Posted: November 17, 2017

The AEC and its Chiques Creek partners help horse owners meet their conservation goals.

Martenas Planting

Martenas Planting

It was a sunny summer day in 2015 when the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center first visited the beautiful ten acre property of Wayne and Marian Martenas. Since then, the AEC and its partners have been working with the Martenases to help meet their conservation goals.

"Our property is just ten acres and not a significant commercial operation," said Wayne, who owns and pastures several horses on the farmette. "But we believe it is still very important to incorporate good stewardship into everything we do."

The Martenases were already practicing pasture rotation and manure management. But they were interested in learning more about how to protect the small headwater stream which flows through one of their pastures.

That stream flows into Doe Run, a tributary of Chiques Creek. The Chiques is a priority watershed in Lancaster County where the AEC is part of a partnership to help landowners like the Martenases implement conservation practices. Over the next year or so, the AEC helped connect the landowners to several partners, including TeamAg, Lancaster Farmland Trust and Stroud Water Research Center. The partnership worked with the Martenases to develop a plan to protect the stream.

"What was striking about Wayne and Marian from the start is that they are true stewards of the land," noted AEC Project Coordinator Kristen Kyler. "A lot of times small family equine and hobby farms can be overlooked as conservation efforts focus on larger operations. We were happy to provide assistance to landowners who were actively looking for assistance to minimize their impact and improve their overall operations."

This October the conservation plan was put into action, as twenty volunteers helped plant 125 trees along the creek to establish a forested riparian buffer. These trees supplemented a handful of other pollinator trees already provided by Lancaster Farmland Trust. The volunteers were part of the AEC's Greening the Lower Susquehanna volunteer conservation corps, a group of nearly 500 people in the Lower Susquehanna who help plant trees, maintain rain gardens and clean up streamside litter throughout the region.

With the trees successfully in the ground this fall, the Martenases aren't done meeting their conservation goals. "We're now working on plans for completing the stream protection with a crossing and fencing in the forested buffer," explains Wayne.

And the AEC and its partners are not done with their work in the Chiques Creek watershed. This fall active farmer outreach in the watershed has begun, and funding from a grant provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is being made available to landowners interested in implementing buffers and other conservation practices.

"The Martenases have shown that, no matter the size of your operation, we can all take positive steps to manage our lands in ways the help improve and protect water quality," notes Kyler.

To learn more about the AEC's work in the Chiques, contact Kristen Kyler, Project Coordinator, at , or Sarah Xenophon, Watershed Technician, at .