2 Pennsylvanians Among Chesapeake Bay Forest Champions Honored

Four Chesapeake Forest Champions were honored last weekend at the 2011 Chesapeake Watershed Forum held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.  The winners included Susan Benedict, a forest landowner from Centre County, and David Wise, CREP Manager with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Pennsylvania Office.
            Susan Benedict
            The forest landowner who models exceptional stewardship was Susan Benedict of Centre County, Pennsylvania.  Susan manages a certified Tree Farm on her family’s property, implementing many conservation projects on the land including planting pollinator habitat in a forested ecosystem.  
            As a local activist, Susan heads the Centre County Natural Gas Task Force where she advocates for responsible gas drilling to minimize the negative impacts on Pennsylvania’s forests and other natural resources. 
            She is a board member of Woodland Owners of Centre County, a trained Pennsylvania Forest Steward volunteer, and a member of a long list of other forest organizations.  No one knows better than Susan that forests provide wood products, clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and a host of other benefits to people. She acts on her knowledge by educating and assisting anyone who will listen.
            David Wise
            For greatest-on-the-ground impact, the award went to David Wise of Chesapeake Bay Foundation for his leadership in restoring streamside forest buffers through the Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Partnership.
            Since 2000, Pennsylvania CREP has restored more than 22,000 acres of forested buffers (more than all other Bay states combined), bringing roughly $100 million in cost share, incentive and rental payments to over 4,000 streamside landowners to restore riparian forests.
            This level of restoration has resulted from the combined efforts of a long list of partners, including USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and other organizations.
            However, key to the partnership’s success has been the innovative outreach and technical assistance team that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has built.  The PA CREP partnership’s success is a model of what can be achieved through the combination of the right incentives, energetic outreach, an effective reforestation approach – and a champion like David whose persistence and creativity keeps the momentum going. 
            The U.S. Forest Service and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay sponsored the inaugural Chesapeake Forest Champion contest in honor of the International Year of Forests. The awards recognize groups or individuals that have made a difference to people and/or the Bay through their promotion of trees and forests.
            For more information, visit the Chesapeake Forest Champions webpage.


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