The Kettle Creek project, located in north central Pennsylvania, was launched in 1998 and was TU's third Home Rivers Initiative. The 244 square miles watershed has significant lands within state forest and park lands and several small communities. The main stem traverses nearly 43 miles before emptying into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The Kettle Creek watershed is home to over 5% of Pennsylvania's Class A wild trout streams.
Despite the seemingly pristine and undeveloped nature of the Kettle Creek watershed, approximately 12 miles in the lower watershed are severely polluted due to abandoned mine drainage (AMD). Streams with little to no life and stained with reds, oranges and whites reflect a tragic legacy caused by historic coal mining practices that began in the late 1800s. Portions of the upper and middle watershed, despite having exceptional value water quality, suffer from habitat degradation due in part to the lingering effects of clear-cut logging and stream channelization common in the region between 1895 and 1913.
In 1998 TU began working with the newly formed Kettle Creek Watershed Association (KCWA) to address abandoned mine drainage pollution and habitat degradation. TU and KCWA work closely with over a dozen local, state and federal agencies and organizations. Examples of projects that TU, KCWA, and their partners work together on include conducting trout stream surveys and habitat assessments in the upper watershed, working with renowned specialists and other partners to develop and implement remediation plans for the abandoned mine drainage problems, and constructing in-stream habitat improvement projects on Kettle Creek and its tributaries.
Every year, TU and KCWA organized activities to involve and recruit community residents and seasonal property owners, such as volunteer tree planting days, streamside cleanups, and public educational meetings. In addition, the popular landowner stewardship workshops and the Kettle Creek Watershed Conservation Guide: A Landowner's Handbook, provides landowners and concerned citizens with the tools they need to make a difference and become better caretakers of their land and its resources.
Kettle Creek watershed projects received a tremendous boost when Pennsylvania enacted the Growing Greener Program in December of 1999. Between 2000 and 2006, Growing Greener funded the TU-KCWA partnership with over $1,000,000 in grants for assessment and restoration projects in the watershed. Overall, more than $3.5 million in grants were secured and over $1 million more leveraged through in-kind contributions for the Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative. Watershed planning was advanced even more when Kettle Creek was competitively selected as the "Keystone Project 2000-2001" for Penn. State University's Center for Watershed Stewardship. The Keystone Project, completed by a team of eleven graduate students and their faculty advisors, resulted in a comprehensive Watershed Stewardship Report that included management recommendations and a broad-based assessment for the entire watershed. Due to the comprehensive watershed planning and assessment that has been accomplished by TU and KCWA, this unique partnership was recognized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a first-ever "Governor's Award for Watershed Stewardship" in 2001.
TU wishes to thank its many local, state, and federal government and non-government partners for their support and contributions, which includes everything from financial contributions to contributions of technical expertise and good old-fashioned sweat labor. Without these partnerships and the dedication of individual volunteers, the Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative would not have been the success that we can celebrate today.
The Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative ended in December 2006. The KCWA remains an active volunteer-based watershed organization and continues to implement watershed projects and work with landowners, albeit on a smaller scale than what was accomplished through the Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative. TU is still committed to the recovery of the lower Kettle Creek watershed and continues to work closely with the KCWA on Kettle Creek AMD remediation, which is now TU’s model project for the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Initiative.
Kettle Creek Project Information
Kettle Creek Watershed Assocation
KC Landowner Handbook (pdf, 5MB)
For more information contact:
Director, Abandoned Mine Programs&Kettle Creek Home Rivers Initiative
18 E. Main Street, Suite 3
Lock Haven, PA 17745