Boroughs to the Bay...and Beyond 2008
and the web recap of our series from 2006 & 2007

Listen to Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond on Leaders & Lawmakers

Listen to Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond on Roundtable
 

How can we help the Chesapeake?

Listen to Ali Stevens' full story here

HARRISBURG – Now that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation 2010 State of the Bay Report has been released, what can we do here in Pennsylvania to help improve the health of the bay?  According to the report, the Chesapeake Bay is showing encouraging signs of rebounding, but is still in critical condition due to pollution.  

Lamonte Garber, deputy director of the Pennsylvania office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says we can all help change that by doing our part. He says reducing the amount of fertilizer we use on our lawns, using good farm practices and improving stormwater treatment facilities will result in cleaner water. 

He says the most important step will can take to help with pollution is protect our “forested buffer," to not only restore the Bay, but also restore our local streams.  Our streams and everything that lives in the streams are supposed to be flowing through unbroken blankets of forests.  Trees shade the streams and protect stream banks from erosion and also filter runoff from the land.  (Ali Stevens)

Mercury's affect on aquatic life

UNDATED -- Fish consumption advisories are present in Pennsylvania, and that includes the Susquehanna River.  Dr. Brian Mangan of King's College has been studying mercury in the environment.  He says the presence of mercury is in the aquatic life, but now they are trying to figure out the pathways in which mercury gets to fish. 

Mangan and some of his students have been studying how mercury is getting here and why it is a hazard. 

Mangan is also studying the affects of what happens when mercury leaves the aquatic environment, such as to spiders of salamanders that live near water.  Mercury is most known to cause neurological problems, as well as cardiac issues in humans. (Sara Bartlett)

Interns working on water projects this summer

LEWISBURG -- Not everyone out on the Susquehanna River this summer is shooting the breeze.   Over 30 interns from six different universities are hard at work getting their feet wet in environmental projects across the Valley.  The interns were introduced at a recent Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies meeting.  Skip Wieder, convener of the coalition, explains the wide variety of projects the students will be tackling.  Wieder also talks about the importance of interns to the region. The results of the projects will be displayed at the annual Susquehanna River Symposium at Bucknell University in October.  (Stephanie Klock)

Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition busy this summer

UNDATED -- The Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies has a busy summer.  The group, which is a partnership between six colleges and universities, Geisinger Center for Environmental Health and a number of environmental groups in the Valley, focuses on a number of issues in the lower west branch, lower north branch and confluence of the Susquehanna River.  Mel Zimmerman, of Lycoming College, is part of the coalition.

Specifically, Zimmerman says the group continues some water monitoring that they started last summer.  Zimmerman says they are also hoping to supplement fish data on different portions of the river this summer.  He also says the six colleges and universities are each working on separate projects that they will expand on at future meetings of the coalition.

The foundation for Pennsylvania Watershed receives grant

LEWISBURG -- Money is flowing into the Foundation for the Pennsylvania Watershed to promote awareness to the environmental and economic impacts of Marcellus Shale.  Brandon Diehl, grant program consultant, says the foundation has received a $50,000 payment, is expecting a $125,000 grant by the end of the year, and another $125,000 for 2010. He explains how this money is going to be used. In addition to this, the foundation hopes to develop a website to act as a digital tracking device, for public and scientific use, to mark where the wells are placed throughout the state. (Stephanie Klock)

Reintroduction of eels to the river
Listen to Sara Bartlett's full report here

SUNBURY -- Soon, eels will be returned to the Susquehanna River.  Officials are planning to reintroduce to the river the once popular game and food fish.  Tom Deans, project coordinator for the city's Riverfront Project, says the city will pay to restock the river with eels.  According to Andy Shields, who is the Chief of Fish Production Services for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, eels have an important impact on the ecology of the river.  They also serve as a 'taxi' for fresh water mussels, a species that can significantly improve water quality.

Shields says eels mature anywhere between six and 20 years, where they will then migrate to the ocean to mate, and then make their way back upstream.  He says this is where the fish ladder, along the western shore in Shamokin Dam, will come in handy. 

Shields says in the last 30 years, improvements in water quality have made towns take a closer look at how the river can boost an area.  He also commends Sunbury and surrounding communities for reattaching themselves to the Susquehanna through the Riverfront Project.

Pollution is having a big impact on some fish in the Susquehanna River

LEWISBURG – One of the most popular game fish in our region—is being negatively affected by pollution—so says a scientist who is studying the Susquehanna River. At the 4th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium at Bucknell University last weekend, Brian Mangan—a professor at Kings College, said his findings are consistent with other research.

He says 80% of the male small mouth bass population that they sampled—showed intersex characteristics, meaning male fish have eggs showing up in their body. Professor Mangan says, the good news is, not all fish are being affected by contaminants in the river in that way. He said ‘white suckers,’ for example, have not shown these symptoms.

Listen to all of Professor Mangan's interview here

The change in the bass is thought to be because of trace chemicals in the water—including pharmaceuticals, which make it through sewage treatment plants unaffected and end up in the river in relatively strong concentrations.

Newsradio WKOK’s Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond reports first told you four years ago that pharmaceuticals—including those we have ingested and expelled (and those which are simply discarded into the waste stream) are suspected of having a negative impact on fish.

He said the Susquehanna River Coalition for Environmental Studies will be conducting additional tests and monitoring to determine the impact of these trace chemicals in the Susquehanna River. You can read more about the symposium at www.wkok.com.

Electric sensors keeping a close watch on the river

LEWISBURG –  Since the beginning of the month, two electric sensors have been placed in the Susquehanna River and are measuring different aspects of the water’s quality.  Matthew McTammany, Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Bucknell University, is working with students on the research.  He says the sensors are in the north branch in Danville and the west branch in Milton, and even in a month, they’ve collected a lot of data

McTammany says the sensors measure data on water temperature, oxygen, river depth and more.  Data is collected every five minutes and uploaded every hour to a website that the public can check out.  He says besides collecting data for scientific reasons, people may be interested to know the state of the river for recreational activities.

McTammany says they plan to collect data and keep the sensors in the river indefinitely.  The website is a real-time interactive site, which you can be linked to through our website here. (Sara Bartlett)

Merle Phillips: Sunbury fabridam fish ladder still progressing

SUNBURY – In view of the tightest state budget in recent memory, what is the status of the fabridam fish ladder at Sunbury? State House member Merle Phillips (R-108th, Sunbury) says applications are still in place to fund construction of the passageway that would allow shad to swim upstream more easily. The construction might take place next year.

He also says governor has applied for stimulus money to build the ladder on the Sunbury side of the river. Phillips notes construction of a fish ladder was meant to be part of the original Fabridam plan, and is thus required by law. The fish ladder is needed for many migratory fish to get past the dam, which is a block to their migration routes.  Listen to Phillips’ comments here.

Phillips hopes construction of the fish ladder can restore shad fishing above the Fabridam, and make it comparable to the revival of shad fishing in the Delaware River. (Matt Farrand)

Senator talks about the benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale

HARRISBURG – Senator Gene Yaw (R-23rd, Williamsport) Senatorial District is in favor of the drilling work at the Marcellus Shale Formation in northern and western Pennsylvania. Yaw says this has the potential to be the type of thing to turn the state around and change us into an energy producing state.

He says state officials are new to this undertaking and right now, they are in the infancy stages. Yaw says some think it will be the savior to the state’s budget issues, but it’s too early to look that far ahead. Yaw also talked about over-regulation and protecting the water where the drilling is taking place.

He says the DEP and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission are doing their job of protecting the water, which is a priority of Governor Ed Rendell. The shale contains largely untapped natural gas reserves, and its proximity to the high-demand markets along the East Coast of the U.S. make it an attractive target for energy development.  Yaw is excited to see how the drilling develops and impacts the state in the years to come. (Ali Stevens)

Is mercury in fish, harmful for humans?

UNDATED – We’ve talked in our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segments about high amounts of mercury in fish and aquatic life, but is it a serious problem for humans? That is a question that Environmental Epidemiologist at Geisinger Medical Center, Dr. Min, is looking into. Min says he has been interested in this research in order to figure out if it is a health risk for residents of the Central Susquehanna Valley.

Min is a member of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition, which is in the process of setting up the first comprehensive mercury monitoring system in the Valley. Grants purchased the $40,000 mercury analysis machine, which will be located at Susquehanna University. It will test water, air and wildlife for mercury. (Sara Bartlett)

The environmental impacts of burning waste coal

UNDATED – It’s something that the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Ed Rendell support, but something Director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, Jeff Schmidt, calls the single biggest danger from energy use.  It’s the burning of waste coal, and Schmidt says there are many environmental downsides.  He says it’s not energy efficient, and there is a higher volume of waste material after the burning process is done.  And, if those waste materials aren’t disposed of properly, there could be a long-term threat to groundwater.  

Schmidt says Pennsylvania generates well over 50% our electricity from burning coal, which makes us one of the biggest emitters of toxins.  They not only include mercury, but lead, arsenic, chromium and dioxide.  Schmidt says there are many alternatives to burning waste coal that we are not adequately tapping into.  On a more local level, he says becoming more energy efficient doesn’t have to mean making drastic changes; it’s all about using energy wisely.  Schmidt will talk more about this topic and other topics on an upcoming Leaders & Lawmakers program. (Sara Bartlett)

How the Susquehanna River Basin Commission monitors safe gas drilling

UNDATED – Natural gas drilling continues in the northeastern portion of the state and it’s part of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s job to make sure that the drilling stays environmentally friendly.  Section Chief for Monitoring and Assessment, Jennifer Hoffman, says the SRBC mainly looks for water withdrawal violations.  She says they make sure companies have the correct permits, and make sure they are withdrawing water in a sustainable way.

Hoffman says they also monitor gas companies’ proper disposal of flow-back water that could be contaminated.  She says they continue to do a lot of data collection.  They collect data to make sure that they are protecting resources in an environmentally correct manner.  The Susquehanna River Basin Commission continues to observe many locations along waterways with 1,500 monitoring stations throughout New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  They also collect data for state and federal partners along with watershed groups. (Sara Bartlett)

State group advocating for proper stormwater management

UNDATED – The over 2,500 municipalities in Pennsylvania are all responsible for their own stormwater management.  How is our region is doing with stormwater plans and issues?  Brian Hill is the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environment Council, a group that works with organizations, local and state officials and citizens to deal with environmental concerns.  Hill says stormwater issues that aren’t addressed can become a big issue.  Hill says locally, they are working with Montour County to develop a stormwater management plan that engages citizens and they are also looking to improving statewide policy as well.  

Hill says a good plan for stormwater management includes knowing what kind of flows to expect, how to address them and how to minimize their impact on the community.  He says there also must be legislative solutions.

Hill says many municipalities are in the process of upgrading their stormwater systems.  In addition to stormwater management, the PA Environmental Council also deals with energy conservation, climate chance and creating sustainable communities.  They work with numerous state organizations including the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds Rivers and the Environmental Advisory Council Network. (Sara Bartlett)

How land reclamation benefits both urban and suburban areas

SUNBURY –  Reclamation of land affected by acid mine drainage can alleviate numerous problems and get land back to the way it looked prior to mining.  Robert Hughes is the Executive Director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandon Mine Reclamation, known as EPCMAR, and says they have been working with community organizations in the area to fix old stripping pits and re-vegetate sites.  Hughes says doing this could be a huge benefit for urban areas, by helping economic development and creating sewer or water lines.

Reclamation can also help in outlying areas by making turning them into recreations sites, such as safe ATV parks or trails and also help with wildlife habitat restoration.  The process of reclamation assists with reducing the amount of water that flows underground through silt piles.  EPCMAR has recently been working on this along nearly 36 miles of Catawissa Creek and along Shamokin Creek.  For more on EPCMAR you can visit their website at www.orangewaternetwork.org. (Sara Bartlett) 

Stream bank stabilization at Little Shamokin Creek

SHAMOKIN – Over a dozen people from numerous environmental groups around the Valley got together earlier this month in an effort to stabilize the stream bank along Little Shamokin Creek. The creek is Sunbury’s main supply of water.  Jackie Harner is a Watershed Specialist for the Northumberland County Conservation District and says this site was a priority because the creek was eroding the bank, which was close to Comfort Road in Rockefeller Township.  Installing a log deflector, which they did at a number of spots along the creek, would improve fish habitat and water quality, remove sediment and stabilize the bank, therefore saving the road.

