Greg Wilson and Donegal Trout Unlimited: Devoted to Repairing Streams

750 400 Stroud Water Research Center
Donegal Trout Unlimited members next to a stream.
Donegal Trout Unlimited members, with Greg Wilson on the right.

In honor of Greg Wilson and his family and friends, we invite you to learn more about his remarkable work through his own words. Reprinted with permission from the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership Partners in Action blog.

From the very beginning, Donegal Trout Unlimited has been devoted to repairing streams.

When I got involved with Donegal Trout Unlimited (DTU) in 1990, information on stream repair for laymen was hard to find. This was before the big surge of interest to Save The Bay. Our Trout Unlimited chapter focus was to improve trout habitat. Being a concrete contractor, I figured we will roll rocks to speed the flows, move the sediment, and discourage livestock from entering the stream. That would be it, fixed.

Then Donegal Trout Unlimited members met former Chesapeake Bay Foundation employee Lamonte Garber. Lamonte said we need trees. Then we heard from people at The Alliance for the Bay that we need trees. Then we heard Stroud Water Research Center’s story of we need trees. But they should be native trees.

On our shoestring budget stream project, prior to larger grants becoming available, we would scrounge up any materials that became available. Our funding was very limited. It was always a problem to afford trees and shrubs at the completion of a stream project.

Lamonte and I hatched the idea to create a grow out station. Every spring we would look for trees, pots, and soil. We would gather seedlings from anywhere we could, get used pots, and sometimes buy some soil. The plan was to babysit these plants ’til fall and plant out a tree that may be taller than the grass. This was prior to knowing we needed tree shelters.

We somehow were ahead of deer knowing the great browsing potential in a new buffer and had some success. It was around 1996 that we launched the nursery at Millport Nature Conservancy. Today the nursery has grown and become very streamlined under the leadership of Garry Longenecker.

Three years ago, we were approached by Sarah Xenophon, of Penn State, about joining forces in the nursery, as they had a small location with challenges. Penn State University merged forces to improve and expand our potential.

This year, we expanded our wet bed, an area with standing water to grow our live stakes. We receive composted soil blend from one township and another township hauls it to the facility. We pot-up several thousand plants with volunteers.

It is a special day when the kids come to the nursery for Lititz Run Watershed Day. Warwick School District brings all the fifth graders to have varying experiences around the Lititz Run watershed.

One experience is potting bare root seedlings in the nursery. It is always fun to rally them on to plant more trees than the last group planted, while using the opportunity to teach the students about the important work DTU does in Lancaster County. Let’s see how you can do!

So, a year or two prior to the launch of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, I actually went to a meeting at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) about supporting our nursery with seedlings from the state nursery. This was still a pretty large expense to our chapter. It was maybe too small to fit the DCNR’s alignment.

Then I heard of K10 launching and signed up. DTU members are so thankful for the materials, training, and support this program is offering. We are using it in two ways. We order for some immediate planting needs for projects and CBF approved helping supply our grow out station.

This has been such a great program for our chapter to receive all the supplies for our plantings.

Many of our projects may not be interested in other options so this allows us to get plants along with these projects.

The more we do, the “behinder” we get. As our projects cover more miles, we realized the need for more volunteers to help with maintenance. We received a grant to purchase a trailer that will be equipped for plantings and maintenance. We are developing a buffer maintenance team to continue the long-term care of our projects.

All of our work is done by volunteers, we really appreciate the thousands of hours that have been donated to stream project plantings, nursery work and maintenance. We could not do it without their help.

Donegal Trout Unlimited has a few miles of restoration work in the works for this year and next.

As our TU statement says, “One Stream at a Time.”

Reach out to CBF, Trout Unlimited, and your county conservation district to improve your stream along your property. It protects your stream, your land, and trout habitat, along with helping the Chesapeake Bay.

Greg Wilson, Donegal Trout Unlimited Conservation Co-Chair