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SWATARA WATERSHED ASSOCIATION

Lebanon, PA USA

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

 

 

Chapter 10 : Management Options

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A.  Project Area Characteristics
B.  Land Resources
C.  Water Resources
D.  Biological Resources
E.  Cultural Resources
F.  Swatara State Park
G.  Swatara Creek Greenway

The following Management options were developed to address the issues, concerns, constraints, and opportunities presented in Chapter 9. These management options will be prioritized and placed in an Appendix F of this document. Specific projects will also be included with these management options in Appendix F. This matrix will list potential partners, potential funding sources, and recommended beginning dates.

A. Project Area Characteristics

Raise the sensitivity and awareness of County, Local, and Municipal Planning Organizations (MPO’s) to farmland and habitat loss. Education of decision makers about the importance of the farmland and habitats of the watershed, along with available measures to protect these resources is essential to reducing their loss. Utilizing existing land control ordinances, in conjunction with modern design and open space planning can allow for continued development without the complete conversion of special habitat areas and agricultural settings.

Work with local, county, and regional planning organizations to develop and carry out plans for the protection of environmental amenities in the watershed. Educating decision makers about important features in the watershed including, but not limited to wetlands, riparian buffers, and large forested tracts is the first step in protecting them. Support tax break for conservation and innovative developments. Utilize transfer of development rights as a method of protecting them.

Complete a comprehensive examination the traffic conditions of the watershed. Identify areas of congestion, its causes, and impacts. Develop a strategy to address these problem areas utilizing alternative forms of transportation (mass transit, car-pooling, bike lanes) where possible. Continued population growth in the watershed is predicted for the foreseeable future. The resulting increase in traffic on rural and minor arterial roadways will continue to compound congestion problems that already exist within the watershed. Working together with Penn DOT and local planning organizations to identify and prioritize existing and future problem areas is an important step to solving them. Developing and implementing potential solutions to congestion problems without major new construction and before the problems become unmanageable would be attractive to Penn DOT and the local municipalities experiencing the growth and development.

Update comprehensive plans for the municipalities of the watershed that are over 10 years old. Include environmental resource inventories and protection of resources as part of the document. Complete multi municipal/multi county plans where prudent and feasible. Comprehensive plans are living documents that need periodic review before they become outdated and irrelevant to the current conditions of the community. Periodic review and update of the plan incorporates new issues and removes areas that are no longer relevant.

Support implementation of land conservation techniques in subdivision design. Rural clustering and other modern design methods can greatly reduce the area of land utilized as part of a residential subdivision development. Utilizing incentives such as increased lot density can promote these conservation practices without the negative adversarial aspects associated with ordinances. Support initiatives to return residential development to traditional urban centers. Utilize in-fill development to reduce sprawl out from built up areas

Assess how increasing population is impacting the watershed. Explore establishing growth areas and rural areas within the municipalities of the watershed. Utilizing planning funds to establish these growth areas will allow for the orderly development of municipalities, while protecting important open space and farmland. This situation allows municipalities to better allocate limited resources towards expensive infrastructure projects. It also reduces the costs of municipal services by permitting growth in the areas that can best support them. Looking at the recent effects of population growth on municipalities can also lead to steps being taken to address any potential problems in the municipalities just experiencing this growth.

Update and implement Act 537 sewage management plans that are over 10 years old for the municipalities in the watershed. Replace on-lot septic systems in the established growth areas. Assist in upgrading older on lot systems in the established rural areas. Increased population in the watershed increases demands for services including sewage. Proactive planning and development of management plans for sewage systems in the watershed is important to improve/maintain the quality of effluent discharged into the streams of the watershed.

Actively enforce land uses controls for areas along waterways in the watershed. Especially keeping development out of floodplains. Develop strategies to protect riparian zones. Almost every municipality in the watershed has zoning ordinances and floodplain development regulations; however, increased encroachment on the stream corridor has been noted. Protecting these riparian and floodplain zones is critically important to the future health of waterways in the watershed.

Partner with local universities to develop mutually beneficial programs for student education, and protection and enhancement of the watershed. Identify other volunteer and non-profit groups to coordinate activities and projects with to avoid duplication of effort. A major difficulty associated with volunteer groups is a lack of personnel/assistance in completing everyday tasks associated with running the organization. Utilizing college students would allow more time for projects in the watershed as well as providing real word experience to the college students.

