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Bucktail Watershed Association - July 2008 Newsletter

BWA To Host Invasive Plant Pull-A-Thon

The Bucktail Watershed Association in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Sinnemahoning State Park will be having a mile a minute vine weed-a-thon in the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek Valley on Saturday, June 28.

Mile-a-minute vine is a Pennsylvania state noxious weed that grows rapidly, climbing over and blanketing bushes and small trees. The mile a minute vine infestation in Sinnemahoning State Park and surrounding areas has been the focus of a multi-agency eradication effort in recent years that includes many local partners. This thorny annual vine reproduces rapidly through the heavy production of seeds that are spread primarily by birds and high water. Mile a minute vine is quite detrimental to native habitat. It also impedes recreational access to streams with its rapidly growing thorny vines.

On June 28 work parties will be combating mile a minute vine both in Sinnemahoning State Park and on private land north of the park. Park staff will lead a weed pulling party within the park. Individuals interested in volunteering in this effort should meet at the Forty Maples Day-Use Area at 9:00 AM for a briefing by park staff.

North of the park, the Bucktail Watershed Association and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will be leading a second work party to attack mile a minute vine growing in the flood plain along First Fork. Volunteers working outside the park will meet at 8 AM at the Wharton Township building in Wharton. This group will be working south of Wharton in the vicinity of Creek View Road and the SR 872 bridge over First Fork.

Afterwards, at the Forty Maples picnic area in Sinnemahoning State Park there will be a chicken barbeque for all participants in the weed-a-thon. The dinner, which is being sponsored by the Bucktail Watershed Association, will be served at noon.

For more information, contact Jim Zoschg at 570-417-2661 or bucktailwatershed@yahoo.com. Please RSVP if you plan on attending the work party and barbeque

BWA Develops Website

The Bucktail Watershed Association has developed a website for the organization, www.bucktailwatershed.com. Through its new website, the Bucktail Watershed Association will be able to communicate information in a more effective manner in the modern age of computers and technology.

We hope to be able to reach a wider audience, especially those who live outside the watershed, through the new website.

The website will feature a variety of information, including updates and photographs of restoration projects within the Driftwood Branch and First Fork Watersheds, watershed news, meeting minutes, watershed association newsletters, a watershed photo section, a publication section, links to other conservation organizations and much more. There will also be features allowing interested individuals to join the organization.

This months newsletter will be emailed via a link to our website to those members whose email addresses we have. This will both help expedite the delivery of the newsletter and save the organization approximately $30 in postal costs.

A special thanks goes out to the BWA members who were involved in the work on the website.

Questions or comments regarding the website can be emailed to Bucktail Watershed Association at bucktailwatershed@yahoo.com.


Streamside Forests: A Vital Component Of Stream Health

Ever wonder what those groves of white, plastic tubes were cropping up along streams in the First Fork and Driftwood Branch Watersheds? These tubes are protecting seedlings planted by the Cameron County Conservation District, Bucktail Watershed Association, and other conservation organizations to establish riparian buffers.

The riparian area is the zone between the aquatic and terrestrial environments. In north-central Pennsylvania, streamside riparian zones are affected by development, agriculture, timber practices and exotic plants. Native trees and shrubs planted in the riparian area can serve a variety of functions.

Native trees and shrubs help to stabilize the soils along streams, helping to prevent erosion and reduce sediment flows into the stream. Sediments can fill in spaces between rocks affecting insect habitat and fish reproduction. Vegetation can also prevent the flow of excess nutrients (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorus) and pollution into streams.

Mature trees also provide shade for the stream that is critical for the survival of cold-water fish such as brook trout. Higher water temperatures reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen available to stream organisms. Streamside vegetation benefits fish and other wildlife by providing habitat and food.

Terrestrial and aquatic insects rely on streamside vegetation and are an important part of the food chain for larger organisms. In headwater streams, as much as 89% of the energy input is from woody debris and leaf litter in the fall. Large woody debris can also provide escape cover for fish and amphibians.

