Students enhance habitat for wildlife near restored creek

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students in Michael Sheriff's Conservation Biology class in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will build and install bird and bat boxes to enhance wildlife habitat near a recently restored creek.

They will install the wildlife homes on Saturday, Sept. 20, as part of a hands-on component of their class to learn about conservation in action at the Grandview Chase Condo Association Natural Area demonstration site in Lancaster.

Lancaster and the surrounding lower Susquehanna River region is Pennsylvania's largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. More than 40 percent of local streams are impaired by stormwater runoff from suburban and agricultural sediment and other pollutants.

Penn State researchers have teamed with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, LandStudies Inc. and the Grandview Chase Condo Association on a project funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to develop and implement a "Green Master Plan."

"This plan employs the use of 'green' practices that reduce flooding, stormwater runoff and pollution to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in a suburban setting, and the project will serve as a demonstration site for green infrastructure," explained Sheriff, assistant professor of mammalogy and ecology.

"The plan includes patches of streamside forest and woodlands, wildflower and native grass meadows, walking trails, and street trees to beautify the neighborhood, provide wildlife habitat and improve the water quality of the nearby stream."

The Grandview Chase Condo Association hosted a volunteer planting event in June, when 30-plus volunteers planted more than 600 native plants. It was the first step to restore the health of the neighborhood creek that has been degraded by trash and pollutants. The students enrolled in the Conservation Biology class, mostly Wildlife and Fisheries Science majors, are adding their own habitat.

They are building four bird boxes and four bat boxes to install in the Grandview Chase Natural Area. Installation will occur between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 20. Additional native trees and shrubs will be planted following the installation of the wildlife boxes by project partners.

The native trees, shrubs and grasses in the natural area will begin to grow deep roots, protecting the local creek from soil erosion and the pollutants carried by stormwater runoff, Sheriff noted. The wildlife boxes will provide man-made homes for several species of wildlife while the plants grow to maturity and provide more natural homes.

Lancaster residents are invited to stop by the Grandview Chase Condo Association Natural Area demonstration site on Sept. 20 to learn more about green infrastructure, wildlife habitat and creek restoration.

For more information about this project and similar demonstration sites in other counties, contact Sarah Hurteau at 928-225-0272 or via email at srh20@psu.edu.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated September 15, 2014