Webster and local advocates promote riparian buffer legislation
COLLEGEVILLE, June 6 – State Rep. Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, held a news event at Evansburg State Park on Friday to discuss his recently introduced riparian buffer legislation (H.B. 1275) and the importance of storm water management throughout Pennsylvania.
Joining him were environmental advocates and community members including:
- Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum.
- Ursinus College President Dr. Robin Hannigan.
- Cool Heron LLC Founder and Director Erin McCool.
- PennFuture Field Director Jess Cadorette.
Also present were members of:
- Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewards.
- West Norriton Township Environmental Advisory Council.
- Lower Providence Township Environmental Advisory Council.
- Upper Providence Township Supervisor Bill Starling.
- Lower Providence Township Supervisor Gary Neights.
The riparian buffer legislation “would protect this space, left and right of the creek by about 100 ft,” Webster said, with a section of riparian buffer of the Skippack Creek as his backdrop. This bill protects riparian buffers from development, it protects them from impermeable kinds of parking spaces and black tops so that water seeps into the earth.”
Webster’s bill also addresses measures such as tree cutting, tree planting, and the residential homes that already exist within the buffer.
“Whether you care about the environment, whether you care about the health and safety of your community, whether you care about jobs and economic development, this legislation is providing basic protections for riverside buffers,” van Rossum said. “The most current science shows, and this is what is reflected in Representative Webster’s bill, that healthy native buffers, preferably forested buffers, that are a minimum of a 100-foot width are essential to properly protecting our waterways and the health and the safety of our communities.”
Hannigan, who has a background in environmental climate science added, “If we fail to steward our natural resources properly, not only are we going to be choking our streams and waterways with sediments from runoff, and introducing pollutants, we will be destroying the habitats that support fish and aquatic life.”
She also spoke on the work Ursinus College is doing to better the natural environment around them, including being the first liberal arts college to sign the Okanagan Charter.
“The riparian zone is essential to the function of an eco-system and also to the management of storm water. This bill calls on us to take action,” she said.
McCool, an environmental literacy educator who works with students and professionals alike noted, “A healthy watershed is better equipped to handle a rise in storm water and rare flood events. Yet, our watersheds have been impaired by development and pollution, the impact of climate change on our watersheds in this region is evident and touches every person in tangible ways.”
Cadorette emphasized that, “PennFuture supports the passage of the Riparian Buffer Act. Not only do riparian buffers help our environment but a recent study by Our Pocono Waters found that natural riparian buffers provided an annual 2.1 billion dollars in eco-system services just in the headwaters of the Upper Delaware River Basin. Expanding that focus, it is evident that riparian buffers, clean water, and healthy ecosystems directly benefit Pennsylvania’s economy,” she said.
“Thank you, a hundred times, for everyone’s astounding insight, and the words that motivate me to keep pressing on this bill,” Webster said.
Information on H.B. 1275 can be found here.