(WHTM) – Since mid-November, a stream next to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission headquarters has been getting a makeover.
“What they are doing is restoring an extremely eroded and degraded river bank,” said Tim Schaeffer, executive director of the Commission. The project became necessary because increased development in the area increased stormwater runoff.
“Every time it rained, there would be hundreds of thousands of pounds of sediment that would be washed directly into the creek,” Schaeffer said. The storm water literally dug the creek bed. “The banks were so slashed they were literally over your head.”
The reconstruction of the stream bed required a series of stages. “They got rid of these big banks, really leveled everything,” Schaeffer said. “Put in structures that help the creek to find its natural path, the way it would normally flow, put that creek channel back in place, allow deep pools that can somehow naturally dissipate the creek as it flows,” then, once the project and the stream is complete, we will install native plants and shrubs to ensure both shoreline stabilization and native wildlife habitat.
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“What they do,” he adds, “restores the winding, meandering stream, back to a more natural state, also securing the wetlands there so that when you have rain, the stream can sort of come out of its banks, find this complex of wetlands and reabsorb it back into the ground, rather than pouring it all downstream at once.
The commission has put a lot of effort into informing the public of what is going on, including sending us videos of the work in progress. Which may seem a little unusual considering that technically they are not part of the project.
“This project is actually funded by the Township of Susquehanna, Township of Lower Paxton and PennDOT, in order to meet the stormwater management requirements of the state and region.” Schaeffer explains, “So it’s on our property, it’s their project, but we’re happy to be the host.
But while it is not their project, healthy waterways is certainly one of their areas of concern.
“Once this is completed, it will reduce the sediment load in the river and bay by about a million pounds per year,” Schaeffer said. “So when you do something like that, it’s not just smallmouth bass and trout that benefit, there are hundreds and hundreds of non-game species that you don’t hunt or hunt. don’t fish in Pennsylvania, who will benefit from a project like this.
The project should be completed in December. Schaeffer would like to see more projects like this happen, on public and private land.
“There is nothing we can do more important for the Susquehanna River than to try to control what goes into it, and this is a good step in the right direction. “