Streamside Trees Prove Fruitful
Planting trees to improve water quality and produce fruit for harvest

Riparian buffers are known for improving water quality, reducing erosion and providing habitat. But these swaths of strees, currently beeing planted 1,000-strong across Allegheny County, can also produce fruits ready for harvest. Defined as multifunctional buffers, these trees do just that -- function in many ways to improve soil, land and water. This year, we'll plant two multifunctional buffers in the Douglas Run and Deer Creek Watersheds.

What's a multifunctional buffer, you ask?
Traditionally, multifunctional buffers have been as their name entails, a buffer that provides more than one function, such as filtering nutrients and providing wildlife habitat. More recently, a multifunctional riparian forest buffer has been defined as stream-side trees that provide opportunities for harvesting products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, and forbs.


A recently planted multifunctional buffer in West Deer Township will improve water quality and produce harvestable fruits.

Deer Creek Watershed
The first of these grants was obtained in cooperation with one of our local developers to set aside stream-side area for fruit and nut trees that can be utilized by residents of the development.

In West Deer Township, a stream corridor runs through a new housing development site. Our Chapter 105 team offered to apply for grants, design a multifunctional stream buffer and plant a 250’ x 80’ section of the stream if the developer was willing to offer the land.

The developer agreed, and we planted the corridor with Paw Paw, Elderberry, Sycamore and many more tree species. The planted stream buffer will reduce erosion and stormwater runoff while also producing harvestable fruits.


ACCD staff plants native trees along a stream in the Deer Creek Watershed.

Douglas Run Watershed
The second project partners with Allegheny County Parks to plant three areas with fruit and nut trees, woody floral species and maple trees which can be used for future parks programming once the trees are mature.

The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation District’s Multifunctional Buffer Sub-Grant for Conservation Districts provided both grants ACCD received with funding from the Department of Conservation and National Resources.