Harner worked with the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association to stabilize six spots along the waterway.  She explains that the log defectors are angled upstream and re-channel the water into the middle of the stream, rather than having it hit the bank.  President of the Watershed Association Bob Herman says they worked hard and had a lot of help with the process. 

Assisting the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association were members from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Rockefeller and Upper Augusta Townships and the Sunbury Municipal Authority.  They hope to see immediate results of stabilization during times of high waters and expect their efforts to hold for many years. (Sara Bartlett)

Listen to part of Mark Lawrence's interview with Jackie Harner here

Some of the big institutions fighting for the river and the bay, on Roundtable

SUNBURY – This weekend on our Roundtable program we continue our annual series of stories on the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond is the award-winning, year-round series which looks at the issues facing these critical watersheds, and focuses on solutions.

This weekend, three major institutions helping The Valley environment, are represented on the show. The North Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and the SEDA-COG Community Resource Center.

We discuss the mission of these groups, their accomplishment and their ongoing projects. We talk about the watershed’s relationship to human health, the Greenway initiative and the ‘State of the River’ in our region. You can hear Roundtable at www.wkok.com.

An update on the future of the Marina building at the Shikellamy State Park

SUNBURY – The plan is to turn the Shikellamy Marina building into an environmental research and education center, however, what exactly will the project entail? The Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies is moving forward with plans for the marina building.

Skip Wieder is convener for the group and says the building will be expanded from the back toward the parking lot side of the building. This will allow for exhibit space, research space and also classrooms. The project has the backing and involvement of several groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Additionally, six local colleges and universities, Trout Unlimited and other local watershed organizations are part of the SRHCES. Wieder was a guest this week on our sister station, WKOK’s live talk show, “On the Mark”. You can listen to the program online here. You can see more about the SRHCES at www.srhces.org. (Ali Stevens)

National recognition for Susquehanna River Trail

HARRISBURG – A portion of the Susquehanna River has recently joined the prestigious ranks of the National Recreation Trails Network. A special event was held Tuesday in Harrisburg to recognize the accomplishment.

David Lange, Northeast regional manager for the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program says the middle section of the Susquehanna River Trail flows from Sunbury through Harrisburg and it was one of three that were added to the list from Pennsylvania. He says the resources of the river are tremendous and it’s probably one of the finest rivers in the state.

Lange says characteristics such as the way the river cuts through the water gaps, its bass fishing and its extensive network of islands that have been created over time, all combine to make for a wonderful outdoor experience.

Lange says there are only a handful of other rivers throughout the country that have water trails, which have received such unique recognition. Secretary of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, made the announcement in the spirit of the 40th anniversary of the National Trails System and to celebrate National Trails Day.

The Susquehanna River Water Trail was one of 24 trails, which were designated throughout 16 states to the network. You can hear more about the Susquehanna River and how it affects our region as we continue our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond Series. For a look at past features, go to www.wkok.com. (Sara Lauver)

Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond looks at an emerging mercury study

UNDATED – It will soon be easier to collect mercury samples from waterways for a Susquehanna University professor and his team. Head of the Chemistry Department at SU, Chris Janzen, says a new mercury analysis machine was recently purchased.

He says the benefit is that preparation is minimal; samples can go directly into the instrument. Plus, it is less costly to do so. Janzen says the machine is automated, so samples can be loaded up and run by themselves.

He says a benefit of the new machine will give testers the ability to test a number of samples including fish, mammal, soil and more. Janzen has been working on mercury analysis in Shamokin Creek, as well as looking at the effects of acid mine drainage there. Most recently, Janzen has been looking at metal concentrations above and below the mitigation site to see what sort of impact that is having. (Sara Bartlett)

Roundtable helps us continue our series: Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond…

SUNBURY – This weekend on our Roundtable program, we continue our series of stories entitled Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond. We air the first of two Roundtable programs focusing on the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay and how we all are affected by these waterways.

Our panelists include Mike Bilger, of Eco-Analysts Incorporated, and he tells us some of the issues facing watersheds include agricultural impact, development pressure, and lately, the Penn Valley Airport devastation, where riparian buffer’s were removed, allowing soil to erode into the Penns Creek. One road has been closed in that area because of the problem.

The Roundtable program also features professor Steve Rier of Bloomsburg University, Dr. Jack Holt of Susquehanna University and Ben Hayes of the Bucknell University Environmental Center. You can hear all of the Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond stories at www.wkok.com. You can hear Roundtable at www.wkok.com.

Wednesday, July, 9, 2008

Sunbury Wetlands

SUNBURY – It’s often overlooked and maybe some don’t even know about the wetlands in Sunbury near Race and 6th Streets.  And, that is what we’re talking about on today’s segment of Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond.  Ben Hayes is the Susquehanna River Coordinator at the Bucknell University Environmental Center.  He says it is a naturally occurring wetland, with the town of Sunbury built around it.  But, it has suffered from urban neglect including much pollution in and around it.

Recently, the water was drained from the wetlands, and the outlet that ponded back groundwater and surface water, which maintained amphibians and plants, disappeared.  This caused concern among many and also prompted the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition and other local groups to begin maintaining and restoring it.  Hayes says students have begun to do research on the water.  Also, if the wetlands were restored it could create a great community outreach for Sunbury, according to Hayes. 

The wetlands were purchased by Sunbury architect Stan Seiple, who also started the Sunbury Wetlands Association.  We’ll learn more about the wetlands as we continue our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond series, and you can hear more from Ben Hayes on our Roundtable program Sunday at 9:00a.m. (Sara Bartlett)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Part Two: Susquehanna River Basin Commission:
The state of the River

UNDATED – The state of the Susquehanna River is improving.  That’s the opinion of Susquehanna River Basin Commission Executive Director Paul Swartz, who also admits that many parts of the watershed still need some improvement, including the West Branch, which are degraded by abandon mines.  Swartz says the good news is that they have been seeing consistently improving long-term trends regarding the concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended sediments in the water. 

As the Commission continues to monitor the quality of the water, Swartz says the River Basin, because it is so water-rich is getting a lot of attention for energy production projects.  The most recent is gas exploration, where companies collect millions of gallons of water and eject it to create fractures in rocks where gas can then be extracted.  Swartz says doing this in small streams is risky, and operations have the potential to use more water than should be withdrawn.

Swartz says this summer they have been working with over 50 different companies who are undertaking these projects; to make sure they understand the Commission’s requirements.  (Sara Bartlett)

                    Listen to Paul Swartz's full interview on Leaders & Lawmakers

Friday, July 4, 2008

Part One with Susquehanna River Basin Commission:
Who are they and what do they do?

UNDATED – As we begin our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segments, we first talk about the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.  Their job?  To safeguard the watershed.  This means, among other things, protecting streams and aquatic resources, monitoring water quality and watching out for floods and droughts.  Executive Director of the SRBC, Paul Swartz, says it also means they make sure that those who need water get enough of it, and no one gets too much.  He says they want to make sure during dry times that the water is evenly split.  He says he doesn’t want a power or energy producer having water, when a farmer doesn’t.

And, why should we worry about water?  Swartz says because it is a finite resource.  He says it must be planned for and managed for the long term, and we should conserve water not just during drought times.

The SRBC continues to manage resources so there is enough water for now and for generations to come.  The Commission, which consists of a staff of less than 40 people and operates with a budget of about $5 million, takes care of the over 27,500 square miles of the Watershed from Cooperstown, New York to the Chesapeake Bay.  (Sara Bartlett)  

Listen to Paul Swartz's full interview on Leaders & Lawmakers


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Progress being made on Shikellamy Marina

SUNBURY – Plans are moving forward at the Shikellamy Marina.  Skip Weider of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition says the group recently met with members from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the state is now in the process of requesting bids from architectural firms who will do work on an environmental research and education center at the Shikellamy Marina.  Weider says it will most likely be a few months before the contract is awarded to a bidding architectural firm. 

Once a firm is chosen, they will work with a group from the College Coalition, which includes five scientists who will help determine what the building will be used for.  From there, construction is slated to begin in early or mid 2009.  Weider says the Coalition is pleased to have progress being made on the Shikellamy Marina because it shows the growing number of organizations that are active in environmental projects that affect the Susquehanna River. (Sara Bartlett)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Two years of a three-year study on Penns Creek are complete

SELINSGROVE – Another report on monitoring and assessment of Penns Creek has been completed by a Susquehanna University professor.  Dr. Jack Holt is Director of the Ecology Program at SU and a professor of biology.  He is more than halfway finished a three-year study on Penns Creek and the future of the watershed.  Holt started the project last year by monitoring the creek in 12 different spots. 

In the second year of the study, samples were collected and a habitat analysis was completed by Mike Bilger of EcoAnalysts Inc.  So far, Holt says the creek is in good shape and they have a good foundation to work on.  The problem area is to prevent sediment runoff with boundaries for the creek.  You can hear the report from Dr. Holt, Mike Bilger and SU student Nate Moore at the Penn’s Creek Adult Resource Center on Thursday at 7p.m.  The event is sponsored by the Lower Penns Creek Watershed Association, who hopes to use the information from the study in the future for the benefit of Penns Creek. 
                                    Listen to Ali Stevens' story with Dr. Holt


Monday, January 7, 2008

Can drugs hurt fish?

SUNBURY – Could the drugs that humans take to aid in their health actually be lethal to fish and other aquatic life?  Although it’s not a topic brought up very often, it is part of the study known as ecotoxicology.  Dr. Brian Mangan, Director of Environmental Studies at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, says the EPA found that some pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have emerged as a pollutant source in waterways and are not being treated by sewage treatment.

According to EPA, humans can contribute PPCPs to the environment when medication is passed out of the body, when externally-applied drugs are washed down the shower or sink drain or when unused or expired medications are placed in the trash.  Mangan and his students have been working for about a year and a half with antidepressants to find out if they have any effect on fish.  He says they have found that the three medications they tested do change the behaviors of aquatic life.

Mangan says the ecotoxicology studies have changed from the past, as they used to test drugs on fish to see if it was fatal.  Now, they test the sub-lethal effects and behavioral changes.  The EPA says the number of PPCPs are growing, with over 100 of individual products identified in environmental samples and drinking water in 2007.  They say, although the study is rather new, the advances in technology will improve the ability to detect chemicals and find out what type of effect they have on human and environmental health.

Listen to Mark Lawrence's full interview with Dr. Mangan about this topic

Thursday, January 4, 2008

Effects of Mercury in Susquehanna River

Mercury is not only a threat to the river and its inhabitants, it can also be dangerous to people.  Dr. Brian Mangan, Director of Environmental Studies at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, says mercury is a byproduct of burning coal and once it is in the environment, can concentrate itself into the food chain.  Mangan says the destructive effect of mercury was first discovered at Minamata Bay in Japan during the 1950’s.  Mangan says the damage done by mercury can be very hard to reverse, as it can find its way into nerve tissue in both humans and other organisms. 

Mangan says there are many things that can be done to remove these pollutants from rivers and streams, but it ultimately comes to costs verse benefits.  He says coal is a very cheap source of energy and a company may not be able to afford the expensive means of removing mercury. 

Pennsylvania has recently adopted a stance to no longer allow the trading of mercury emissions. Mangan says the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition is working with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission to get an assessment of where the area stands now in regards to mercury.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How coal mining can be helpful to the environment

SUNBURY – Some people may think that coal mining is a polluter to the environment, but it’s the opposite, says Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, Duane Feagley.  In this addition of our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segment, we take a look at the positive aspects of mining for the environment.  Feagley says the process of mining has radically changed over the past 30 years.

Feagley says as long as miners continue this active reclamation of the land, there will be a positive effect on the environment.  He says coal mining plays a major part in Northumberland County, as the county still controls quite a few coal lands in the area that are leased to miners and help provide income.  You can read this and other Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segments online at wkok.com.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bad species invading the river

WILKES-BARRE – A very invasive species of mussel is showing up in our river. This week on our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segment, we take a look at another dangerous species invading the Susquehanna River. They are called Zebra Mussels, and have been officially found in the North Branch of the River, mainly near Hallstead in Susquehanna County.

Dr. Brian Mangan, Director of Environmental Studies at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, has been monitoring Zebra Mussels in the Susquehanna River for the past 20 years, and says the way they make their living from filter feeding can be dangerous to the ecology of the river. Mangan previously spoke about another invasive species called the Asian clam, which has also been found in the main stem and the West Branch of the river.

