Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Restoring and Protecting Western Pennsylvania’s Waterways

Loyalhanna Creek, Westmoreland County
Loyalhanna Creek, Westmoreland County

Western Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams are vital to the region and far beyond, as they include the headwaters of the imperiled Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, the Conservancy improved, enhanced or protected 220 stream miles, helping to ensure clean water and healthy habitat for wildlife – adding to the more than 1,500 miles of rivers and streams previously enhanced by WPC.

Conservancy watershed staff provided technical assistance to 152 watershed and conservation organizations and to 59 farms in 2011. To help local government entities and community groups protect their watersheds, the Conservancy completed conservation plans for the Lower Mahoning Creek watershed in Armstrong, Indiana and Jefferson counties, and the Allegheny River headwaters watershed in McKean and Potter counties.

Sinnemahoning Creek, Clinton County
Sinnemahoning Creek, Clinton County

Conservancy staff also conducted monitoring and surveying of aquatic species, which provided additional data about the health of local rivers and streams. In 2011, watershed conservation scientists continued research on the eastern hellbender, most notably in the Allegheny National Forest, where WPC staff found the salamanders in eight streams where they were not known to occur. Scientists also documented new native brook trout populations in the Little Mahoning Creek watershed.

During 2011, WPC stabilized more than 6,600 feet of eroding stream banks, and constructed nearly 1,500 feet of stream bank fencing in Westmoreland, Mifflin, Indiana, Huntington and Bedford counties. Staff members also installed eight stabilized crossings and three watering systems on farms in the Juniata River watershed.

Staff members removed a concrete dam on Morrison Run in Warren County. The 30-foot-long, six-foot-high structure was preventing aquatic species passage. As a result of the dam removal, brook trout and other aquatic species now have mobility above and below the former dam site, which will allow for better genetic diversity among organisms found in this stream.

WPC hosted a two-day sojourn on the Clarion River with more than 100 kayakers and canoeists. The trip included educational seminars about the important natural habitat of the Clarion River basin. WPC has held an annual sojourn since 2004.

Aquatic research, Little Mahoning Creek,
Indiana County
Aquatic research, Little Mahoning Creek, Indiana County

WPC staff led the completion of five canoe and kayak access projects on the Casselman River and the Loyalhanna, Sinnemahoning and Little Mahoning creeks in 2011. With generous ongoing financial support from longtime Conservancy members and outdoor enthusiasts Roy Weil and Mary Shaw, WPC has worked with community groups for the past several years to enhance access to the region’s rivers and streams for canoeists and kayakers.

Watershed Conservation 2009 – 2011 Strategic Plan Accomplishments

  • • 670 miles of stream were improved
  • • 309 groups and individuals received technical support
  • • 1,123 best management practices were installed
  • • 127 farms received assistance
  • • 24,510 feet of stream banks were stabilized