The Bushkill Creek watershed encompasses 80 square miles of Northampton County, PA, stretching from Blue Mountain to the Delaware River in Easton, PA (not to be confused with the other Bushkill Creek of neighboring Monroe County). Most of the creek is classified as a HQ-CWF stream for High Quality Cold Water Fishery. Portions of Sobers Run in Bushkill Township were recently upgrade to exceptional value (EV) status based on work completed by BSC and other partners.
Groundwater recharge along the wooded slopes of Blue Mountain provides a critical source of high quality baseflow to the headwaters of the Creek in Bushkill, Plainfield, and Moore townships. Wetlands along the foot of the mountain also help to buffer these headwater streams from storm runoff while providing important wildlife habitat. Most of the upper half of the basin is located in shale and slate geology, and is dominated by woodlands, agriculture, and low-density residential development. The wooded areas generally follow the streams (mainstem, Sobers Run, Engler Run, and Little Bushkill Creek), forming “greenways” from Blue Mountain to Jacobsburg State Park. These riparian corridors absorb rainfall and runoff, keep the streams shaded and cool, and provide important habitat for flora and fauna. It is critical that these areas are not over-developed.
The lower half of the basin has a decidedly different character, consisting of gently undulating hills underlain by carbonate geology (limestone and dolomite). The many carbonate springs help maintain cool water temperatures throughout the summer, providing an excellent brown trout fishery. Shoeneck Creek drains the western portion of the watershed from Nazareth, and a small, unnamed tributary follows Route 22 and joins the Bushkill in Easton. Agricultural areas in the lower watershed are experiencing rapid commercial and residential development, while the southernmost area of the watershed in and around Easton has been suburban/urban/industrial for over a century. Several large cement rock quarries are located near the center of the watershed in the Nazareth/Stockertown area, and numerous abandoned dams from former water-powered mills are present along the lowest 3 miles of the stream.