollutants from entering the water. The plants in the buffer slow runoff water carrying pollutants and help it infiltrate down into the ground. Forested riparian buffers slow down flood water reducing its ability to do damage. One Forest Service study showed that a single 9 year old pear tree was able to intercept 58 gallons of storm water from a half inch rain event. Buffers provide valuable wildlife habitat and the overhanging riparian vegetation keeps the water cooler. As Clark’s poster states “Riparian buffers often lead to healthier streams”.

Two handouts accompany the exhibit and both can be found on the web. The Penn State Extension Riparian Buffers Brochure and the factsheet entitled “The Role of Trees and Forests in Healthy Watersheds” are available on Penn State's Green Industry website.