Work is underway for some of ClearWater Conservancy’s efforts to conserve the Slab Cabin Run watershed in the Centre Region.
“The first step of our efforts for the Slab Cabin Run Initiative was to help protect the lands that sit on top of the Harter-Thomas Wellfields,” said Executive Director Deb Nardone. “... Now that they’re permanently conserved, we wanted to begin helping to conserve the quality of water in the the Slab Cabin Run.”
Those lands were the Meyer Dairy Farm and the Everhart Farm, which sit outside the regional growth boundary in College and Harris townships, respectively.
The Slab Cabin Run Initiative is the conservancy’s $2.75 million effort to permanently conserve 300 acres of farmland and streams that lie in a source water protection area for the Harter-Thomas Wellfields, which provide the majority of drinking water to Centre Region residents.
After the conservation agreement for both farms was finalized in September 2017, the Meyer family retained ownership of all 300 acres and continues to use the land for farming. ClearWater Conservancy holds the developmental rights, meaning it will always remain an agricultural property no matter who owns it in the future, Nardone told the CDT in 2017.
This week, volunteers from the conservancy’s partner organization Native Creations Landscape Service — a local company that provides native plants for landscaping — are installing a riparian buffer along Slab Cabin Run in the area of Meyer Dairy Farm, which is made up of native tree and shrub species planted along the stream.
The riparian buffer, said Nardone, reduces nutrients from the surrounding agriculture that make their way into the stream, and acts as a fence for cattle to keep them out of the stream.
The planting covers 20 acres of land along the stream banks, she said. Each tree or shrub is protected by a “tree shelter” to provide cover from wildlife. Once the trees are planted, ClearWater Conservancy staff and volunteers will monitor them and help replace any trees that die off, she said.
“This is just one example of a larger effort that ClearWater is working to help protect State College’s water supply,” Nardone said.