Tag Archives: northcentral stream partnership

Rivers Month in PA:  Come On In, the Water is Nice!

With summer starting and the weather getting hotter, many people in Pennsylvania head to rivers and streams to cool off and have fun. June is the perfect time to celebrate ‘Rivers Month’ in Pennsylvania! With over 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, Pennsylvania has plenty to offer. Whether you like boating, swimming, fishing, or just relaxing by the water, there’s something for everyone.

Paddlers prepare to hit the water on the Paddle Happy West Branch Susquehanna River trip!

Creating and Enhancing Access to our Waterways

Here in Northcentral PA, members of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) have been working hard to make it easier for people to enjoy these activities. Here are just a few of the conservation projects they’ve helped complete:

Baker Run

Conserving the Baker Run area created a new spot for canoeing or kayaking on the West Branch Susquehanna River. Baker Run flows into the Susquehanna River, between Lock Haven and Renovo. The stretch of the West Branch Susquehanna from Hyner to Woodward Township’s Park is about 21 miles long. Conserving this land and setting up the launch made it easier for people to paddle this section of the river.

The Baker Run Canoe Launch provides easy access to the West Branch Susquehanna River.

Byers Island

The Byers Island archipelago consists of six islands in the Susquehanna River. NPC members conserved this chain of islands in 2006 before helping to incorporate them into the Weiser State Forest. Today, paddlers can camp overnight on the islands at three basic campsites kept up by the Susquehanna River Trail Association.

Three primitive campsites are available for public use on Byers Island archipelago.

Harrigan Island

Harrigan Island is in the Susquehanna River near Athens. The original owners encouraged canoe travelers to camp on the island. To ensure others could enjoy this simple pleasure for years to come, they worked with NPC to conserve the land. Today, Harrigan Island is part of the Loyalsock State Forest and continues to be a popular stopover for paddlers!

A faint rainbow overtop of Harrigan Island.

Phelps Mills Canoe Access

For years, people used this site on the Avis side of the Route 150 Bridge over Pine Creek for paddling, fishing, and swimming. When the property was for sale and at risk of development, NPC bought and conserved it for the public. NPC also got grant funding to improve the walking path and parking area, making it easier for people to enjoy Pine Creek. The site is now part of the Tiadaghton State Forest.

The ribbon cutting ceremony unveils improvements at the Phelps Mills Canoe Access.

Conserving the Health of Our Rivers

Beyond recreation, healthy rivers provide habitat, drinking water, replenish groundwater, help moderate floods and droughts, support forest health, and more!

Stream health is important for river health because streams feed into rivers. Anything that enters a stream—like pollutants, nutrients, or sediment—will flow into larger rivers.

As part of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, NPC members are helping to conserve and strengthen the health of our rivers by stabilizing eroding streambanks and improving aquatic habitat on agriculturally impaired streams across the region.

In fact, the Partnership’s sustained efforts have been so successful that two streams in the Turtle Creek Watershed were recently removed, or “delisted,” from PA’s list of impaired waters. This shows that working together, we can make a difference in restoring the health of our rivers.

Conservation Partnerships Improve Stream Health

Thursday, 4/25/24 – It was an exciting day at Turtle Creek as the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) and the rest of the Northcentral Stream Partnership welcomed guests and dignitaries to the streambanks of Turtle Creek!  The cause for celebration:  two streams in the Turtle Creek Watershed in Union County were removed, or “delisted,” from PA’s list of impaired waters.

That’s a huge turnaround from just a decade ago, when walking along Turtle Creek you would have noticed deeply eroded streambanks, a wider stream channel, livestock trampling the stream’s edge, and shallow waters that could barely support fish and other aquatic life. 

Today a lush riparian buffer lines its banks. The plant roots strengthen the bank, holding back erosion and reducing sedimentation while mature trees provide shade, cooling the water for fish and other species.  Natural log and rock structures stabilize the bank while providing better habitat for fish and a variety of macroinvertebrates. Fencing and stream crossings help keep cattle and other livestock from compacting the stream’s edge.

Native tree plantings line the streambank on a segment of Turtle Creek.

So how did this struggling stretch of streams go from polluted and impaired to restored and serving as a healthy water resource for our communities once again?


The “team” in this case, is the Northcentral Stream Partnership, a partnership consisting of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), county conservation districts, and willing landowners. The Partnership formed in 2007. Individually each “player” came with their own strengths, and when they all started working together, that is when the real magic happened…or in this case, delisting!

In attendance for the occasion were guests and representatives from each of the partnerships, including DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Secretary Russell Redding, PFBC Executive Director Timothy Schaeffer, Senator Gene Yaw, Senator Scott Martin, and Chesapeake Conservancy Executive Director Joel Dunn.

“We are proud to showcase the significant accomplishments made to improve Turtle Creek and the surrounding watershed. Restoring water quality and habitat while maintaining the watershed as a working agricultural landscape was no small undertaking, and it is yielding incredible results. The Turtle Creek watershed is a prime example of how strong partnerships, innovation, and sustained and strategic investments have restored local streams. This success would not have been possible without our state and local agency partners, including the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and county conservation districts. Together, we’ll restore more streams and protect more watersheds across Pennsylvania.” 

DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley

The Union County Conservation District hosted the event and the Partners led attendees through an informational tour on the projects happening within the Turtle Creek watershed that led to delisting.

