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Penns Creek from the Greenbriar Gap Rd bridge in Summer

Watershed Committee - Current Projects

By George Kelly, Watershed Committee Chair

PVCA allocated $5,000 in 2012 and $11,500 in 2013 as start-up funds to begin an ambitious project to establish riparian buffer plantings and develop adjacent young forest habitat along Muddy Creek in Georges Valley (see www.youngforest.org Mid-Atlantic, Georges Valley). We are maximizing the costeffectiveness of limited human and financial resources by integrating efforts to lower summer water temperatures impacting cold water fisheries with the critical need to manage wetland corridors for young forest wildlife. The PVCA funding was used in 2012 to begin non-native plant removal and plant native species, primarily aspen and alder, on the Tucker/Lang and J. Meyers properties. The PVCA monetary contributions enabled us to leverage significant in-kind contributions from several partners during this start-up phase, including US Fish and Wildlife Habitat Partners, PA Game Commission, Penn State Center for Watershed Stewardship, Wildlife Management Institute, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. $10,000 of the money that PVCA budgeted for this project in 2013, along with in-kind and other pledged cash, was used as matching money to obtain a $12,500 grant from the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds to continue habitat work along Muddy Creek. In addition to the partners listed above, Fruittown Land Stewardship Services and Woodcock Limited of Pennsylvania have joined us in supporting the project.

This new influx of financial and in-kind support has enabled us to continue Georges Valley habitat work this spring. US Fish and Wildlife Habitat Partners provided expertise, equipment, and personnel to mow invasives and do most of the planting on the Tucker/Lang and J. Meyers properties in early April. With this grant, PVCA funding, and the PA Game Commission donation of 1,000 alder seedlings, a total of approximately 4,500 seedlings will be planted, staked, and covered with tree shelters this spring. Most of the planting will be on Tucker/Lang and J. Meyers but additional planting will take place on four other properties, two in Georges Valley (Marquardt and Doman) and two on upper Penns Creek (Martinec and Bierly). Tree and shrub species being planted are aspen, alder, black haw viburnum, American plum, serviceberry, winterberry, silky dogwood, black willow, black locust and sycamore. Species have been selected to provide both food and cover for woodcock, songbirds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects that depend on young forest habitats. Even with tree shelters (tubes) to protect them, deer like to browse the tender shoots when they pop out of the tops of the tubes. We are using longer (five foot) tubes for aspen this year and have replaced the four foot tubes on the aspen planted last year. Based on casual observations and having noted that large clearcuts and their interiors regenerate better than the edges, we are also experimenting with planting (particularly shrubs) in dense clumps this year in the hope that deer will browse some of the outside plantings and give interior plants a better chance of survival.

The remainder of the PVCA money allocated for this project in 2013 ($1,500) together with inkind and other pledged cash provided the leverage to obtain a $10,000 grant from the Coldwater Heritage Partnership to restore eroded streambanks and plant a 35 foot or wider riparian buffer of native trees and shrubs in a key 800 foot section of lower Muddy Creek on the J. Meyers property. Lysle Sherwin, Andrea Ferich, and I measured and marked this section in late April in preparation for getting the necessary permits to do instream work. The permitting process will take place this summer and actual work will likely start in spring 2014. Work to establish a viable buffer at the R. and K. Meyers property along Kline Road also continued this spring. Planting has been taking place at this site every year since the original bank stabilization was done in 2009, and desirable vegetation is slowly increasing. In addition to the Cub Scout planting that took place this spring (see “Young Volunteers Pitchin to Plant Buffers” article in this issue link to publications), Lysle Sherwin and I planted and flagged 60 seedlings on April 20 and flagged approximately 40 volunteer trees and survivors of previous plantings. We are working to get stakes and tree shelters on the plants to increase survival.

We want all of our members to know that we are trying our best to maximize the effectiveness of their contributions as we translate them into on-the-ground environmental enhancements and we want to thank all of you for your continuing support.