The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides eligible area farmers with financial and technical assistance to help them address conservation issues through the voluntary establishment of wetlands, hardwood trees and riparian buffer practices.
Interested landowners can contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) for enrollment.
Nutrient Management Planning
The Watershed Conservation Program has a number of staff members who are certified to develop nutrient management plans through the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission. Assistance with preparing Plan Development Incentive Program cost-share applications can also be provided. In addition to developing nutrient management plans, the program offers on-site consultation for the implementation of related Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as stabilized stream crossings, roof runoff management, waste storage, and general barnyard management.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Program, visit http://panutrientmgmt.cas.psu.edu/.
Riparian Restoration & Protection Initiative
What is the Stream Bank Fencing Program?
Stream bank fencing and stabilized stream crossings are approved Best Management Practices (BMPs) that help improve water quality in streams flowing through agricultural lands. Agricultural runoff is one of the major pollution sources affecting streams in Pennsylvania. Excess nutrients and sediments are carried downstream and become a problem not only for neighbors, but also for fish, animals and humans that depend on streams for food, water and habitat.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation Program has partnered with organizations and agencies such as Ducks Unlimited, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, PA Game Commission, California University of PA’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife, county conservation districts and many others to provide a stream bank fencing program that will benefit farmers, the community and the environment.
Who installs the fence?
Watershed Conservation Program staff will provide an experienced private contractor to construct stream bank fencing and crossings along selected stream segments. They will ensure that these practices are completed to the landowner’s satisfaction.
How is the project funded?
Funding from the project comes from various private sources, as well as grants and contracts from state and federal programs. Watershed Conservation staff will work with the landowner to determine the costs that the program will cover.
What is the landowner’s responsibility?
Landowners are expected to maintain constructed management practices for a period of at least 10 years. A simple two-page contract is required before construction can begin.
What are some benefits of Stream Bank Fencing?
- Healthy Livestock
Fence and stream crossings may help reduce the risk of animal injury. By limiting the access livestock have to the stream, you will also reduce the contact they have with waterborne bacteria that may cause black leg, mastitis and other ailments.
Vegetation provides erosion control, wildlife habitat and flood control. Vegetation acts as a buffer between the pasture and the stream and traps run-off such as animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers and sediment. Buffers can help to enhance habitat by providing coverage from overhanging vegetation and shade to help regulate water temperature.
- Improved Water Quality
Water is a shared resource. Whatever happens upstream will affect what happens downstream. By keeping cattle out of the stream, you are helping to keep a natural resource clean by preventing animal waste from entering the water source. Small organisms, such as a mayfly larva, to large organisms such as the PA state fish – the Brook Trout – depend on a clean waterway in order to survive.
- Natural Landscape
A natural vegetative buffer consisting of native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers can enhance the beauty of the farm landscape.
What Will Be Monitored?
In order to ensure the proper benefits of the stream bank fencing and to provide for future funding, the Watershed Conservation Program will monitor the fencing site for two years. The site will be monitored before and after construction and the results will be compared. The data collected will be used in reports to show water quality changes over a two-year period. Three water samples will be collected from your stream each time: one sample when the stream enters your property, one sample at the middle section of the stream, and one sample where the stream exits the property. The samples collected will be tested for the following:
- Fecal Coliforms
- Dissolved Oxygen
- Total Dissolved Solids
- Stream Insects
These tests are important in determining the water quality of the stream. The results will be compared to other results within the watershed and a priority list will be developed to help determine what stream segments are greatly impaired. The priority list will determine the order that the stream segment will be fenced.