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Chapter 2 : Project Area Characteristics
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The Swatara Creek watershed is situated in the south-central section of Pennsylvania. The watershed extends from the southern anthracite coalfields of Schuylkill County through the Karst limestone formations of Lebanon and Dauphin Counties before emptying into the Susquehanna River at Royalton and Middletown, Pennsylvania. The Swatara Creek watershed encompasses parts of Schuylkill, Berks, Lebanon, and Dauphin Counties. Swatara Creek originates near the village of Branchdale and flows in a southerly and southwesterly direction for approximately 69 miles to its confluence with the Susquehanna River. The Swatara Creek watershed is referenced by US Geologic Service’s (USGS) Hydrologic Code (1974) 02050305 in the Mid-Atlantic Region (US Department of the Interior, 1974), it is also designated as sub-basin 7 of the Susquehanna River Basin by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).
The majority of references list the Swatara Creek Watershed as draining approximately 576 square miles of the Susquehanna River basin (McCarren, Wark, and George, 1964). However, GIS calculations and the Pennsylvania Gazetteer of Streams (PADEP, 1989) measures the watershed as draining 571 square miles. For this document, 571 square miles will be utilized as the watershed drainage area for both presentation and calculation purposes. This River Conservation Plan covers this entire watershed, including six (6) major tributaries (Upper Little Swatara, Lower Little Swatara, Little Swatara, Quittapahilla, Manada, and Beaver Creeks) as well as other named and unnamed tributaries. The watershed includes four counties and contains all or part of 46 municipalities (Appendix A). Table 2-1 lists the municipalities located within the watershed. The Swatara Creek watershed encompasses all or parts of 17 different school districts. These school districts are presented in Figure 2-1.
The Swatara Creek watershed is located within two different physiographic provinces, the Ridge and Valley, and the Piedmont. The watershed contains both the Appalachian Mountain and Great Valley Sections of the Ridge and Valley Province, and the Gettysburg-Newark Lowlands Section of the Piedmont Province. The varied physiographic settings of the watershed translate into a variety of landforms found within it.
Located in the northern end of the watershed (Schuylkill, northern Lebanon, and the northwestern edge of Berks Counties), the Appalachian Mountain Section of the watershed is characterized by long narrow ridges interspersed by narrow to broad valleys. The southern edge of the southern anthracite coalfields comprises the headwaters of the Swatara Creek. The ridges are primarily composed of resistant sandstones and the valleys of softer shales and siltstone. The vertical relief in this area is moderate to very steep. The elevation of Swatara Creek at its headwaters is approximately 1,510 feet above sea level. When it exits the Appalachian Mountains Section in Lebanon County, the elevation is approximately 425 feet above sea level. Over the approximately 25.6 mile length of this section, this would equate to a 0.8 percent slope.
The central section of the watershed (Lebanon, Berks and central Dauphin Counties) is located in the Great Valley Section of the Ridge and Valley Province. This area, as its name suggests, is a broad lowland area south of Blue Mountain. As Swatara Creek flows from the Appalachian Mountain Section into the Great Valley Section, the valley is primarily composed of shales and siltstone. Further south in the watershed and the physiographic section, Quittapahilla Creek, a major tributary enters Swatara Creek. The Quittapahilla flows over the limestones, dolomites, and calciferous sandstones that make up the southern portion of the physiographic province. The vertical relief in this area is mild to moderately steep. The elevation of Swatara Creek entering the Great Valley Section is approximately 425 feet above sea level, and it exits the physiographic province atapproximately 295 feet. Over the approximate 39-mile length of this section, this would equate to a 0.06% slope.The final section of the watershed (southern Dauphin and Lebanon Counties) is located within the Gettysburg-Newark Lowland Section of the Piedmont Physiographic Province. This area is characterized by rolling hills and valleys. Within the watershed, this physiographic section is primarily composed of shales with intrusions of Triassic diabase (a hard volcanic rock). The vertical relief in this section is mild to moderately steep. The elevation of Swatara Creek entering this physiographic section is approximately 295 feet above sea level, and the elevation as it empties into the Susquehanna River is approximately 279 feet above sea level. Over the approximately 4-mile length of this section, this would equate to a 0.1% slope.
