December 31, 2006

Walt Finch, president of the Wiconisco Creek Restoration Association, takes visitors on a tour one of the six Rattling Creek limestone sand dosing sites that helps mitigate the damage to the stream from acid rain.

The Wiconisco Creek Watershed is approximately 42 miles long and the watershed covers 116 square miles in Dauphin and Schuylkill counties. The ongoing effects of abandoned coal mines, impacts from acid rain and poor agricultural practices in many instances have created a number of severe problems affecting water quality in this watershed.

A number of restoration efforts have already been undertaken, including: limestone dosing of Rattling Creek to reduce acidity, treatment of the Porter Tunnel discharge to reduce acidity and iron precipitation, and a project currently underway to eliminate iron precipitation from Bear Creek near Lykens. Another project to improve fish habitat in Wiconisco Creek adjacent to the Ned Smith Center has been designed and will be completed during the summer of 2007 with the help of the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

A Rivers Conservation Plan was developed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which will aid in directing future restoration work on the Wiconisco and its tributaries. It was based on earlier work done by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Helping to guide the efforts is the Wiconisco Creek Task Force currently comprised of representatives from the Ned Smith Center, Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Fish and Boat Commission, Wiconisco Creek Restoration Association, Dauphin County Conservation District and the Millersburg Borough Authority. The Department of Environmental Protection and the Eastern and Western Coalitions for Abandoned Mine Reclamation have also been key partners in restoration efforts.

Anyone who appreciates what the Wiconisco watershed once was and can visualize what it can represent for future generations in terms of improved water quality and recreational benefits should contact WCRA President Walt Finch at 717-647-4043 or send email to: to offer support for the group’s future restoration efforts.

(Article Contributed by Bob Pennell, Doc Fritchey Chapter Trout Unlimited)

Just wanted to add that the gentleman with Walt feeding the fish is my Dad - Russell Hess - who went along to see the project. -- David Hess, editor PA Environment Digest.

December 30, 2006