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Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Aqua Pennsylvania announce more than $210,000 in tree planting grants to local environmental groups

ABOVE PHOTO: Volunteers who participated in previous planting projects. (Photos courtesy of PHS/Aqua Pennsylvania)

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), in partnership with Aqua Pennsylvania and local conservation districts, is joining forces to announce the 2024 grant recipients of their vital tree planting grant program, “Trees for Watersheds.” The Trees for Watersheds grant program, formally known as TreeVitalize Watersheds, provides critical funding to help plant trees and shrubs along waterways and in other areas to keep vital waterways in Southeastern Pennsylvania clean.

Since 2005, PHS has been working with these local partners to reforest river corridors, also known as riparian buffers, and other areas. A larger canopy helps improve water quality and provides additional environmental benefits, such as better air quality. These trees and shrubs help protect the quality of drinking water supplies by stabilizing stream banks, lowering temperatures, absorbing contaminated rainwater and replenishing groundwater supplies.

Thanks to the support of PHS Tree Tenders, volunteers, grants from the PA DEP Growing Greener Funds and Aqua, an Essential Utilities Company, program beneficiaries have been able to plant more than 213,000 native trees and shrubs in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including in Bucks, Chester. Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

Since the inception of the Trees for Watersheds grant program, PHS has supported community and nonprofit organizations in planting these vital trees and shrubs. Aqua has been a key partner and funder of the program, investing more than $1.9 million to date in tree planting projects in the company’s customer service and spring water protection areas.

By leveraging the expertise of PHS and local conservation districts, the program can get funding and other resources into the hands of community partners doing on-the-ground work to restore canopy and improve water quality. Communities where the projects are located also benefit from reduced air pollution, improved open space and improved wildlife habitat.

The grants allow partner organizations to deploy a wide range of resources where entire communities can come together to expand the canopy. One program led by Upper Darby Township along Darby Creek brought together the efforts of the Township Public Works Department, hundreds of hours of plant support from residents and members of the Upper Darby Tree Tenders group, and even a hired herd of goats to help with the cleanup invasive plants before planting. In 2023, the Trees for Watersheds grant helped this group plant 145 trees.

“At the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, we are pleased to be part of the ‘Trees for Watersheds’ program with Aqua and our other partners,” said Matt Rader, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “By supporting local communities to plant trees in these crucial watershed areas, we will not only ensure cleaner water for all, but we will also create vital habitat for wildlife and promote the health and wellbeing of all. This program is a testament to the power of PHS’s expertise in uniting people, government and stakeholders under a shared vision of how horticulture advances communities. We are excited to see the lasting impact these trees will have on our environment.”

“The Trees for Watersheds grant program has been a tremendous asset in helping the Montgomery County Conservation District achieve its mission to protect and improve the quality of life for the residents of Montgomery County and surrounding communities by (in partnership with others ) timely and efficient service, education and technical guidance for the wise use of our soil, water and related resources),” said Brian J. Vadino, watershed specialist and Envirothon coordinator for the Montgomery County Conservation District.

“Forests, especially those along waterways, are critical to protecting water quality,” said Chris Crockett, vice president, chief environmental, safety and sustainability officer for Essential Utilities. “Thanks to the many community partners working on this program, we have replanted over a thousand acres to improve the protection of our drinking water sources for generations to come.”

For more information about PHS’s Trees for Watersheds Grant Program, visit: https://phsonline.org/TreesforWatersheds.

2024 Trees for Watersheds Grant Winners

Bucks County:
Heritage Conservancy (two project grants)
Warrington community

Chester County:
Downtown district
East Whiteland Township
Natural areas, ChesLen Reserve

Province of Delaware:
Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association (two project grants)
Darby Creek Valley Association
Haverford Township Parks & Recreation (three project grants)

Montgomery County:
Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Variety – The Delaware Valley Children’s Charity
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy (ten project grants)
Riverbend Environmental Education Center
Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Philadelphia:
Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Fairmount Park Conservancy (two project grants)