NPC Executive Director, Renee’ Carey, and Landowner, Josh Satteson, share about the benefits of riparian buffers and the landowner perspective.

In Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley’s opening remarks, she declared, “The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy has been an active leader in the Turtle Creek restoration efforts from the beginning, and have been the backbone of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, setting an example for others to follow.”

With the “delistings” of these 2 streams, NPC and the Northcentral Stream Partnership have demonstrated how working together we can make a difference to restore the health of our streams, instilling hope and inciting action throughout PA and the entire Chesapeake Bay.

This incredible accomplishment belongs to every single member, partner, and supporter of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy. 


Thank you for being a part of the team and supporting these ongoing conservation efforts!

Check out what others are sharing about the work you’re helping NPC accomplish:
Dept. of Environmental Protection Press Room
WNEP Press Room
WVIA Press Room
Daily Item Press Room

Steady Progress in 2023 Helps Improve Local Water Quality

That catchy phrase, “team work makes the dream work,” always comes to mind when reflecting at the end of another construction season.  The “team” in this case, is the Northcentral Stream Partnership, a partnership consisting of state agencies, county conservation districts, willing landowners, and NPC.  The “dream” – healthy water resources for our communities.

Like most dreams, progress takes time.  Fortunately, the Northcentral Stream Partnership came together in 2009, and year after year, has been steadily bringing the region’s waterways back to health while maintaining a working agricultural landscape.

The team works to secure an in-stream log structure with rebar.

The Partnership didn’t waste any time getting the 2023 stream season underway in March at project sites in Northumberland and Montour Counties. Here, landowners were seeing their streambanks wash away with each high water. Eroding streambanks cause sediment to wash into the streams. This sediment smothers aquatic life, leads to habitat loss, clouds the water, and creates higher levels of nutrients.  To combat the issue, The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission developed designs for the sites using in-stream stabilization structures (i.e. log vanes and mudsills). The Northumberland County Conservation District and Montour County Conservation District worked with the landowners and coordinated the materials needed for the project. NPC organized the project and administered the funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Grant program.  (And yes, despite insulated waders to help keep everyone warm, the water in March is still quite chilly!)

Before: Steep, undercut banks lead to further erosion.
After: In-stream log structures stabilize the streambank.

Applying this same model, the Partnership’s work continued in Columbia County on Hemlock Creek and the East Branch of Briar Creek. The Partnership has been able to work with several landowners in other stretches of Hemlock Creek over the last several years.

The East Branch of Briar Creek was another stream the Partnership re-visited in 2023. This year’s project included both streambank stabilization and planting trees for a riparian buffer.  Columbia County Conservation District coordinated getting the materials to the site and worked with the landowner throughout the process.

Before: An eroding streambank in Columbia County.
After: Gently sloped banks let the stream access its floodplain.

The Tioga County Conservation District organized a project on Canoe Camp Creek. This year’s project built on work done over the years by the Tioga County Conservation District and a past partnership project. While the work happened in May, the group gave a tour of projects in the watershed in mid-November to legislators.

Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association hosted another project at their property in Northumberland County. They’ve collaborated with the Partnership numerous times over the years helping to find landowners to work with as well as allowing projects on their own property.

Normally projects take place on private properties where most people can’t follow progress and see the stream improve. This year, however, we had a project in a Township park. The Union County Conservation District helped coordinate with East Buffalo Township at their new Turtle Creek Park.  The project occurred right along a walking path in the park where the public will be able to watch the stream improve. A live stake planting done in the weeks following the stream project has really started to take off already!

Schwaben Creek in Northumberland County was another stream where the Partnership built off the success of past year’s projects. During last year’s project on Schwaben Creek the neighbors stopped in and asked if their properties might be candidates for future work. Well, indeed they were, and became the 2023 project site on Schwaben Creek!

In October, the Partnership wrapped up the construction season on Susquehecka Creek.  The Snyder County Conservation District took the lead on the project, securing the permits, organizing supplies, and walking the landowner through the process.

In the off-season, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will be visiting sites and creating designs for 2024 and 2025.  Once the designs for the 2024 projects are complete, the PFBC will have an estimate on how many days projects will take. That information will allow a schedule for the 2024 season to be drafted.

That’s right; we are already talking about 2025! The designs are needed to generate supply lists and supply lists are needed to create budgets. Getting the designs and supply lists now, allows partners to think through funding and apply for grants and other funding opportunities.

The Partnership has funding to get started with the 2024 construction season. NPC submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection earlier this year for funding to continue the Partnership’s work.  Grant announcements should be made in January…just as we’re mentally preparing to step our boots back in those frigid March waters!

Nonpoint Source Pollution – Virtual Field Trip

Earlier this fall, NPC, the Union County Conservation District and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission teamed up to take you on a virtual field trip exploring Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS).

NPS pollution comes from many different sources, like sediment from eroding streambanks and excess fertilizer on agricultural lands. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.

Throughout the video series, they’ll explain more about NPS pollution and its sources, and how they effect both the aquatic life and the people that live within the watershed.

Together, with the rest of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, NPC is working to reduce NPS pollution throughout our watersheds. This virtual field trip introduces those partners and covers the process, implementation, and assessment involved in completing two stream improvement projects!