Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Landowners, Watershed Group Partner With Wildlands Conservancy To Help Restore Oughoughton Creek In Northampton County

The Oughoughton Creek flows through Upper Mount Bethel and Washington Townships, winding its way through some of the County’s characteristic farmland before entering the Delaware River in Bangor in Lower Mount Bethel Township.

The restoration initiative was conceived and developed 14 years ago by the Martins-Jacoby Watershed Association’s project manager John Mauser [], who flagged farmlands directly adjacent to the water’s edge where the soil is composed of highly erodible cobble and loose boulders called “glacial till.” 

Citing stormwater runoff, increasing loss of farmlands, and other negative environmental impacts, Wildlands and MJWA worked together to create a large partnership network and opened conversations with local landowners across four contiguous, high priority sections.

“The erosion in some sections was so severe that it created 30-foot vertical stream banks where there used to be gentle slopes,” says Kristie Fach, Wildlands Conservancy’s director of ecological restoration. “Every time there was a storm, these farmers were losing their land. It would literally wash downstream to the Delaware, only to introduce fertilizers to the water supply while compromising critical wildlife habitat.”

“Looking at the scope of the project, the MJWA’s normal partners were not able to help move the project forward due to the stream length and site conditions occurring on the Oughoughton Creek.  With only partial funding in place and limited personal time, it became imperative to work with an organization with the expertise in planning, securing permitting, and finding additional funding,” says Mauser. “Wildlands Conservancy filled the bill and insured that the MJWA would be involved in planning and maintaining local community relations.”

Project priorities included regrading the streambanks the reconnect the stream to its natural floodplain, planting riparian buffers, strips of native trees and shrubs that root the soil and filter runoff before it enters the waterway, installing in-stream structures to restore wildlife habitat, and installing agricultural best management practices to help the landowners.

Alex Poliskiewicz is the grandson of landowner Marilyn Mehas. He grew up with the Oughoughton Creek and has been farming the property for the last four years, converting the fields from corn to hay.  

He appreciates the restoration that was accomplished with the resources that were made available.

Wildlands acknowledges the support of its giving community and funding from Martins-Jacoby Watershed Association, Northampton County, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Niagara Bottling, as well as the support of PPL Electric Utilities’ Community Roots tree donation program, for making the Oughoughton Creek stream restoration project possible.

To continue advancing the whole health of the Lehigh River watershed, Wildlands is forwarding plans to restore the Little Bushkill Creek and will soon after focus efforts on the Bushkill Creek, both in Northampton County.

Latest Newsletter

The latest Wildlands Conservancy newsletter includes articles on-

-- Planning The Future Of Trexler Nature Preserve

-- Education Programs and Activities In February  Calendar of Events

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Wildlands Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for updates.  Like on Facebook, Follow on Twitter and Join on InstagramClick Here to support the Conservancy.

Wildlands has protected more than 54,000 acres of high-conservation-value lands, it benefits more than 19,000 school-age children annually through environmental education and is focused on improving water quality and wildlife habitat within and beyond its nine nature preserves totaling more than 2,600 acres.

(Reprinted from the Wildlands Conservancy website.)

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[Posted: January 27, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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