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Riparian Rangers being recruited in Juniata Co.

MIFFLINTOWN — Juniata Watershed Alliance and Juniata County Conservation District are partnering with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to recruit and train volunteer Riparian Rangers to monitor county riparian buffer sites. Riparian buffers are native trees and shrubs planted along streams for the protection of water quality and the enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat.

Ryan Davis, forests project manager for Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, developed the Riparian Ranger program in 2019 to provide much-needed maintenance on riparian buffers for the first three years of their growth. While many riparian buffer sites had been planted, Davis recognized that, without regular maintenance, tree survival rate was poor. Like any growing plant, care is critical to tree survival. Without proper maintenance, the trees died within the first few years of planting, usually from invasive species growth, animal browsing, and weather events like heavy rain and flooding.

On June 7, Davis will train interested Juniata County residents to become Riparian Rangers. Participants will be instructed in establishing positive landowner relationships to ensure biannual maintenance, report completion and in essential technical skills to care for trees.

No previous experience is needed, site visit scheduling is flexible, and training and equipment are free. There are no hour requirements to be met; however, there is an annual training/social event for volunteers to enjoy and network.

Volunteers must be 18 or older, able to provide their own transportation, and willing to sign a waiver. Volunteers must be comfortable visiting assigned sites independently and physically able to navigate uneven terrain and work in all types of weather conditions. Volunteers are expected to conduct a monthly site visit to their designated buffer March through October and after extreme weather events. Tasks include staking, planting, weeding, use of hand tools, and report completion and submission. The best Riparian Ranger candidates are passionate about nature, trees and streams.

Training will be rain or shine on Monday, June 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Zook’s Dam Project on Licking Creek Road, Mifflintown. Sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots, long sleeves, long pants and tick/insect protection are recommended for this hands-on, in-field training.

Registration is required to ensure enough supplies. To register, please contact mindy-musser@juniataccd.org or call (717) 436-8953, ext. 5, by June 3.

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