State: Pennsylvania

County: McKean

Water Bodies Affected: Marvin Creek, Allegheny River-Ohio River, East Branch Tunugwant Creek, Minard Run, Foster Brook

The primary objective of the McKean County Habitat Improvement Program is to facilitate healthier streams and riparian areas capable of supporting more diverse and sustainable aquatic and riparian communities. This objective will be achieved by reducing excessive sedimentation and siltation, increasing instream habitat diversity, and restoring riparian corridors.

It is estimated that nearly 200 miles of McKean County’s river, stream and tributary courses are significantly impaired by siltation. The existence of suitable habitat supporting Pennsylvania’s aquatic and associated riparian species depends largely upon the availability of healthy streams and intact riparian corridors. Siltation and the lack of adequate riparian buffers are two of the most significant contributing factors leading to the degraded waters existing within McKean County today. By expanding the existing habitat improvement program, significant improvements will continue to be made to the Upper Allegheny River Watershed. Siltation will be measurably decreased and riparian areas re-established through this continuing effort. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission works very closely with McKean County Conservation District (MCCD) to ensure priority watersheds are the focus for this on-going effort.

Initially funded through the Growing Greener II Program in 2007, this program has proven very effective in reducing sediment based pollution, improving habitat for aquatic species, educating private land owners, and assisting homeowners in resolving substantial erosion hazards previously left unaddressed due to project cost. To date, over $500,000 in grant funds have been utilized in stabilizing approximately 13,400 feet of stream bank, installing over 400 fish enhancement structures and an estimated 935 tons of sedimentation prevented.

For this project, ten habitat improvement/stream bank stabilization projects will be installed and approximately 6,000 feet of riparian buffers will be re-established through the installation of various structures, plantings, and fish habitat enhancement structures. Water quality will be improved by decreasing water temperature and preventing an estimated 110 tons of sedimentation annually. Soil loss calculations, visual inspection, and measurements will be completed at each project site before the implementation of each project. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Department of Environmental Protection also conduct periodic fish surveys throughout the county. If possible, fish surveys will be conducted post construction and compared with previous survey data to determine what differences are observed. The MCCD also plans to deploy in-stream data loggers at locations with significant riparian buffer plantings to study stream temperature trends. Landowners will be responsible for visual inspections of projects twice/annually. Any problems will be reported to the MCCD and repaired as soon as possible.