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Riparian Rangers Spotlight

As November turns the corner, autumn weather has begun to deepen our world with burnt orange hues, maroon, and umber tones. The leaves have fallen and are turning crisp underfoot. The trees are now returning to dormancy for the remainder of the year. Despite this, our work is not yet over for the season. This new month marks an opportunity to revisit our older riparian buffer sites and assess what needs they have for next year’s growing season.

After planting almost 100 sites and counting, our small staff would not be able to keep up with the demand of looking over each property with watchful eyes. Behind the scene are the real heroes of our riparian buffer program, the ‘Riparian Rangers’. They serve as a group of enthusiastic volunteers who diligently trek out to their assigned sites on a monthly basis to ensure all is well on the ground.

This year the Alliance is especially delighted to spotlight two stellar ladies who have proven dedicated stewards for several of our project sites this year! Rangers Jayne Duncan and Monique Dykman have both worked hard to make sure our buffers take root and grow with vigor. Below you can see them clearing out debris from the last flood, hand weeding invasive plants, and rescuing seedlings from bent over tubes.

Both women got involved with our work as an extension of the work they had both been doing in this area already. Last spring, the Alliance planted a small riparian buffer on Jayne’s property in Elizabethtown. Ever since, she has been eager to spread the word to her neighbors about the work that we do. She also keeps honeybees, and is constantly looking for ways to increase the native plant population in Lancaster County. Delighted with how her buffer is growing, she described how “the new trees not only provide forage for my bees, but support our native insect populations.”

Monique Dykman works in Dauphin County as a municipal stormwater coordinator. She has helped to implement several riparian projects in her township and jumped at the opportunity to give back to her community. In fact, even before becoming a certified Master Watershed Steward she was volunteering as a Ranger at a site in Lancaster Township.

The two met in PennState Master Watershed Stewards class this year. After just two classes the program had to be moved online due to the coronavirus. As part of the program’s service component, several classmates got involved in Riparian Rangers. It served as a pathway to get connected to the local community and still be socially distanced.

These ladies have worked hard to restore a new planting site that had been under a lot of flood pressure. The 4 acre buffer (that’s 800 trees!) is located on a dairy farm along beautiful Bowery Run in southern Lancaster County. Bowery Run, supplies water to the Octoraro Reservoir and drains directly into the Susquehanna River. Unfortunately, it is currently one of Lancaster’s most impaired waterways, and prime candidate for restoration work. A stream restoration was completed with Donegal Trout Unlimited and the buffer planting took place this past April.

Grading and planting a streambank doesn’t come without challenges, as Monqie and Jayne braved electric fences to rescue tree tubes from the stream while replanting the saplings that didn’t survive those spring storms. They even organized a volunteer work day to help get the site in top shape before winter settled in. Thanks to Jayne and Monique’s dedication, our riparian buffer sites are getting the care that they need to really thrive!

As the growing season nears its end, our dutiful Rangers may take a break from their tree care duties but they are patiently waiting until buds burst forth in late March to begin again. If you are interested in getting involved with our Ranger program, contact Brittany Smith bmsith@allianceforthebay.org for more information and a list of locations that could use your help!

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Brittany Smith Pennsylvania Conservation Coordinator, Pennsylvania Office