MAHONING TWP. — The Montour County Conservation District, a land trust and a couple of state agencies are working with Geisinger and a landscaping company to reduce erosion and improve the fish habitat along Sechler Run near the Woodbine clinic.

A work crew that included Lewisburg contractor Eric Imgrund and representatives of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Fish and Boat Commission, as well as the county Conservation District, were in the creek on Monday beginning to install logs to stabilize about 1,100 feet of Sechler Run with fish habitat structures.

Renee Carey, director of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, a land trust devoted to conservation of the region's rural landscape and waters, said holes are drilled into the logs of various sizes to insert rebar, which holds them in place.

"The logs (rather than the stream bank) will take the pressure of the velocity of the water," Carey said.

They slow the water flow, which means in times of heavy rain some of that water will spill over into its natural floodplain but reduce the amount of water flowing downstream toward Danville.

In some parts of the creek, the logs will be arranged to divert the water flow to prevent further erosion, said Al Neuner, Geisinger’s vice president of facilities operations. 

With less erosion, there will be less sediment in the water, which will make it healthier for the fish and other aquatic life.

"Fish eat bugs, bugs live in between rocks," Carey said.

If mud fills in between the rocks, the bugs can't live there, she said, adding that the logs provide additional habitat for insects.

The project also will help reduce the amount of sediment going into the Susquehanna River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

This project started with Justin Ulanoski of Native Creations, a Nescopeck landscaping company, who approached Geisinger about planting a riparian buffer with wildflowers along the stream that runs along Route 11 in front of their Woodbine Lane campus. He has worked with the conservation agencies before and thought it would be good opportunity for a project.

Once the log structures are installed, Native Creations will plant the buffer and then the area will be seeded with pollinators and mulched.

Neuner said the project is important to Geisinger because it affects the public’s health.

“We kind of take a holistic approach,” Neuner said. “As we improve our environment, we improve everyone’s health.”

Growing Greener grants from DEP will pay most of the $25,000 to $35,000 cost for the project and landscaping, and Geisinger will pay the remainder, which easily could be $5,000 to $10,000, Carey said.

"This is going to help downstream," said Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn.

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