Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Coalition To Save Old Crow Wetland: Rutter's Development Threatens Old Crow Mitigation Wetland In Huntingdon County

Old Crow Wetland on Route 22 in Smithfield Township, right in the town of Huntingdon, is a beautiful small wetland that is visited by birders and school groups from across Pennsylvania. 

It’s a PennDOT mitigation bank wetland, and one of the most successful in the state.  

[Note: A PennDOT mitigation bank is an area where wetlands are restored and protected to compensate for the loss of wetlands from highway projects elsewhere.]

Old Crow provides great habitat for wildlife-- 221 bird species have been documented there, including eight that are endangered in Pennsylvania.

The Rutter’s company (gas stations/convenience stores) is expanding in central Pennsylvania, partly due to competition with Sheetz and other chains. 

Since 2018, Rutter’s has been seeking to build a large 24-hour truck stop on a property adjacent to and uphill from Old Crow Wetland. 

Rutter’s doesn’t own the property, but has a sales contract with the owner pending permitting. 

The truck stop would be larger than others in central Pennsylvania: seven acres paved (impervious) and parking for 25 semi trucks and 55 cars. 

If built as planned, this Rutter’s would bring litter, noise, and light pollution, and would likely discharge contaminated water into the wetland. A fuel tank leak would be disastrous. 

Despite any conditions in a DEP permit, the Old Crow ecosystem would be harmed by this development. 

A traffic light on Route 22 for access to the Rutter’s was approved by PennDOT in 2021. 

If Old Crow Wetland were degraded, PennDOT would lose mitigation credits for construction projects, but so far PennDOT has not spoken publicly about Rutter’s plan. 

Huntingdon, a town of around 7,000 people, already has five gas stations.

Rutter’s is applying for an individual permit with DEP, and a public hearing will be scheduled, probably in April 2023. 

If DEP issues a permit, the project will only need approval from Smithfield township. 

As submitted, Rutter’s plans for this site do not meet the requirements of Smithfield township’s planning codes in landscaping and land use policy. However, the Smithfield township supervisors are inclined to approve the project.

The Coalition to Save Old Crow Wetland formed in early 2022 to oppose Rutter’s project. Coalition members are not anti-Rutter’s but feel that the location is not a good one for a truck stop, and will appeal a DEP permit if one is issued. 

Rutter’s has not responded to questions or calls for dialogue. 

The coalition’s Facebook group  has 519 members-- Coalition to Save Old Crow Wetland (Huntingdon PA).

2,223 people have signed a petition in opposition to the project-- and you can too!

Click Here for a 6-minute video of the wetland and some coalition members speaking about it.

Questions should be directed to Claire Holzner by email to: holzner@fastmail.fm

(Photo: Aerial photo of wetlands showing the proposed Rutter’s site.)


-- Warren Times: Stream Restoration Undertaken On Farnsworth Branch In Allegheny National Forest By Western PA Conservancy, Warren Conservation District, Trout Unlimited

Related Article:

-- Greening The Grey: Engineering Natural Solutions For Stormwater Management  [PaEN]

[Posted: March 21, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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