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Chesapeake Bay News


Farmers, foresters and citizens celebrated for conserving Chesapeake Bay forests

Farmers, foresters and an active coalition of landowners and citizens have been honored for their efforts to conserve, restore and celebrate Chesapeake forests. 

From planting native trees and shrubs to engaging students in forest conservation, the actions of the winners from across the watershed crowned them Chesapeake Forest Champions in an annual contest sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Image courtesy Piestrack Forestlands LLC

Three farmers were named Exemplary Forest Stewards: Ed Piestrack of Nanticoke, Pa., and Nelson Hoy and Elizabeth Biggs of Williamsville, Va. Ed Piestrack and his wife, Wanda, manage 885 acres of forestland and certified Tree Farm in Steuben County, N.Y. The Piestracks have controlled invasive plants and rebuilt vital habitat on their property, installing nest boxes, restoring vernal pools and planting hundreds of trees on land that will remain intact and managed when it is transferred to their children.

Image courtesy Berriedale Farms

Close to 400 miles south in the Cowpasture River Valley sits Berriedale Farms, where Nelson Hoy and Elizabeth Biggs manage land that forms a critical corridor between a wildlife refuge and a national forest. Hoy and Biggs have integrated their 50-acre Appalachian hardwood forest into their farm operation, protecting the landscape while finding a sustainable source of income in their low-impact horse-powered forest products business. 

Image courtesy Zack Roeder

Forest Resource Planner Zack Roeder was named Most Effective at Engaging the Public for his work as a forester in Pennsylvania’s largely agricultural Franklin and Cumberland counties. There, Roeder helped farmers manage and implement conservation practices on their land and helped watershed groups plant streamside forest buffers. Roeder also guided a high school in starting a “grow out” tree nursery and coordinated Growing Native events in local communities, using volunteers to collect native hardwood and shrub seeds for propagation.

Image courtesy Savage River Watershed Association

The Savage River Watershed Association in Frostburg, Md., was commended for the Greatest On-the-Ground Impact. In a watershed whose streamside trees have shaded waterways and provided critical habitat to Maryland’s rare reproducing brook trout fisheries, the organization has worked to conserve area forests, removing invasive plants and putting more than 4,000 red spruce seedlings into the ground.

The Chesapeake Forest Champions were celebrated at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Learn more about the winners.



Robert Watson says:
October 03, 2012

Although I applaud the efforts of the Savage River Watershed Association for their commitment to removing invasive plantings around the rivers edge, my question is why were 4000 Red Spruce seedlings planted?

Please correct me if I’m wrong but the Red Spruce in not native to the Chesapeake Watershed. Would a more appropriate selection have been an evergreen native to that area of the country? Possibly Eastern Red Cedar, Atlantic White Cedar or even Virginia Pine? Again, not a criticism, just a question. The effort is admirable nonetheless.


Catherine Krikstan says:
October 03, 2012

Great question! We checked in with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s guide to native plants (Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping), and it looks like the red spruce is native to the mountainous portions of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Savage River Watershed Association chose to plant the species because it can perform some of the same ecological functions as the also-native hemlock, threatened by the woolly adelgid.

Hope this helps! Once again, excellent question. Thanks so much for reading!


Craig Highfield says:
October 25, 2012

I’ll also add that red cedar and Virgina pine are early succesional upland trees. They wouldn’t compete well in a fertile riparian area and are both shade intolerant. Hemlock like red spruce tolerate shade. Both species can be found growing in the same area too.

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