Plant buffer zone agreement signed by Montgomery council

MONTGOMERY – Borough Council Tuesday signed an agreement with Lycoming County to have a contractor create a buffer zone near the West Branch of the Susquehanna River to help prevent flooding of a public area.

Mayor Andrew Onufrak II described the agreement and concept as a riparian buffer agreement, an environmentally technical term used by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Onufrak used a map to show an area near Adams Creek and the river envisioned for replanting with native species of plants to act as a buffer whenever there is high water.

The plan works with what the Revitalize Montgomery group is doing to plant trees and connect people to the river, he said. All of it is done through coordination with the Lycoming County Department of Planning and Community Development. Long-term vision includes a riverwalk funded through state grants, he said.

Solicitor Benjamin Landon, who wrote the agreement, said the county is under contract with an outfit experienced in developing such zones.

The county designs and constructs the buffer system while the borough’s responsibility is to allow the country and contractor to enter the property and allow the county to install up to three interpretive educational signs on the property, Landon said.

The borough agrees for three years to maintain the land and must not neglect the maintenance of the property.

Councilman Rick Williams asked what the borough’s responsibility because it is a flood-prone piece of land.

“What if the flood wipes the plants out,” he said.

Should a flood result in a complete loss it is not the borough’s responsibility to replace but it remains the borough’s property, Landon said.

The county has done this before, according to Eric Moore, executive director of the West Branch Regional Authority, who was at the meeting.

One example of a planted buffer is near the White Deer Golf Course near Allenwood, he said. “The intent is to turn it back to a state where the property is more resistant to flood,” Moore said.