These two species of mollusks, plus harmful human activity, such as the building of dams and the dumping of hazardous materials have put the Susquehanna on a list of endangered rivers for the past 10 years. Mangan says the community must be vigilant when these issues come to the forefront. (Sara Bartlett)

Monday, October 1, 2007

State of the River report released

SUNBURY – A comprehensive annual report of the Susquehanna River is now available.  Presented by the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, the report summarizes projects and activities dealing with the river that are currently underway in our area.  Executive Director of the North Central PA Conservancy, Renee Carey says it also focuses on the big environmental issue of abandoned mine drainage.

Intern for the North Central PA Conservancy, Molly Clay, did most of the writing.

The report includes a list of all of the county conservation districts in the region, so if people want to get involved at the local level, they can contact their own watershed specialist.  You can read the annual report here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Local conservation districts are doing soil testing

SUNBURY – We have been talking lately on Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond, about what you can do to help the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. The question now is, where to get more information.

The local conservation district office is one of the places. Shannon Burkland of the Union County Conservation district told us last week that they spend a lot of time on education. Here she says, they are the ‘go-to’ place for all kinds of funding and assistance.

You can contact the Union County Conservation District at 524-3860, or contact the conservation district office in your county. The conservation district’s hold regular monthly meetings and offer a variety of services.

They have a staff dedicated to helping all residents and property owners with environmental and conservation questions. Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond is our series of stories dedicated to the local watersheds and what individuals can do to help our environment.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The time is now to get involved

SUNBURY - Now is the time for you to help…save the bay…and the watershed in your backyard. That's the call for action issued by our guests on Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond. In the latest segment, Dr. Mel Zimmerman, a professor of biology at Lycoming College, the head of their Clean Water Institute, and chair of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environment Studies, tells us, there are plenty of opportunities coming up

Go to www.wkok.com for links to the upcoming symposium and the other agencies working to help the river. From Trout Unlimited, Rebecca Dunlap tells us, we should all get informed and get involved

All of the Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond stories and associated links are posted at www.wkok.com. Our stories focus on the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay and what you can do to help these waterways.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Defining your watershed…on Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond

SUNBURY – Today we continue our series of reports, Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond. We’ve been talking about the West Branch Valley and various ‘watersheds’ around here, but the question arises, what is a watershed? Dr. Mel Zimmerman, a senior professor of biology at Lycoming College and the head of their Clean Water Institute, tells us, it starts in your back yard:

So, we are all in various watersheds. We are in our local watershed, typically defined by the nearest significant creek or stream. We are in the Susquehanna Valley watershed and we are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Zimmerman said that is why there are so many local watershed groups—each serves a narrow slice of our regional environment and works to affect positive change on that waterway. You can find out about the local watershed near you, but going to DEP’s main website…you can see that link, at www.wkok.com.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The West Branch is getting lots of help from DEP

SUNBURY – There are numerous local watershed groups helping to clean up the West Branch of the Susquehanna River…and the government is there to help. In our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segment today, we find out that the state Department of Environmental Resources is a big ally of watershed groups. Mike Smith, a DEP mining manager says the department is hard at work regulating the active mining industry. Hear his comment here.

The efforts have paid off…the river is greatly improved in the Lock Haven area. Above the community of Clearfield, the river is much better now. Also, the Babb’s Creek and Pine Creek projects were big success stories.

Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond is WKOK’s effort to focus attention on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay, the critical issues facing these watersheds, and identifying solutions.

Saturday and Sunday, August 11 & 12, 2007

More information about the West Branch restoration effort

SUNBURY – The West Branch of the Susquehanna is the smaller of the two branches but is getting far more attention when it comes to restoration and conservation. Our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond story today looks further into the efforts of Trout Unlimited.

T-U has identified the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, as a restorable trout fishery, Amy Wolfe, is the the Director of Abandoned Mine Programs at T-U says, there is just one problem.

Trout Unlimited is leading the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition, a group of local watershed groups, and local businesses who are promoting the restoration efforts on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The coalition is concerned about Acid Mine Drainage from mines, which pollute the Deer and Moshannon Creeks; both of those streams feed into the West Branch and are polling them.

They are also helping other groups. Lycoming College is helping with education and outreach, doing monitoring of the West Branch, and they hope to include the West Branch information in the State of the River report coming out this fall.


Friday, August 10, 2007

A thriving group busy in the West Branch 

SUNBURY – Our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond story today deals with trout in the river. There are no trout in the Susquehanna River today, but not so years ago. Trout Unlimited has identified the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, as a restorable trout fishery, and so they have devoted countless hours on this part of Pennsylvania.

Amy Wolfe, is the Director of Abandoned Mine Programs at T-U and says the coalition is concerned about Acid Mine Drainage from mines, which pollute the Deer Creek and Moshannon Creek; both of those streams feed into the West Branch and are polluting them badly. Hear her comment here.

Trout Unlimited is now serving as the catalyst of the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition, a group of local watershed groups, and local businesses who are promoting the restoration efforts on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

They are also helping other groups. Lycoming College is helping with education and outreach, doing monitoring of the West Branch, and they hope to include the West Branch information in the State of the River report coming out this fall.

We’ll hear more about their efforts in our next report. Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond is WKOK’s focus on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The latest on a toad issue

SUNBURY – We’ve been telling you about a very special tenant of the Milton Area Industrial Park…but its not a business, it’s the rare Eastern Spadefoot Toad. There is an update on its fate. At a recent meeting of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, Renee Carey of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy talked about a compromise in the works.

Carey said the Milton Area Industrial Development Authority is interested in developing the site, but they don’t want to, and can’t threaten the endangered species that is the Eastern Spadefoot Toad. The toads turned up on the site, and is one of only two or three places in Pennsylvania where the toad is found. It lives in wet areas, stays buried and emerges rarely.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How a clam is changing the river

SUNBURY – Our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond series today looks at a new invasive species that is spreading up the Susquehanna River. Brian Mangan, the director of the environmental program at Kings College, told us about an invasive species they are concerned about.

The problem with the clam can be, what do they eat that used to be consumed by other species, and what happens to their waste—what does that do to our drought affected river. More about the Asian clam in the Susquehanna…in our next segment of Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond.

Monday, August 3, 2007

More on a clam, changing the river

SUNBURY – Our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond series today looks another look at a new invasive species of clam, which is turning up in the main stem, and the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Brian Mangan, the director of the environmental program at Kings College, told us the impact of the increasingly pervasive species:

The Asian clam is the corbicula fluminea and has been in the main stem of the river for some time and is only recently turning up in the North Branch. Its effect on the Chesapeake Bay is not really known. But it is new to central Pennsylvania and is being spread in the river by boaters and anglers. More about the river and bay, in our transcripts of Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond. Read more at www.wkok.com.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A 'Willing to Pay' survey is underway on the West Branch

SUNBURY – The Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segment today continues our conversation with a specialized consultant who is helping Trout Unlimited. T-U has focused a lot of its attention on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

They have asked Evan Hansen of the firm, Downstream Strategies LLC, to quantify how much a clean up of the West Branch would pay off in the long run. But first, the work must be paid for now, and Hansen said that’s where one of their latest surveys comes in

The West Branch of the Susquehanna River is impaired by high volumes of Acid Mine Drainage, coming primarily from tributaries in Clearfield and Centre Counties. There are numerous efforts underway to clean up and stop these discharges.

Trout Unlimited is hoping that their very specific plans and numbers will help them leverage additional state and federal dollars to help with the clean up. Hansen told us in our last report, that restoring the West Branch would be a huge economic benefit for the existing and future residents of the West Branch valley..

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Economic development on the West Branch

SUNBURY – So far this year, our Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond segments have focused on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. We continue that focus today and we talk to a very specialized consultant, who is helping Trout Unlimited. He is looking at the economic development potential that goes with cleaning up the West Branch of the river.

Evan Hansen is with the company, Downstream Strategies LLC said initially, there is an economic boost when the stream or river undergoes a complete assessment, then remediation efforts can be in the millions of dollars, then recreation opportunities follow, and property values rise.

Next, he’ll describe how a survey of people, will help determine ‘how much people will pay, to fund a clean up of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Boroughs to the Bay and Beyond is WKOK’s examination of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. We look at issues facing these waterways—and what is being done to help. You can hear our interview here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chesapeake Bay Commission talking 'REAP'

SUNBURY – In today’s segment of Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond, we find more out about the REAP bill that was passed in Harrisburg recently. We’ve spoken to the non-profit organization that is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but now we talk to the Chesapeake Bay Commission (which is a governmental agency).

Marel Raub, the Pennsylvania Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission said REAP should help farmers. Farmers will able to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and other runoff, and reduce sediment erosion. REAP provides tax credits to farmers who implement ‘best management practices.’ Hear more here.

The goal is to help reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from farms. Raub said the goal of the effort is to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. More about this clean-up effort, in our next segment of Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond.



Friday/Saturday, July 27 & 28, 2007

A State of the River report is being compiled

LEWISBURG – The Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies is overseeing the compilation of a first ever, State of the River report for our region. Renee Carey, of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, told us they are working with a student at Bucknell, and hope to pull together all the various studies, assessments and clean-up efforts, into one State of the River report. Here is her full interview.

Carey said the conservancy is serving as the ‘organizational conduit for study’ because the conservancy is already the coordinator of the Lower West Branch Susquehanna River Conservation Plan and is a partnership in the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond is our continuing look at the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.

Sunday/Monday,  July, 22 & 23, 2007

The head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was on the WKOK newsline

SUNBURY – The head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was on the WKOK newsline recently, talking about the reality of global warming and its affect on watersheds in this part of the world. Will Baker also gave us a critique of our national and state lawmakers, and their actions protecting the environment. He said their results are mixed, but REAP was a victory.

Now, with that victory in mind, Will Baker said it is time for federal and state lawmakers to fight even harder for the Susquehanna River and the bay…he says the foundation wants politicians to stop thinking about a clean environment as ‘optional.’ He said the CBF will continue pushing for action on these key critical environmental and conservation issues. As for the future?

The foundation is calling for a reduction in greenhouse gases; the use of more energy efficient light bulbs, more fuel-efficient cars and a reduction in long commutes. He says, the effects of the subtle changes in our warming environment are already being felt, with the bay level rising and strong storms having a greater impact on the water and land.

You can read more at the foundation’s main website, www.cbf.org. You can read our Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond stories, and hear our interviews here. Next on Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond…thinking of conservation as economic development…on WKOK.

Thursday, July, 19, 2007

Climate change poses threat to Chesapeake, group says

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – The Chesapeake Bay faces more problems than just pollution and development. In our Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond segment, we find out today, that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report today that says the bay is increasingly threatened by global warming. Will Baker, the president of the foundation told us on the newsline, what’s at stake.

Baker said that rising temperatures are already stressing brook trout here in Pennsylvania and striped bass in the bay, and are responsible for a massive die-off of eel grass in the lower bay two years ago. As for what we can do.

Will Baker, of the says the bay could rise three to four feet by the end of the century. The Foundation is expected to call for reductions in greenhouse gases to help prevent more damage.

Wednesday, July, 18, 2007

Big news for folks concerned about the Susquehanna River and Bay

HARRISBURG - The state budget that was passed this week has some good news for farmers-and for people interested in preserving and enhancing the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. The state house and senate passed, and the governor signed, the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act. It is known as REAP, and will allow farmers to receive tax credits, or a reduction in their taxes, if they install 'state of the art' conservation practices. Matthew Ehrhart of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation explains the process. Listen here.

The goal is give farmers help as they try to reduce water pollution. Improvements on the farm can include barnyard enhancements, stream buffers, fencing and developing other measures, which will help insure clean water and soil. REAP passed in Pennsylvania with the first-year cap of $10 million. That means the state could lose no more than $10 million in revenue because of the tax incentives given to farmers. More tomorrow, on Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond…on WKOK.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond…another look…west

SUNBURY - We've focused on the most impaired branch of the Susquehanna River so far, as we continue our Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond segments. At a recent meeting of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, a representative of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission gave a 'state of the river' report for the west branch. Listen here.

