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Susquehanna County Farm Goes to the Mat for Healthy Local Waters

July 15, 2021 10:00 AM

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Cows walk on timber mats on a farm in Pennsylvania.pngKeeping Pennsylvania waters healthy and clean starts local and, on one farm in Susquehanna County, with the help of 120-head of cattle.

The Aldrich Farm in Bridgewater Township, Susquehanna County, is doing its part to keep local streams healthy by participating in a DEP pilot program involving timber mats and farming livestock.

Sitting in a wet area along a road on the 268-acre farm are 62 timber mats, placed there by the Waterways and Wetlands Program in the DEP Northeast Regional Office.

Timber mats on a farm in PennsylvaniaThe mats float on the water and soil, providing a solid, safe surface for the farm’s 120 cows to walk on. This simple provision has multiple benefits:

  • It prevents the cows from polluting the water with sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous;
  • It’s beneficial to the animals’ health by preventing disease from bacteria, fungi, or other organisms in the mud; and
  • The mats create a bridge between two pastures, helping to ensure uniform grazing.

Cows walk on timber mats on a farm in PennsylvaniaDEP NERO Waterways and Wetlands staffer Donovan Houck supervised the project beginning in late fall 2020 to completion this spring.

“This project is the first time the department has used timber mats to help keep animals out of a waterway,” said Houck. “The animals took to them right away, so the job of preventing pollution on the farm was off to a good start.”

The mats are repurposed from utility companies that originally used them for workers to walk on during projects around wetlands.  A local company, RHL, Inc. in Montrose, cleans up the mats, and DEP purchases them at a discount for use on the farm.

Timber mats on a farm in PennslvaniaThe project cost approximately $5,000, which was provided by the DEP Chesapeake Bay Program.

The Aldrich farming family is pleased with how the mats are keeping the pond and wetland on the property clean, along with preventing mud and sediment from being tracked across the property.

Efforts like this on local farms help Pennsylvania reduce nutrient pollution in local waterways and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. And the farms benefit as well!

To learn more about this program, contact the DEP Northeast Regional Office.

Discover more great actions being done to reduce pollution in Pennsylvania's share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed at Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities.

Before and After: Timber mats on a farm in Pennsylvania


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