The Kettle Creek Watershed drains approximately 244 square miles in Potter, Tioga, and Clinton counties in north central Pennsylvania. It empties into the West Branch of the Susquehanna in the community of Westport, about 30 miles upstream from Lock Haven.
The watershed is nearly all forested, with less than ten percent being used for agriculture, light-residential, and other land uses. More than 90 percent of the watershed meets Pennsylvania’s “exceptional value” criteria. A population of the globally rare brook floater mussel (Alasmidonta varicosa) speaks to the quality of this aquatic ecosystem.
Ninety-two percent of the watershed is in public holding, with most private lands being located along stream corridors. The upper watershed, which contains 67 miles of Pennsylvania Class A trout waters, is prized for its recreational cold-water fishery value. Nationally recognized Tamarack Swamp is also located in this area of the watershed.
A Creek in Danger
Kettle Creek has received special designation as one of six “Home Rivers” by Trout Unlimited due to its high quality resources. However, the watershed is not without its problems. Recent declines in fish populations have signaled trouble. Abandoned mines significantly degrade a portion of the lower watershed, affecting both land and water resources. In addition, many stream segments contain poor aquatic habitat, having been scoured straight, wide, and shallow from floods during the logging boom of the late 19th century when the forests were clearcut, and from more recent storm events. Sediment pollution from eroding stream banks and dirt and gravel roads remains a significant impairment to water quality.