Tom Clark from the river basin commissioner said, it may surprise folks that the West Branch is the most impaired, but it has more miles of dead streams than the North Branch (or the main stem of the Susquehanna River. That means it has more streams-compromised-or dead-because of Abandoned Mine Drainage. It also has more efforts underway to clean up these problems.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program is thriving

SUNBURY – Today, in our next segment of Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond, we find out more about the many efforts to clean-up the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and clean-up other waterways in the western half of the state.

The Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program is thriving, under the direction administrator, John Dawes. Our reporter Mark Lawrence conducted a short interview with Dawes, who told us, one of their primary duties, is to use donated dollars, to ‘draw down’ federal and state matching dollars. You can hear that interview here. You can hear more Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond segments, in future newscasts, on Newsradio 1070 WKOK, and posted at WKOK.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cleaning up the pollution on the West Branch of the Susquehanna


SUNBURY – This weekend, on our Roundtable program, we launch our second year of focus on the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Boroughs to the Bay…and Beyond is the name of our series this year. On Roundtable, we find out about the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition. Trout Unlimited is a main player in this group, and Amy Wolfe of Trout Unlimited tells us, the big job of the coalition.

She said their job is to serve as lead catalyst for the many initiatives in the West Branch Valley. The coalition also provides services for everyone, interested in cleaning up the West Branch watershed.

Also represented on Roundtable this weekend, the Lycoming College Clean Water Institute, the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, DEP and several watershed groups.

You can hear Roundtable (Sunday) on:

Eagle 107 (107.3FM) at 6a.m.

100.9, The Valley, at 6a.m.

WKOK at 9a.m.

Talkradio 1380 WMLP, 11a.m.

94KX at 11p.m.

And anytime by clicking here!

Monday June 5th, 2006

Looking at the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay

SUNBURY – Today, WKOK and our sister stations at Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation, begin an informational series of broadcasts regarding the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. This series is entitled, Boroughs to the Bay, and everywhere in between. Each day we’ll have a news story about efforts to clean up, improve, conserve, preserve or enhance the river and the bay. We’ll have several Leaders & Lawmakers segments and Roundtables too.

Today, we have an update on Byers Island, the name for the largest of six islands recently donated by PPL to the North Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. The islands are near Shamokin Dam, and Renee Carey, the Executive Director of the conservancy tells us, the Susquehanna Water Trail Association is currently making a portage trail and camping site on the islands. They hope to have that work done in time for the Susquehanna Sojourn’s visit to our area Saturday, June 17th.

Ultimately, the conservancy will donate the islands to the State Department of Forestry. That department is still determined how they will manage the bird and island habitat on the islands.

Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll hear from the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program, who are already concerned about the West Branch of the river, and are extending that concern—and funding—to the rest of the Susquehanna River basin. (Mark Lawrence)

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Local Watershed groups could be funding from Western P-A

SUNBURY – The Boroughs to the Bay—our summer 2006 focus on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay continues with word that dozens of local watershed groups could get some new funding from an unexpected source. The Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program has been helping groups in their part of the state for years, but now they are looking at helping watershed restoration efforts on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and the Main Stem.

Branden Diehl, the Program Assistant for the program recently told area environmental leaders that there are now funds available for local watershed groups, “The message today is that (we) are moving into the Susquehanna Region, working with groups on the West Branch of the Susquehanna as well with groups as the main stem of the Susquehanna.”

“We can provide them with restoration dollars…and help them coordinate their efforts, and bringing them not only financial resources, but manpower resources, technical resources and any other resources that we provide to help them achieve their mission of watershed restoration,” he said.

He said people should be happy about the new partnerships that are being developed between Central Pennsylvania watershed groups and the western Pennsylvania programs. He called it an economic development program because it improves recreation opportunities and helps in revitalization efforts.

Tomorrow…lots of floaters coming to our area soon…

Wednesday June 7th, 2006

There is a pair of canoe trips scheduled through our region

SUNBURY – Now another installment of our Boroughs to the Bay focus on the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. Within the next 30 days, two groups of canoeists will float, and paddle, and portage through our area.

First, the 16th annual Susquehanna Sojourn, sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, will launch next week from the Susquehanna Riverlands Environmental Preserve, near the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant near Berwick. Their 9-day destination is Safe Harbor Dam, in southern Pennsylvania, about 128 miles downstream. They’ll stop at Shikellamy State Park Marina June 16th, and the next day, portage on Byer’s Island near Shamokin Dam.

The second canoe trip, June 18th, in Cooperstown, New York, the Chesapeake Bay foundation’s Expedition Susquehanna 2006, gets underway. Twelve Future Farmers of America members will canoe about 444 miles over five weeks and end up in Annapolis, Maryland. They will be at the Shikellamy State Park Marina, Saturday, July 1st, for a public Watershed Expo. A local student, Brian Gray of Selinsgrove, will be on that expedition.

Kim Patten with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says, “They will be canoeing most of that time with side trips off the river to explore watershed issues to talk to experts and community people and other watershed stakeholders about what’s going on in various parts of the watershed, what the issues are and what people are doing to help.”

WKOK will continue to follow the expeditions as they near, we’ll report on the two canoe trips through our area and we’ll talk to students and participants along the way. Tomorrow on Boroughs to the Bay: The Kreamer connection to the Chesapeake Bay.

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Helping to ‘Save-the-Bay-in-Kreamer-P-A’

KREAMER – The Boroughs to the Bay series continues today with word that the Kreamer Municipal Authority and their newly expanded sewage treatment facility is part of the solution. The newly expanded plant has nearly double the capacity as the previous facility, but more important, it treats wastewater more thoroughly. Pat George of Kreamer is a member of the municipal authority, she tells us the Susquehanna River, and Chesapeake Bay are threatened by nitrogen and phosphorus in sewage effluent.

This new plant can treat sewage and more effectively remove these elements from the discharge. She said of the 121 sewage treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, most, nearly 80% are rated as unacceptable by the Chesapeake Bay foundation. She did note that storm-water run-off and agriculture discharges are still threatening the bay, but in Kreamer, they are proud to say that they part of the solution—and not part of the problem.

Another big problem with sewage treatment facilities—is untreated overflows, when the plant capacity is overtaxed and untreated sewage enters the river and the bay. George said their new plant has a much higher capacity and that will reduce sewage overflows.

Friday, June 9th, 2006

Our Boroughs to the Bay series continues with…solutions

SUNBURY – Our Boroughs to the Bay series continues…this week we’ve looked at some problems and some solutions related to the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. However, what needs to be done to restore and enhance this watershed?

Will Baker, the Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tells us, they have identified some systemic solutions: First, get the vast majority of sewage treatment plants in full compliance with long term goals of releasing no nitrogen or phosphorus into the river. Next, address agriculture run-off in a greater way—that’s the biggest source of nutrient pollution in the water, and third, burn fewer fossil fuels.

That means reducing emissions from cars, power plants and other sources. The next priority will be addressing storm water runoff in municipalities (which he says is full of contaminants) and get homeowners to fertilize responsibly.

Ironically he said the pollution and the death of the bay, isn’t a problem in search of a solution, it’s a easily defined set of solutions in search of funding, and the will to make the change. You and I can drive less, conserve water, make sure our furnaces are working well, and live a more earth-friendly life. He encourages people to get more information, at www.cbf.org. Next on Boroughs to the Bay: Sunday and Monday on WKOK, the Susquehanna River Trails, and their waterproof map.

Saturday/Sunday Weekend Update 6/10/06

Boroughs to the Bay looks at the Susquehanna River Trail today

SUNBURY – The Boroughs to the Bay series continues today with word that a very busy trail goes through our area—and you might not even noticed. The Susquehanna River Trail is an organization, which has mapped, in detail, several river trails, including the middle section—from Sunbury to Harrisburg. The mission of the Susquehanna River Trail project is to promote and facilitate recreation on the Susquehanna River and its many islands.

The trail association has produced maps, which aid canoeists, and kayakers as they utilize the river. The maps give detailed data on islands, portage information and where various riverside facilities can be found. Brook Lenker of Camp Hill is a co-founder of the river trail and a past president of the association.

He says they produce GPS ready water-proof water-trail guides. They also oversee 20 islands between Sunbury and Harrisburg which they prepare for camping and portaging by clearing some brush and debris, and erecting informational signs. They also coordinate the many volunteers who are Island Stewards…those individuals visit the islands frequently, maintain the association’s work and monitor the island usage.

You can get more information at www.susquehannarivertrail.org. Next, on Boroughs to the Bay, we’ll talk to the Selinsgrove area Student who has a 444-mile canoe trip in his future.

Monday, June 12th, 2006

It is all about the environment—so says a Selinsgrove teen going on an expedition

SUNBURY – An area teenager is tough to track down, making FFA trips to summer competitions, attending 4-H and other activities, and picking up some awards along the way. Our Boroughs to the Bay series continues today with word that 16-year-old Brian Gray of rural Selinsgrove, is one of the 12 high school Future Farmers of America students going on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Expedition Susquehanna 2006. He lives and works on the family farm, and said watershed issues have been a big part of his life already.

He’ll canoe from Cooperstown New York, to Annapolis Maryland, and participate in side trips along the way. The Foundation is using the trip to promote conservation and enhancing the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gray said he hopes to learn more about aquatic wildlife and the threats to the river and the bay. He said he signed up because it sounded like a good, fun trip, and a good educational, informational cause. As for his future, he wants to be an engineer and stay associated with agriculture.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear from the head of Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute, about local watershed restoration efforts locally.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The river is much cleaner…thanks to our guest on Boroughs to the Bay today

SUNBURY – The Susquehanna River is full of boaters and anglers, and is lined with campsites at some locations. Canoeists enjoy the river and creeks…so what is all this talk about problems in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay Watershed? Today in our Boroughs to the Bay segment, we start to talk about the Chesapeake Bay Commission and their role in monitoring recreation, and invisible pollution in the river.

Marel Raub is the Pennsylvania Director of the commission and she tells us about their work. She says, they are a tri-state, legislative commission, “I work as a staff person to the legislators and citizen members who serve on that commission. One local member is Representative Russell Fairchild (R-85th, Lewisburg), he’s been a member for a long time, and has served well in leadership of that commission through the years, and we look at what is the role of state government, helping to facilitate local efforts, helping to facilitate state efforts, there have been lots of laws and regulations that have been put in place over the last 20-years, because the river is improving.”

That is the key…lots of progress so far, and far more progress to go. Currently, she says major point source polluters have been controlled, but hidden nitrogen and phosphorus, and phenomenal amounts of sediment from erosion, are flooding the bay and killing thousands of aquatic plants and wildlife each year.

Tomorrow, more about the commission’s work, helping to Save the Bay, and more talk about, the Susquehanna Greenway.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The bay is being cleaned up, thanks to local folks around here

SUNBURY – We keep talking about the Chesapeake Bay, and that is good, but the work to clean up the bay doesn’t have anything to do with Maryland or anyone else in the bay. The problem, starts, here. In our Boroughs to the Bay feature today, we hear from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and we hear that local efforts are the key to the clean-up.

Marel Raub is the Pennsylvania Director of the commission and she tell us, watershed organizations have been popping up,

“A lot of local groups have been working over the past 20-years and even more intensively in the past decade, we’ve had Growing Greener funding of local watershed groups to do a lot of work at the local level to address some of the issues that have been talked about.

Looking at their local watershed to identify exactly what are the sources of nutrient and sediment pollution in that local watershed and helping to secure grant money or other sources of funding to go in and actually help make a difference. We help them put ‘best management practices’ on the land and a lot of work has been going on, at the local level.”

There are numerous local watershed groups who continue to address local water problems, helping to mitigate acid mine drainage, cleaning stream banks and adding buffers to keep muddy run off water from going in the local watershed. We’ll hear from some of those groups in the weeks ahead and next on Boroughs to the Bay, we’ll talk about the Susquehanna Greenway.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Susquehanna Greenway, explained, today on Boroughs to the Bay

SUNBURY – The Susquehanna Greenway is not exactly a household phrase around here, but some people we talked to for our Boroughs to Bay segment hope that will change soon. The Susquehanna Greenway is the name of a unified series of land and water, recreational locations and other attractions, which will be connected by signs and maps.

The Greenway reports in their latest materials that they hope to renew awareness of the river valley, its distinctive scenery and natural and cultural heritage. Sounds ’conceptual’ but Brian Auman, the interim coordinator of the Susquehanna Greenway tells us, they have very practical concerns about addressing water quality as part of their plan.

