This article was originally published in Oxford Hills, Maine, Sun Journal on May 19, 2013. View the original article here.

BETHEL, MAINE — The Clear Water Carbon Fund planted 250 trees along the Pleasant River, a tributary of the Androscoggin River, in West Bethel this month.

Saplings are planted along the Pleasant River in West Bethel this month as part of the Clear Water Carbon Fund’s effort to improve water quality and remove and store carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

The fund is a program that enables individuals and businesses to sponsor tree plantings to protect clean water, remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

The trees planted along the Pleasant River were sponsored by Central Maine Power as part of a promotion to encourage customers to switch from receiving bills in the mail to electronic billing.

The Clear Water Carbon Fund and the Androscoggin River Watershed Council worked together to identify areas within the watershed where planting trees could protect clean water and improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

In the summer of 2012, water-quality monitoring in the main stem of the Pleasant River found high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen, conditions that limit brook trout use of the tributary. The trees planted this spring will reforest approximately 1,000 feet of Pleasant River frontage on farmland owned by Charlie Smith and his family for almost 100 years.

“As these trees mature, they will protect the riverbank from erosion and provide shade to cool the water. Dissolved oxygen levels increase as water cools and we believe this planting will help sustain a healthy brook trout population,” said Jeff Stern, watershed council environmental planner.

The trees are native species that thrive on riverbanks and include red maple, white birch, silver maple and sugar maple. The trees will be monitored for 40 years after the planting.

“This is the first time the Clear Water Carbon Fund has planted trees in the Androscoggin River watershed,” Stern continued. “It’s the start of what I believe is an important way to restore forests along the river and its tributaries, and to keep waters clean and healthy for fish, wildlife, and recreation — with the added benefit of addressing climate change. We look forward to more plantings in the future.”

Since 2012, the Clear Water Carbon Fund has worked with local organizations to plant 850 trees, and expects to reach 1,500 this planting season. The fund is also supporting planting projects in the White River and Upper Clyde River watersheds in Vermont, and in the Sebago Lake watershed of Maine.

“Reforested stream and riverbanks reduce carbon in the atmosphere while also protecting water quality and providing wildlife habitat,” said Ethel Wilkerson, program manager and scientist for the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, a nonprofit research institute that operates the Clear Water Carbon Fund.

“Climate change and clean water are crucially important issues to a lot of people. There is very strong interest in taking local action to address these complex environmental issues.”

The Pleasant River planting fits into ongoing efforts by the watershed council to restore and enhance trout habitat in Western Maine. In recent years, the council coordinated a research project that added large woody debris to headwater streams of the Sunday River, supervised a riverbank stabilization project on the Bear River in Newry, and conducted a fish passage barrier assessment in the Sunday and Bear River watersheds.

Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and the Northern Forest Center, through the Northern Forest Investment Zone initiative, has provided financial support for management of the Clear Water Carbon Fund. In addition, the Northern Forest Investment Zone has provided direct funding to the Androscoggin River Watershed Council to participate in the tree plantings.

Individuals and businesses interested in supporting tree plantings to reduce their carbon footprint and protect water quality can contribute to the fund online at