Barriers and Incentives to Stream Conservation: The Influence of Culture on Buffer Design and Implementation Public

Water quality is of great concern in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and negative effects of both point source and non-point source pollution are being addressed. Agriculture has been cited as one of the leading polluters of streams in the United States. To improve water quality, several conservation techniques and best management practices have been promoted by many government and non-government organizations to protect water quality. Riparian buffers, including forested riparian buffers, grass riparian buffers, and stream fencing, are popular strategy to promote improved water quality in the agricultural landscape. Since a large percentage of the fresh water resources in Pennsylvania are located on private land, several landowner studies have explored perceptions and incentives for riparian buffer implementation across the United States. This project adds to previous landowner studies by addressing the cultural significance of landscape and the consequent barriers and incentives to stream conservation practices in a rural agricultural community of central Pennsylvania. This case study takes place in the Kishacoquillas Valley a region located in Mifflin County whose cultures include many Amish and Mennonite farmers. The study area is located in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and many streams in this area are designated as “impaired” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s total maximum daily load reduction requirements. The dominant land use in the Kishacoquillas Valley is agriculture, and it is home to a diverse set of community groups whose farming methodologies range from large mechanized dairy farms with modern farm equipment, to smaller farms dominated by traditional horse drawn implements. The overall goal of this study is to understand better landowner perceptions of stream conservation through interviewing landowners of different sub-cultures. From these interviews, alternative buffer designs, implementation processes suggestions, and a proposed action plans are developed for future efforts. These alternatives respond to the landowner’s interests and local culture.

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