“The partnership is really in a transitional phase right now. For the last four years, we’ve been planning the Susquehanna Greenway, ‘Whats the vision? What can this achieve?’ and we’re really now making this transition to an organization that will be established to provide implementation and putting projects on the ground. Water quality and environment stewardship is a major part of our vision for the Susquehanna Greenway and everybody talks about this connected system, making this connection the realization that water quality is a barometer of how well we’re being stewards of the land, making that connection to people, and bringing the big picture of the bay—home to people in their backyards.”

Currently, the Susquehanna Greenway effort involves a broad regional partnership, which is in search of more funding. Next, we’ll hear from Brian Auman, on specific water quality concerns.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

You can't have a Greenway without clean water

SUNBURY-- In the coming days, our Boroughs to the Bay features, we will focus on the close ties between economic development--and having a high quality watershed (like the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay). Brian Auman, the interim coordinator of the Susquehanna Greenway partnership says the Greenway is a concept that ties together numerous recreational, natural, historical, and cultural sites along the Susquehanna River. Improving the watershed is critical, according to Auman, and so is educating local residents that everybody in this area impacts the river. He says chemical contamination of river water indicates that many are poor stewards of the upper part of the watershed.

The problem he says, is that when our soils run off and travel in the bay--it is bad that they have to deal with the sediment, but what’s worse--is that we no longer have those soils in our area.

Tomorrow--Clean & green--clean water and green dollars are one in the same.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Money rolls into our region—thanks to the…river

SUNBURY – The Sunbury area is unique—the Susquehanna River and Lake Augusta are at a location where major highways converge, where there has been tremendous growth in business and housing, and there recreation has become a busier industry. In our Boroughs to the Bay segment today, we follow the money to the river.

Kurt Kissinger, the president of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce told us, Sunbury’s Riverfront project is just one way, you’ll see, water leading the way toward economic development, “Bring vibrancy back to Front Street in Sunbury, leveraging the river, bring tourism and visitors who then see what a great Market Street business environment is prevalent there, creating and generating new types of businesses that are focused on serving those visitors as well as other types of service oriented companies is just going to create a renaissance project.”

“We don’t have to go very far to see an example, Mayor Reed in Harrisburg has done a phenomenon job in recognizing how you need to leverage river front redevelopment in terms of encouraging downtown revitalization, Harrisburg has seen a tremendous renaissance on city island and the river front.” He adds, the river and recreation are worth fighting for, because they prove to visitors (and continually show local residents) that they are in a thriving area, a growing area, with a high quality of life.

Next on Boroughs to the Bay…the Creative Class and the Central Susquehanna Valley.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Boroughs to the Bay, and the Creative Class

SUNBURY – The entire Central Susquehanna Valley has something now other area in the U-S has: a high quality of life, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor sports. Close proximity with urban areas, an eager work force…and great education. These are a few of the attractions for the Creative Class.

Today on our Boroughs to the Bay segment, Kurt Kissinger with the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce tells us about this class of new job seekers and entrepreneurs, who regard the assets of our area as indispensable.

“Diversity plays a role in this, but also quality of life aspects, building a quality of life place, where people can work here, because they want the quality of life that sets this region apart from other regions, but can provide their services as a labor force to local companies, globally active. So this creative class, one that is geared on idea generation, product development, fostering diversity…is one that demands quality of life aspects to where they live and work. So, enhancing the river, leveraging the river as a community and economic development resources is every important to nurturing that creative place,”

The key—is recreation. The Chesapeake Bay watershed—including our area—includes many of the attractive outdoor opportunities for the people who are looking for a growing, rural area, with a lot of offer. Kissinger said our area has some deficits in this area—but there is progress and the problems have been identified.

Next—the head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, talking about our threatened watershed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Time to talk about more solutions…on Boroughs to the Bay

SUNBURY – We’ve been talking about the threats to the bay for weeks now; the farm runoff, sewage plant overflows, and over fertilizing our lawns. We know the threats and the real problems now, but what about the solutions. In our Boroughs to the Bay segment today, we hear a call to action.

Matt Ehrhart, the Pennsylvania Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tells us, we have to keep up the ‘riparian’ zones near streams. Those are the buffers of brush and trees near streams, which help prevent soil from eroding into the waterway. Beyond that—everyone needs to take action.

“We need folks to be engage, more involved, and we all flush. Therefore, when it comes time to upgrade our wastewater treatment plants (many of them haven’t been upgraded in 20-30-50 years) and it is really time. There’s a cost to that and its not always easy, but it is time to move ahead with that. So be a proponent of that, and get engaged with the process, with your local watershed association, with your local trout unlimited chapter, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, all these groups have avenues where people can weigh in with their legislators and policy makers. We need to keep funding the Growing Greener program; we need to have advocates when these issues come up.

People also need to know, their vote really counts…get involved with local and regional groups, and find out about watershed groups who are having a big impact around here. We’ll hear from those groups in the coming weeks. Next, we will walk the Sunbury Riverfront, and talk about the big changes coming there.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sunbury’s riverfront project has the attention of many people

SUNBURY –There are certainly local people who are big supporters of the Sunbury River Front Project and there are also, most certainly, local people who are aren’t supporting the project…but in this Boroughs to the Bay segment today, we find out the eyes of a lot of state leaders are focused on Sunbury.

Catherine Scheib, the community development coordinator for the City of Sunbury tells us, the riverfront project is viewed as a flagship effort for the Susquehanna Greenway. The entire greenway pivots on Sunbury and she tells us why Sunbury—and the project are so compelling.

“The location of Sunbury on the Susquehanna River and the ability to access Lake Augusta (which is a 3,000 acre recreational lake) is just an incredible opportunity to bring young people with families that are looking for a quality of life because life along the riverfront can be incredibly engaging. You have recreational opportunities, you have environmental opportunities and just the beauty of the river is very compelling for some people to live by.”

Catherine Scheib also tells us that the riverfront project is progressing, some exploratory excavation has been completed, efforts are underway to get more funding, and soon a consultants report will lead to some final design ideas.

Next on Boroughs to the Bay…more the Greenway’s big interest in Sunbury.

June 26, 2006

What can you do to help the Susquehanna River watershed?

SUNBURY – The work of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay is taking place…in our area. The local tributaries and small streams in the Central Susquehanna Valley feed the river, and the river provides 50% of the fresh water in the bay. And the work to enhance the local tributaries is also taking place around here--by local people, doing local projects and helping any way they can.

In this Boroughs to the Bay segment today, Matt McTammany, an assistant professor of Biology at Bucknell tells us, what you and I can do to help,

“If you’re concerned about small streams, you should look up your local watershed group and try to become active. Try to join it if you can. I’m on the board of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Alliance and we have a great group of people, but it’s a small group we’d like to get bigger. I know every watershed group has the same goal. You can talk to your county conservation district, they have watershed officers for every county and they’re really helpful people. Otherwise, just enjoy the water and try to enjoy your healthy streams and think that all of them could look like that.”

Every area around here has or will have a local watershed group. You can find out about a watershed group in your area, but contacting DEP, or attending a ‘Watershed Event’ this Saturday at the Shikellamy State Park Marina. That is when the 12-FFA students on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Expedition will be there, and the foundation will conduct a public watershed educational seminar. The seminar is from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

June 29, 2006

You are invited to a Watershed Expo and cookout

SUNBURY – The students from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Expedition Susquehanna 2006 are camping in our area—and they would like to meet you. In this Boroughs to the Bay segment, we talk about the invitation for you to find out more their trip—and to find out more about local watershed groups. Kim Patten is from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The foundation is holding a Watershed Expo and Cookout Saturday afternoon, from 4 to 7p.m., at the Shikellamy State Park Overlook (The event was originally scheduled to take place at the Shikellamy State Park Marina, but was moved because of flooding).

Local Watershed groups, including the Buffalo Valley Watershed Alliance will be represented, and Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute will have a presentation. Students will also be discussing their expedition so far, and their off-river activities after the flooding began Tuesday on the North branch of the river.

Students did assist in some of the flood response efforts there, and got to see first hand, a sewage treatment plant overflowing into the Susquehanna River. You will find out what you can do to help the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. The students are now camping in our area.

The Watershed event is Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Shikellamy State Park Overlook.

July 1, 2006

This summer’s flood is very bad news for many, many people

SUNBURY – The Summer 2006 flood victims aren’t just the people whose property was damaged or destroyed, but the victims include the local recreation and fishing industries, the huge industry that was Chesapeake Bay fishing and crabbing, and…us. In this Boroughs to the Bay segment, Senior Naturalist John Paige Williams is speaking of last year’s lesser flood, killing a big part of the river and bay.

“It was just that it trashed the bay, but it trashed the entire river. Friends, small mouth guides, small mouth anglers down on the lower part of the river around Middletown (told me they) were crying the blues just as much as folks down in the bay. There was an awful lot of Pennsylvania water that got beat up badly in the process. It was one of those (things where), ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Example, Bloomsburg’s sewer plant is now discharging all of the town’s raw, untreated sewage into the river—and continues to do so. That plus, the 330,000 cubic feet of contaminated water, per second, that flowed by Sunbury at the peak of the flooding. That will have a multi-million dollar—and a devastating environmental impact.

Next, we’ll look at more of the flooding impact, on Boroughs to the Bay.

July 5, 2006

Watershed groups, the next focus of our Boroughs to the Bay segments

FORKSVILLE – The Chesapeake Bay drainage basin is the broad overriding area that our Boroughs to the Bay segments are looking at, but within that big area, are hundreds of smaller watersheds.

Joan Sattler is the Watershed Manager for the state D-E-P in this region. She tells us, the street level work to clean up the watershed begins at home:

“Everybody can prevent pollution in their own backyard. Every thing that hits the ground ultimately goes somewhere. So, reduce fertilizer, reduce pesticide applications. Recycle. Reduce emissions if you have woodstoves. Everything that goes up comes down in the rain water, so all the things that people have been touting for years; conserve, don’t be wasteful of anything.”

That is where you come in. People are encouraged to join local watershed groups. Those are the local clubs, and there are about 40 in our region. They are groups where local environmentalists work to help improve water quality and the bay.

For example, in our area, there is the Roaring Creek Valley Conservation Association, the Buffalo Valley Watershed Alliance, and the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance. We’ll hear about one of the latest projects in our next report.

July 6, 2006

Boroughs to the bay looks at a watershed group

LEWISBURG – The Buffalo Valley Watershed Alliance is a new, growing, watershed group that has big plans. They hope to restore the Buffalo Creek to the once thriving trout stream that it was centuries ago. In this Boroughs to the Bay segment, we find out about their ambitious plans.

Joan Sattler is the Watershed Manager for the state D-E-P in this region, she says part of her job is to help local watershed groups grow, and accomplish their goal. The Buffalo Valley Watershed Alliance is one such group she’s helping. They want to install an “acid deposition treatment system:”

“The headwaters of that stream are affected by acid rain and certain areas in that watershed are basically sterile. The aquatic life has died and the watershed group has identified a six-mile reach that they could repair with a single passive treatment system and actually bring trout back to that area and they’ve applied for a grant to do the design on that system. They did obtain that grant from the state, the design is now finished they are currently waiting to hear if their most recent application for constructing the system is going to be approved.”

She says she is in charge of the ‘care and feeding’ of local watershed groups. You can get more information from Joan and your local watershed by going to the main DEP website, or use the blue pages to find the state Department of Environmental Resources.

July 7, 2006

Boroughs to the Bay meets a local watershed group

SUNBURY – You don’t have to go too far to find small creeks being adversely affected by acid rain and acid mine drainage. The Shamokin Creek near Sunbury, the Catawissa Creek in Columbia County and Buffalo Creek in Union County—all need help.

Local watershed groups to the rescue. These local groups are the way local streams get cleaned up and one such group is focusing on Catawissa Creek. Jim Gotta, with the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association.

“The association is about one hundred volunteers, from various walks of life, retired, working, whatever. The goal is to return the Catawissa Creek to a world-class trout stream. We’re putting in passive treatment systems on five mine tunnel drainages. We’ve done two already. One was just completed last year. I always say, 'I’m not an environmentalist, this project made sense.' The people I’ve been working with made sense. I enjoy doing something like this.’

This group and others around here use funds they gather on their own, plus money from the DEP and the Growing Greener program. You can find out more about the local watershed groups around here, at www.depweb.state.pa.us.

Next, on Boroughs to the Bay, we’ll hear from another agency supporting the local watershed groups.

