The Fish and Boat Commission works hard to protect riparian (streamside) trees and vegetation. Pennsylvania and the United States have laws and regulations that protect them. The Fish and Boat Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enforce these laws and regulations.
When people want to do something in the stream or along the banks of a stream, they must apply for a permit. The Fish and Boat Commission reviews about 1,000 of these permit requests each year. We look at the request to make sure it doesn't harm the fish and the things they need to survive. We make people fix what they damage. Sometimes we don't let them do things in the stream. That's how we protect things important to fish.
Lush forests once covered most of Pennsylvania. By the 1800s, Pennsylvania's landscape had changed. Can you name some activities that changed it? Forests along streams and lakes were removed or thinned. This changed water quality and habitat. As a result, fish and wildlife suffered.
How do forests protect streams and lakes? A streamside forest slows runoff from rain and snow. The forest gives the runoff time to soak into the soil. Eroded soil particles settle out. The soil, leaf litter (layers of dead leaves) on the forest floor, and roots can take up some pollutants, such as excess fertilizer.
Restoring forests along our waterways costs less than removing pollutants from the water. Leaves and twigs from the trees fall into the stream. They provide food and shelter for animals that live there. Trees provide shade from summer sun. Shade keeps water temperatures cool for fish. Forests support many more kinds of plants and wildlIfe than mowed streamsides.
Pennsylvania has developed a plan, called Stream ReLeaf, that encourages everyone to restore and conserve forests along streams and lakes. You can help. Do you know of a stream on your school's property, or in a neaby park? Ask your teacher what can be done to restore the streamside forest. Environmental clubs at some schools have helped plant trees and shrubs along their streams.
For information on Stream ReLeaf, contact the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Watershed Conservation, P.O. Box 8555, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8555; phone 717-787-5267; www.dep.state.pa.us.
PDF file of this article
PLAY Fall 1999
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Web Privacy and Security Policies