Measuring Up: How we Protect Chester County

Whether it’s to live, work, play or explore – Chester County’s natural environment is often one of the main reasons why people choose to spend their time here.

The county’s natural streams, floodplains, steeps slopes, woodlands, wetlands, and riparian buffers serve as a foundation to the region’s vibrant communities, and they provide an abundance of natural resources and benefits for various industries across the county.

As one of the six main goals found in Landscapes3, Chester County serves to “protect and restore critical natural resources to ensure a resilient environment that supports healthy communities.”

This can be seen in a number of ways, such as through the implementation of proper stewardship practices, tree and woodlands protection programs, and stormwater management systems; by preserving natural wildlife habitats and monitoring stream and aquatic health; and by providing accessible opportunities for physical and mental health (like parks, trails, and other outdoor activities).

The county has recently implemented various initiatives to support this specific goal, one of which includes the formation of a new Environmental and Energy Advisory Board (EEAB). The Commissioners announced the formation of the EEAB in the fall of 2019, and their first board meeting took place this past May.

Some of the EEAB’s goals (so far) include focusing on the balance, interplay, and impact of energy-related initiatives and issues throughout the county, including the establishment of an updated Climate Action Plan.

Through the work of the EEAB, an update of the county’s 2010 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Report is currently in progress. During the next phase, county staff will work with the EEAB on refining draft recommendations to determine what governments, residents, and local businesses can do to help reduce carbon emissions and address the impacts of climate change.

Another recent initiative through the county is the TreeVitalize Watersheds Program and the Keystone 10-million Trees Partnership, facilitated by the Chester County Conservation District. While the Conservation District’s main focus is to improve water quality, they also recognize the impact that trees have on the environment, especially in regards to waterways.

The Conservation District’s Managing Director, Christian Strohmaier, noted, “Although TreeVitalize represents just one tool in our toolbox to protect water quality, since 2018 TreeVitalize is responsible for the implementation of 16 water quality motivated plantings in Chester County including over 6,000 trees and shrubs. For smaller tree planting projects, we rely more on the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has facilitated the planting of over 2,000 trees and shrubs since the beginning of our participation in this program in 2019.”

In October of 2019, Chester County Ready for 100 organized the Chester County Clean Energy Tour (which was part of a national series), featuring more than two dozen “open-houses” displaying sustainable energy practices for visitors to come explore and discuss. There were a variety of settings – from schools, to farms, to private residences – and each featured various sustainable and unique energy practices using different solar, wind, geothermal, green design, and energy efficiency methods.

To learn more about how we protect Chester County, as well as the five other goals found within Landscapes3, the county’s comprehensive plan, check out the 2019 Metrics Report.

Next month, check back to learn how we appreciate Chester County!