July 9, 2006

The watershed expert who wants to help you

BLOOMSBURG – Most people don’t know it, but there is a watershed expert who has been hired to help you. The goal—but scientific and practical advice in the hands of the people who can use it: you and I. For the next few Boroughs’ to the Bay segments, we’ll meet one of these experts.

Cathy Haffner is the Watershed Specialist, with Columbia County Conservation District, and she says the goal of her job, is to put information in your hands:

“The conservation district’s mission is always to assist communities, whether it be farmers—or in this case the people who live in the watershed (because everybody lives in a watershed no matter where they are), and so the Department of Environmental Protection actually started funding 80% of this position six years ago. Watershed specialists have employed with every conservation district now for about six years and our contract is renewed every two years.”

She agrees, it is an untold story, that all of these local watershed groups exist, and that she is part of the solution—trying to help residents in our region. She suggested you contact your watershed specialist by contacting your local county conservation district. She also suggested—that you help the watershed indirectly by joining and supporting your local watershed group.

July 10th, 2006

Some practical advice from your watershed specialist

BLOOMSBURG - Today, on our Boroughs to the Bay segment, we continue our conversation with Cathy Haffner, the watershed specialist with the Columbia County Conservation District. She starts to call attention to our need to be aware, that we are all part of the problem:

"I think its important for people to realize, and they may not even understand, that a lot of the pollution that exists in our waterways is mostly what we call non point source pollution. That means that its coming from you and me, every time we change the oil of your car in your driveway, a little spills on to the driveway and then eventually it will wash off during the next rainstorm into the next closest creek downstream."

"Eventually all that water from all those creeks is going into the Susquehanna River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. That's why the Department of Environmental Protection, who usually handles mostly point source pollution, which is pollution from factories, for example, they realize that's only accounting for 4% of this pollution and 96% is from everybody else. So we need to start funding these communities who care about their streams and the creeks to be able to educate others about watershed stewardship and how they can conserve water or to prevent pollution from reaching those streams, just by what they do everyday."

As for what we can do, she says we can join a local watershed group, know that we all have an impact on the environment, conserve water in the home, don't over fertilize, and do contact your local watershed specialist in your county.

July 13th, 2006

S-U and the Chesapeake Bay…we'll explain the connection

SELINSGROVE - Four area high schools (Lewisburg, Juniata Valley, Montoursville and Shikellamy), are involved in Susquehanna University's Science in Motion program. The program has existed at S-U for years, but now is taking high school students 'streamside' to study water quality and take water samples.

Greg Stout is one of S-U's mobile educators, and tells us, there is no substitute for taking the students out of the classroom, and putting them in water, "Whats really neat about it is to see them get a hold of the equipment, and there's no substitute for getting your hands on the equipment. Theory is one thing but when you get your hands on the equipment, put on the waders, and get in the stream, that's when they really seem to enjoy it."

"I think what I'm personally excited about is the fact that we have an opportunity, and the students by being involved in the program, have an opportunity to tell the folks in this area, that what is done in this area on the streams that go into the Susquehanna and subsequently go into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do here has an impact. I'm especially proud of the students because often times in the younger ages they get a lot of criticism, about being self centered and its nice to see these students who appreciate, 'What I do as an individual can affect a larger group of people.'"

Stout says they started the high school Science in Motion Water Quality program with four high schools, and they hope to double that number next year. Next on Boroughs to the Bay…what and where the students study, what they find out…and who else wants to know their results.

July 14, 2006

Water, the bay, and our health…we’ll talk about the connection

DANVILLE – In our segment today, we don’t need to worry about the health effects of some water on the Chesapeake Bay…we know some water is already having health effects on us. Geisinger Health Systems initiated the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies. It is a regional think tank, which brings scientists, educators and others together, to study issues facing the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Steve Browning is a senior Epidemiologist at Geisinger, and he tells us, why it was logical for him to get involved in the coalition, “Epidemiology is kind of a multi-disciplinary field and a lot of the folks that are biologists and geologists collect data that we can use in the medical field to look at how exposures are related to disease outcomes. For example, there are hotspots in Pennsylvania where we have relatively high arsenic levels in the well water. We also know that arsenic is related to certain kinds of cancers, like bladder cancers, and liver cancers, so, we’re in the process right now trying to correlate exposure to arsenic in well waters to with incidence patterns of these cancers in the state. These guys are the ones that are actually collecting data on the exposure side.”

Geisinger is taking a lead role in studying the exposure from environmental contaminants. The Center for Rural Advocacy will be taking a very close look at how a clean, healthy environment, helps insure good health outcomes for people. Next, we’ll examine Geisinger’s watershed role more closely.

July 16, 2006

Our health, and the Chesapeake Bay watershed

DANVILLE – When it comes to the connection between our health and the environment, Geisinger Health System is one of the interested in this correlation. Geisinger and Skip Weider started the Susquehanna Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, and Steve Browning is an epidemiologist from Geisinger, who serves on the coalition.

He tells us, why it makes perfect sense to add medical doctors to an environmental group,

“Well, I think its significant in that, the coalition is really interested in how the environment is important for both human health outcomes and for just preserving a clean environment and ultimately all our lives kind of depend upon that, and so, that part is intriguing to me. They’re focused on water, which is basically the staple of life in some ways. If we don’t have clean water and good health, we’re kind of fundamentally shot in the foot, so it’s really just an important issue.”

Browning says, the field of Epidemiology looks at the causes of disease and ailments. The environment and water quality directly affect our health. He says the presence of the pollutant, arsenic, in our well water, is a corollary to various types of cancer. In addition, smoke in the air, ends up in the water, so industrial sources affect us all locally. Next, another local watershed tells us about their work.

July 17, 2006

The Muncy Creek Watershed Association has done several projects

MUNCY – Some local watershed groups are dealing with devastating acid mine drainage—and acid rain—but others have more subtle problems. In the Muncy Creek watershed, the new watershed association is trying to keep stream banks from eroding, keep topsoil out of the stream, and control excess runoff.

Vice president of the Muncy Creek Watershed Association Andrea Young tells us, keeping the creek, within its banks, is a big issue, “Our main focus is education and banks stability. Bank stability is our biggest problem, we’re fortunate not to have other really nasty pollution, but we find that the top soil washing into the creek is a very, very significant factor and nobody needs anymore of that than we already have. So we have done several banks stability projects already, that is bringing in stone, not particularly rip-rap, but stone structures that look, surprisingly natural.”

She says the group is trying to control the incredible amount of ‘runoff’ water that goes with more and more industrial and residential development in the Muncy valley. She said homes, businesses, roads and all forms of development are the sources of this increased runoff water. Next, she tells us the specifics of their stream bank restoration efforts.

July 18, 2006

How the Muncy Creek efforts are helping the West Branch of the Susquehanna River

MUNCY – As muddy was the West Branch of the Susquehanna River was during the late June flooding, it could have been worse. Already, number of watershed groups in the West Branch valley have taken steps to reduce excess runoff and soil erosion.

We met the Muncy Creek Watershed Association in our segment yesterday, and today, the Vice president of the Association Andrea Young, tells us, how that have successfully reduced some erosion:

“The objective of the bank stability program is to put in stones, at a particular gradient, of about 7% slope, so water is focused toward the center of the stream again, even during storm events. The 7% slope of these stones, helps to dissipate part of the flow in high water events, but still to return to the stream bank into its general focus—therefore—hopefully cause less erosion.”

She said the Muncy Creek Watershed Association will be taking on more restoration and remediation efforts in the months ahead. An educational outreach program is also planned. Next, she’ll tell us about how you can plant your own riparian area.

July 19, 2006

How to build…a natural stream

MUNCY – The Muncy Creek Watershed Association has been busy…building. Building natural stream channels. We have talked about their stream bank restoration project (which returns the creek to its proper channel). We’ve also discussed their efforts to reduce erosion and excess runoff.

Their Natural Stream Channel Design took a lot of work, and money, but is working well today, and problems from last months flooding were kept to a minimum. Andrea Young, the vice president of the association told us, they’ve done some big projects, but small ones—on everyone’s property—can make a difference too:

“Well, we hope that they would pay attention the riparian planting (that is the streamside plantings), because the more vegetation along the edges of the streams, the better off we all are. And also, learn about the factors that contribute to bank instability, particularly impervious roads, even rooftops. If you can control the water that’s coming off of surfaces that cannot absorb it and use it so its gently returned to the groundwater system or to a stream—they’re way better off.”

The Muncy Creek has been especially hurt by stream bank and topsoil erosion, so they have worked with students in Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute to document and initiate repairs on the troubled stream banks. They’ll continue this work, and finish their stream bank restoration projects. Next…is there a Hellbender in your future.

July 20, 2006

Boroughs to the Bay looks at hellbenders

WATERVILLE – Hellbenders exist around here…not in abundant numbers, but they are present. A hellbender is a sometimes foot long salamander (the largest salamander in North America) sometimes called a ‘mudpuppy. At the Worlds End State Park recently, Peter Petokas, a research associate with Lycoming College Clean Water Institute, told us about his hellbender study,

“The hellbender study is the study funded by the Pennsylvania Fish Commission to determine the distribution (that is—the occurrence) of hellbenders in streams in Central and Western Pennsylvania. And in an effort to determine how well the animals are doing and whether we need to implement any conservation measures to protect them.”

“We’re finding that the animal is not as widespread as we once believed it might be. The populations are very patchy, the occur in very few small locations of habitat is especially good for these animals.”

There used to be hellbender hunts, “Back around 1931 and 1939, sportsmen’s associations had a program to (in an organized way) to eliminate hellbender salamanders from streams in North Central Pennsylvania and they would go out in groups of anywhere from 10 to 40 men at night, with lights, and spears, and attempt to kill as many hellbenders as they possibly could, in the mistaken belief that these salamanders were feeding on trout and trout eggs, and there by decimating game fish populations, which we’ve discovered is not true since they eat primarily crawfish.”

Petokas told us, the hellbenders are not endangered…yet, but they may need protection in the future. Next…where you can find a hellbender in area streams.

July 21, 2006

Hellbenders Part II

WATERVILLE – The hellbender salamander is becoming a household name in the north central part of the state—thanks to the efforts of Peter Petokas, a research associate with Lycoming College Clean Water Institute…his hellbender study (and findings) have made region headlines. Up until then, he told us, they were almost forgotten about:

“Well, hellbenders are…little seen and a very intriguing part of our natural fauna in Pennsylvania. Its an animal that we know very little about but we do know that is an animal that needs to be considered possibly for protection from disturbance due to human activities, due to water pollution and I think people in Pennsylvania should be better educated about these little know resources so that they can take them into consideration when they take action that can harm the environment.”

How does one find a hellbender? “One spends a lot of time turning over rocks in streams that have fairly clean, fast flowing water in the hopes that you may actually get to see one. Many times we find them in water anywhere from six to 15 feet deep, and searching those deep water habitats especially difficult and its not likely in an average day of turning rocks, you might even find a single hellbender.”

Petokas said the frequent flooding of creeks and streams these days presents both a challenge and a boost to the hellbender population. Frequent, pollutive flooding, stresses the hellbender habitat, but floods often create new, deep, rock-bottom areas too—and that’s ideal habitat for hellbenders. Next, another local watershed group is getting started.

July 24, 2006

Last months flooding was helpful to one watershed group

ELYSBURG – They call it Roaring Creek for a reason. Last month, the Roaring Creek in Columbia County went over its banks and flooded roads, and caused a lot of damage. However, to the Roaring Creek Conservation Association it was an opportunity. It was a chance for the watershed group to identify the storm water runoff problems in the creek, in South Columbia County.

Bob Rush, the president association gives us an overview of their watershed group, “Most of the watershed groups are put together because there is already an established problem—we didn’t want to wait until we had a problem. We wanted to be there before the problem started so that we could determine if we were going to have a problem. Clean water…that’s the whole story…and trout…yes…and bass. Whatever we need to do as long as it pertains to the environment, water in general; we’ll be there.

The new watershed group said the Roaring Creek valley is not plagued by acid mine or acid problems yet, but in the years ahead, increasing development and storm water problems are likely to hold their attention. Next…making the best of a bad situation.

