2010-12-02 / Front Page

Spring Run Restoration Under Way

Project will improve water quality, fish habitat

Some of the more than 1,000 trees and 500 shrubs that will be planted as part of a stream restoration project line the banks of Spring Run in Ayr Township. Some of the more than 1,000 trees and 500 shrubs that will be planted as part of a stream restoration project line the banks of Spring Run in Ayr Township. Spring Run near Webster’s Mill is getting a facelift this fall. The stream restoration project currently under way will result in more than 4,000 feet of improved stream channel that will offer enhanced water quality and fish habitat for Spring Run, Cove Creek, the Potomac River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

The project is just one piece of a watershed restoration strategy that has seen conservation improvements on a half-dozen farms within the 7.5-square-mile Spring Run watershed over the last 10 years. A watershed assessment was completed in 2003 that laid out numerous potential projects and prioritized them. Improvements have included upgraded barnyards, manure storage facilities, planting of streamside forests, bank stabilization and enhanced fish habitat.

Several years ago, with many of the smaller projects completed or under way, the Fulton County Conservation District and cooperating landowners began designing and looking to fund the significant stream restoration project now taking place. The PA Department of Environmental Protection took an interest in the local efforts and funded the proposed project using funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Funding amounting to $283,750 was granted for the project, for the purpose of reducing sediment and nutrient pollution to Spring Run and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

Design and permitting of the project took more than a year to complete. The restoration approach, often termed natural channel design, will result in a stream channel with the proper dimensions to provide fish habitat and fish passage at low flow, while allowing high water to flow onto the floodplain, preventing the development of erosive banks along the length of the stream. The real key to maintaining the improved stream channel is re-establishing trees and shrubs along the length of the project. The Natural Resource’s Conservation Service Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) will cover the cost of the majority of streambank fence, equipment and cattle crossings, and streamside trees and shrubs to be installed. In addition to the restored stream, the project will protect, restore or create approximately two acres of wetlands.

Lee Irwin of Aquatic Resource Restoration Co., the contractors chosen to implement the project, said, “Spring Run is a unique limestone stream with tremendous springs providing clear, cold water that trout love. In addition to nearly a mile of direct stream improvements, this project should pay big dividends for water quality and the fishery, both up and downstream.”

Construction will continue into December. The project will be seeded, mulched, fenced and planted with more than 1,000 trees and 500 shrubs, so vegetation will establish quickly once spring arrives.

Contact the Conservation District’s watershed specialist, Scott Alexander, at 717-485-3547, ext. 118, for further information.

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