HYNER - Good work should never go unnoticed.
That's why environmental officials will gather at Hyner View State Park on Monday to "celebrate the tremendous improvements recently documented for the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and many of its tributaries."
Trout Unlimited is hosting the West Branch Susquehanna Recovery Benchmark Celebration at 11 a.m. at the state park off Route 120 in western Clinton County, featuring among its guests John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and John Stefanko, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Mineral Resources Management. Lunch will be served.
Trout Unlimited and its Eastern Abandoned Mine Program (EAMP) based in Lock Haven recognized that, over the past several decades, a tremendous amount of funding and effort had been spent on the restoration of streams impaired by abandoned mine drainage streams throughout the West Branch Susquehanna River, yet there had never been a concerted effort to quantify the benefits of these cleanup projects and document improvements throughout the watershed, according to Amy Wolfe, director of EAMP.
As a result, TU developed the West Branch Susquehanna Recovery Benchmark Project with the goals to document water quality conditions on a watershed-scale, substantiate anecdotes about fishery improvements in the river, and provide baseline documentation of benthic macroinvertebrate populations and habitat conditions in mine-impacted tributaries.
To accomplish these goals, Wolfe said, TU partnered with the state DEP, the state Fish and Boat Commission, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and members of the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition to collect water quality and benthic macroinvertebrate samples, measure stream flows, conduct habitat surveys, and assess fish populations over a five-month period in 2009.
Funding for the project was provided by a DEP Growing Greener grant and from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
"The results of this project indicate that water quality and fish populations have significantly improved when compared with conditions 25 years and 10 years ago, respectively," Wolfe said. "Without a doubt, the investments of time and money spent by government and non-government agencies, private industry, philanthropy, and volunteers have been well spent to date. Nevertheless, the project has also brought to light that despite the widespread improvements, the river itself is still not reaching its full potential in terms of a healthy, self-sustaining fishery and water quality conditions are still deteriorated from acid mine drainage on many tributaries."