Town Talks: A Key Component of Conservation

Thanks to the unwavering support of its members, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) proudly serves a 12-county region across Northcentral PA. This extensive footprint allows NPC the opportunity to champion the environmental wellbeing of the region as a whole, one community conservation project at a time! However, operating within such a widespread area presents its own set of challenges; like being in all places at once or initiating projects in towns where NPC staff or board members do not personally reside.

Yet, NPC’s roots lie in the communal power of town talks, firmly believing that building trust and transparency are essential for any conservation project to be successful!

A prime example of this is the Coal Creek property located in Blossburg. There, staff have been actively participating in Borough Council meetings for over a year and a half. These meetings enable NPC to maintain communication not only with the local community but also with project partners like the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and Kleinfelder engineering. These connections facilitate the sharing of information and ensure that the community’s needs are considered throughout the project.

Tioga River restoration plans outlined for Blossburg community

In 2022, NPC acquired the 216-acre Coal Creek property in Blossburg.

Last month, community members and landowners gathered to learn more about the plans for treating the Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) affecting the Tioga River. Organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) with input from all partners, including NPC, the community meeting was a significant step in fostering dialogue and transparency.

NPC was asked to moderate the presentations and facilitate the meetings, a testament to NPC’s ongoing outreach. Nearly 80 individuals, including landowners and organization members directly impacted by the project, had the opportunity to learn about the plans.

The meeting provided an overview of the three streams with AMD issues affecting the Tioga River, followed by a “tour” of the proposed treatment system. Attendees gained insights into how each stream – Morris Run, Fallbrook, and Coal Creek – would be contained and pumped to the Active Treatment Plant (ATP), along with details on funding, operations, maintenance, and paperwork requirements for impacted landowners.

Prior to the meeting, NPC addressed rumors circulating within the community, ensuring transparency and trust from the outset. During the question and answer session, concerns ranging from public safety to property usage were addressed.

A notable community need emerged regarding public safety, with the volunteer fire company advocating for the inclusion of hydrants in the system. Their input will ensure quicker response times during emergencies, minimizing potential risks to nearby homes and businesses.

After the formal presentations wrapped up, staff from the various organizations were on hand to answer questions. There was also a complete set of plans available for the engineers to show people and explain, and a series of maps were on display to help people follow the path of the water from the discharge to the ATP and back to local streams.

Thanks to the NPC membership for their steadfast support in the Coal Creek acquisition and the broader Tioga River restoration efforts. Their membership not only contributes to restoring the Tioga River but also empowers local communities to voice their concerns and inquiries.

The design will be finalized in the next several months. Once the design is wrapped up, the engineers will prepare the bid packets. The hope is that construction will begin in 2025 and wrap-up in 2026. Stay tuned for more updates on how NPC members are helping to restore the Tioga River!