Monday, May 31, 2021

Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Update On Wild Waterways Conservancy, Environmental Education

The May newsletter from the Butler County-based Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition includes an update on Wild Waterways Conservancy activities and a recent environmental education visit to seventh graders.

Wild Waterways Conservancy

Over the years, the Wild Waterways Conservancy (WWC) has been working to preserve unique ecological features in the Slippery Rock Creek and Connoquenessing Creek Watersheds. 

This all-volunteer, charitable land conservancy is devoted to working cooperatively with both private and public partners to conserve these resources and provide recreational opportunities.

Recently, the group has announced the acquisition of an additional parcel of land along the Connoquenessing Creek just upstream from Ellwood City off Country Club Drive. 

This 1.2 acre area was acquired through the generosity of the Connoquenessing Country Club. The property will be open to the public for fishing and other stream activity.

Future plans include a canoe and kayak launch. The organization also acquired and opened an out and back walking trail from Park Gate to the Koppel Bridge, along the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie rail grade, a distance of about 2 ½ miles round trip. 

This trail is maintained by local Ellwood City residents and provides walk-in access to the south side of the WWC Rock Point property. 

This corridor property adds about ten acres to WWC’s other holdings around Rock Point, making a total area of approximately 135 acres open to the public. 

Although no other formal trails are maintained, the area below the old rail grade is a rich and biologically diverse creek bottom, well worth a visit for the spring wildflowers. 

On the Lawrence County side of Rock Point, the public is invited to explore the old amusement park site, now a mature hardwood forest, and enjoy warm season vehicular access to the mouth of Connoquenessing Creek. 

Please note that the Rock Point Boat Club launch is available to the general public for canoes and kayaks, but other use of the launch is limited to Boat Club members.

Deer hunting is permitted with permission on all WWC properties except Glacier Wetlands off Swope Road near Slippery Rock. No motorized vehicles are permitted on WWC trails. All users are requested to carry out their own trash and are asked to assist in keeping the properties clean.

Currently, WWC owns just over 500 acres in the watersheds, and, together with Allegheny Aquatic Alliance, provides numerous creek access points beginning north of the City of Butler to the mouth of the Creek at Rock Point. 

Connoquenessing Creek Natural Area, just north of Zelienople, also contains a network of hiking trails. 

More information is available on the Wild Waterways Conservancy website.

7th Graders

On April 13th, biologist Shaun Busler visited the 7th grade students at St. Luke Lutheran School to discuss abandoned mine drainage and the work of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition

Shaun, of the nonprofit Stream Restoration Incorporated, explained the history of AMD in Pennsylvania, the extent of the problems, and about active and passive treatment systems.

The students were interested to learn about the colors of mine drainage. Some of them had seen an orange stream in the past but many had not, which is a testament for all the hard work that has been done over the last 25 years to clean up the problems. 

Shaun’s presentation showed students photos of AMD-impacted water all over the world, then focused on the Slippery Rock Creek Watershed. 

He reviewed the basic design of a passive treatment system including a schematic of a Vertical Flow Pond, and showed how such systems successfully treat billions of gallons of water in the watershed each year. 

He shared information about the work of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition. The students enjoyed seeing samples of iron and manganese precipitates that were recovered from the passive treatment systems and learning about how they are used in glazes for pottery,

ornaments, and other ceramic collectibles. 

Thank you Shaun, for taking time to visit St. Luke’s and providing insight into real-life science work for the 7th graders!

Click Here to read the entire newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.

For more information on programs, projects, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition website.  Follow them on FacebookClick Here to sign up to sign up for regular updates.

The Butler County-based Coalition was established in 1994 to restore land, water and wildlife resources in the Slippery Rock Watershed.

[Posted: May 31, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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