Tag Archives: ArmyReserves

Is Plunketts Creek Using Its Floodplain?

A lot ot people would look at the photo below and think, “oh no! That’s awful.”

This is a photo from Thursday, September 23, 2021. The PA Game Commission’s Food and Cover crew stopped in to see how things were doing.

This is looking at the same trees in the first “flood photo” from a different direction. The flood water is pushing out of the Creek, between the trees, and into the field.

This is the project site on Plunketts Creek that the United States Army Reserves’ 333rd Engineering Unit’s 1st Platoon worked on for their summer training. The soldiers worked to remove an earthen berm.

The soldiers used heavy equipment to pull apart an earthen berm and move it out of the floodplain.

Here the soldiers are working in the area between the trees shown in the flood photo.

This solider is leaving an edge that a more experienced equipment operator would come back and “finish.”

Trent is holding the survey rod “on top” of the berm. The bottom of the staff is resting where the top of the berm once was.

The Friday after Ida moved through (Friday, September 24, 2021) NPC staff went to visit the Plunketts Creek site. Not just because it was a beautiful morning, but because we wanted to see what Plunketts Creek did and where Plunketts Creek went with all the rain.

We wanted to see if there was flood debris that would need removed. This tree branch got caught up on the wooden stakes used to hold the jute mat in place (technically it’s a coconut fibre woven in to a grid).

There was also plant material caught on the stakes.

But, the good news is there’s fresh sediment (soil) too. As the flood waters spread out, the slow down in speed. As the water slows down, the sediment has a chance to settle out.

Think about stirring powder into a glass of water. As the water stops twirling around, some of the powder will settle into the bottom of the glass if it’s given a chance to sit.

A piece of a tree branch (about 1.5 inches in diameter and 18 inches long) got caught on this stake. You can see the gravel that deposited out behind that piece of branch. The branch provided a break to the flow and allowed the water to slow down. That slowing water was enough that material dropped out.

This long stretch of fresh sediment was one of the most exciting scenes. (Yes, this is what we find exciting.)

Plunketts Creek has access to its floodplain now. The water can easily rise up and move into the floodplain and slow down. The sediment drops out and erosion is reduced if not eliminated.

As the water recedes, the sediment remains. This sediment, or dirt and sand, provides a base for grass and plants to grow. A lot of Plunketts Creek has rocky edges. Getting plant material back along the Creek will provide a filter to keep sediment ouf the Creek (think about future rain storms washing dirt across the surface) and that vegetation helps to slow down flood waters a little more.

During our visit we also looked at the vegetation for signs on where the water had flowed. Here you can see the vegetation is pushed all the way over. You can also see in the lower right hand corner, sediment that was caught in the grass.

The erosion in the background is from either the 2011 flood or the 2016 flood in the watershed.

This is the same areas as the flood photos above. You can see the sediment that was dropped in (it looks more sandy here than soil-y) and the grass is knocked over. (This was another exciting scene for NPC staff.)

The signs from this first high water event are all good. Plunketts Creek used its floodplains and is deciding where it wants to settle.

Thank you to Pennsylvania American Water for sponsoring October’s blog!

Berm Removal Along Plunketts Creek Wraps Up

The 1st Platoon of the 333rd Engineering Company of the US Army Reserves pulled out of Proctor Saturday morning, August 21, 2021 after nearly 3 weeks of work. The 30 soldiers worked on their equipment skills, teamwork, and project management while removing an earthen berm along Plunketts Creek at State Game Lands 134.

Thank you to the Plunketts Creek Township Volunteer Fire Company for allowing equipment to be staged at the fire station the night before the group pulled out.

The berm was built to protect the site when it was a propagation farm for the PA Game Commission raising turkeys then pheasants. Since the farm is no longer being used in that way, the berm could be removed to allow the stream access to its floodplain. This will provide ecological benefits and community benefits by reducing flood impacts.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s hydroseeder made it much easier to get seed on the ground. The seed is mixed with a mulch and water then sprayed out through a hose.

Over the course of the 3 weeks the soldiers worked to pull apart the berm, haul some of the material to a nearby dirt and gravel road project on State Game Lands, create small stockpiles, grade the area to allow for connection between the stream and its floodplain, and seed the area and install jute matting (a coconut fiber grid material). Additionally, they improved their skills in operating the heavy equipment, had training with night vision goggles, practiced building earthen structures that are used to help tanks absorb impacts (a tank defilade), and worked as a team. Many of the soldiers are new to the platoon and this was the first summer training they had attended with the group.

1SG Bleiler explains the training aspects of the project to members of the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association and Loyalsock Creek Men’s Club.

Over the course of the project partners such as the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, Loyalsock Creek Men’s Club, and American Legion Post 104 (the Eugene Grafius Post in Montoursville) toured the site to see how the project was progressing and meet the onsite leadership implementing the project. There was a common comment heard during each tour, “that’s a lot of dirt.”

SFC Schoch with the Officers from American Legion Post 104, Eugene Grafius Post, in Montoursville. The Legion provided funding to help support the soldiers while they were on site. Thanks to the Legion and other donors, we were able to buy meals locally so there wasn’t a huge need for the soldiers to eat MREs.

It was a lot of dirt, but the soldiers got the job done even with the rainy weather that changed site conditions and created some challenges. After one rain and wind storm, the soldiers removed 30 trees from local roadways to keep local traffic moving and allow the soldiers hauling material to the Camp Mountain Road/Huckle Run site to safely return to the main base.

Over the next several weeks the seed the soldiers spread will germinate and the Pennsylvania Game Commission will work to close out the permits needed for the work. The blue silt sock the soldiers installed on their first day will stay in place until the permits are released.

Before – note the postion of the shrub at the edge of the stream, and the trees in the backbround.
After – again note the postion of the shrub at the edge of the stream, and the trees in the backbround.