Land use information was collected through a combination of map review and field verification. The field investigation took place in October, 1999. A total of six (6) land use categories were identified. These land uses include Forested, Agricultural, Developed, Wetland, Water, and Barren. Figure 2-2 at the end of the chapter illustrates the land uses found in the watershed.
Land use throughout the Swatara Creek Watershed is diverse and ranges from vast areas of deciduous forests to regional commercial centers. Figure 2-1, Land Use/Land Cover displays the relationship between these various land uses and the natural features found within the watershed.
The Anderson Land Use and Land Cover Classification System was used to determine land use types for the watershed. The land use and land cover system presented in this report includes the more generalized first and second levels. A description of the land use/land cover types found within the watershed is presented in Appendix B. Table 2-2, Existing Land Use presents the Level 1 classifications and their subcategories as a percent of the total land within the watershed.
Within the watershed agricultural land was the most prevalent land use totaling over 206,658 acres (56.5 percent) of the entire watershed. Nearly all of the agricultural land was cropland/ pasture. It is the primary land use south of Blue Mountain, which traverses from east to west in the northern section of the watershed. Other land uses do occur in the southern section of the watershed, however, minimal in acreage when compared to agricultural land. Most of the municipalities in this area are large townships with small village centers and boroughs, which provide small commercial centers sufficient to provide for the day-to-day needs of the residents.
Forestland also comprised a high percentage of land, approximately 118,623 acres (32.5 percent), within the watershed. With the exception of a few scattered areas in the southern region, forestland is located along the mountains in the northern section of the watershed. Mountains of this area include Blue Mountain, Second Mountain, Peters Mountain, and Little Mountain. The highest percentage of Forestland in the watershed was deciduous, although stands of Mixed Forest and Evergreen Forest existed throughout the northern mountainous areas.
Most of the Urban/Built Up land was identified along the PA Rt. 422 corridor. Large commercial/ service districts were visible in Lebanon, Cleona, Annville, Palmyra, Hershey, Hummelstown, and Middletown. The largest single area of commercial/service land is located at the Fort Indiantown Gap; however, the majority of this area is utilized for military training exercises and is not in commercial development. Much of the residential land in the watershed surrounds these commercial centers or other small commercial areas south of Blue Mountain.
Land Use Acres by County
Barren Land primarily consisted of strip mine/ quarry land located in the extreme north section of the watershed in Reilly, Frailey, Porter, and Tremont Townships of Schuykill County. Other areas of strip mine/ quarry land existed in Annville, North Annville, North Lebanon East Hanover and North Londonderry Townships in Lebanon County. These were primarily limestone and shale quarries. Limestone quarries in Derry, South Hanover, and Lower Swatara Townships in Dauphin County were also identified.
A summary of the major land uses of the counties in the watershed are presented in the following paragraphs:
A small (northwestern) corner of Berks County is located within the Swatara Creek watershed. Only 10.5% (Approx. 38,315 ac) of the entire watershed is located in Berks County. The majority of the watershed in Berks County is composed of farmland, much of this area is intensively farmed, especially the area in close proximity to Little Swatara Creek. The northern end of the watershed in Berks County adjacent to Schuylkill County is forested. Four small communities (Bethel, Frystown, Mount Aetna, and Rehersburg) are the only major residential development located within the Berks County portion of the watershed.
