CLEARFIELD – The annual awards banquet for the Clearfield County Conservation District was held last night at the Knights of Columbus in Clearfield.
Keynote speaker was Kelly Williams, watershed specialist, who talked about the benefits of stream stabilization.
Recently, Williams participated in a project in New Millport to stabilize the embankments of Little Clearfield Creek.
Property owner Dave Nicholson called the CCCD when he saw how badly the creek was eroding the embankment adjacent to his yard.
Nicholson was awarded the Watershed Stewardship Award “for his cooperation and hard work on the Little Clearfield Creek Stream Stabilization Project.”
The presenter was director Joe Kendrick, who noted that Nicholson not only contacted CCCD when he recognized a problem, but participated in the work to stabilize the embankments and encourage fish and other organisms that call the stream home to return.
Williams normally works to rehabilitate watersheds damaged from acid mine drainage. She said the county has 700 miles of streams, 600 of which are impacted by AMD.
Little Clearfield Creek is unusual in that, while there was considerable mining in the area, the geology of the landscape allowed the creek to avoid damage from AMD. As a result, it is rated as a High Quality Cold Water Fishery.
Throughout the presentation Williams showed pictures of the project from beginning to end. She noted that the problem area began at the location of an old hand-placed dam, and the area ends with another hand-placed dam.
Usually these dams are placed to create pools for fishing and swimming, but eventually they cause more harm than good, causing erosion—when dirt and sediment are washed away—and sedimentation—when the dirt and sediment are deposited where they shouldn’t be.
Eventually the erosion got bad enough that the embankments reached 5.5 to 6 feet in height and were severely undercut to the point that earth would fall into the stream and be washed away. Worse, the lawns are well maintained up to the stream bed. Brush and trees help stabilize a stream bed and the manicured lawns only add to the problem.
Williams showed that the workers constructed cross vanes at the beginning and end of the area. These directed the water away from the embankments and towards the middle of the stream and also allowed the water to create a natural pool.
The worker also created 600 feet of mud sill cribbing along the stream banks using hemlock logs. These protect the banks of the stream and also give the fish a place to hide. These are then covered with sod, seeded, covered with straw and then coconut matting.
Ultimately, the project, which began August 2015 and ended August 2016, prevents further erosion, stabilized the banks and improves fishing. Trout now stay in the area with places to hide and anglers have already had success in fishing from the banks of the creek in this area.
Williams also did a demonstration using CCCD’s erosion tank, which mimics the effects of flowing water in earth, showing how the different structures helped the stream.
Other awards were also presented. The Claude Schickling Memorial Scholarship was presented to three college students. Two, Rachel Duke and Ryan Spencer, also won the scholarship last year. Sylvia Rensel was the third recipient and was unable to attend the banquet due to classes at her school, Messiah College.
First, second and third place forestry awards were presented to FFA students Clayton Brown, Mason Carfley and Cole Smay, who achieved the awards at a recent career day event.
Graham Township was awarded the Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Cooperator of the Year Award, a new award for CCCD.
The township worked with CCCD to replace a culvert on Big Run, preserving habitat and resolving a flooding problem affecting Big Run Park.
And Farm of the Year was presented to Tom Carr and Bulldog Farm for Carr’s dedication and commitment to agricultural conservation.