On April 9, approximately 40 volunteers from the Little Lehigh Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Boy Scout Troop 131 and several community members completed Phase 1 of the chapter’s 2016 riparian buffer restoration project on Little Lehigh Creek.
The chapter was awarded a $7,000 Coldwater Heritage Partnership implementation grant earlier this year to fund planting of 164 native trees and shrubs along a 1,200-foot long section of the Little Lehigh in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County.
The chapter’s project partners included Troop 131, which provided labor; Lower Macungie Township, which owns the land where the project took place; and Wildlands Conservancy, which consulted with the chapter on planning and selecting appropriate riparian buffer plants.
The township’s Public Works Department also assisted by augering all planting holes ahead of time and providing mulch for the new plantings. Members of the community also volunteered to cut up sections of chicken wire to be used for protective cages for the finished plantings.
The obvious beneficiaries of this project will be the trout in Little Lehigh Creek, which is designated by the Department of Environmental Protection as a high quality coldwater fishery.
The township was also interested in mitigating stormwater runoff to the creek, because DEP’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System regulations hold the township accountable for the quality of stormwater entering the creek.
The riparian buffer plantings will help to filter contaminants from stormwater washing off of the adjacent road and coming from residential development across the road. Because the neighboring development dates to the 1960s, its stormwater is conveyed directly to the Little Lehigh with no detention or retention structures.
Water quality in the Little Lehigh is important to humans as well as trout because it is one of the public water sources for both the City of Allentown and Lower Macungie Township.
Phase 2 of the project, scheduled for May 14, will involve planting an additional 118 trees and shrubs in the riparian buffer to 500 feet upstream of the Phase 1 project area.
The second phase will be funded by a $5,000 private grant that the Little Lehigh Chapter was awarded from the Rettew Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Rettew Associates, Inc.
Rettew employees will be assisting with the field work for the Phase 2 planting.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Little Lehigh Chapter of Trout Unlimited website.
For information on grants and other programs, visit the Coldwater Heritage Partnership website.(Reprinted from the Spring 2016 newsletter of PA Council of Trout Unlimited. Click Here to sign up for PA TU updates by email (top of page).)