July 25, 2006

Trout Unlimited, the West Branch and Boroughs to the Bay

SUNBURY – The hidden efforts on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River are finally getting some attention. There are dozens of watershed groups, a number of major remediation projects and national attention focused on the West Branch. Amy Wolfe, Director of Abandoned Mines Programs with the national Trout Unlimited, and director of Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative tells us, the area stays hidden for several reasons, “I think now, a lot of people, through the efforts of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay program, our state agencies and organizations (such as mine—Trout Unlimited), they’re starting to make the connection between all of the river systems involved in the Cheseapeake Bay.

Because the West Branch of the Susquehanna is far away from the Chesapeake Bay and even far away from this area (in Sunbury), guess that’s why its kind of been hidden—a lot of people seem to focus on the problems in their own backyard. It also has to do with very low population within the West Branch Susquehanna watershed. A lot of people go to the West Branch to recreate, to hunt, fish in streams that aren’t impacted by abandoned mine drainage a lot of people live there, and there is not a lot of media coverage of the area.”

But, she says there is a wide range of effort being expended to return the West Branch to its former glory. We’ll find out about those efforts in our next segment.

July 26, 2006

Boroughs to the Bay looks at a national Kettle Creek effort

SUNBURY – Deep in the western corner of Clinton County, and in Tioga and Potter Counties, is the Kettle Creek Watershed. It includes the Kettle Creek State Park and is also, where a national group, Trout Unlimited, has initiated a Home Rivers Program. That is designed to bring T-U’s efforts to a local watershed to support conservation efforts.

Amy Wolfe, Director of Abandoned Mines Programs with the national Trout Unlimited, and director of Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative tells us, “We’ve been working in the Kettle Creek Watershed for the last eight years with local Kettle Creek Watershed Association and other partners and one of our primary goals in the Kettle Creek Watershed has been the restoration of waters from abandoned mine drainage.”

We’ve learned a lot over the years and we’ve been very successful with that program, and so we’ve decided to expand our focus, from the Kettle Creek Watershed to the entire West Branch Susquehanna River watershed. It is impacted by over 1,100 miles of streams impacted by Abandoned Mine Drainage and we’re basically acting as the lead catalyst in organizing a broad based partnership consisting of local, state and federal agencies and all of the local groups involved in the effort”

She says they are working with well over 20 local watershed associations, sportsmen’s groups and Trout Unlimited chapters that are addressing acid mine drainage on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

July 27, 2006

Trout fishing could return to parts of the West Branch

SUNBURY – Its been a century since any trout were caught on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, but a lot of effort—and money—is trying to remedy that. Trout Unlimited has a national project focusing on the Kettle Creek Watershed, and they would like those positive effects to help the rest of the watershed—and the Susquehanna River.

Amy Wolfe, Director of Abandoned Mines Programs with the national Trout Unlimited, and director of Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative tells us, why the Trout Unlimited is interested, “The mission of Trout Unlimited to protect, conserve and restore our nations trout and salmon fisheries and their watershed. And since trout, in Pennsylvania and on the east coast, our native trout is brook trout; they are kind of the keystone indicator of watershed health. Because they are very, very sensitive to all types of pollution.”

“So basically, if you find a stream that has brook trout in it, you know that you have good water quality and so its serves as an indicator of watershed health. Our goal is to restore brook trout fisheries, we’re also impacting everything else, everything else stands to benefit from that; quality of life, drinking water quality, various things, so work we do impacts more than just trout fisheries and fishermen. Our motto is, ‘If we take care of the fishing, the fishing will take care of itself.’”

She invited people to find out more about the Kettle Creek initiative, and efforts to clean up the West Branch of the Susquehanna, by going to www.kettlecreek.org. Next, we’ll look again at the high tech history project involving the river at Sunbury.

July 30th, 2006

The Merrill Linn Conservancy is back on Boroughs to the Bay

SUNBURY - We've been talking about water all summer, but much of the water that ends up in the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay, was on the land in our area first. We've talked about the problem of too much storm water runoff. One of the many solutions to this problem-is to protect wooded land and fields from development.

Enter, the Merrill W. Linn Land and Waterways Conservancy. They buy-or accept for free-Conservation Easements, which protect tracts of land from future development. Sue Auman, the director of the program tells us, first-property owners have to decide they want to preserve the land, "This is a voluntary thing. In our case, unless it's a special situation-folks who decide to preserve their property-don't even necessarily get paid, they just decide to do it because it's the right thing to do and also there is a tax incentive and a tax benefit for preserving the land."

"So we work with private owners who say, 'You know, I really like my working farm, my woodland, the property that we're on, and I would rather not see a fast food chain here someday, I want my kids and my grandkids to see it in this state forever, and to preserve the flora and fauna that's here.' So that voluntarily, we work with landowners, who would like to see that happen on their property."

She said people can be part of the solution-rather than part of the problem, but they have to take a stand and decide to work toward land preservation. You can get more information at www.linnconservancy.org. Next, we'll revisit Sunbury's river history…

July 31st, 2006

 High tech river project in Sunbury?

SUNBURY - Long before Sunbury had a floodwall, it had a direct connection with the Susquehanna River. Sunbury was a 'river town' and even before then, it was a 'crossroads.' Bucknell senior Jenny Stevens found that out as she studied Sunbury and the river to create an on-line hypertext tour, "We'll hopefully, they'll be able to find out a lot about they culture and the industry. Sunbury was a very thriving place years ago and maybe they'll be able to look at what it had then and what it has the potential to be and be able to put some of that to use."

"There was tons of history, way back, in the 1700's, with the Indians, with the confluence of the river right there. Traders and travelers always went through Sunbury. Anybody who's going from Philadelphia to the frontier, passed through Sunbury. And that was basically their last stop before they branched off into the wilderness."

"With the confluence, that influence the early settlers, and then obviously the river had a lot of impact with the canals and the industry that took place with the industrial age. Right now there's a lot of recreation involved too." We'll keep you posted as Jenny and another student work on their four maps of the Rivertown that is Sunbury. Next…The local conservancy helps us look at the river.

August 1st, 2006

The Boroughs to the Bay store looks back in time…a few hundred years

SUNBURY - Sunbury is making a concerted effort to reconnect to the Susquehanna River. The riverfront project and the upcoming River Festival are examples of this effort. It makes sense that that the city hopes to use the river for revitalization, since the river was crucial in the city's early growth.

Jim Shaffer and Cindy Inkrote are members of the Board of Trustees of the Northumberland County Historical Society. They tells us, the area that is Sunbury-was an important river crossroads, and that's why Fort Augusta became a key location. Cindy: "The fort was the first substantial structure and from there everything just kind of fingered out and grew from there. Its just the basis from where we all came from."

Jim: "Northumberland County has a vast history in a lot of different areas, you know we have a lot of vibrant farming communities within the northern part of the county and the southern tier. As you move out toward the eastern part of the county, there is a lot of industry. Of course, Sunbury being the county seat, there was a lot of great things that went on there throughout the years. But putting all those things together and looking at how diverse the county is, it does have an impact on the river. Just those elements-the farming, the industry, has had negative impacts as well as positive impacts on the Susquehanna River."

So it goes, Sunbury's resurgence depends on the river again. A clean river continues to be ideal for recreational boating and fishing-important elements of Sunbury's revitalization. Next' we'll talk about an upcoming symposium at Bucknell University…the focus: The Susquehanna River.

August 2nd, 2006

Symposium and conference at Bucknell next month will focus on the river

LEWISBURG - The Susquehanna River watershed and the Chesapeake Bay will be the topic of an upcoming conference at Bucknell University. The event is open to the public, and will allow interested citizens, watershed professionals, scientists and scholars to gather for a major symposium. Entitled, From the Branches to the Confluence: The Upper Susquehanna River Basin and its Communities.

Skip Wieder, a senior staff member of the Geisinger Health System Development and Communications Department, and the convener of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies tell us, it will be a great event:

"Saturday, September 23rd, at Bucknell University, there is going to be a one day conference, the first annual conference on the state of the river. Watershed associations, folks interested in the environment, folks interested in the watershed, are going to be encouraged to attend. Our keynoter that morning is going to be Will Baker, the president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It's going to be a one-day conference"

Presenters will include also representatives from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, SEDA-COG, Bucknell University and the Western PA Watershed Association…and many others.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the conference, Saturday, September 23rd, at Bucknell University, from 8:30a.m. to 5:30p.m. If you are interested in attending, call 577-1421 or go to wkok.com for an email address: dirocco@bucknell.edu Next…more specifics about the upcoming conference at Bucknell.

August 3rd, 2006

More on the Bucknell 'river' symposium 

LEWISBURG -From the Branches to the Confluence: The Upper Susquehanna River Basin and its Communities…is the name of next month's one day conference at Bucknell. Skip Wieder, a senior staff member of the Geisinger Health System Development and Communications Department, and the convener of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies said it will focus on the state of the river:

"It's going to have not only components environmental issues but also community regeneration, the importance of the Susquehanna Greenway Project on the river and on its communities along the river. So there's going to be an opportunity for everyone who has any kind of interest in our quality of life, to come and hopefully participate in a discussion that's going to be extremely useful for all of us."

Presenters will include also scholars from Lycoming and Kings Colleges as well as Penn State, Bloomsburg, Bucknell and Susquehanna Universities. There will be representatives from the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, DEP, the Northcentral PA Conservancy and others. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the conference, Saturday, September 23rd, at Bucknell University, from 8:30a.m. to 5:30p.m. If you are interested in attending, call 577-1421 or go to wkok.com for an email address: dirocco@bucknell.edu  Next…why is WVIA TV following some kids around.

August 4th, 2006

You may have seen the river…on TV

SUNBURY - If you've been an avid watcher of public TV in Northeastern Pennsylvania, you may have seen the documentary, Looking to the River. The hour-long documentary focused on the river's history, the culture of people who live near it and thrived because of it, and how we use the river today.

Earlier this summer, the WVIA High Definition cameras were back on the water, following the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Expedition Susquehanna 2006…the 13 FFA students who floated most of the river's distance from Cooperstown New York to Annapolis, Maryland. Bill Kelly, president of WVIA tells us, this focus on the river, is part of their mindset, that the first documentary…leads to the next:

"Well, it continues to be the story of the Susquehanna. We made a commitment to the people with whom we work, when we put the first documentary together, that it would not be one documentary> This would not be one documentary we put two years into and we put it on a piece of video tape…and put it on a shelf and it would end there. We made a commitment, which we're keeping, that the story is a continuing one. We'll continue covering it, as we do documentarily and in talk shows like this, as the story goes on. We'll be doing a live show from the Chesapeake Bay Foundations in Annapolis."

And Bill Kelly said, public TV will continue to focus on the river, the people living near it, those in harms way because of it, and those who continue to work hard to preserve and protect the river. Kelly said the TV station is a proud and willing part of the 'solution' to the problems facing the river and the bay. Next…we look at the river, through the eyes of an aquatic biologist.

August 7th, 2006

The state of the river…from a native aquatic biologist

SELINSGROVE - This week, we check out the river through the eyes of a 'Stayer.' You'll remember, that's our classification of local residents who have made a very deliberate choice to either stay, or return or move to our area. Mike Bilger, as a child developed a 'love of place' involving our waterways. Now he is aquatic biologist and heading-up the Selinsgrove office of EcoAnalysts…a national independent environmental consulting firm. We asked him about the state of the river.

"Growing up in Selinsgrove, and spending a lot of time on the river, and in Penns Creek in particular, I've got a fondness for this system. After becoming an aquatic ecologist (probably due to the fact that I lived here), I spent a lot of time, almost 10-years studying the Susquehanna drainage from the fabridam to Havre de Grace. From my research, particularly with U-S Geological Survey, the river is vibrant still, even though it does receive insults. The fishery is good, the animals that live in the stream, they have a good community, geomorphology of the river itself is interesting, heavily bedrock, shallow, lots of light penetration. I'm a little concerned about the sedimentation that I've been seeing in the river in the last number of years. So, in essence, it is a pretty place to be, pretty place to live and we still have a good river out there.

He said, there are really two halves of the river, from the confluence here, to Harrisburg. That's because there is little blending of the two branches until then. That means the wildlife; fish and even the plants are very different on the separate halves of the river. Tomorrow…the pollution factor.

August 8th, 2006

Whats wrong with a little run-off?

SELINSGROVE - We've been talking about erosion and its effect on streams and the Susquehanna River. We now know…we are the problem. Erosion from small neighborhood properties in our local towns, from dirt driveways, from construction sites, from any place where the water can pickup and carry…some dirt, that contributes to sediment erosion.

