Group: Healthy streams promote fish numbers
Lycoming County has no shortage of organizations dedicated to stream improvement and rehabilitation.
That bodes well for the local area, especially at a time when many streams have been impacted by severe flooding.
Trout Unlimited’s Susquehanna Chapter Vice President Walt Nicholson said it’s fortunate to have in place so many organizations and volunteers working to maintain the region’s high quality streams which remain popular with anglers and other recreational users.
“One of the major impacts we have to keep dealing with is the continued flooding events we have. They destabilize the streams,” he said. “We have had more than our share of severe storm events probably over the last 20 or 30 years now. That is a struggle to deal with those things and to keep good habitat for trout and other aquatic life.”
Nicholson said it helps to have in place groups that partner to successfully complete stream projects.
Meanwhile, educating people of the need to protect the area’s streams continues to be a mission of Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups.
“We want to protect what we do have,” he said.
Ongoing and past waterway projects were outlined by representatives of agencies and volunteer groups at the Trout Unlimited’s annual watershed summit this week.
Corey Richmond, of Sullivan County Conservation District, talked about the dirt gravel program which works to stabilize roads for decreasing runoff into nearby streams.
His organization’s efforts also include education in stormwater management and other issues.
Dr. Mel Zimmerman, of the Clean Water Institute, said his group has worked on a number of watershed projects over the years.
He noted the studies done of hellbender populations on area streams such as Kettle and Lycoming creeks. Also, streambank restoration work on Wolf Run, a tributary of Muncy Creek, has resulted in reproduction and growing populations of brown trout there.
Mike Ditchfield, of Lycoming Creek Watershed Association, talked about the Midway Project, which has included streambank stabilization work along the stream starting at its headwaters.
Sediment from Lycoming Creek tributaries, he noted, can adversely impact the stream including aquatic life.
Heavier than normal rainfall of recent years has posed particular challenges to stream restoration work.
“The best thing we can do as watershed groups and environmentalists is not go away,” he said. “Watershed groups bring people together. We reap the benefits of this.”
Jason Fellon, watershed manager, state Department of Environmental Protection, said his agency has a full complement of staff addressing watershed management.
The work includes acid mine drainage and streambank stabilization problems.
Carey Entz-Rine, watershed specialist, Lycoming County Conservation District, noted that six area school districts participate in Trout in the Classroom programs to learn more about the environment and fish populations.
The educational programs are in addition to the various stream restoration projects that involve her organization.
Among those efforts have been streambank stabilization work along Muncy Creek in Hughesville.
Marc Lewis, of Loyalsock Creek Watershed, noted the studies done of native brook trout populations of creek tributaries.
Flooding in the watershed has impacted those fish populations, but in some cases, the brook trout numbers have rebounded.
He noted also the streambank stabilization work accomplished through the years in different areas of the creek.
Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger, who attended the meeting, said he was impressed by the numbers of organizations, their partners and efforts done to address stream problems.