To increase riparian vegetation, the Bucktail Watershed Association has been planting a variety of native species including maple, oak, sycamore, river birch, aspen, black locust, silky, gray and red osier dogwood, black chokeberry, and willow along stream banks.

The next time you lose a lure to a tree on the bank, take a minute to think about everything that tree provides to the fish you're after. Better yet, come out and spend an hour helping the BWA plant trees around your favorite stream.

Interesting Fact:
The US Department of Agriculture's CREP program, is helping to restore riparian forests in the First Fork and Driftwood Branch Watersheds. CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) gives agricultural landowners financial incentives for converting marginal, highly erodible agricultural land to wildlife habitat. Nonagricultural streamside property lacking streamside forests also qualifies for CREP. In the headwaters of Plank Road Hollow in the Driftwood Branch Watershed, an 800 foot long riparian forest was planted on the Bauer Farm in 2006. A 5,000-tree stream buffer was planted this spring north of Wharton on the Dallastown Gun Club Property along First Fork. A 35 acre riparian area is scheduled to be planted along First Fork south of Costello at the bottom of West Darian Run.


BWA Declares War Against Invasive Plants

During the past decade several species of non-native invasive plants have established themselves within the stream corridors of the Driftwood Branch and First Fork. This is of concern to the general health of the watersheds because the health of the stream corridor ecosystem directly affects the health of its stream.

Invasive plants grow and reproduce rapidly, crowding out native plant communities through their aggressive competition. In the process of destroying plant communities, the wildlife that relies on these habitats is also displaced, and the natural biological processes performed by these ecosystems are disrupted.

The most visible and perhaps most harmful of invasive plants to have cropped up in our watersheds has been Japanese knotweed. Japanese knotweed has formed large colonies within the stream corridor of the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek. It spreads aggressively through its roots, shading out other plants. It is spread primarily through moving dirt fill or by the scouring of its root fragments during times of flooding and re-depositing them downstream in the floodplain. Japanese knotweed quickly transforms a healthy, naturally functioning stream corridor into an alien monoculture with little wildlife value.

In the near future grant money will be made available for conducting projects to eradicate invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed that are growing within the stream corridors of the Driftwood Branch and First Fork Watersheds. The Bucktail Watershed is seeking to build awareness about this problem, engage local landowners, and implement projects to eradicate invasive plants and establish native vegetation with the available funding.

By having landowners "on board" before applying for funding, the Bucktail Watershed Association hopes to demonstrate to those who would potentially fund such projects that there is a need for invasive plant control projects and that landowners are anxious to cooperate with the watershed association in the removal of these invasive plants.

More details regarding this project can be found on our website, www.bucktailwatershed.com. Watershed association members who have invasive plants such as japanese knotweed on their property and would like to become involved themselves in this project or know other landowners who would be interested in participating should contact us at bucktailwatershed@yahoo.com or call vice chairman Steve Vaneerden at 486-1740.

Wykoff Knotweed
BWA member Kirk Bainey vs. Japanese Knotweed


BWA Volunteers Restore Riparian Forest Along Portage Creek

On May 6 Bucktail Watershed Association volunteers joined together to plant approximately 200 tree seedlings and willow cuttings along a section of the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek lacking forest cover.

The planting site was located at the Morgan property, the location of what used to be the Kamats Farm. The trees were planted at a stream restoration site where the Bucktail Watershed Association had partnered with the Cameron County Conservation District on a grant project to restore approximately 250 feet of eroding streambank. The project involved grading the bank back to a stable bank angle. Afterward log deflectors were installed to deflect the water off the bank, adding habitat to the stream as well as protecting the bank from erosion.