Dauphin County makes up 22.3% (Approx. 81,544 ac) of the Swatara Creek watershed. The majority of the watershed in Dauphin County is composed of agricultural lands and recently developed residential areas. The exception to this statement is lands adjacent to Swatara Creek and its tributaries, which are primarily forested. The Boroughs of Hummelstown, Middletown, and Royalton are the largest incorporated communities in the Dauphin County portion of the watershed. Additional urbanized population centers include unincorporated communities of Linglestown, Paxtonia, and Colonial Park in Lower Paxton Township; Rutherford Heights in Swatara Township; Skyline View in West Hanover Township; and Hershey in Derry Township. These communities also contain the largest area of commercial and industrial land use in this portion of the watershed.
The majority of the Swatara Creek watershed, 42.7% (Approx. 156,025 ac), is located in Lebanon County. The majority of this portion of the watershed is agricultural land use. However, the section of watershed north of State Route 443 is primarily forested. Lebanon County also contains a portion of Swatara State Park. The City of Lebanon and Boroughs of Palmyra, Cleona, and Jonestown, and the Township of Annville are the largest population centers in the Lebanon County. These communities also contain the majority of the commercial and industrial land use in the Lebanon County portion of the watershed. Additional residential development is located in the communities of Fredericksburg and Cornwall. Ft. Indiantown Gap, a National Guard training facility, is also located within the watershed in Lebanon County. The facility is used as a training ground for military personnel and subsequently has a variety of land types on site. The mountainous areas on the northern portion of the site are forested. The remainder of the property is primarily a mixture of scrub shrub and field areas. Finally, the southern end of Swatara State Park is located in the watershed near the Lebanon/Schuylkill County line.
Schuylkill County comprises 24.5% (Approx. 89,640 ac) of the Swatara Creek watershed. This area is located in the northern and northwestern ends of the watershed and the majority of it is forested. In addition, the southern anthracite coalfields also extend into this portion of the watershed. This results in significant acreage in barren or mining land use. A substantial portion of the watershed in Schuylkill County is in farmland. These farmed areas are located primarily in the southeastern end of the county. The major population centers within the Schuylkill County portion of the watershed are the Boroughs of Pine Grove and Tremont. These communities also contain the largest commercial and industrial land use acreages. The communities of Donaldson and Newtown also contain some residential and commercial lands. Finally, a large portion of Swatara State Park, which also includes parts of Lebanon County, is located in the watershed between Interstate 81 and PA Route 443 along the southern boundary of the county.
The Swatara Creek study area contains all, or part of 46 municipalities in four counties. With the exception of two municipalities in Schuylkill County, the remaining 44 municipalities have enacted zoning ordinances. 43 of these municipal ordinances have been obtained for use on the project. The municipalities donated many of the ordinances; others were purchased by SCWA.
Mackin Engineering Company analyzed the zoning ordinance and map for each of these municipalities. All of the existing zoning districts for the municipalities were placed into one of the following categories: residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional, or conservation. A composite map of the project area was developed utilizing these categories. The composite map (see Figure 2-3) provides an overview of the uses allowed in the watershed; however, this map should not be used for planning purposes since it is not an accurate reflection of specific existing zoning.
Agriculture is the primary zoning found in the watershed. Potential conflicts could exist between agricultural land uses located directly next to the streams and conservation efforts. A majority of the farms in these locations allow their livestock direct access to the streams. This presents the potential for stream contamination.
Additional conflicts could arise from the increased residential development occurring in the watershed. New housing developments not only encroach on the streams of the watershed, but landscaping, the planting of new grass, and the associated large scale use of chemical herbicides and pesticides could create contamination problems within the watershed.
Pockets of commercial zoning are concentrated in the more developed urban areas, while agricultural zoning districts are found in the less developed rural areas. Land included in the 100-year floodplain is designated as conservation areas in many of the municipalities. In these conservation zones, development is usually restricted to uses that will not damage or cause pollution during flooding events.
The Swatara Creek Watershed encompasses approximately 571 square miles and covers sections of Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks and Schuylkill Counties (PADEP, 1989). There were an estimated 290,869 persons living within the watershed boundaries in 1998, which is approximately 2.4 percent of Pennsylvania’s 1998 population (Pennsylvania State Data Center, 1999). Estimates revealed that the population within the watershed increased by 4.3 percent between 1990 and 1998. In contrast, the growth rate for the state of Pennsylvania has been 1.0 percent for the same time period.
