Reforestation effort branches out to Hillendale

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Led by Brandywine Conservancy, trees will be planted to improve water quality

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Trees will be planted Saturday at Hillendale Elementary, part of a sweeping reforestation initiative by the Brandywine Conservancy.

In a far-reaching reforestation effort, community volunteers will help the Brandywine Conservancy plant 2,800 trees in Chester County this month alone.

The plantings will bring the conservancy up to nearly 24,000 trees in its five-year reforestation campaign. The goal: 25,000 trees in the Brandywine watershed by the end of 2014, a conservancy news release said.

The plantings will take place Saturday at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Hillendale Elementary School, a joint effort of The Brandywine Conservancy, Pennsbury Land Trust and Unionville-Chadds Ford School District; on Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in Kennett Square, with the Brandywine Conservancy, Dansko and Stroud Water Research Center in conjunction with the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic Program; and Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. in East Fallowfield, where the Brandywine Conservancy and Guardians of the Brandywine will plant trees at the location of a permanent conservation easement.

“With generous support from our partners and an increased awareness of the importance of planting trees, we are thrilled that we are so close to exceeding our five-year goal a year in advance!” said Sherri Evans-Stanton, director of the Environmental Management Center.

Reforestation focuses on enhancing water quality, restoring natural flows in the Brandywine, and improving plant and animal habitat. Trees provide food and shelter for life in and around streams, promote absorption of rain into the ground, replenish groundwater supplies, and reduce storm water runoff and downstream flooding. In addition, tree leaves, branches and roots reduce erosion and prevent excess sediment and nutrients from entering streams during storm water runoff.  Trees help to slow global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing the carbon, and then releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

The Brandywine and its tributaries are a major source of drinking water for communities in Pennsylvania, including Downingtown, Coatesville, and West Chester, and provide surface water for commercial, agricultural, and industrial uses. It also is the source of drinking water to over 140,000 people in the Greater Wilmington area in Delaware.

Trees for the plantings on Oct. 12 and 26 will be provided by TreeVitalize, a public-private partnership created by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, as a broad-based public-private partnership to increase public awareness of the importance of community trees, and to reverse the loss of tree cover in the state’s metropolitan areas. The program began in southeastern Pennsylvania in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

On Oct. 17, trees will be provided by the White Clay Creek National Wildlife & Scenic Rivers Program Watershed Management Committee, as administered by the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

The Brandywine Conservancy (www.brandywineconservancy.org) was founded in 1967.  It holds more than 400 conservation easements and has protected over 58,000 acres in Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania, as well as New Castle County in Delaware.  The Environmental Management Center provides conservation services to landowners, farmers, municipalities and developers.

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