Since 2001, the Conservancy has secured over $550,000 in grants for projects in the Bushkill Creek watershed. A sampling of these activities is highlighted below. All of these projects illustrate the valuable partnerships that have been created through BSC, and many of the projects have been supported by grants obtained from the Pennsylvania Growing Greener program, Pennsylvania DCNR, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Water Resources Education Network, the Coldwater Heritage Partnership, private foundations and corporate donations.
Pennsylvania DCNR has recognized the successful partnership of BSC with Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, and considers it a model for how DCNR can work with local partners to assist a region with its conservation and recreation needs. Read about the Lehigh Valley Greenways Initiative for more information.
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
The Conservancy has recently developed three brochures. The first is an overview of the watershed and the Conservancy's programs and projects. Two additional brochures include information on streamside buffers, and water quality and watershed management.
The Conservancy developed the StreamKeeper program to encourage community members to preserve and protect the Bushkill Creek. For information on this program, see the brochure.
Birding and Natural History Trail Map
Working with the Northampton County Conservation District, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, and Lafayette College, as well as other local experts, Bushkill Stream Conservancy has developed a Birding and Natural History Trail Map for the Two Rivers Greenway area. The map highlights 15 locations, giving directions and describing important habitats and species that can be seen at each. Funding for development of the map came from the DCNR Wild Resources Conservation Fund. The Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society provided funds for printing. The map is available through BSC and the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
PLANNING (see reports page for more info)
Visual Assessment of Flooding along Bushkill Creek
The BSC retained LandStudies, Inc to evaluate flooding issues along the main stem of the Bushkill Creek and develop conceptual mitigation plans to address problem areas.
Upper Bushkill Creek Watershed and Sobers Run Coldwater Conservation Plans
These coldwater plans provide recommendations for the conservation of coldwater fisheries in the upper reaches of the Bushkill Creek watershed. The Upper Bushkill Creek watershed plan includes detailed assessments of fish and macroinvertebrates completed in 2008. Sobers Run is one of the highest quality tributaries to the Bushkill Creek - part of Sobers Run was recently upgraded to an Exceptional Value stream due in part to our work on implementing the recommendations in these plans.
BSC served as the steering committee for the Two Rivers Area Greenway Plan commissioned by the Two Rivers Council of Governments. The plan serves as a blueprint for future conservation and recreation projects in the watershed. See the greenways page for more information.
Northampton County Open Space
BSC worked with Heritage Conservancy of Doyleston to present the first parcel of land to be preserved under the Northampton County open space program. The land preserved includes potential bog turtle habitat adjacent to Sobers Run, the best quality stream in the watershed. BSC began working with Heritage in 2004 to protect critical open space, natural areas, and historic sites in the upper watershed, particularly the riparian corridors along Sobers Run. BSC continues to work with various land conservancies to preserve and protect environmentally sensitive lands.
Bushkill Creek Watershed Protection Plan
In 2005, BSC completed a watershed protection plan that identifies the resources in the watershed and issues of concern. This plan lists implementation projects that will help address these issues.
WATERSHED RESTORATION PROJECTS
Riparian Buffer Projects
Sullivan Park Stormwater Improvements
This project won the statewide 2014 Green Parks Award from DCNR. Watch an episode of Greenlife Pennsylvania produced by WVIA Public Media that describes the project. In cooperation with the City of Easton, Lafayette College, and the Northampton County Conservation District, BSC obtained Growing Greener grants to conduct an engineering study and construct a detention wetland at Sullivan Park in the College Hill area of Easton. The area below the park has suffered severe stormwater damage in recent years. Because portions of the park were perennially saturated from springs and were not usable for recreation, it was a good location for a detention wetland to alleviate the flooding problem while creating valuable wildlife habitat and maintaining some existing recreational uses. Signage, fencing, and new park equipment were included in the project. Preliminary engineering studies were performed by civil engineering students at Lafayette College. See pictures here
Invasive Plant Control
Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center under the direction of Bill Sweeney has been a leader in the control of invasive plants, which have severely impacted some areas of the watershed.
Monitoring of Bushkill Creek is conducted monthly by local citizens of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Water quality is monitored at 24 locations (click here for map) using Lamotte test kits. The RSVP data are available here as Excel files: 2001-02 data, 2003 data, 2004 data, 2005 data, 2006 data, 2007 data, 2008 data, 2009 data, 2010 data, 2011 data, 2012 data, 2013 data.
In addition, Lafayette students often conduct stream sampling at several locations in the watershed during the fall semester each year. Field parameters are measured and samples are run for major ions at the Civil & Environmental Engineering analysis lab. Automated stream gauges obtained by grants through NSF and Growing Greener are maintained by Lafayette faculty, and continuously record stream stage, conductivity, and temperature at several locations in the watershed. Easton Area High School students have monitored the Bushkill in Easton near the Rt 22 overpass, and Pen Argyl High School students monitor water quality in the Little Bushkill near Grand Central.
In addition to these data, there have been a variety of studies of macroinvertebrates in the watershed, starting with the work of Pat Bradt in the 1970s. Lafayette Prof Megan Rothenberger's students currently conduct monitoring in the lower Bushkill.
Collectively, the monitoring data are used to identify problem areas of the stream, as well as to serve as a baseline against which to compare future water quality data. The program has identified several areas in the lower Bushkill as impaired.
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