Trees are essential for maintaining health stream systems. Not only do their roots act like rebar to stabilize stream banks, but their canopy shades streams, lowering water temperatures. Additionally, in autumn leaves that fall into streams fuel the food chain with carbon by serving as an important food source for certain invertebrates such as mayfly nymphs.

The BWA is able to obtain tree seedlings for planting along side streams within our watershed area. If anyone would like tree seedlings for planting along local streams contact us at bucktailwatershed@yahoo.com or at 486-9354.

This project was located along a section of the Portage Creek that was devastated by the June 2006 Norfolk Southern chemical spill. Projects like this that reduce erosion, improve habitat, and add shade cover to the stream will help facilitate the recovery of the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek. The settlement money from the chemical spill will fund similar projects in the future.

Watershed News Briefs

The Cameron County Conservation District was awarded a$700,000 grant from Cameron County's Growing Greener II County Environmental Initiative funds for the cleanup of acid mine drainage in Sterling Run. With these funds three passive treatment systems will be constructed in May Hollow Run and Portable Run

The Cameron County Conservation District is planning $70,000 of habitat work in Clear Creek. The project is being funded by the Cameron County's County Environmental Initiative funds and will involve work on eight sites.

The First Fork Watershed Association was formed in 2007 to tackle water quality related issues in the upper portion of the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek. Last summer the group undertook several habitat-stream bank restoration projects in East Fork and First Fork. More projects are being implemented this summer.

On June 7 five Bucktail Watershed Association members joined up with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to hold a work day for combating mile-a-minute vine on First Fork. The work party concentrated their efforts near the mouth of Schoolhouse Run in Wharton Township, Potter County.

The Sinnemahoning Stakeholders Committee will begin accepting proposals for projects benefiting the portions of the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed affected by the June 2006 Norfolk Southern chemical spill. In September there will be an official announcement from the group announcing the opening of the grant application round. Projects will be judged and awarded funding early in 2009, allowing for the projects to be implemented during the summer of 2009. The Bucktail Watershed Association will take an active roll in the restoration of streams affected by the chemical spill.


BWA To Undertake Habitat Project on Hunts Run

The Bucktail Watershed Association will be partnering with the Cameron County Conservation District to undertake two habitat/streambank restoration projects in Hunts Run this summer. The projects will be a follow-up to the Hunts Run study and Coldwater Conservation Plan developed by the watershed association through the Coldwater Heritage Partnership Grant received by the group.

The first site is located on the Kamats property at the bottom of Hunts Run and is a continuation of habitat work done by the Fish Commission. It will involve the installation of a log crib wall at the foot of a high eroding bank. The crib wall will create cover for trout in the deep pool located at this site.

The second site is located below Russell Hollow where an access road cuts off the Hunts Run Road and travels downstream to several state lease camps. At one point Hunts Run is eroding into this access road. The watershed association will construct a log crib wall at this undermining bank.

This project will be conducted on a Saturday in July or August, date still to be determined. If interested in being involved, contact the BWA at our email address or at 486-9354.

Annual Membership Meeting and Membership Renewals

The annual Bucktail Watershed Association summer membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 1 at 7:00 pm in the Cameron County Courthouse courtroom.

This year's summer membership meeting will be especially interesting. Three officer positions will be elected at the meeting. Also, we will be planning upcoming summer activities and projects. Furthermore, the meeting will provide members opportunities to submit ideas for projects that we can undertake with the fine money from the Norfolk Southern chemical spill. All members are encouraged to attend and the general public is also invited.

Members who have not yet paid their 2008 memberships dues should do so now. Annual memberships dues cost $5 for an individual and $7 for a family. Checks can be made out to the Bucktail Watershed Association and mailed to 4 East Sixth Street, Emporium, PA 15834. The monetary support we receive from our membership dues is very important for covering our organizationís annual operating costs.

Make it a point to come to the summer membership meeting and bring a friend. We have a lot planned for 2008. With your help we can make a difference in the Driftwood Branch and First Fork Watersheds.


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