The Brandywine Conservancy has been awarded a grant of nearly $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The funds will be used to protect and restore water quality in a 15.5-square-mile area of farmland in the headwaters of the Brandywine Creek's west branch to benefit local residents and downstream communities. The conservancy will collaborate on the project with the Stroud Water Research Center and Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, working together with farmers in Salisbury Township in Lancaster County and Honey Brook Township in Chester County, a conservancy press release said.
The Brandywine and its tributaries are a major source of drinking water for more than a half million people, including the communities of Downingtown, Coatesville, and West Chester in Pennsylvania, as well as the city of Wilmington. The Brandywine also provides water for commercial, agricultural, and industrial uses.
Using the grant funds, the partners will work with farmers in this predominantly Plain Sect community to provide technical assistance and promote and implement agricultural best management practices (BMPs) that increase profitability while protecting and restoring the water quality of the Brandywine at its source, the release said.
These BMPs may include stream bank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, managing barnyard run-off, assisting with manure management, installing stabilized stream crossings, and planting trees along the stream corridors, all to help keep sediments and pollutants out of the streams.
The project aims to restore dozens of streams in the Brandywine headwaters area currently listed as "impaired" by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Restoring these headwater streams to “unimpaired status” will have a significant positive impact on downstream users and result in measurable water quality improvements over time, the release said.
The Brandywine Conservancy protects water, preserves land, and engages communities, using a multi-faceted approach to conservation. The conservancy works with private landowners who wish to see their lands protected forever, and provides innovative community planning services to municipalities and other governmental agencies.
The conservancy currently holds 471 conservation and agricultural easements and has facilitated the permanent preservation of more than 62,000 acres of land. For more information, visit brandywine.org.