Restoration Success Story Featured in Updated DEP Story Map
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is visiting DEP’s regional offices to learn about environmental restoration successes firsthand and gather lessons to replicate good work. Recently, I was pleased to view the latest in a series of stream restoration projects on a small, impaired rural stream in Union County. This stream has a common name in our state, but a decidedly uncommon story: Turtle Creek.
The long-term, piece-by-piece restoration of Turtle Creek is a story about the power of partnerships, innovation, landowner stewardship, and the resiliency of natural systems. Turtle Creek is also the subject of a recently-updated DEP Story Map, an online resource using interactive maps, videos, graphics, and text to tell this success story that suggests broader opportunities for Pennsylvania’s waters, and for the Chesapeake Bay.
An impaired stream can seemingly suffer from “death by a thousand cuts.” High sediment levels in streams can choke out aquatic life, including fish and the insects they eat, especially in small tributaries like Turtle Creek. When livestock (such as cattle) are allowed unlimited access to streams, they break down the streambanks, eliminate streamside vegetation, and deposit raw manure into the water. When water runs off developed areas (such as roadways and roofs) instead of infiltrating naturally into the ground, more water flowing faster into the stream accelerates erosion and channel instability.
The work to restore this watershed is carried out by a stream restoration partnership led by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NCPC). Other partners include the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), County Conservation Districts, and Bucknell and Susquehanna Universities, where professors regularly lead student teams into the stream to document the improvement of water quality and biodiversity over time.
To view the Turtle Creek Story Map and learn more about the Northcentral stream restoration partnership, visit