The Shenango River watershed encompasses an area of 1,066 square miles. Beginning in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, it flows approximately 92 miles before it meets with the confluence with the Mahoning River to form the Beaver River.
The soils of the watershed are derived from glacial till and are well-suited for agriculture. With the high amount of prime agricultural soils within the watershed, it is no surprise that 46% of its land use is agricultural. The remaining land use is split among forest (40%), wetlands (5%), developed lands (5%), and water (4%).
Restoring the Watershed
The watershed is home to several rare, threatened, and endangered species, making the Shenango River watershed one of the most important in Pennsylvania for aquatic life in the upper Ohio River Basin. Presently, only certain reaches, such as the Shenango River in Mercer County, provide examples of high-quality, large-stream ecosystems. The quality of this watershed suffers from erosion, sedimentation and nutrient loading resulting from agriculture and inadequate septic and sewage systems. As a consequence, the larger Beaver River basin includes isolated, high quality river segments and sub-basins, as well as other reaches and watersheds of degraded health.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) is currently working in this watershed to address these issues by improving water quality and aquatic health, and eventually reconnecting the basin as a whole. These efforts include implementing agricultural best management practices (BMPs), water quality monitoring, dirt and gravel road BMPs, and streambank stabilization projects.