In Susquehanna River Basin
Pilot program will incentivize best management practice, riparian forest buffers on agricultural lands
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance) was recently awarded $500,000 to pilot a conservation incentive program that accelerates implementation of agricultural best management practices to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution runoff, restore riparian forest habitat, and improve the in-stream habitat and passage specifically for the threatened Chesapeake logperch. Funding for this project is provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Small Watershed Grant program.
The Alliance will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other federal, state and local partners to develop an incentive program with a geographic focus in the Susquehanna Basin of York County, Pennsylvania and Cecil and Harford counties in Maryland. This effort will address the specific conservation needs of each farm’s entire operation.
Chesapeake logperch (Percina bimaculata), a small freshwater fish related to perch and walleye, were once abundant throughout the Susquehanna and Potomac River watersheds. However, habitat degradation and stream way obstructions have completely eradicated the species from the Potomac basin and severely reduced populations in the Susquehanna basin. In fact, the Chesapeake logperch is classified as threatened by Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service.
“The Chesapeake logperch is one of the few species where watershed improvement actions may be able to preclude its listing as an endangered species,” said Rich Mason, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist at USFWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office.
To increase and sustain logperch populations, streams must be restored to contain silt-free cobble or rubble and be surrounded by healthy riparian forest habitat. In order to meet these goals, this project will leverage existing public and private conservation programs to multiply the number of agricultural best management practices implemented. Additionally, at least 160 acres of new riparian forest buffer will be planted along over 35 miles of logperch-habitat streams through a conservation voucher incentive.
“Riparian forest buffers are a cost efficient practice that will help farmers reduce the nutrient and sediment run-off from their operations while simultaneously providing a multitude of co-benefits like wildlife habitat on both land and within the stream,” said Craig Highfield, Director of Forest Programs at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
About the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay:
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance) is a regional nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring together communities, companies, and conservationists to improve our lands and waters. The Alliance implements local programs that connect people to their waterways and becomes directly involved in restoration efforts. The Alliance was founded in 1971 and has offices in Annapolis, MD, Lancaster, PA, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA. For more information about the Alliance, visit allianceforthebay.org.