Sediment may be the single biggest threat facing our watershed, says Mike Bilger, the Selinsgrove office of EcoAnalysts. He says it simply chokes the waterway:

"We have our point sources pretty well defined, Pennsylvania DEP has done a good job in defining those sources that come in at the end of a pipe, but it's the non point sources and unfortunately some agricultural practices could certainly be better."

"Sedimentation-and along with that top soil going in-lets face it, we have a lot of nutrients going in with our manure, our current manure management procedures, so that is setting up a little bit of difficulty for the river system in the fact that sedimentation plugs areas in the rocks that animals live in as well as resulting drops in dissolved oxygen because of the excess nutrients."

What can be done? People can think about the river. Don't let sediment get off your property, contact DEP if you know some is running off somewhere, and learn more about the watershed. Next…more about what we all can do to help the watershed.

August 9th, 2006

What should everyman do for the river?

SELINSGROVE - We've been talking to an aquatic biologist about what threats the Susquehanna River is facing today. Main issues are nutrient runoff from farms and homes, excess water runoff and a lot of erosion-or sediment getting into the water. But where do you and I come in?

Mike Bilger of EcoAnalysts suggests we can do a tour of our own properties, identify potential problems and work on solutions. And what other suggestions does he have. First…if you see pollution:

"Call to regulatory agencies if they see some sort of major insult being done to the Susquehanna River system, but overall, don't do any illegal dumping of any substances that would obviously be hurting the ecology of the rive system. Trying to abide by regulations that affect the river. I think the main thing to do is to keep up with your local representatives, county, state, federal representatives, keep funding up for what can go on here on the river as far as scientific research is concerned and any restorative efforts. I'm particularly sensitive to the fish ladder construction at the Sunbury fabridam, promoting that for shad restoration potentially American eel also."

Bilger has been working with some of the local watershed groups, including the Lower Penns Creek Watershed Association. We'll hear from them…next.

August 14th, 2006

Childhood memories are helping a local watershed group

PENNS CREEK - Penns Creek was there for Charles Mattern and Jim Roush when they were growing up. The creek held fish, small creatures like crawfish, places to swim and occasional visitors. As children, the two men said they remember a handful of small dams being erected each summer, and people, including other young people, showing up each year for summer fun.

Hurricane Agnes may have marked the beginning of the end of that era for Penns Creek. Agnes flattened small dams, filled deep holes and destroyed some summer cabins. Now, a year-round population dominates the creek, development is filling the Penns Creek Valley and the creek is threatened. Charles said, the creek today, is much different than decades ago, "Penn's Creek is not the creek I remember, the fishing is almost non-existent in the warm water area. The cold water part of the stream is stocked with trout, which is fairly good fishing in the spring of the year. Back in the 1950's, Penns Creek was rated as one of the top 100 fishing streams in the continental United States. I don't know what that rating would be today, but I'm sure it wouldn't make the top 100 and it would be very nice to get back on a list."

Penns Creek is still there, but it needs work. That's where the Lower Penns Creek Watershed Association hopes to help. The group started in 2004, now has about 10 people. They do a newsletter, hold meetings and have brochures. They are now officially a non-profit group and they have some goals.

Charles and Jim hope to improve the health of Penns Creek, educate residents about the importance of the Lower Penns Creek and its tributaries, promoting environmentally friendly agricultural practices and Best land and waterway Management Practices, encouraging proper land use and recreation within the watershed and preserving the aesthetic values of the watershed

They say, the problem with Penns Creek seems to be many little problems, in sub-watersheds, tributaries, threatened by development, pollution, agriculture, on-lot septic systems, storm water and just plain dirt…from…everywhere. Jim Roush is a member of the group, and the Watershed Specialist at the Snyder County Conservation District, "Sediment from either farming operations or construction sites, open patches of bare ground, wherever they may be, they're a concern statewide. Just because sediment can get into the stream and it clogs up the substrate (the holes in the bottom of the stream), and a lot of the aquatic life that uses those areas are being choked out, and those species are disappearing."

"That and nutrients from sediment, ag runoff, lot of problems with septic systems for private residences and we have some trouble with sewage treatment plants, but those are little more highly regulated than the sediment and the storm water is. Those are the really big things that I see as problems for the creek and they're not just specific to this creek, they're having a statewide impact."

He said education is one of their main goals, and if people find out about their local watershed group, they would most likely get involved. Jim said, a growing issue, is the population boom on Penns Creeks banks, "Probably our biggest impact in the future is going to be storm water. It's a pretty big problem now, but the more the area gets more and more developed, we getting a lot more impervious surfaces, which are like driveways, sidewalks and rooftops, things like that, where the water can't get into the ground."

"We're getting a lot more when we get big storms and that gets into the creeks and it erodes the banks and so pretty much the creek ends up having to compensate for all the extra water which can degrade habitat as well as they water quality, sediment and things like that. So I think that's probably going to be a big concern in the near future. Right now, the big concern statewide is nutrients and sediment."

The group plans a massive study of the creek and its tributaries. First, they'll do a full assessment of the watershed, a baseline study from which they'll able to suggest future actions. Over 3-years, they'll go near the Centre/Union County line, and study, in detail, the creek. At 12 locations, they'll look at temperature, oxygen, Ph, turbidity, algae, aquatic life, and find sources of water and 'threats.' Susquehanna University's Science in Motion crew and EcoAnalysts of Selinsgrove will assist in this study.

Roush said they'll find out what's living in the creek. He said a water sample gives you a snap shot, but the macro-invertebrates give you long-term record of what is happening on the creek. Results will help farmers, help the association determine grant availability, and see what is living on the creek.

When the baseline study is complete, then get grants and restore the creek as much as possible, "It'll never be the way it used to be just because of the demographics of the area. They have changed, the site consistencies have changed due to development and build out and loss of forested areas, but a restoration is possible to a certain point, Roush said.

"We can get it to where it's a more pristine watershed than what it is now. It'll never be as pristine as it was at one time just because of what has changed, its been so dramatic. I feel a restoration is possible, it'll take a lot of work, and possibly a lot of money, a lot of education for residents. It's a doable goal and its not going to happen overnight, it's going to take years. Maybe the people that start it won't be around see it when its complete, but I think it's a goal to look forward to."

Jim Roush and Charles Mattern pleaded with people to become more active, to take the initiative to clean up their own back yards. They said local groups are becoming more active those groups are productive. It gives like-minded people a way to get things done.

The group is having their next meeting, Thursday, August 17th, at Penns Creek Adult Resource Center. They have a mailing address, 403 West Market Street, Middleburg, PA 17842 Both men said they are looking for volunteers, www.pennscreekwatershed.org is the website if you can help the Lower Penns Creek Watershed Association.

August 17th, 2006

River Festival and the Susquehanna River 

SUNBURY - Sunbury River Festival 2006 is getting underway, and it is the perfect time to focus on the Susquehanna River as a major asset in our region. The River is the theme of this year's River Festival and the theme of (Fridays) parade.

Mark Gittens is on the committee that organized the festival and he said they choose the river theme so they could take an asset that we already have and market it to people. Their goal, remind everyone about the great recreational bonus in our area:

"So often, we look at other areas and what makes them special and I think we've ignored some of the resources that we have that make us special or that could actually benefit economically. That is the river, the river is there, its not going away, we're not moving it and so we might as well take pride in it in saying, lets give its recognition, lets give its praise that's due to it, its there, lets let people remember that its there. I think the same thing when we are prideful to be American, we respect it, we support it, we do whatever we have to to educate people about it and I think those things come by people that have pride, they want people to be informed and want them to know the qualities and the benefits and also how to we take care of what we have. How do we keep it so that it remains an asset for years and years to come?

He said the goal of all the River Festivals has always been-remind people that we have great region, that we are all charged with preserving and protecting our economic and natural environment and that we must see our natural resources as threatened and worthy of our attention. Next, the river through the eyes of an engineer.

August 18th, 2006

The river…through the eyes of an engineer

SUNBURY - Sunbury's Riverfront Project hopes to connect the city to the river once again. The city's Community Development Office will be at River Festival talking about that connection. Mark Dawson of Sasaki Engineers told us, why the river connection is important:

"They'll be animation out there. Water is like fire in a fireplace on a cold day-there's something that's really and mesmerizing about being near it, looking at it, and walking along it. Its part of a bigger Greenway plan that the state has. It's about public access to public waterways, and that's really important.

I think when this morning we walked it again, it was great. It was really exciting, it was beautiful! The light was beautiful, there weren't any boats because it's a Thursday morning but you could hear the traffic on Route 11, people were going to work. You could hear the community wakening, and to me, its about being able to find those moments in public open space and you have 2,000, 3,000 linear feet of lake frontage, of river frontage, that is the communities and they should be touching it, they should be using it."

He said that connection to the river-is why the openings in the floodwall are part of their plan. He said it will help people get back to the city's roots: the river and the water.

August 24, 2006

Working toward the return of aquatic life in Shamokin Creek

SHAMOKIN - Shamokin Creek begins in Columbia County, and cuts all the way through Northumberland County where it hooks up with the Susquehanna River at Sunbury. And, for the past 10-years the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance has been working to clean up the areas from just east of Mount Carmel, through Shamokin. Vice President of the Alliance, Leanne Bjorkland, says the creek is highly polluted by mine water that's left over from "the old ways" of mining. Their goal now is to restore these "dead" streams to their natural state. Bjorkland says they used to call it acid mine drainage, but now it's called abandoned mine drainage. That's because not all of the polluted sites have an acidic Ph.

She says some have a neutral Ph. Acidic areas have a Ph between 2-4, neutral areas have a Ph around 5. But, Bjorkland says fish like to live in waters with a Ph of 6 or 7 and drinking water is a 7. A site with a neutral Ph, Bjorkland says, is treated one way, and acidic main drainage sites are treated another way. To learn more about the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance, you can visit www.shamokincreek.org. They have multiple projects in the works, including their fourth passive min drainage treatment system that's under construction now. More on that system…next time…on Boroughs to the Bay. (Matt Paul)

August 25, 2006

Cleaning the water that flows into Shamokin Creek

SHAMOKIN - The Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance has multiple projects underway as they combat abandoned mine drainage in their watershed. But, the biggest one this summer is at the Corbin Mine Drift Discharge - near Ranshaw. Sue Zaner says the passive mine drainage treatment system will capture the polluted runoff, and pass it into several vertical flow ponds. "Vertical flow" means the water comes in on the top, and filters down through mushroom compost and high-grade limestone that helps to improve the water's Ph. Form there, Zaner says, a series of pipe at the bottom of the pond will collect the clean water.

The process involves a series of three ponds, which will also include wetland plants, helping to filter the water. Zaner says the ponds change the water's iron content from roughly 30-parts-per-million to less than one-part-per million. From that point, Zaner tells us, it will enter the Shamokin Creek as clean water.

The water at this site is highly acidic, with a Ph of about 3.5. It's been labeled a priority site by the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance - among some 60-abandoned mine drainage sites in the watershed. This treatment site alone is costing several hundred thousand dollars, with funding coming from the state DEP and Growing Greener initiative. Next on Boroughs to the Bay - a look at the research being done at dozens of these polluted discharges. (Matt Paul)

August 26, 2006

Cleaning abandoned mine drainage is big work

SHAMOKIN - We've already talked, on Boroughs to the Bay, about the passive treatment site, which the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance currently has under construction at one of the most polluted abandoned mine drainage sites in the watershed. But, more than a year of research must be done at any discharge site before they can even begin to think about treatment. That all starts with a "weir." Alliance President, James Koharski, says they started out with wooded weirs, which involved a 4 x 8 sheet of wood, cut with a V-notch, to show how much water was flowing from a particular discharge. But, recent high waters have washed away some wooden weirs - meaning the SRCA has gone to metal versions.

Measurements from the weirs have shown the SCRA that some polluted discharges in the Shamokin Creek can put 10-12-million gallons of water, per day, into the watershed. Many of the weirs the SCRA has installed include pressure transducers that allow them to continuously monitor the flow rate and check the chemical analysis monthly. With the discharge information in hand, the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance can determine what treatment method is appropriate at specific polluted discharges. This summer's $500,000 construction project at the Corbin Mine Drift will be the third treatment site installed in the Shamokin Creek Watershed. For more information on the SCRA, you can visit www.shamokincreek.org. (Matt Paul)