Log In

Reset Password

Partnership celebrates tree milestone in Pa.

In 2018 at the Lancaster County farm for the kickoff of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, I remember thinking about what an ambitious challenge planting that many trees would be and how important reaching that goal is for clean rivers and streams in Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, the partnership will plant its 5,000,000 tree. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would like to congratulate the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for coordinating the partnership and the more than 200 groups and individuals who have worked so hard to reach this milestone.

Planting streamside buffers has been a priority for DCNR, so naturally we are proud to have been a partner since the beginning.

Adding 10 million trees along streams, streets, and in other priority landscapes will accelerate Pennsylvania toward the 95,000-acre goal for its portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Trees are among the most cost-effective tools for cleaning and protecting waterways by filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing stream banks, and improving soil quality. We celebrate trees for many other benefits including:

• Addressing climate change by cooling the air and sequestering carbon;

• Providing shade that lowers water temperatures, improves habitat and food for aquatic life like brook trout and hellbenders;

• Absorbing and filtering storm water and reducing flooding; and

• Providing economic value from air conditioning, erosion control, wildlife shelter and air pollution reduction.

In addition to technical assistance like that offered by Chesapeake Bay Foundation and DCNR, it takes money and boots on the ground to plant so many trees.

What a tremendous job the many volunteers and conservationists of all ages from national, regional, state, and local agencies, conservation organizations, watershed groups, conservancies, outdoors enthusiasts, businesses, and individuals have done to reach the five-million-tree milestone.

We also acknowledge the pivotal role Chesapeake Bay Foundation played in getting the Keystone Tree Restricted Account passed by the legislature and signed into law three years ago.

Since 2019-20, thousands of Pennsylvania drivers have voluntarily donated $3 when renewing their driver’s license or vehicle registration online. More than $580,000 have been donated to the account to help plant trees.

Pennsylvania’s budget includes an $8.8 million appropriation to the Keystone Tree Fund.

DCNR is using the money from the fund to plant more trees through the TreeVitalize and Riparian Forest Buffer Grant programs.

The Riparian Forest Buffer Advisory Committee led by DCNR helps guide the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership in tree selection decisions. We meet monthly to talk about how to find more landowners to plant trees and share resources in order to get more trees planted along streams.

The committee will also coordinate a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation grant to Chesapeake Bay Foundation that will provide nearly $2 million to plant and maintain 360 acres of new trees, boost county-wide action plans toward their buffer goals, and training that will more than double the workforce of private sector landscape professionals for buffer installation and maintenance.

There is a lot left to do. There’s an urgency to getting trees on the landscape, and we encourage all to get involved.

In 2023, the partnership plans to directly fund and plant at least 518,000 more trees for Pennsylvania.

Adding 10 million trees for Pennsylvania will take a long-term commitment of funding, more landowners willing to plant trees, and precious time and effort from volunteers.

But for now, we celebrate.

Cindy Adams Dunn is the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, where she not only advocates for streamside buffer restoration and climate action, but also oversees a staff that manages state parks and forests and provides grants for community recreation and conservation.