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Stream restoration designed to mitigate bank erosion

August 25, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Curtis Benedict from Excavating Services of Chambersburg, Pa., works Wednesday on a stream project in Peters Township, Pa.
Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- A stream restoration project under way this week in Peters Township, Pa., is designed to mitigate bank erosion and create a habitat that could support trout.

Contractors from Excavating Services of Chambersburg, Pa., started working at the farm off Findley Road on Tuesday. They're installing stone and log deflectors to preserve 1,500 feet of the stream.

Also associated with the project is a conservation easement to protect the stream and a portion of its banks in perpetuity, according to Tammy Gross, a watershed specialist with the Franklin County (Pa.) Conservation District.

Heidi Stoner said she and her husband, Mark, moved to the property four years ago. His family has farmed in the area for years.

"They used to pasture cows here," she said.

Tyler Neimond is a habitat manager with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. He said the cattle eroded the stream bank before a fence was installed 15 years ago.

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"By doing that (fence installation), they got the cattle out of the stream, so the stream began to work for us and narrow itself," Neimond said.

The affected waterway is Church Hill Run, which flows into the West Branch of the Conococheague Creek.

Trout could be found in the stream at one time, and research needs to be completed to determine whether the improvements made this week will create a habitat conducive to their return, Neimond said.

Workers should be finished Friday, then the area will be seeded and mulched, he said.

The $17,000 project is being funded by Waste Management, Gross said. The company was required to perform mitigation, which could be off-site, when it submitted plans to expand its Upton, Pa., landfill, she said.

Other partners in the project include Pheasants Forever, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers. Stoner said she and her family are happy to see improvements made.

The permitting and design process started two years ago.

"The actual construction is a very small part of this," Neimond said.

One of the best things a property owner can do for stream health is avoid mowing within 15 feet of water, Neimond said. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also has information about structures and habitats on its website at http://www.fish.state.pa.us, he said.

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The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also has information about structures and habitats on its website at http://www.fish.state.pa.us.

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