Utilize the Rivers Conservation Plan as a tool in protecting, managing, and preserving the Swatara Creek watershed. The Swatara Creek Watershed River Conservation Plan is meant to be a living and working document. The management options developed are for issues identified as important during the course of the study. Changes in conditions and attitudes may also result in changes to the management options. This document should be periodically updated, especially the management options, to address changes in the watershed as well as changes in attitude concerning what issues are important in the watershed.

B. Land Resources

Expand upon the partnership in place between the Lebanon County Conservation District and Ft. Indiantown Gap (FIG) for environmental resource and endangered species protection. FIG is the largest single landholder in the watershed. It contains habitats and species not found in the rest of the watershed. Expanding the existing partnership including both Dauphin County and other conservation groups from the watershed would be mutually beneficial. It would ensure that the species and habitats are taken into account when all management decisions are made, would assist organizations in completing important projects in the watershed, and help FIG to obtain the trust and respect associated with being good stewards of their resources.

Continue and expand watershed wide cleanup days. Clean up days on Swatara Creek have become an annual event, combining the enjoyment of a family canoe day on Swatara Creek with the service of litter cleanup. In addition to SCWA, several other groups have initiated cleanups on tributaries and headwaters of Swatara Creek. Although canoeing opportunities on these other tributaries is limited, other hiking or biking outings for cleanups should be explored and implemented in conjunction with the Canoe the Swattie Day, if feasible.

Identify "Brownfield" areas within the watershed for possible assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment. Identify other potential hazard areas within the watershed. Pennsylvania ACT 2 legislation provides funding for communities to redevelop their abandoned industrial/ commercial sites. By revitalizing these abandoned buildings, eyesores are removed from the community, local tax and employment bases are preserved, and undeveloped "Greenfields" are protected. Redevelopment of residential areas, like those completed by Habitat for Humanity in urban areas is equally as important in the preservation of "Greenfields".

Support current recycling efforts within the watershed. Consider expanding theses efforts as an alternative to further landfill development.

Develop an educational program for demonstrating and promoting riparian buffers, especially for use in FFA, 4H, scout groups, and secondary schools. The majority of the watershed is still in agricultural use, and is controlled by farmers. By educating future farmers about the environmental benefits of buffers to the watershed, the environment can be protected in two ways: 1) The children relaying the information to their parents and they in turn implementing it; or 2) educating the future owners and users of the land at an early age and having them implement it when they begin to run the operation. This program can be an expansion of programs already implemented by Lebanon County Conservation District; or a new program developed and implemented in all of the schools in the watershed.

Support pollution control legislation (Bottle Bill).

Encourage local farmers to enroll their property in agricultural security areas, set aside programs and conservation easements. As presented earlier, farmers control the majority of the land in the watershed. Although pressure to develop these farmlands is high there appears to be a desire for lands to stay in agriculture if economically possible. Assisting these farmers by informing them of tax advantages (property, inheritance) of conserving farmland as well a potential economic advantages associated with new set aside programs (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program). ASA’s need to be updated by municipalities at least every seven years.

C. Water Resources

Implement the remaining projects for reclaiming AMD impacted streams in the upper Swatara Creek watershed developed by Dan Koury in the Swatara Creek Reclamation Document. The rehabilitation plan developed by Dan Koury in 1998, prioritizing projects according to importance and feasibility, has been successfully implemented on several projects in the watershed. The substantial improvements seen in the quality of water exiting the mining region is testimony to the effectiveness of this plan. Continued implementation of the plan should be considered essential to the long-term improvement of water quality in the northern portion of the watershed.

Utilize the 1998 - Swatara Creek Watershed Rehabilitation Plan by Dan Koury as a model to develop rehabilitation plans for agricultural and urban runoff problems in each of the major drainages in the watershed. As stated previously the restoration plan developed by Dan Koury has been shown to be effective in addressing AMD issues in the northern portion of the watershed. Utilizing this same comprehensive methodology to address other NPS issues in the remainder of the watershed, with adjustments for drainage size and scope, should be equally effective for the remainder of the watershed.

Develop a comprehensive plan to protect and monitor water quality and the results of improvements to streams in the major drainages of the watershed. Tailor the monitoring programs to sources of potential degradation in each drainage. Utilize this information to develop a database of information for the entire watershed. Water Quality has been presented as the most important issue in the watershed according to the survey of issues conducted by SCWA. To utilize the limited restoration funds effectively and efficiently, a comprehensive system of determining baseline conditions, identifying locations for projects, and monitoring the success or failure of these projects. Work for local streams, especially those on the 303(d) impaired waters list, to meet TMDL attainment.

