HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recently announced nearly $380,000 in grants to develop and implement projects that benefit fishing, boating, and aquatic resources in Cameron, Elk, Potter and McKean counties.
The funding is available through a 2007 settlement agreement with Norfolk Southern as restitution for environmental damages from a June 30, 2006, train derailment in rural Norwich Township, McKean County. Under the settlement, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay the Commonwealth $7.35 million as restitution for environmental damages. The PFBC received $3.675 million through the settlement and created the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Grant Program.
The funds received through this damage settlement have been used to improve public fishing and boating access, fish habitat, water quality, and stream health and to restore stream connectivity through the removal of barriers to fish movement such as dams and culverts.
The nine external projects funded today total approximately $330,000 and include:
Cameron County Conservation District, $48,625 – “FIN 74 Mine Pool Reclamation Phase II”
As part of the effort to restore the historic wild Brook Trout fishery within the Sterling Run watershed, a passive treatment system will be constructed at the abandoned and unreclaimed FIN-74 coal surface mine discharge to remediate acid mine drainage to Finley Run, a major tributary to Sterling Run.
Jay Township, Elk County, $15,500 – “Kersey Run Streambank Restoration Phase II”
In accordance with an existing stream channel evaluation and repair plan, implement in-stream habitat and streambank stabilization structures on one property to repair approximately 300 feet of severe bank erosion, minimize future erosion, and channel deposition of sediment and gravel. The proposed measures are intended to prevent property damage resulting from flooding, and to improve water quality and physical habitat for wild and stocked trout.
McKean County Conservation District, $23,625 – “Fish Habitat Improvement and Stream Restoration Program”
Improve fish and wildlife habitats in streams and riparian buffers with a primary focus on improving habitat for aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need by installing in-stream structures, stabilizing eroded streambanks, and planting native trees and shrubs in riparian corridors on at least three different properties.
Potter County Conservation District, $33,625 – “Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Streambank Stabilization”
Stabilize at least three severely eroded streambanks for a total length of over 800 feet on both public and private properties on First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek and its tributary of West Branch Cowley Run. The project will reduce stream sedimentation, improve water quality, and benefit both Brook Trout and Brown Trout.
Potter County Conservation District, $28,625 – “Bittersweet Lane Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP) Restoration on Little Portage Creek”
Little Portage Creek is a High-Quality Cold Water Fishery and a Class A wild Brook Trout and Brown Trout stream. The single barrier to upstream passage of fish is a timber deck bridge on a steel frame with a poured concrete stream bottom as its floor. The project will replace the existing bridge with a bottomless arch structure and thereby restore fish passage and habitat connectivity to nearly 9 miles of good habitat upstream.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), $22,880 – “East Branch Clarion River Fish Habitat Improvement”
East Branch Clarion River is a High-Quality Cold Water Fishery supporting stocked and wild Brook Trout and Brown Trout. The proposed fish habitat improvement reach is approximately 0.5 mile downstream of East Branch Dam and is on PA Game Commission property (SGL 25) in Elk County. The project involves replacement of six old, dilapidated, log-framed cross vanes to improve habitat within a 2,600-foot stream reach.
- Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $24,070 – “Kinzua Creek Fish Habitat Improvement”
This project will install multiple fish habitat improvement structures along approximately 3,000 feet of Kinzua Creek in the PFBC’s Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters section within the Allegheny National Forest in McKean County.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $30,000 – “West Branch Hicks Run Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP) Restoration”
This project will replace two culverts with timber deck bridges on tributaries to West Branch Hicks Run that are currently barriers to AOP. This stream has a Class A wild Brook Trout population and is located on PA Game Commission SGL 14 in Cameron County. By replacing these two barriers to fish movement, approximately 3.5 miles of currently isolated headwater habitat will be reconnected to the lower sections of these tributaries.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $100,000 – “Purchase of the Kelsey/Taylor property at the confluence of Prouty Run, Borie Branch and First Fork of Sinnemahoning Creek”
This 90-acre property in Potter County has long been closed to public fishing access and has a Class A wild Brown Trout and Brook Trout population. There are over 3,000 feet of stream frontage within a mature stand of trees that has not been cut for decades. Following the property purchase by the Conservancy, the deed will be transferred to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as an addition to the Susquehannock District Forest which is contiguous on three sides of the property. This property acquisition will provide access to these streams for public fishing.
In addition to these grants, the PFBC has committed $52,120 from the Sinnemahoning account to leverage additional funds from PA Sea Grant for an internal research project on Brook Trout and Rainbow Trout.
Additionally, the PFBC announced it has awarded over $3.4 million in grants to external partners from the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed settlement fund since the start of the grant program in 2008. This current grant round will be the last because the entire restoration account has been utilized for completed projects or committed to projects yet to be implemented. Forty-five projects have been completed, and 14 projects remain active.
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