Lebanon County experienced an overall growth rate of 3.2 percent between 1990 and 1998, while its municipalities within the watershed experienced a slightly smaller population growth rate of 2.7 percent. The countywide population for Dauphin County grew at a 3.3 percent rate during this time and Dauphin County watershed municipalities grew at a 6.6 percent rate. Berks County has experienced the largest population growth within the past decade with a 5.8 percent increase in countywide population and a 6.9 percent increase for watershed municipalities. During the past decade, Schuylkill County was the only county within the study area to experience a decrease in countywide population (-2.8 percent); however, the population within the municipalities of the watershed decreased at a slightly slower rate of 2.1 percent. Table 2-3 compares the change in population from 1990 - 1998 for the counties within the watershed.
When identifying population characteristics of the study area, it is important to consider the distribution of population by age group. Each age group has specialized needs that impose different demands upon various municipal and county services. For instance, the "wage-earner" group (ages 18-64) is that portion of the population which is of working age and able to provide for a family. Ideally, this sector of the population should have the largest amount of persons in order to support those persons not able to work or contribute to the tax base. Age groups such as65 and over normally include retired persons who eventually require additional medical services and specialized housing needs. Similarly, those under the age of 18 also require specialized services, such as, infants and toddlers who require specialized child care services or children aged 5-18 that utilize the public education system. It is important that government leaders know the characteristics of their population to properly plan for future population demands such as additional schools or assisted living facilities.
As shown in Table 2-4, the population distribution for the four counties within the watershed is similar to the state’s; except for Schuylkill County, whose percent of population for the Age 64+ category is 5 percentage points higher than the Pennsylvania average of 15%.
It is important to compare the specific municipal data to the county average in order to determine the characteristics of the Swatara Creek Watershed study area. For instance, watershed municipalities in Berks County have two categories that vary from the county average; the "age 18 and under" group which was 6 percentage points higher than the county average and the percent of the population"64+" was 6 percentage points lower than the county average. Similarly, comparing the Schuylkill County municipalities reveals that the "64+" population was lower by 5 percentage points than the county average. The remaining two age groups, the "18-64" age group and the "under 18" age group were comparable to the county averages.
Table 2-4, provides an age comparison of the region as a whole compared to Pennsylvania, the specific municipalities within the study area, and their respective counties.
Population trends become apparent when comparing the increase or decrease of persons within a location over a period of time. The 30-year period between 1960 and 1990 was used to identify trends within the Swatara Creek Watershed. Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon Counties all experienced an increase in population over this thirty-year period. However, the growth varied from Lebanon’s 25.2 percent to a smaller increase of 22.2 percent in Berks County and an 8 percent increase in Dauphin County. The only county to experience a decrease in population was Schuylkill County, which lost of 11.8 percent of its population from 1960 to1990 (Table 2-5).
During this 30-year time period, Berks County had the largest average population increase for municipalities located withintheWatershed(77.6 percent)(seeTable2-5). Dauphin County, which had the smallest population growth rate of the study area, had a 58.8 percent growth in its watershed population. Lebanon County municipalities in the watershed experienced a population increase of 26.0 percent, which was comparable to the overall county growth rate. Schuylkill was the only county within the watershed to experience a decrease in countywide population; however, the municipalities located within the study area experienced an average population increase of 18.6 percent.
Following a nationwide trend, the watershed municipalities had a population shift of persons moving from boroughs to townships, which was an movement of persons from urban areas to rural areas. Both Dauphin and Lebanon Counties are good examples of this trend. Dauphin County experienced a decrease in population for each of the three boroughs within the study area while the townships within the same area had an increase in population. Significant to Dauphin County, was a population loss of 17.2 percent in the Borough of Middletown while five townships within the study area all had a population increase over 100 percent (see Table 2-6).
