Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Apr 24 2004 - Antietam Watershed Buffer Planting (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Jesse Swain, Martha Stauss, Jared Dant, Jeff La Noue, Kevin Littrell

Write Up:
Most of the tree planters met on time at the Frederick Towne Mall, although foggy conditions on the road getting there did provide some challenges to the drive. After introducing ourselves to each other, we all piled in together in Jared's car and headed out to the location at Quincy, Pennsylvania, just north of Waynesboro.

We arrived on time at the location only to find that overachievers who had arrived early were already moving the 450 trees from the barn where they had been dropped off down to spots on the side of the West Branch of Antietnam Creek to get them ready for planting. Once we arrived, we signed in and introduced ourselves to Marcy Damon, the host of the event with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), and connected up with Kelly and Martha who had driven straight to the site rather than coming through the carpool. Kelly turned out to have had the lazy option: her parents live in Waynesboro and since she was visiting for the weekend already, it was a ten- minute drive to the location. Those of us who had a two-hour drive were quite envious!

Once signed in with the CBF, we joined the tree crews taking green ash, silky dogwoods, and a variety of other native trees down to the banks of stream. By the time all the trees had been taken down to the stream, and a few of us admired a pair of fighting or mating groundhogs, (We city types were unsure which it was. One groundhog lay still for some time pretending to be dead until Jeff announced it was dead, at which time it got up and ran up the streambed just to prove him wrong. Groundhogs are spiteful.) Marcy and the other CBF organizers gathered everyone together for introductions and to explain the work we were to do.

There were about 90 volunteers all told, many of them local members of the Antietnam Stream Coalition. Several others were high school student doing school biology or service projects. The CBF staff explained that Washington County in Pennsylvania where we were has the second-highest levels of agricultural runoff in the state, and the adjacent county in Maryland through which the Antietnam Creek runs is the second heaviest agricultural runoff county in Maryland. So considerable agricultural nutrients run off this area, particularly into Antietnam Creek and thus into the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. But trees in riparian areas (along the sides of streams) can intercept this runoff and remove the nutrients, as well as providing shade on the streams, which keeps the stream water cooler, which in turn increases its ability to hold dissolved oxygen, which is critical to fish and the small insect larva on which they feed. The trees also reduce erosion and sedimentation in the streams, which means there are more stony spots where insect larvae can hatch and more for native brook trout and other fish to feed on. Thus restoring trees to the banks of the streams has a number of beneficial effects to help improve the general health of the Bay and the streams that feed into it.

The farmer, Mr. Hess, on whose land we were working, explained that the foundation provides the trees, potted and raised at the Claggett Farm CBF site in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, as well as free fencing for the farmers to keep their cattle from wandering into the stream areas where they would otherwise chop up the ground and pollute the water with their dung. He and his neighbor are looking forward to having a new forest grow at the edge of their land in return for pulling in their stock from the stream, though it is their children and grandchildren whom will reap the rewards of the work done today.

We then got instructions on how to plant the trees, and set off with shovels to put them all into their new homes in the ground. A couple of the trees had grown into their wire

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