HARRISBURG, Pa. — National, state, and local partners gathered at a Franklin County park this morning, to celebrate the planting of the 5-millionth tree in an ambitious, collaborative, and challenging effort to plant 10 million of them in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, comprised of over 200 groups and coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), launched the campaign in April of 2018. On Wednesday, the partnership lowered the midpoint, milestone oak tree into the ground at Furnace Run Park in Shippensburg. Volunteers planted other trees at the park in the afternoon.
“To get here has taken an intentional group of partners willing to collaborate, dedicate their time and knowledge, be transparent in what we learn, and commit ourselves, funds, people, and resources in a way that serves the greater good of Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Brenda Sieglitz, CBF’s partnership manager. “CBF has led as the backbone of this collective impact model to ensure consistency for over 240 partners since 2018.”
“The idea behind the partnership was to connect all the pieces to leverage resources and accelerate progress,” said Alison Prost, CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection & Restoration. “This included exploring the supply train and how better to secure a ready source of local, native trees and gathering the people closest to local projects who had the relationships with farmers and landowners. It was figuring out a system to track the trees going into the ground to demonstrate progress and get the all-important ‘credit’ in the Bay model.”
Roughly 28,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams are impaired by polluted runoff and the legacy of coal mining. Trees are the most cost-effective tools for cleaning and protecting waterways by filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing streambanks, and improving soil quality. Trees help address climate change by cooling the air and sequestering carbon.
“I helped plant the first tree, and I am thrilled to be here for the 5-millionth,” Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “There’s an urgency to getting trees on the landscape because of the many benefits they provide, and we encourage all to get involved. Along with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and all of its partners, DCNR accepts the challenge of planting the next five million trees.”
“Conservation measures are critical for sustaining Pennsylvania agriculture and natural resources, as well as the health and wealth of our communities,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Planting trees along waterways is an important and effective way to improve water quality and soil health. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is honored to join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and our state agency partners in planting the 5-millionth tree as part of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership.”
More than 20 staff members from the national Arbor Day Foundation were in Harrisburg to help celebrate the historic planting and a special anniversary.
“The year 2022 is a milestone year for the Arbor Day Foundation as we celebrate our 50th anniversary,” said Nancy Rew, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Arbor Day Foundation. “We’ve done a lot in our five decades of inspiring people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. In fact, we’ve helped to plant almost 500 million trees in more than 50 countries around the world, and not a single one of those trees would have been planted without our incredible network of members, supporters, and, most importantly, our tree planting partners like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.”
Also offering remarks at the event were: Tim Schaeffer, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Executive Director; Paul Weiss, Chief of the Pennsylvania Game Commission Forestry Division; Bill Chain, CBF Interim Director for Pennsylvania; and Sam Cressler of Southampton Township.
The Commonwealth’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 would accelerate the Keystone State toward its clean water goals, achieving as much as two-thirds of the forested buffers goal.
The partnership is placing special emphasis on plantings in Lancaster County and four others in southcentral Pennsylvania. Those counties are critical because of the amount of nitrogen pollution generated and that local stream impairment and overall loss of trees along streams and streets is where greatest need meets greatest opportunity.
In 2023, the partnership plans to directly fund and plant at least 518,000 more trees for Pennsylvania.
“We have three more years and five million more trees to plant. The midpoint is not the finish line and the pandemic, and its economic and human impacts put us more than a year behind in our midpoint goal,” Sieglitz said. “Next year we have over 500,000 trees available from the partnership alone. Tree work is not slowing down and neither is the partner or CBF commitment.”
“Today we celebrate five million trees on the ground in PA filtering water, keeping soil in place, growing larger to provide much needed shade in a warming climate, helping build farmers resiliency to climate change, helping build healthier communities for future generations,” Prost added. “I am confident we will all be celebrating soon the planting of the 10 millionth tree.”
To learn more about the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership visit www.TenMillionTrees.org.
–B.J. Small, Chesapeake Bay Foundation