While Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, the northcentral stream partnership is preparing to “open” the stream season in 5 weeks. We are in the phase of the season where all kinds of things are happening at the same time. It can seem confusing or overwhelming the first time you participate in the project planning.
Throughout December and January the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Manager visited possible sites with staff from the County Conservation Districts. The weather prevented a couple of visits from happening when they were originally scheduled, so the group will be continuing to visit possible project sites throughout February.
The group pays attention to things like the height of the eroded stream banks, the size and shape of the rocks on the stream bottom, how much vegetation is growing along the stream, where the fences are (if there are fences), and how wide the stream is. All of that and more go into deciding if a site “fits.”
Once the group decides a site “fits” the stream partnership’s program, a design is sketched out on site. By sketched I mean usually a black or red marker is used to make notes on a printed out aerial photo of the site. That field design is taken back to the office and finalized. The finalized design is used to start the permitting process and generate a supplies list. All of these things – design visits, design finalization, permitting, supplies – are happening at the same time for anywhere from 5 to 15 sites.
Additionally, conversations to determine what projects need to get done this year and when to schedule the projects are taking place. Things that go into the scheduling include farming operations and access to the fields, if a site lays wet or dry, vacation plans for any number of people, and when other projects the Conservation Districts are working on will be active.
The permit applications for the first couple of projects in March will be submitted in the next week or so, and then things will really start ramping up. Stay tuned for more updates on water quality improvements in the region!
And if you’re concerned about instream work happening in March, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission staff are equipped with insulated waders and there are enough people to rotate in and out of the stream that hypothermia shouldn’t be an issue.