Is your yard watershed friendly? There’s now a certification for that.

Published by Keri Maxfield on

The Reading Eagle — Lisa Scheid

Karin Wulkowicz’s Welsh Woods yard in Cumru Township is a little different from most in the 30-year-old subdivision of single detached homes. It’s a little more wild, more natural looking. She has a vegetable garden and a rain garden. Not far away from her home are woods and a swamp.

But she says every plant and tree have been carefully considered. She’s even thought about the impact of the wood pile in the back and swale in the front.

Among the things that she considers is the impact on the Wyomissing Creek. Wulkowicz, a member of the Angelica Creek Watershed Association and a Berks Nature ambassador, is also a former Master Watershed Steward.

She developed the county’s watershed steward program, which is part of Penn State Extension. She’s also owned a landscape business for 20 years. The wood pile, for instances, filters water and prevents the hard impact of rain on the land. It also provides shelter for birds.

She’s made the swale in front so it can help direct water runoff the roadways and into the yard where it can be filtered into the groundwater.

Wulkowicz recently became a recipient of a new certification for property owners called the “watershed-friendly property certification.” It seemed a natural fit for someone with her background.

Wulkowicz called the certification “a conversation starter” about something she’s been doing for years. It’s a way to open the door to discussions about protecting watersheds and for neighbors who don’t understand why her property looks the way it does.

The certification process is relatively simple, she said. It involves answering several questions online. It may include a webinar and updating your property practices.

The Watershed-Friendly Property Certification program was officially launched on Oct. 22 through Penn State Extension’s Master Watershed Stewards and Easton-based Nurture Nature Center. Wulkowicz was involved in the early development of the program.

The program is open to all residents, schools, places of worship, municipal buildings, small businesses and others who manage properties between 0.1 and 15 acres.

What the properties have in common is that they include enough best-management practices for reducing storm water runoff and pollution, conserving water and providing beneficial habitats for wildlife and pollinators to reach the qualifying 85% score.

Penn State Extension says that the goal of the certification is to “unite land owners, both within individual watersheds and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to improve and maintain the quality of water resources, as well as improve and maintain habitat for wildlife and pollinators.”

It serves to educate residents, communities, educational institutions and businesses as well.

There is no cost associated with the application or certificate. Successful applicants will be eligible for the Watershed-Friendly Property sign.

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