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Portage Creek Streambank Restoration Project

In July of 2005 the Bucktail Watershed Association was awarded a $16,800 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Chesapeake Bay Small Watersheds Grant Program to fix 350 feet of severely eroding stream bank on the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek. As the result of years of severe erosion, the stream was overly wide at this point and there was little in stream habitat. The site was located at the Noah horse pasture, below the intersection of Old Portage Road and SR 155.

Work began on the Portage Creek Stream Bank Restoration Project in early July of 2006. Solveson's Contracting of Emporium was awarded the bid to do the earth moving and place the rock rip rap. A general permit was secured from the state Department of Environmental Protection before proceeding with the work.

The eroding stream bank was regraded to a stable angle and stone riprap placed on the lower slope of the bank along 150 feet at the upstream end of the project to protect existing trees that were growing on the top of the bank.

On the bottom 200 feet of the project seven log vane deflectors were installed to add instream habitat and cover and redirect the stream's energy away from the newly regraded stream bank during high flows. Cody Andrus, Chad Schatz, and Ben Hause assisted with the manpower on this project as part of their Senior Project at Cameron County High School. They installed the top two log deflectors, installed biodegradable jute mat coconut fiber mesh on the newly regraded bank, and hand placed rocks for shingling around where the butt ends of the deflector logs tie into the stream bank. At the end of July, eight BWA volunteers also met on site for a work night, finishing the installation of the log vane deflectors.

In June of 2007 repairs were done to the top three log vane deflectors. Damage had occurred to these deflectors during high water events in the winter. The lower deflectors functioned perfectly during these times of high water, causing significant deposition of gravel against the formerly eroding bank.

In conjunction with the project, a 400-foot long riparian buffer consisting of native tree species was planted along the project reach. Tree tubes were installed on the newly planted seedlings to protect them from deer browsing. Three hundred willow and dogwood cuttings were installed in the newly graded stream bank as a form of soil bioengineering. When the willow and dogwood cuttings and the tree seedlings grow, they will form a network of roots that will effectively stabilize the bank in a natural manner. Additionally, as they grow in height their canopy will shade the stream, lowering water temperatures for trout and other coldwater species. Leaf drop in the fall of the year will fuel the stream's food chain with its organic content by serving as food for mayfly and stonefly nymphs. The Portage Creek Streambank Restoration Project has been a huge success. The Bucktail Watershed Association would like to thank everyone who was involved in this project: our project partner—the Cameron County Conservation District, landowner Bill Noah, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Reuben of Solveson's Contracting, Chad Schatz, Cody Andrus, and Ben Hause, and all of the BWA volunteers who helped out on the project.

If you know of a stream reach within the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek or First Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek Watersheds that is in need of similar restoration work, contact the Bucktail Watershed Association at bucktailwatershed@yahoo.com.

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Portage Streambank Restoration
Portage Creek Streambank Restoration Project


Setting log deflectors



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