For Lebanon County, the increase of persons residing in the county occurred primarily in the townships of North Londonderry (234.3 percent) and South Annville (147.8 percent). The significant decrease in population occurred in the City of Lebanon (-17.5 percent) and the urbanized Township of West Lebanon (-17.3 percent) (Table 2-7).
All of the municipalities in the Berks County portion of the watershed are rural and all experienced over 70% population growth during the past 30 years. Upper Tulpehocken Township had the greatest growth rate (99.4%) within the watershed. Table 2-8 summarizes the growth rates for all of the watershed municipalities in Berks County.
While experiencing a decrease in countywide population, Schuylkill County municipalities located within the study area experienced an average increase of 18.6 percent, which ranged from a decrease of 50.3 percent in Foster Township to an increase of 127.2 percent in Wayne Township (Table 2-9).
Overall, the Swatara Creek Watershed is an area that is attracting new residents. The population within each age group is typical of the state average, with the exception of Berks County, which has a higher percentage of persons under the age of 18 than the other three counties. Trends indicate that the population is shifting from boroughs to the more rural townships. The population growth trend has continued over the past thirty years for all counties in the watershed, except for Schuylkill County. Although Schuylkill County experienced a countywide population decline, its watershed municipalities experienced an increase in population. The population trend for the Swatara Creek Watershed is one of continued growth as people continue to move to the area.
The mobility of residents and travelers is central to the economic and social vitality of a community and region. From roads and bridges to railroads and airfields, transportation infrastructure can lend itself to the economic vitality of a region and improve the quality of life. Several modes of transportation are represented within the transportation network of the Swatara Creek Watershed. The project area includes Interstate, U.S., and PA Highways, as well as Municipal and private roads. In addition, the project area has a strong rail system with two primary operators that can move both goods and people across the region. Air transport is available throughout the project area with a concentration of public airports in Lebanon County. Transportation facilities in the watershed are detailed on Figure 2-4 at the end of this chapter.
Within the Swatara Creek Watershed, there are currently 2,360 miles of roads that provide residents with vehicular access. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation classifies roads as either major or local, and further classifies them as, Interstate Highways, U.S. Highways, PA Highways, State Routes, Township Roads, and Other Roads. An important consideration regarding the roadway system in the Swatara Creek Watershed is to understand how they function. Transportation facilities are classified by the relative importance of the movement and access function assigned to them. The access function detracts from the movement function 2-12 population growth during the past 30 years. Upper Tulpehocken Township had the greatest growth rate (99.4%) within the watershed. Table 2-8 summarizes the growth rates for all of the watershed municipalities in Berks County and vise versa. In the hierarchy of highway facilities, freeways and major arterials constitute the major highway system (most efficient), while collector and local roads comprise the local street system (most access). The classification of streets essentially is determined by the degree of efficiency and access that they provide. Each of the classifications is mentioned briefly below.
Major Highway Network (function to efficiently move traffic)
Local Street System (function to provide access to adjacent land)
Using Table 2-10 below, a comparison can be made between major and local
roads within the watershed, giving a representation as to the total amount of
miles existing in the watershed.
The road network within the Swatara Creek Watershed study area is comprised of Interstates, U.S. Traffic Routes, PA Highways, State Routes, Township Roads and Other. All roadways are presented on Figure 2-3.
Within the watershed there are three fully controlled access Major Highways, they are Interstates 78 (I-78) and 76 (I-76), which run east west and Interstate 81 (I-81) which travels north to south.
This Interstate, traveling east to west, begins at I-81 in Lebanon County southwest of Fredricksburg. It provides travelers on I-81 with access to Allentown. This interstate parallels the U.S. Route 22 corridor for the length of the watershed. Full interchange exits provide access to the following PA Route systems, 645, 501, 419, and 183.
