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Conservation District Success Stories Celebrated

September 7th, 2021

Roads are being improved, headwater streams protected, and coal mine pollution abated as a result of work that’s dutifully performed — with little or no fanfare — by county conservation districts. Last week, directors of these low-profile agencies whose impact stretches far and wide showcased some of their success stories in Potter and Cameron counties. About a dozen elected officials and other guests joined conservation district managers and technicians on a daylong field trip.

In Potter County, the group traveled to two project sites on Southwoods Road in Homer and Sylvania townships. Conservation District Manager Jason Childs (left) explained that over a period of four years, the Conservation District upgraded a 4.7-mile section of the road to reduce sediment loads flowing into the Southwoods Branch, and to keep the road passable for residents, seasonal property owners, tourists, school buses and emergency vehicles. Price tag was nearly $684,000. In Sylvania Township, an eroding 70-foot vertical bank had collapsed, reducing Southwoods Road to one lane threatening to close the road entirely. Some 264 tons of limestone and other materials were used to stabilize the bank and improve the stream and its habitat. Cost was $175,000.

One stop in Cameron County was at an acid mine drainage treatment project in Cameron County’s Sterling Run watershed. Deep coal mining in the late 1800s and early 1900s and surface mining that followed had badly fouled the headwaters, killing all aquatic life. Cameron County Conservation District has installed “passive treatment systems,” neutralizing aluminum and iron levels. Affected waters are now Class A Wild Trout Streams. Also in Cameron County, the group observed a streambank stabilization project along the Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. That 450-foot section had been severely eroded. A modified mudsill cribwall was installed to stabilize the bank and improve fish habitat. The Conservation District partnered with the Western Pa. Conservancy to plant a five-acre riparian buffer that includes trees, shrubs and live stakes.

 

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