2009-06-25 / Local & State

Local Group Gets Grants To Protect Clean Water

SPECIAL TO THE NEW

Logan Fischer works with Ben and Shelby Harnish and Dave and Hunter Kerlin to collect and identify the stream insects that will help diagnose the health of the Little Aughwick Creek in northern Fulton and southern Huntingdon counties. Logan Fischer works with Ben and Shelby Harnish and Dave and Hunter Kerlin to collect and identify the stream insects that will help diagnose the health of the Little Aughwick Creek in northern Fulton and southern Huntingdon counties. The Friends of the Little Aughwick Creek (FLAC) watershed group, in cooperation with the Fulton County Conservation Dsitrict, has recently received competitive grant funding for two different projects to raise awareness of clean streams and protect the clean waters of the Little Aughwick Creek.

Scott Alexander, watershed specialist with the Fulton County Conservation District, has helped FLAC pursue the grants. "The Little Aughwick Creek is benefitting from this group of concerned citizens, who are sampling water quality on a regular basis and pursuing every opportunity to spread the word about the unique aspects of their local stream, said Alexander."

While Pennsylvania has more than 83,000 miles of streams, only 25 percent are considered high-quality coldwater fisheries. The Little Aughwick Creek, in Huntingdon and Fulton counties, is one of these streams. The Coldwater Heritage Partnership (CHP) has provided $4,540, one of only seven similar grants statewide, to purchase eqiupment and conduct stream sampling and fieldwork toward the development of a Coldwater Conservation Plan for the south branch of the Little Aughwick Creek, from the headwaters above Cowans Gap State Park through the village of Burnt Cabins. The fieldwork will be led by Logan Fischer, a Juniata College student and a Fulton county native of the Crystal Spring area.

The project will gather existing data about the coldwater ecosystem, identify potential impacts and opportunities for the creek, propose conservation and protection strategies, and build community awareness and support for the conservation of our coldwater streams. The Coldwater Heritage Partnership is a collaborative effort between the PA Fish & Boat Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Western Pennsylvania Watershed Protection Program and Pennsylvania Trout.

Additionally, FLAC has partnered with the Fulton County Conservation District and received $4,365 from the Water Reources Education Network (WREN) and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund. WREN funds a limited number of community based educational projects that protect and improve local watersheds. The Little Aughwick Creek grant was one of only 11 grants awarded statewide, and will be used to design, purchase and install educational signage at Cowans Gap State Park and the historic Burnt Cabins Grist Mill. FLAC will also produce educational materials, buy water quality sampling equipment and distribute surveys to streamside landowners to gather local landowner input to be used by the local governments and private organizations as they look to maintain the clean waters of the Little Aughwick today and in the future.

The public is invited to attend an upcoming meeting to learn of these projects and other efforts to protect and enhance local water resources, to be held at the Todd Township Municipal Building in Knobsville on Thursday, June 25, at 7:00 p.m.

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