TU urges public comment on new designation for PA streams

A fine wild trout from Glade Run, southwest Pennsylvania

By David Kinney

Paradise Creek, Tank Creek, and Devils Hole Creek are small freestone streams running through an

area of the Poconos in northeast Pennsylvania that is 90 percent forest and water.

All these waters harbor healthy populations of wild trout, and the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited, of course, wants to keep it that way.

That’s why, in 2014, the chapter petitioned Pennsylvania to upgrade these waters to “Exceptional Value” status, an official recognition that the water quality in this basin is the best of the best. After surveying the streams, the Department of Environmental Protection agreed, and it has begun moving the Paradise Creek watershed through the upgrade process, along with the nearby Cranberry Creek basin, for a total of 20 stream miles.

(R) AMD treatment system in the Dunbar Creek watershed.

Also in line for an upgrade is 40 miles of the Dunbar Creek basin in Fayette County, including a tributary, Glade Run, where the Chestnut Ridge chapter of TU has spent two decades cleaning up abandoned mine drainage. The chapter spearheaded work to add limestone and install a treatment system on Glade, which had been devoid of fish and macroinvertebrate life. Today, this stretch of the stream has a thriving wild trout population, and DEP proposes to remove it from the impaired list and upgrade it to EV.

Chestnut Ridge TU volunteer Ben Moyer wrote in his public comments to DEP that by upgrading Dunbar Creek, the state is protecting a watershed that provides a unique outdoor recreational experience.

“The improving quality of the Dunbar Creek basin is clearly becoming known to more people, from greater distances, resulting in a positive impact on this area’s economy and public image,” he wrote. “Especially in view of the declining importance of coal, the better course for Pennsylvania, and the local area, is to provide to Dunbar Creek the highest possible level of protection from future degradation.”

The public has an opportunity to comment through August 13. Please click here to join your fellow TU members in making your voice heard.

(L) Cranberry Creek.

It’s critical that those who care about Pennsylvania’s wild trout streams stand up in support this month, because protection for these streams and many others have come under attack by development interests looking to weaken the standards provided for by the state’s Clean Streams Law.

With an EV designation, water quality of these streams may not be degraded when development occurs. This will ensure sound permit reviews, smart development, and cold, clean, clear streams. This isn’t just important to our trout fisheries: Streams like these provide clean drinking water to millions of people.

It’s a fact that special protections for streams do not prevent projects from moving forward. Instead, they ensure that when the work is done, the health of our waterways and our economically valuable fisheries are taken into account. We won’t keep wild trout streams clean by overturning these designations. We’ll do it by giving them the regulatory protections they deserve and by promoting smart and sustainable economic development.

For four decades now, Brodhead TU has worked to protect and restore wild trout streams in the Poconos. Their mission has not changed since its founding 1977, when they were known as the Monroe Streams chapter and met in the Windsor Fly Shop in Stroudsburg. Now as then, they are dedicated to conserving our coldwater fisheries.

They know their waters intimately: Pocono Creek, McMichaels Creek, Cherry Creek, Devil’s Hole, the Brodhead itself.

(R) Cranberry Creek brookie.

They’ve fished them year in and year out, they’ve cleaned them up, and they’ve improved them. Countless hours and dollars have been spent installing trout habitat and planting streamside trees and shrubs.

“These streams are the lifeblood of our trout fishing heritage and a major part of our local economy,” wrote the president of Brodhead TU, Todd Burns, in his comments to DEP. “Additionally, these streams provide shelter and spawning areas for the Pennsylvania State Fish—the Eastern Brook Trout. Maintaining habitats for thriving reproducing populations of our State Fish is exceptionally important and will be enhanced by the proposed designation.”

It’s because they know how valuable these waters are that they work so hard to protect them. Please join them in this important effort.

David Kinney is Eastern Policy Director for Trout Unlimited.

By Sam Davidson.