Streamside forests are beautiful, but they are also hard-working. These plants and trees slow and clean rain running off roads and fields, which means more less flooding and less pollution.
On their historic farm in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, Bud and Marilyn Miller have grown a streamside forest to purify the waters that sustain their family and community.
The Millers know firsthand how important clean water is, as they rely on a hand-dug well that’s provided their home with drinking water for decades.
To protect the water source, more than 1,500 native trees and shrubs were planted on 11 acres. It’s a shift from a manicured lawn running up to the river’s edge, and that’s a good thing.
“We wanted to clean up the water for the next generation,” says Marilyn. “We used to mow down all the vegetation along the stream, but now we understand the importance of plants and trees growing along it.”
Married for nearly 60 years, and with a large family including 6 kids and 18 grandkids, Bud and Marilyn now see their growing forest as a valuable investment for future generations. After having learned of conservation efforts for Tulpehocken Creek, they decided to put their learning into practice on their own land.
The Millers installed the streamside buffer with help from local organizations like the Stroud Center and the Berks County Conservation District, with funding from the William Penn Foundation and USDA. Through extensive work to create partnerships with farmers like the Millers, a network of more informed and active stewards is growing across the region.
Their stream drains into Blue Marsh Lake, and Bud and Marilyn know they’re doing their part to keep it clean, while preserving valuable topsoil on their land for crop production and wildlife cover. Further downstream, the Millers’ small actions add up, as other farmers and landowners join the increasing movement to keep their streams shaded, cool, and clean with streamside forests.
This work is part of a regional clean water initiative dubbed the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. The Delaware River Watershed Initiative is among the country’s largest non-governmental conservation efforts to protect and restore clean water—a first-of-its-kind collaboration involving 65 non-governmental organizations working together to protect and restore the Delaware River and its tributaries, which provide drinking water for 15 million people in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.