The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

September 25, 2010

Group nursing creek to health

STONINGTON — Behind waist-high fields of goldenrod and grasses, briars and bushes, Little Shamokin Creek winds through trees and dappled sunlight. To the undiscerning eye, the waterway looks fine.

But it hasn’t been.

Bob Herman and Ted Carodiskey have high hopes for the creek, and it is responding, with help from their group and the state.

Getting the land “was hurdle No. 1,” said Carodiskey, secretary for the nonprofit Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association, which recently bought a 27-acre parcel tract on Houser Road, Rockefeller Township, Northumberland County, formerly owned by Bob and Bobbi Long.

Little Shamokin Creek runs about a half-mile through the property.

“For two or three years, we pursued buying this land,” Carodiskey said.

Carodiskey said a private foundation, which he declined to identify, funded the $180,000 purchase.

Hurdle No. 2 is bringing Little Shamokin Creek back to good health.

Sunbury residents Herman and Carodiskey, along with Jaci Harner, a watershed specialist with the Northumberland County Conservation District who helps the group with its projects, know the story the vegetation, water level and natural formations in the creek tells them.

Little Shamokin Creek is a sub-watershed of Shamokin Creek. It runs through Rockefeller, Shamokin, and Upper and Lower Augusta townships. Eventually, its waters enter the Susquehanna river, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Protecting the watershed and its environs was the motivation behind the purchase, according to Herman. The watershed is largely forested, though agricultural areas account for about 30 percent of the land and developed areas, about 2 percent.

When the watershed group started in 2002, “It was a grass-roots effort through the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection),” Herman said. “They were pushing for volunteers because they didn’t have enough manpower to improve all the streams in Pennsylvania.”

The group wants to create an environmental education center for school and youth groups, and other organizations. A turn-of-the-century home on the property is a possible location for the education center.

But that may be Hurdle No. 3 or 4.

Right now, Little Shamokin Creek is on Hurdle No. 2.

Mowing and clearing took away a lot of the creek’s natural runoff protection, evidenced by the vertical banks where the earth drops off sharply at spots along the creek bed.

“The vegetative buffer serves as a filter, keeping runoff and soil out of the creek,” Harner said. Without it, the soil erodes, silt collects and the stream becomes a tough place for fish and organisms to live and protective vegetation to grow.

That’s a problem for the water, because the silt will cover and get underneath rocks and points in the creek where micro-invertebrates grow. They’re the food source for minnows, which are the food source for trout, which are the food source for herons. The whole food chain suffers.

Harner lifted a few rocks from the stream and showed how on the undersides, some small critters are now living.

“That’s a sign of the water’s health,” she said.

She noted some water-penny beetles, flat little bugs whose presence can be used as a test for water quality. They cannot live where rocks acquire a thick layer of algae, fungi or inorganic sediment. So their presence can mean good quality water.

The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy helped install three streambed stabilization banks, costing about $3,000 a piece. They’re correcting the creek’s flow, the Valley trio explained, catching it and diverting it in a way that takes the energy off the banks and keeps the soil from eroding. Some plants have taken root on top of the banks and are filling in spots nicely, another positive sign, Herman noted.

At a particular spot downstream from the last stabilization bank, the creek bends into a fishing hole. Herman guesses it’s about 3 feet deep. The fishing hole also has eroding banks and not as many trees as it once did.

“We’ve been spreading some seed here to get grasses growing again,” Herman said. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has been stocking the creek with trout in the spring, and Herman hopes the recovering ecosystem in the water will keep the food chain going.

A bit upstream where the land is clearer, what looks like a log wall lines the creek. Those are really long vein deflectors, and they correct the stream in another way, according to Harner. They’re built in such a that they capture sediment, which collects and helps rebuild the bank. They also serve as a habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Nothing goes to waste on this project, as Harner pointed out a root wad, essentially the bottom of an uprooted tree that provides a natural filtration and protection, she said.

“Eventually, nature comes in and takes its course,” said Harner, while Carodiskey noted two very large trees that had fallen across the stream since last winter’s heavy snows.

“We’re hoping a lot of things straighten out naturally here,” Carodiskey said.

— E-mail comments to esocha@dailyitem.com

1
Text Only
News
  • xbjfire21az.jpg Firefighters battle blaze at BJ's in Danville

    DANVILLE -- Firefighters were called to fight a fire at BJ's Steak & Rib House on Mill Street before 9 p.m. Sunday night. Customers in the restaurant and residents in nearby apartments were evacuated to the streets.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • Loaded language

    Sometimes it’s the offhand remark that’s the most telling. Indeed, the way we Americans casually, often unthinkingly, incorporate gun metaphors into our everyday slang says a lot about how deeply embedded guns are in our culture and our politics, and how difficult it is to control or extract them. Consider this list, presented as bullet points — which are themselves so conventional, so central to the typography of mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations, that you can forget what their shape represents.

    April 20, 2014

  • Prize claim cost man $1,829

    WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website (www.westernunion.com) is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers

    TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says

    SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”

    April 19, 2014

  • bonehunt20a.jpg 60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt

    It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule

    Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs

    ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

    April 19, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Poll

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.