Inside and Out: "Thinking Trees" During PA Holidays
PHOTO: With trees planted along our stream banks, our streams literally become water treatment systems in themselves.
December 10, 2012
HARRISBURG, Pa. - As Pennsylvanians set up and decorate tens of thousands of Christmas trees this holiday season, it's also an opportunity to give other, perhaps less showy, types of trees more credit, for their role in pollution control for the water we drink.
Lamonte Garber, agricultural program manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania, says planting native trees along streams is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to protect Pennsylvania waterways, and the environment in general.
"What pollution control technology is inexpensive to install, gets better with age, provides habitat and clean air, are beautiful to look at, and we can harvest them when they reach the end of their useful life?"
Garber says one Pennsylvania city already working to increase its tree population is Lancaster.
"Lancaster is looking to plant trees at such a rate that they can go from 28 percent tree canopy to 40 percent tree canopy by the year 2025."
Garber says that urban and suburban tree initiatives like Lancaster's can help better meet clean water standards. And when trees are planted along streams, he says, they can do even more, transforming a stream's ability to deal with pollution.
"With trees planted along our stream banks, our streams literally become water treatment systems in themselves, and they do that for free. Trees both reduce pollution getting into the water, and they also restore the stream's ability to self-purify."
Thousands of miles of Pennsylvania's waterways don't meet clean water standards. Garber blames stormwater and agricultural run-off as two of the top pollutants. He says planting trees along streams is one way cities and counties, farmers, and others can reduce water pollution problems.