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Stream Quality Assessment Emphasizing Abandoned Mine Drainage in the Headwaters of Moshannon Creek

Moshannon Creek Headwaters

View asssessment results.

The Moshannon Creek Watershed Coalition (MCWC) in partnership with the Clearfield and Centre County Conservation Districts and the Osceola Boy Scouts are proposing to assess the impact of acid discharges and abandoned mine lands (AML), along with completing a restoration plan on the headwaters of Moshannon Creek. The goal of this project is to locate, map and sample all abandoned mine discharges and map all abandoned mine lands in the headwaters of Moshannon Creek. Each discharge and AML will be prioritized. From this prioritization, continued sampling will occur and future projects will be aimed to remediate the acid mine drainage in this headwaters area of Moshannon Creek.

Extensive coal mining has occurred in the Moshannon Creek watershed; therefore, the area faces the same AMD problems as much of the rest of the state. Moshannon Creek is one of the most severely polluted streams in the Commonwealth. According to a 1994 study by the PADEP, at least 36 miles of streams in the Moshannon Creek basin show major degradation due to past mining practices.

The project partners plan to assess 9 miles of the main stem of Moshannon Creek along with approximately 34 miles of tributaries, including Wilson Run, Roup Run, Whiteside Run, Mountain Branch, Sand Spring Run, Trim Root Run, Bear Run and a few unnamed tributaries. Partial funding has been requested from the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant Program to complete Phase I of the project. Complete funding through Growing Greener or supplemental funding to complete Phase II is being requested. As an organization, MCWC wishes to tackle a large section of the watershed and proceed with the goal of restoring Moshannon Creek.

The headwaters of Moshannon Creek and associated tributaries begin at the junction of Blair, Cambria, Centre and Clearfield Counties in Central Pennsylvania. The watershed area is located on the Houtzdale and Tipton USGS 7.5-minute series topographic maps. Moshannon Creek acts as the border between Centre County to the west and Clearfield County to the east. This is the reason that both conservation districts are acting as project partners. The headwaters flow through the townships of Gulich and Woodward in Clearfield County and in Rush Township of Centre County. The area flows through the small communities of Ginter, Morann, and Hale. The end of the assessment area will be Bear Run, located near Houtzdale.

The headwaters of Moshannon Creek are able to support a fishery. Discharges have been identified that are impacting the quality and will need to be immediately addressed before long term effects are seen. A few of the tributaries in this assessment area are also able to sustain a fishery and are used extensively by the local community. The tributaries of Mountain Branch and Trim Root Run are classified as high quality streams as designated in the PA CODE, Title 23, Chapter 93, Section 91. However, impairment from mine drainage does occur at locations throughout the headwaters. Through examination of the Operation Scarlift report and studies conducted by interns at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, it has been determined that further studies need to be conducted in order to complete a plan for the overall restoration of this area.

The main product of the assessment will be the development of a restoration plan to be used by all partners as a road map for the restoration of the headwaters of Moshannon Creek. Education will play a vital role in this assessment project through public meetings, and more importantly, through the involvement of the Osceola Boy Scout Troop. It is an opportunity to get young kids involved with environmental issues. It is a cornerstone to getting the community involved through a lifetime commitment. The Osceola Boy Scouts are now in the process of completing a watershed assessment of Trout Run. Their efforts will be completed in that watershed in the spring of 2005. Through involvement in the assessment of the Moshannon Creek headwaters, the Scouts will continue to benefit from their partnership with MCWC and the stream will continue to benefit from their efforts.