DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanians: Matt Keefer, Assistant State Forester, Named Chesapeake Bay Forest Champion

Matt Keefer, an Assistant State Forester for DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry, who oversees community and private forest stewardship, recently was named a Chesapeake Forest Champion for 2018 by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the U.S. Forest Service for his outstanding efforts to conserve and restore forests within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Matt received the “Greatest on the Ground Impact” award for his work in the development of DCNR’s new state-funded riparian buffer grant program, which supports partners’ efforts to reach landowners seeking alternatives to USDA funding programs.

Riparian forest buffers are the trees, shrubs, and grasses planted along streams that play an important role in maintaining the health of our waterways. They act as filters for the sediments and pollutants from farm fields, residential lawns, and roadways to help keep them from reaching the water.

Forested buffers can be quite challenging to implement in Pennsylvania, where plain-sect and other farmers often shun federal programs, and small farms make every acre valuable for production.

Matt always keeps in mind the human component of buffer implementation, never forgetting that each landowner who adopts buffers as a practice may have different motives, needs, and desires.

Matt is leading the exploration of new incentives for buffer adoption, including the multi-functional buffer concept, incentivizing landowners to grow products within their buffers for sale or personal use -- helping overcome the idea that buffers usurp productive ground.

Matt also is leading the development of the innovative “Prime Prospects” project, which analyzes publicly available social data-mined information to identify landowners who are more likely to implement riparian forest buffers.

Through partnerships with Penn State and the University of Montana, this work will lead to focused landowner outreach -- which has already resulted in a dramatic increase of PA service foresters and other technical assistance providers reaching new landowners, helping find the right-fit buffer program for their properties.

This innovative approach to targeting landowners is expected to continue to streamline and increase outreach effectiveness over the next several years.

Matt also developed the Riparian Forest Buffer Advisory Committee, which includes individuals representing more than 40 organizations, businesses, and agencies who bring their diverse opinions, experiences, and ideas to the table for consideration to further Pennsylvania’s buffer work.

Under Matt’s leadership, we are seeing continued innovation that goes well beyond what has been historically possible for Pennsylvania.

Click Here to learn more about DNCR’s riparian buffer work.

Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending email to: ra-resource@pa.gov to nominate someone.

For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website,  Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.


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Related Story:

DCNR’s Matt Keefer Honored As Chesapeake Bay Forest Champion

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(Reprinted from the March 6 DCNR Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

[Posted: March 6, 2019]


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