Develop and implement streambank stabilization and habitat enhancement projects for the streams in the watershed. Addressing NPS pollution often involves the stabilization and restoration of streambanks along the affected waterway. Likewise stream habitat enhancement projects are utilized to increase the quality and quantity of habitat for fish and invertebrates. Projects like those proposed on the Upper and Lower Little Swatara streams are good specific examples of these types of projects.

Develop a comprehensive management plan for the Quittapahilla Creek watershed. The Quittapahilla Creek Watershed Association is a well-established organization in the Swatara Creek watershed. They feel the need to develop a comprehensive management plan specifically for the Quittapahilla watershed that complements the objectives of the Swatara Creek Plan.

Develop an agreement for habitat and water quality improvement in Manada Creek with Ft. Indiantown Gap. Much of the Manada Creek watershed is located on FIG property, previously mentioned as the largest landholder in the watershed. Manada Creek is listed as containing a reproducing brook trout population. Qualitative indications of habitat and species decline has led to concern by the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), an organization that serves as a caretaker to the stream. A formalized agreement will allow TU to work with FIG on a watershed basis to protect and enhance the stream while allowing for continued training at FIG.

Develop a watershed organization for protection and enhancement of the Little Swatara Creek. This option has been initiated and funded by a 2000 Growing Greener Grant. However, continued support and assistance will be needed for this fledgling group.

Develop storm water management plans for developed areas in the major drainages of the watershed. Identify new technologies for enhancing infiltration and groundwater recharge, especially in areas of urban development. As stated previously, development in sections of the watershed is growing at a rapid pace. Limiting the adverse effects caused by this development on peak flows (increased) and base flows (reduced) through implementation of an innovative storm water management plan would greatly improve the long term outlook for the receiving waters and Swatara Creek. New permeable pavement systems have been shown to be effective in reducing runoff in paved areas as well as increasing infiltration into the ground.

Make the stream corridor more user friendly. There are many access points, points of interest, recreational facilities, etc. located in the watershed; however, locating many of these places is difficult. Developing the Swatara Creek Water Trail is a great first step in making the watershed more user friendly. Utilizing or combining this and other mapped amenities in the watershed together to produce a useage map along with identifiable signing of the amenities will improve access and usage of the facilities in the watershed.

Develop a plan of action to preserve and rehabilitate the infrastructure of the publicly owned lakes in the watershed, especially Sweet Arrow Lake and Stoevers Dam. The Swatara Creek watershed contains no natural lakes. Flatwater recreation is limited to those manmade facilities open for public use. With the Swatara State Park dam being indefinitely withdrawn from the permit process, the existing resources will become even more important as sources of recreation in the watershed. Rehabilitation or repair of these facilities (notably Sweet Arrow Lake, and Stoevers Dam) is essential for their long-term survival and use.

Develop areas for handicap access to Swatara Creek or other tributaries in the watershed. There is minimal handicap access to the amenities in the watershed. Development of access areas including fishing piers and stream accesses will maximize the use by this special population.

Continue work to restore the fishery on the northern section of the watershed. Expand these efforts to assist with reestablishing the migratory fish population in the watershed and development of a stream habitat enhancement plan for other stream sections in the watershed. Water quality in the northern portion of the watershed has greatly improved fish populations and diversity in the streams of this area. Streams once considered sterile now contain diverse fisheries (generally warm water species). Continued improvement is needed to reestablish more pollution intolerant species of fish and invertebrates. Continued success of the shad restoration program in the Susquehanna River may result in the return of this migratory fish to the watershed. If this is the case, structures to assist the shad in bypassing the low head dams on the streams should be considered.

Support the development of the shad population into the watershed. Return of the shad to one of its historic nurseries would result in a cultural, environmental and economic benefit to the Swatara and could result in attempts to return other species that previously existed within the watershed.

Develop an educational program for elementary and secondary schools on water quality and the responsible use of the watershed. Educating youth is the best chance for long-term protection and improvement in the watershed. The better our younger population understands the threats and needs of our streams, the more likely they will work to protect them as they get older.

Inventory riparian buffers in the watershed. Identify areas that need to have riparian buffers established. Riparian buffers serve a multitude of functions, from filtering runoff to providing thermal protection to streams, to providing travel corridors for wildlife. Identifying areas that need these buffers and developing buffers on them will provide all of these functions listed as well as stabilize the geomorphology of the stream channel.

