“Every year the Environmental Excellence honorees show the creative and innovative ways we can improve our environment, and this year is no different,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “The projects highlighted this year show tremendous diversity in how they are making Pennsylvania a better place.”
The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and Pennsylvania Game Commission’s efforts on Plunketts Creek at Proctor are being recognized with a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The project removed an earthern berm, reconnected Plunkeets Creek to its floodplain, allowed improvements to Huckle Run Road, and works to reduce flooding for neighbors at the site and downstream.
The project was evaluated for the degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice, as well as outcomes achieved. It, along with 14 other projects from across the state, were recognized with the 2022 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in Harrisburg.
During the event, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said, “It is always a privilege to spotlight people going above and beyond to improve the environment and make our great outdoor spaces more accessible. Each of the projects awarded this year will leave a positive lasting legacy for Pennsylvania.”
This project’s lasting legacy will be less flooding, more ecological functioning, and better water quality. Plunketts Creek is a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery with naturally reproducing trout. The Creek is in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the water in the Creek gets to the Bay through Loyalsock Creek, the West Branch Susquehanna River, and then the Susquehanna River
In Phase 1 in 2020 NPC and PGC stabilized the eroding streambanks on an 850 foot stretch of Plunketts Creek using log and rock structures designed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The eroding streambanks were adding sediment to the stream and covering the substrate on the bottom. By immediately stabilizing the streambanks, the source of the sediment was eliminated. Over time, the sediment on the stream bottom will flush out of the system.
In 2021, as Phase 2, the partners removed 2,200 linear feet of the earthen berm along Plunketts Creek and restored the Creek’s access to the floodplain, lowering adjacent flood elevations and the erosive potential of the stream. One of the outstanding attributes of the project was the 333rd Engineering Company of the US Army Reserves, based in Reading, PA, completed the project as their summer 2021 training exercise. The soldiers were able to get 3 weeks of training while also providing a huge environmental benefit to the community.
A Dirt and Gravel Road Project on Huckle Run Road (also on State Game Lands 134) received over 1,500 truckloads (approximately 15,000 tons) of material from the berm. The dirt road was incised forcing rain water and snow melt to run down the road. This directed sediment into nearby Huckle Run (also High Quality with Naturally Reproducing Trout). In addition to the water quality improvements, this road project also improves public access. Huckle Run Road will soon be open to allow the public to access the State Game Lands.
The project was only possible because of the efforts of a number of partners working together. One of the key partners was the 1st Platoon of the 333rd Engineering Company of the US Army Reserves. The Reservists used the project as their 2021 summer training project. Their assistance was possible because of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program.
The partners who worked with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and Pennsylvania Game Commission to help make the project possible were:
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- Lycoming County Conservation District
- 333rd Engineering Company of US Army Reserves
- Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
- Susquehanna River Basin Commission
- PA Council of Trout Unlimited
- Coldwater Heritage Program
- Loyalsock Creek Men’s Club
- Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association
- American Legion Post 104 (Montoursville, PA)
If you’re interested in learning more about the project, check out these blog posts: