A statewide coalition in Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday an effort to plant 10 million trees in the state by 2025, while members stood in a Lancaster County farm field ready to plant the first 100 trees along Little Chiques Creek. Pennsylvania State Sen. Rich Alloway, left, Darren Hebenton and Abby Hebenton plant a tree at Ranch Trail Commons in Carroll Valley. The effort, coordinated by Hebenton, is part of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania. (B.J. Small / CBF)

The aim of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership is to help Pennsylvania restore its streams and rivers — and do its part for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup — by putting the benefits of trees to work in reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment levels in local waterways and ultimately, downstream in the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is coordinating the effort with support from state, federal, nonprofit and private funding.

“Nineteen thousand miles of streams and rivers are impaired in Pennsylvania,” said Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Pennsylvania committed to plant 95,000 acres of forested buffers by the end of 2025 — with an interim goal of 65,000 acres at the end of 2017 — 48,000 was accomplished. [It’s a] good start but we’re not there ... This could be the supercharge that gets us over the goal line.”

While the effort is statewide, emphasis is on the southcentral counties contributing the most nitrogen and phosphorus to the Bay: Lancaster, York, Franklin, Adams and Cumberland. Plantings will range from the reclamation of coal mine sites to plantings in state parks, farmland, towns and cities.  

The coalition expects 31,000 trees to be planted by the end of April, at sites from the northern counties of Luzerne and Lycoming stretching downstream along the Susquehanna River to York and Lancaster counties. 

Groups like Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and county conservation districts will be among those facilitating the plantings. The Bay Foundation will assist groups with training, loaned equipment and trees.

According to foundation staff, planting 10 million trees will get the state about two thirds of the way to its 95,000-acre goal for planting forested streamside buffers to help restore the Bay, although the plantings will not be limited to streamside locations.

Words used by coalition partners to describe the effort included bold, ambitious and challenging, but Harry Campbell, the foundation’s Pennsylvania director, is confident that the large number of partners will enable them to reach their goal. 

“Many hands make light work. Together with partners new and old, we can plant 10 million trees,” Campbell said. “We encourage organizations, businesses, schools and anyone else concerned about restoring and protecting Pennsylvania’s waters to sign up as partners. All that’s necessary is a commitment to reducing pollution and to planting trees as a solution to making that happen.”