Inventory NPS pollution problems in the major drainages of the watershed, develop a hierarchy and implementation plan for addressing these problem areas. Promote the development of conservation landscaping and management practices to reduce this sediment load. NPS pollution has replaced point sources as the major impairment of waters in the commonwealth as well as the watershed. Steps to prioritize and address these problems in the watershed must be initiated to efficiently obtain and utilize limited remediation funds.

Expand sewage capacity in the areas with the highest projected growth rates. Areas of high growth can overwhelm municipal treatment systems and on site septic systems have a limited life span. Therefore, expanded capacity in the plants is the most reasonable method of addressing potential degradation to local waterways.

Work to ensure that development does not occur in floodplain areas. Municipalities within the watershed have regulations limiting development in floodplain. However, as observed while canoeing the Swatara Creek (in Dauphin County), development is encroaching closer and closer to the stream channel.

Investigate possible uses for by-products of mining or other industrial operations in the watershed. One of the newest fields of research is obtaining marketable resources out of mine drainage. These resources include metals and acid. Byproducts of any such discovery would be a potential source of funding for watershed products as well as cleanup of degraded water.

Stay involved with the Swatara State Park Project. Support completion of a study to determine if a reservoir in the park is a preferred option for a supplementary water supply for Lebanon County and flow augmentation for the Susquehanna River. Although the original proposal for developing a dam and lake in Swatara State Park has been taken off of the table, the development of the state park is still important to the region as well as the watershed. Development of the park will increase use of the park as well as bring a new stream of revenue in to the area. Although the construction of a dam that serves as a strictly recreational facility has been dismissed the need for a supplemental water supply and flow augmentation to the Susquehanna River is still a potential need for the dam and associated lake at the state park.

D. Biological Resources

Preserve ecological and visual amenities in the watershed. Utilize both voluntary protection and market purchase for preservation. Develop funding sources and a regional land trust organization to facilitate these actions. The steps of this option are already in motion. Several groups including agricultural preservation boards, conservation districts, and land conservancies are working to protect the features that increase the livability of the region from complete development. Other organizations, including a regional land trust, are in the process of being formed.

Identify areas of significant invasive species populations. Develop an integrative management plan to control these species. Invasive species are a significant problem within the watershed. They reduce diversity, are of limited habitat value, and limited in their ability to stabilize streambank soils.

Educate the public to the dangers and modes of transport of invasive species, including the zebra mussel, to reduce the chances of infestation in the watershed. The zebra mussel is not established in the watershed, but it has been identified in the Susquehanna Drainage. Because it is hardy and can be easily transported into the watershed, education to the users of the watershed is extremely important.

Identify riparian buffers in the major drainages of the watershed. Identify areas for further riparian buffers creation to assist wildlife travel corridors. As stated in the water resources section, reestablishing riparian buffers would have multiple benefits including as use for wildlife habitat and travel corridors.

Consider and if appropriate complete Natural Heritage Inventories for Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties. Assess the watershed for species of special concern. Develop and implement a plan for protection of these resources. Natural Heritage Inventories completed for Berks and Dauphin Counties can be utilized as blueprints to complete studies in Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties. When completed a comprehensive view of special features in the watershed will be obtained and protection priorities and strategies can be developed.

Inventory wetlands in stream corridors for protection and possible enhancement. NWI maps, hydric soils, and other secondary resources can be used to determine the major locations of wetlands in the watershed, especially along the stream corridors, and determine which would be the best candidates for restoration and enhancement. The wetland located along Route 422 at the headwaters of Quittapahilla Creek is a good example of a wetland for potential enhancement.

Look into and if appropriate, establish a local chapter of PA Cleanways. PA Cleanways is a Non-Profit Corporation helping people clean up their environment. The goal of the organization is to protect, restore, and maintain the environmental and scenic qualities of roadways, waterways and pathways from illegal dumping and littering. Utilizing this group to address littering/dumping problems along the roadways and trails of the watershed, in conjunction with the work already being completed by other organizations on the streams of the watershed, would enhance and protect the aesthetic of the region.

E. Cultural Resources

Encourage and develop educational programs on the environment in the watershed and especially Swatara State Park. Future protection of natural resources and amenities in the watershed is dependent upon educating the youth of the watershed to their value and importance. Utilizing Swatara State Park and other environmentally significant locations in the watershed gives students a hands-on look at the importance and needs of these features.

