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

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 have secured funding to assess the impact of acid mine drainage (AMD) and abandoned mine lands (AML) and to complete a restoration plan on Moshannon Creek from Bear Run to Trout Run (this area is being called Section 2). An assessment of the headwaters section to Bear Run will be complete in June of 2009. The goal of this project is to locate, map and sample all abandoned mine discharges and map all abandoned mine lands from Bear Run to Trout Run on Moshannon Creek. Each AMD discharge and AML will be prioritized. From this prioritization, continued sampling will occur and future projects will be aimed to remediate acid mine drainage discharges and abandoned mine lands in this section 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 6 miles of the main stem of Moshannon Creek along with approximately 48 miles of tributaries, including Beaver Run, Little Beaver Run, Gose Run, Big Run, Coal Run, and a few unnamed tributaries. Funding through Growing Greener and volunteer work will allow the group to complete the assessment and commission a restoration plan. As an organization, MCWC will tackle a large section of the watershed and proceed with the goal of restoring Moshannon Creek.

Section 2 of Moshannon Creek and associated tributaries begin at the streams confluence with Bear Run located in Rush and Woodward Township in Clearfield County. The watershed area, known as section 2, is located on the Houtzdale, Ramey, and Wallaceton 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. Section 2 of Moshannon Creek flows through the townships of Rush, Woodward, and Decatur in both Clearfield and Centre Counties. The area flows through the communities of Houtzdale, Osceola Mills, Brisbin, Sterling, Spike Island, and Earnestville. The end of the assessment area will be on Trout Run, which an assessment and restoration plan was completed by the MCWC in March 2006.

Most of the area in Section 2 of Moshannon Creek is currently unable to support a fishery. Discharges have severely impacted water quality. These discharges need to be addressed if the substantial pollution load to Moshannon Creek and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River is to be removed.

There area a few tributaries in this assessment area which are able to sustain a fishery and are used extensively by the local community. Sections of Beaver Run are classified as a Cold Water Fishery as designated in the PA CODE, Title 23, Chapter 93, Section 91. This section of Beaver Run is capable of supporting a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

However, impairment from mine drainage does occur substantially throughout Section 2 of Moshannon Creek. 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 detailed plan for the overall restoration of this section.

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 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 another opportunity MCWC will use 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 aided in the completion of the assessment of Trout Run in the spring of 2005. Through involvement in the assessment of Section 2 of Moshannon Creek, the Scouts will continue to benefit from their partnership with MCWC and the stream will continue to benefit from their efforts.

Another important partnership with this project is with the Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps. Volunteers from this organization will be constructing the weirs and aiding in their installation. Weir installation is one of the most time consuming aspects of an assessment, especially when 40 flow devices need to be installed. This is a valuable partnership and a way for these volunteers to give back to the community.