From 3 to 5 p.m. on April 28, the Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance (LCCWA) will hold its first annual Arbor Day event at the south pavilion of South Hills Park, at 1100 S. Lincoln Ave.

Julie Cheyney, director of the Lebanon County Planning Department (LCPD), Robin Getz, of LCCWA, and Kara Lubold, of The Lebanon Valley Conservancy, spoke with LebTown about the Arbor Day event, which is being sponsored by LCCWA.

LCCWA “was started [in January 2011] to help the municipalities with a state permit that’s called an MS4 permit under the MPDS,” said Cheyney, who became involved with LCCWA after the organization was started.

Cheyney explained that the MS4 permit is “basically to help address the pollution that’s been happening in the Chesapeake Bay over the last several decades. So, this was a requirement that the state and federal government put into place to help with urban pollution runoff … what happens over land that runs off and gets into the streams.”

Getz was one of LCCWA’s founding members.

“We got a couple of members of the community that were interested and then we just kind of grew from there,” Getz said. “We meet on a regular basis. We have conversations. We share information. We do educational items … throughout the year from an individual and municipality level and from a joint level [with LCPD].”

LCCWA and LCPD started working together after Getz approached an LCPD director at one of the annual conferences for the Lebanon County supervisors.

“I had kind of pulled [the director] to the side and had this conversation about how all of us are doing things repetitively. There’s not a good movement with any of us because of size,” Getz said. “And I thought that maybe it was time to start thinking about doing it on a joint basis that we were kind of all on the same page with the same message.”

The Arbor Day event is one of several initiatives that LCCWA is taking to satisfy the requirements of the MS4 permit and raise awareness of what residents can do to help improve water quality issues.

“LCCWA predominantly in the last couple of years has really been focused more on the education and outreach portion of that permit,” Cheyney said. “So, I believe it was actually Robin’s suggestion that she wanted to try to do something new. We kind of have been doing the same things over and over and over again and had thought that maybe an Arbor Day event to make the connection between trees and clean water more apparent to the public.”

Getz noted that they have invested in banners, newspaper advertisements, and guest appearances on local radio stations to spread their message.

“I would also say that certainly each of the participating municipalities, like the City of Lebanon and the surrounding townships and boroughs, also on their individual websites are doing quite a bit to push the message out to each of their residents,” Cheyney said.

The event will feature a seedling giveaway. In an email to LebTown, Jamie Yiengst, township manager of South Lebanon Township, said the bare root plants that are part of the giveaway are eastern redbud, eastern red cedar, flowering dogwood, serviceberry, spicebush, and white oak.

Getz said that Yiengst “had mentioned that in South Lebanon at South Hills Park, they have an arboretum that they do … an annual arbor day planting. So, we thought, why not kind of tie them together? So, she’s been very instrumental in the planning. She’s gotten a hold of the … 10 million trees. So, we will have the seedlings available for planting along with their types and the best way to take care of them. “

There will also be booths at the event with information about tree planting, tree maintenance, and the overall benefit of trees on the community.

“Kara, actually, has not been a regular participant of LCCWA,” Cheyney said. “We brought her in specifically for this event. She is going to be doing a brief program for us on that day.”

Lubold said the Lebanon Valley Conservancy has been “operating since 2000. And it was formed by a dedicated group of like-minded citizens who wanted to conserve the properties or the land in Lebanon County. To date, we have conserved over 1,000 acres. Our mission is to preserve the historical, cultural, and natural resources in the Lebanon Valley.”

In addition to the seedling giveaway and information booths, the event will feature a tree-planting demonstration and food trucks.

Lubold continued, “We will have our board president, Jon Schach, who is an arborist, he will be doing a tree-planting demonstration. And I will be discussing a little bit about how conserving open spaces of land and forested areas is so important to protecting our water resources and the correlation between land protection and our water.”

Read more: Lebanon Valley Conservancy offers scholarship in memory of the Lights

“It’ll be our first event, and we’re not sure how deep to step into it yet,” Getz said. “So, this is kind of our kickoff to see what it’s going to look like.”

“Our thought was that … this could become an annual event and grow as the group grows,” Cheyney echoed. ” So, we’re hoping maybe that this is the start of something that will really take off and that we can do on an annual basis.”

For other ways that Lebanon County residents can get involved, Getz said, “I think, you know, sharing the message at home, practicing the message at home, and getting more people aware of the importance of it, of clean water for the future generations.”

Getz continued, “And serving on the city’s Shade Tree Commission as a liaison, I’ve learned a lot from them as well as far as how the root systems work on trees and how beneficial they are as a natural filtration and the canopies of the trees. It’s just an overall positive. I can’t find a whole lot of negatives with trees other than leaves. Okay, so cleaning leaves up one time per year is worth everything they are doing the remainder of the year.”

Cheyney offered a few simple ways to help improve water quality: washing your car in grassy areas instead of on the pavement; cleaning out storm drains near you; and preventing grass clippings from being on the street or in the storm drain.

“That’s the ultimate goal: … the pollutant reduction, the sediment, the phosphates. All of those things are what we have to work harder to reduce and get those credits [for the MS4 permit],” Getz said.

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Lexi Gonzalez is a reporter for LebTown. She is currently completing her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Kindly keep your comments brief and respectful. We will remove comments that do not abide by these simple rules.