Develop better access to Swatara Creek and its tributaries for recreational use. Limited access to Swatara Creek and some of the larger tributaries in the watershed increases pressure at the existing access points. Developing more access areas along the streams will more evenly distribute usage and pressure along the streams and protect the resource.

Develop rail trails from Swatara State Park Railroad Corridor to Lebanon and the Conewago Trail and in the Union Canal corridor from the Tulpehocken watershed boundary to Hershey and Middletown. Portions of these projects are already being developed. Completion of the projects would provide for miles of recreational trail use and stream access; as well as provide corridors for alternate transportation in the watershed.

Expand upon the recently developed Swatara Creek Water Trail. The Swatara Water Trail contains areas proposed for additional access points. Developing landowner agreements for these areas would open up the trail to greater usage by providing the opportunity for shorter trips. This would also provide greater access to the stream and trail.

Increase recreational opportunities within the watershed, including park, recreational fields, stream accesses, etc. Continued population growth in the watershed will tax and eventually overwhelm the park and recreation facilities of the area. Developing recreational areas (both passive and active), especially in floodplains, would address the recreational needs as well as floodplain protection.

Increase passive recreational opportunities in the watershed. Not all recreation is active. Developing areas for quiet recreational pursuits including scenic views and nature areas will protect significant features in the watershed and provide recreational enjoyment without the substantial cost of developing active recreational facilities.

Complete proposed enhancements to Quittie Creek Nature Park. The Friends of Old Annville in association with numerous other organizations and individuals has developed the Quittie Creek Nature Park as an area for passive recreation and nature. Development of interpretive sites and improved access are part of the long-term goals for the site. As a significant resource along the largest tributary to Swatara Creek developing and implementing these plans would be beneficial to Swatara Creek and the watershed.

Develop a plan for the preservation of historic resources in the watershed. Because the watershed extends over four different counties, historical resources are recorded in varying styles at varying levels of detail. Compiling a synopsis of all of the information pertinent to the watershed would produce a comprehensive look at what information is available regarding the history of the watershed, and what information is lacking.

Complete a comprehensive park and recreation plan for the watershed. Address handicapped access as a portion of this report.

F. Swatara State Park

Maximize the recreational potential of the state park. Although the Swatara State Park Dam has been removed from the permitting process, Swatara State Park remains an important feature in the watershed. Development of facilities and amenities is essential to maximize the recreational potential of the park as well as increase attendance.

Support any development of the state park to increase tourism as an economic presence in the region. Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the state. The Swatara State Park has the potential to have a significant positive impact on the economy of the watershed by increasing the volume of visitors coming into the watershed. However, making the park a regional visitors attraction will require improvements and amenities to being completed.

G. Swatara Creek Greenway

Implement management options developed in the greenways plan. The management plan developed as part of Swatara Creek Greenway and River Conservation Plan provides a comprehensive blueprint for developing a greenway along Swatara Creek in Dauphin County. Implementing these options is important for protecting valuable riparian areas and enhancing the recreational and aesthetic features along the stream.

Develop a trail and greenway master plan for the entire watershed. Numerous trail systems and greenways are located within the watershed or are planned for the future. These systems range from well maintained through trails like the Appalachian and Horse Shoe trails, to small-unimproved trail loops in the woodlands of the watershed. Developing a comprehensive plan for these areas would identify and inventory the resources located within the watershed. It would also identify areas being considered for future trails/greenways. This information could be utilized to develop linkages between existing and future trails and to allocate resources to areas that are in the greatest need for maintenance and upgrades.

Create an overlay zone for stream buffers in the watershed. An overlay zoning district is a special-purpose zoning district that is superimposed over existing zoning jurisdictions. It is designed to provide additional standards and regulations for specific areas based on special conditions such as environmental factors, historical features or neighborhood preservation. It can be used to protect the natural and scenic qualities of Swatara Creek by restricting development within the overlay zone. This overlay zone can (and should) include the floodplain and other features that the steering committee and/or municipality wants to protect. When used correctly, overlay zoning is a good land use development tool.

Increase partnerships with public and private entities to foster land stewardship. Expanding upon the partnering initiatives started by the SCWA. There are limited funds and resources available to complete all of the projects proposed. In order to obtain the greatest return for the effort and resources expended, partnering with other organizations that have the same goals and objectives is essential. Compiling a comprehensive list of all organizations in the watershed and their objectives is an important first step in this process.

Expand greenway initiatives into Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties. The Greenway proposals along Swatara Creek in Dauphin County can and should be expanded to encompass the areas along Swatara Creek in Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties as well.

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