For over a decade, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) has been partnering with the county conservation districts, state agencies, other non-profits, and willing landowners across northcentral PA to bring the region’s local waterways back to health. The group, collectively known as the Northcentral Stream Partnership, focuses on decreasing erosion and sedimentation, improving water quality, and increasing aquatic habitat on agriculturally impaired streams.
The partners use proven in-stream stabilization structures, such as log vanes and mudsills, and Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as walkways and fencing. The in-stream work is done to remove velocity and pressure from the streams banks and re-direct the water to the center of the channel – resulting in less flooding during high water events. The log structures also provide habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
Much of the funding for the materials and contractors needed to complete these stream projects, comes from the state’s Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener Grants)
Last summer, reliable Environmental Stewardship Funds, helped NPC and the rest of the Northcentral Stream Partnership complete a high-profile project on Sechler Run at Geisinger’s Woodbine Lane campus in Danville. This was the team’s first time back together at a project site since COVID-19 mitigation efforts were put in place. The job site did look a little different than seasons past – social distancing and facemasks – but, by the end of the project, the crew built log and rock structures stretching across 1,000 feet of stream from structure to structure, stabilizing the eroding streambank and providing vital fish habitat.
Al Neuner, Geisinger’s vice president of facilities operations, said the project was important to Geisinger because it affects the public’s health. “We kind of take a holistic approach,” Neuner said. “As we improve our environment, we improve everyone’s health.”
Geisinger further helped support the project by providing manpower and tools during construction and followed up by installing a graveled nature trail along the stream.
After construction, Native Creations Landscape Services planted over 400 native trees and shrubs, transforming the previously mowed streambanks into a multifunctional riparian buffer. These new plantings will help cool the water for the stream’s aquatic life, and pollinators and people alike can enjoy the display of wildflowers come.
Stabilizing this section of Sechler Run, not only helps restore the health of the stream locally, but everything down stream as well. For this reason, the Partnership’s sustained efforts are currently being used as a model to help improve the water quality throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Thanks to continual state investment into these types of projects through the Environmental Stewardship Fund, the Northcentral Stream Partnership has worked at over 120 sites and impacted over 25 miles of stream since its formation in 2009 – resulting in less flooding, cleaner drinking water, and improved aquatic habitat across the region.