Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Steinman Foundation: Largest Chesapeake Bay-Related Stream Restoration Project In Lancaster County Moves Forward In Little Conestoga Creek Watershed

Steinman Foundation in Lancaster County is spearheading a $14 million Little Conestoga Creek Blue/Green Corridor Project to restore major sections of the creek and add a recreational trail.
This project, when viewed in total, will be the largest stream restoration project ever undertaken in Lancaster County in support of saving the Chesapeake Bay.

The Foundation Foundation invested over $400,000 in the planning stage of the project, with an additional investment of $500,000 in the design and engineering work. 

“It just starts to make a whole lot of sense,” said Shane Zimmerman, Steinman Foundation President. “You could sort of see that the stream wasn’t all that healthy.”

The initial investment was made to lay out an initial feasibility and then to begin a quiet phase of gathering advice, exploring funding alternatives, and talking with landowners. 

Project manager Jim Shultz explained, “To have the support of the Foundation meant that a lot of groundwork could be laid and landowners consulted before a public conversation. I was pleased to be able to respect the landowners in that way. Now we are moving on to the more detailed engineering work ahead and engaging with other funders.”

Legacy sediment deposits, caused by years of historic mill damming, are carried downstream due to erosion, flooding events, and other natural forces. These sediments, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, pollutants that lead to poor water health, are what the Little Conestoga Blue/Green Corridor project seeks to remove. 

143,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed from six restoration locations, totaling 7,366 linear feet within a stretch of the creek that runs from Marietta Avenue to Swarr Run and approximately 23 acres of wetlands will also be created by the project.

The project plans additional benefits including water quality improvements, habitat restoration, and native plantings along a 2.5 mile stretch of creek that runs from Marietta Avenue to Swarr Run, passing through four municipalities—Lancaster City, Lancaster Township, East Hempfield Township, and Manheim Township. 

Ambitious projects must be undertaken to address Lancaster County nutrient and sediment load going to the Chesapeake Bay, if the county is to meet its mandated 32 percent reduction in sediment pollution by 2025. 

Lancaster County alone represents 22 percent of Pennsylvania’s pollution loading reduction goals, with 50 percent of its nearly 1,500 miles of streams listed as impaired. 

“Half of Lancaster County’s streams are categorized as impaired, and you know that’s nuts,” said John Cox of Lancaster Clean Water Partners.

In addition to the primary goal of much-needed pollution reduction, the project incorporates a multimodal, ADA-compliant trail that fits within Lancaster city’s Active Transportation Plan, providing access to healthcare, retail, higher education, housing, and more. 

“You can’t look at anything in isolation anymore,” said Scott Standish, executive director of the Lancaster County Planning Commission. “You really have to think about how all of these things are integrated…I think this could be a stellar project and a model for the rest of the county.” 

As a community recreational resource, the trail will also serve to highlight the restoration of the creek, creating educational opportunities surrounding clean water and healthy ecosystems. 

“You just see benefit over benefit,” said Rick Jackson, vice president of landscape architecture at ELA Group. 

ELA Group, along with Land Studies, a Lititz based environmental restoration and planning firm, are working on the project’s engineering, design, and strategic plan as the project continues to move forward.

If all goes well, construction work could begin as early as 2021. 

“Everybody we talked to has been really excited about it,” said John Cox, who is also a member of the project team. “We’re going to show what a legacy sediment project looks like in an extremely visual place.”

Visit the Steinman Foundation website for more information on their support for community projects.

(Photo: LancasterOnline.com.)


-- Sean Sauro: Recreational Trail Part Of $14 Million Project To Restore Section Of Little Conestoga Creek

-- F&M College Offers Expertise, An Easement To Little Conestoga Creek Project

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[Posted: October 13, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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