We’ve heard a lot about trees lately: Devastating deforestation is occurring around the world, caused by wildfires and unrestrained development. According to a study reported in Science magazine, the most effective way to fight global warming is to plant lots of trees, a trillion of them, maybe more. More than 3 trillion trees now grow on Earth, seven times more than scientists previously thought. But according to the study, it’s also trillions fewer than there used to be.

Here in Adams County, we also need trees to protect the health of our streams. The best way to do this is to create more riparian buffers; a riparian buffer is simply a vegetated area alongside a stream. A buffer between a stream and adjacent land is important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem and to stabilize the banks of a stream. For a riparian buffer to function properly, it should include a variety of natural woody vegetation including rushes, tall grasses, shrubs, and, most importantly, trees. A buffer equal to the width of the stream on each side of the stream is good, and a buffer twice the width of the stream is excellent. (A lawn is not a buffer because a mown lawn does not absorb surface runoff, and the root zone is not deep enough to stabilize a stream bank.)

Mark Berg is member of the board of the Watershed Alliance of Adams County (WAAC). WAAC’s web site www.adamswatersheds.org contains information if you would like to join, contribute, or volunteer.

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