Protecting Forests, Watersheds, and Habitats

Restoring streams in 11 focal geographies in Pennsylvania, including in the northern tier of the state, is a priority for the Foundation.

A Multi-Faceted Partnership:

Protecting 11 Focal Geographies

A Multi-Faceted Partnership:

Protecting 11 Focal Geographies

In a unique partnership, the Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and The Trust for Public Land, along with other organizations, are working together to protect and conserve the diverse, critical aquatic and forest habitats in Pennsylvania’s western counties based on a detailed strategy outlined in the Western Pennsylvania Restoration Plan. Among these habitats are 11 focal geographies that are of particular interest to the Foundation. 

Last year, when the NFWF, which matches public conservation dollars with private funds and applies them to the most pressing environmental needs, implemented a request for proposal approach, the Foundation’s $600,000 investment attracted an additional $3,400,000 from the NFWF and award recipients. That funding is now advancing the Foundation’s goals for the 11 landscapes by opening streams, removing barriers to fish passage, and restoring stream-side forest buffer, as well as in-stream, riparian, and mature and young forest habitat. It also is helping to ensure best management practices on more than 67,000 acres of farmland. An $850,000 grant in 2018, which will be matched at least two-to-one by the NFWF and its grantees, will help the NFWF deliver projects that help the Foundation meet its goals for habitat protection and restoration in western Pennsylvania. 

Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation’s largest grassroots cold-water conservation organization, provided the trout location datasets included in the Foundation’s conservation plan developed in conjunction with the NFWF. As a result of TU’s 14-year-old West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Initiative, water quality is markedly improved, water chemistry is within normal limits, and the number of fish in the Susquehanna River has increased 30-fold. In addition to TU’s ongoing work to improve eastern brook trout habitat in five major West Branch Susquehanna watersheds, it is building capacity in the Foundation’s targeted conservation landscapes so that various organizations can implement projects that benefit eastern brook trout through sediment reduction, culvert replacements, water quality improvement, and riparian reforestation. A $625,000 Foundation grant will support these and other efforts to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitats in the Foundation’s focal geographies, as well as inform future project development. An additional $10,000 one-time investment will enable TU to update its datasets for eastern brook trout in the region and incorporate the new information into the Foundation and the NFWF’s data layers.

Formed in 1994, the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds (FPW) is a leader in watershed restoration and preservation, working with numerous grantees and partners to reinvigorate streams, restore riparian buffers, and improve in-stream habitat. FPW also is helping to underwrite field research needed for Pennsylvania’s unassessed waters program, which is revealing previously unknown wild trout populations. In addition, FPW oversaw a specific grant to develop detailed datasets that provide Geographic Information System (GIS) information at the one-square-meter level—which is 30 times more accurate than most GIS information—in the Foundation’s 11 focal geographies, and will be used to target high-impact restoration activities. A $500,000 Foundation grant will support all three areas of FPW’s work—enhancing streams and their habitats, assessing unassessed waters, and completing the detailed GIS datasets—in the Foundation’s geographies of interest. An additional $125,000 Foundation grant will support FPW in regranting funds, previously handled by the NFWF, to colleges and universities that use summer stream assessments to train aspiring biologists and ecologists in watersheds that align with the Foundation’s focal landscapes. 

Until the 19th century, when it was felled by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, the American chestnut played a central role in the ecology, economy, and culture of Appalachia and adjoining regions. The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) strives to return the iconic American chestnut to its native range, using scientific research and breeding methods that are among the most ambitious biological restoration efforts in the world and likely will be the template for renewal of other tree and plant species. A $100,000 Foundation grant will help restore 10,000 American chestnut trees in six focal geographies identified by the Foundation and an additional 1,500 trees to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

Established more than a century ago by sportsmen and businessmen gravely concerned about the dramatic decline of many wildlife populations, the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) recognizes that wildlife management must be a blend of science and art in relation to dynamic human circumstances, values, and expectations, and is dedicated to restoring and ensuring the well-being of sensitive species and their habitats. Because of the quality of WMI’s habitat restoration efforts, the Foundation has supported the organization’s work periodically for more than two decades. Using a $50,000 Foundation grant, WMI will restore 110 acres of habitat in two of the Foundation’s focal geographies—the Laurel Highlands and the Upper Juniata—centering on critical habitats for two avian indicator species. Through this restoration work, WMI hopes to increase the population of breeding pairs of golden-winged warblers by at least ten pairs and singing American woodcocks by three pairs. 

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) strives to protect land for people, creating close-to-home parks, particularly in and near cities. The group also conserves working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places for people to experience nature close at hand. In the last two years, TPL managed datasets for the Foundation and the NFWF’s 11 priority landscapes as detailed in the Western Pennsylvania Restoration Plan. A grant of $20,000 will provide funding for TPL to manage and regularly update the datasets that inform the Foundation’s efforts to restore and protect land and water in the region. TPL also will collect data, recalculate statistics for the focal areas and individual parcels, and assist Foundation and the NFWF staff and others in using the associated website and decision-support tool to design and develop new projects in the region.