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Volunteers Make it Happen; Improving Local Water Quality by Lending a Hand

VolunteerOregon2The Oregon Dairy, owned and operated by the Hurst Family in Lancaster, may be best known for their award-winning bakery and their annual “Family Farm Days,” but on May 5th nearly 100 volunteers got to know the dairy a whole lot better by investing their time and energy into making improvements that will not only help the farm, but everyone downstream.

Volunteers from Lancaster, York, New Cumberland, Carlisle, and Reading planted a stream side buffer along a small stream that runs through the Hurst Farm, a tributary to the Conestoga River.

Members and volunteers planted 1,800 native perennial plants, and 50 native shrubs and trees. They also potted up 50 bare root plants headed for a micro-nursery at the Millport Conservancy, and pulled invasive plant species like garlic mustard.  But it wasn’t ALL work; volunteers enjoyed a tour of the farm and a delicious barbecued chicken lunch, compliments of Oregon Dairy.

CBF member Shelly Colehouse-Mayhew of Hanover helped with the planting. "This was my first time volunteering for a Chesapeake Bay Foundation event and I must say it was a very rewarding experience and I'm proud to be a part of it.” 

Volunteers are essential to completing this type of hands-on project, but they also play a tremendous role in CBF’s advocacy efforts. After accomplishing their hands-on work, volunteers engaged in a legislative update discussion with CBF’s Pennsylvania Outreach and Advocacy Manager, Kim Patten.

BoysPlanting“This group of volunteers was very engaged, and with nearly 100 people, it was certainly one of our best turnouts for a planting yet!” said Patten. “We briefed the group with updates on the federal Farm Bill and also about pending legislation related to the EPA’s science-based pollution reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay.”

Each volunteer was sent home with preaddressed postcards to write to Senators Casey and Toomey, asking for their support of clean water.

Project partner, LandStudies, Inc., prepared the site plan and instructed volunteers on how to plant the perennial buffer.  Both the trees and the perennial plants and shrubs will assist in curbing stream bank erosion, help filter pollutants before they reach the stream, provide habitat, and the perennials will also provide much-needed food sources for pollinators.

“The riparian area is near the entrance to the dairy, so we chose trees and plants that would offer visual appeal throughout the year,” Andrew P. Korzon, Environmental Designer for LandStudies. “We hope that visitors to the dairy will see the beauty of these trees and want to learn more about forested riparian areas. In addition to offering a beautiful setting for the Hurst’s, this site will also serve as a blueprint for implementing similar projects at other locations.”

The planting is part of a demonstration project at Oregon Dairy that illustrates the many options available to landowners interested in planting a stream side buffer.  In the near future, Oregon Dairy will be adding educational signage to identify each of the native species in the buffer. “We’d like to help the public better understand that there are a host of benefits to planting native species, and that they are quite beautiful,” said George Hurst, a partner in Oregon Dairy. “The riparian area will not only improve the stream but it will also serve as a tool for public education, and we’re excited about that.”

Visitors can see the early results at Oregon Dairy during their “Family Farm Days” June 12-14. “I live about an hour away from the dairy and plan to visit this summer to see the progress of the numerous trees, perennials and grasses that were planted,” said Ms. Colehouse-Mayhew. I hope they fill in the area quickly, so they can begin to provide the water quality benefits needed for this stream and the Chesapeake Bay."

VolunteerOregonDairyPartners of the planting project include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Oregon Dairy and the Hurst Family, LandStudies, Inc., Lancaster County Conservation District, Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, and North Creek Nursery.

Tree and shrubs were supplied by Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, herbaceous plants were supplied by North Creek Nurseries, and seed was supplied by Ernst Conservation Seeds.

Riparian Planting Includes:

Trees: Serviceberry, Red Maple, River Birch, Eastern Redbud, Sweebay Magnolia, Swamp White Oak.

Herbaceous Plants: Eastern Bluestar, Swamp Milkweed, Emory Sedge, Pink Turtlehead, Joe Pye Weed, Cardinal Flower, Brown Eyed Susan, Bluestem Goldenrod, Little Bluestem.

Shrubs: Viburnam, Nannyberry, Red Osier Dogwood, Elderberry.

—Kelly Donaldson

To view more of our restoration activities and learn how you can get involved, visit our website!



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