Watershed Restoration Projects
The Anderson Creek watershed is located in central Pennsylvania, Clearfield County and drains approximately 78 square miles. It lies roughly seven miles west of Clearfield Borough and five miles east of the City of Dubois. From its headwaters north of Interstate 80, Anderson Creek flows in a southward arc to its confluence with the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the borough of Curwensville.
The Anderson Creek watershed could be described as having two distinctly different characters. To the north and east, the watershed is mostly forested and contains high quality streams. To the west and south, mainly below the Dubois Reservoir, the geology and the character of the watershed changes significantly. Coal and clay deposits have led to extensive mining of these important local natural resources. Unregulated and under-regulated mining practices of the past have seriously degraded the land and water resources within this region of the watershed and most of the streams are significantly degraded or dead.
Anderson Creek Watershed Association (ACWA) contracted with Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) to assess present watershed conditions and create the Anderson Creek Watershed Assessment, Restoration, and Implementation Plan. It was developed as a key component in the effort to address abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and other pollution problems affecting Anderson Creek and its tributaries. The objectives of the assessment were to gather available data, perform a complete field assessment, develop a monitoring plan and coordinate monitoring activities with ACWA volunteers and the DEP Bureau of Watershed Management Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) program, initiate landowner contacts, assist in coordinating initial restoration efforts with landowners, local, county, state, and federal agencies, and begin implementation of priority projects identified in the assessment plan.
Since the completion of the assessment plan, progress has been steady. WPC has assisted ACWA in developing its first implementation project on Bilger Run. In the fall of 2007, construction will begin on a $100,000 project to treat abandoned mine drainage (AMD) entering the stream. Two additional AMD sources will then be addressed through a cooperative project with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Once completed, the projects will restore a coldwater fishery to three miles of the stream, reconnecting it with the wild trout populations of Kratzer Run. The stream is also locally significant because it flows through Bilger’s Rocks, a geologic outcrop and local community park.
In addition to the work on Bilger Run, WPC assisted the watershed group in developing a proposal to stabilize a portion of the streambank on Kratzer Run, another priority site for restoration work. WPC is presently working on two AMD remediation proposals with ACWA that will lead to restoration of fish populations to the main stem of Anderson Creek, as well as the reconnection of the lower polluted portion of the stream with the high quality fishery in the upper watershed and the West Branch of the Susquehanna. One proposal would treat all of the acidity of Little Anderson Creek, the main pollution source of Anderson Creek. The second proposal would treat a major pollution source from an abandoned clay mine draining directly to the main stem of Anderson Creek. The two projects would also benefit Pike Township Water Authority, which draws water from Anderson during low flow conditions, by reducing the pollution in the stream and therefore the costs incurred during water treatment. Combined, the projects would improve 10 miles of the stream.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has a long and storied history of working to restore and protect the beautiful Clarion River corridor. As the upper Clarion River continues its miraculous recovery, the lower river, primarily below Piney Dam, continues to be bombarded with polluted water coming from abandoned coal mines. Several tributaries to the river are essentially “dead” in terms of aquatic life due to abandoned mine drainage. The Watershed Conservation Program is currently assessing these tributaries and will ultimately devise a plan to remediate key contributing discharges.
The Clarion River downstream of the Pine Dam is heavily impacted by these polluted tributaries, and because of this, the Allegheny River is degraded. The goal of this project will be to improve the lower Clarion River watershed through direct implementation of projects designed to remediate abandoned mine drainage in key tributaries. This long-term effort will lead to improved aquatic communities within the Clarion River mainstem, and ultimately the Allegheny River.
Tubmill Creek has been identified as a priority watershed due to its richness in aquatic life. Its upper reaches, originating in the forests of Laurel Ridge, have been designated as Exceptional Value by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. The remaining segments of the stream are currently designated as a Trout-Stocked Fishery. The entire watershed encompasses 54 square miles of rural landscape, flowing through farms and forests on its way to the Conemaugh River.
WPC is beginning a major restoration and protection effort in the watershed with numerous partners including the PA Fish and Boat Commission, Westmoreland Conservation District, Kiski - Conemaugh Stream Team and Tubmill Trout Club. WPC completed the comprehensive watershed visual assessment in June of 2006. Once the biologic assessment is complete, the project will focus on addressing impairments through direct implementation, as well as refining opportunities for land protection.
Projects underway in the Tubmill Creek watershed include landowner outreach for Farm Bill programs, with several landowners currently enrolled to install agricultural best management practices on their properties. WPC has been collaborating with the Fairfield Township Supervisors, the Westmoreland Conservation District, and the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads to address erosion and sedimentation from the township’s roads. The first project is slated for fall 2007.