Traveling north to south, Interstate 81 enters the United States in New York and ends in Tennessee. This road skirts Harrisburg south of the Swatara Creek watershed. I-81 provides access to Pine Grove and Minersville in Schuylkill County, Lickdale and Ft. Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, and Grantville and Manada Hill in Dauphin County. In addition to connecting with I-78, full interchange exits provide access to the following PA Route systems, 39, 743, 934, 443, 125, 25, and 901. I-81 also provides access to U.S. 209 to Tremont in Schuylkill County.
This fully controlled access toll-road begins at the border of New Jersey and continues west to Ohio. I-76 enters the southernmost tip of the study area in Dauphin County near the borders of Conewago and Londonderry Townships. Although the toll-road moves west past Harrisburg, there are no access points located within the watershed study area.
US TRAFFIC ROUTES
Four US Traffic Routes are located within the Swatara Creek Watershed, US 322, US 422, US 22, and US 209.
Route 422 is classified as a major through traffic route and begins near Norristown and extends west to Hershey, where it joins with US 322. Within the watershed Route 422 provides access to Myerstown, Lebanon, Cleona, Palmyra, and Hershey.
Originating in New Jersey US 322 travels west through the study area and continues into Ohio. US 322 enters the southern section of the watershed in Lebanon County and extends west through Dauphin County. This section of US 322 is considered a secondary traffic route and provides access to Cornwall, and Campbelltown.
US Route 22 runs east and west through the entire state. Within the watershed US 22 runs north of Swatara Creek in Dauphin and Lebanon Counties, US 22 parallels I-81 to the south before joining I-78 near Hamlin. US 22 provides access to the municipalities of Fredericksburg, Jonestown, Ono, Harpers Tavern, and East Hanover.
US Route 209 runs from Millersburg, PA North into the state of New York. Route 209 only runs through the Schuylkill County portion of the watershed. It runs from the Village of Joliett to Branch Dale at the headwaters of Swatara Creek. In addition to Joliett and Branch Dale, Route 209 provides access to the communities of Tremont and Newtown in the watershed.
PA TRAFFIC ROUTES
The state traffic routes can be classified as roadways that interconnect communities to Major Highways within the study area. PA State Traffic Routes include; PA 441, PA 283, PA 230, PA 743, PA 39, PA 117, PA 241, PA 72, PA 419, PA 89, PA 934, PA 443, PA 343, PA 645, PA 501, PA 895, PA 125, PA 25.
At the county level, the road network for the four Swatara Creek watershed counties is extensive and covers a total of 8,101+ miles. Within Schuylkill County, there are 1,263 miles of local roads and 623.93 miles of major road. Berks County has 2,257.26 miles of local roads and a major road network consisting of 964+ miles. Lebanon County has 386 miles of major roads and 754+ local roads. Dauphin County has 1,264+ miles of local roads and 587+ miles of major roads. Only a small portion of Berks County and less than half of Schuylkill and Dauphin Counties are located in the Swatara Creek watershed. Therefore, the listed amounts of roadways are not the totals found in the watershed.
Complimenting the extensive network of roads within the study area are a freight rail and passenger rail system. Rail systems have historically moved large amounts of goods in and out of the watershed. They have also served as a source of transportation for people through the watershed. Today the rail systems in the watershed are freight haulers, with the exception of one passenger line that runs through and stops in the watershed. Freight rail systems are also being used as a tourist related resource as sightseeing trips are becoming increasingly popular.
The Swatara Creek Watershed contains the following rail lines Œ Amtrak, Norfolk Southern (formerly Conrail), Penn Central, Middletown and Hummelstown, Reading and Northern, Reading and Blue Mountain, and Steelton and Highspire. This rail network is categorized into three Penn Dot Classifications Œ Passenger Transport, Freight Rails (Operating) and Freight Rails (Other). Freight Rail (Operating) move freight from one location to another on major rail lines. Freight Rails (Other) could be minor rail line operators, excursion operations, abandoned, or in transition.
Of the above listed rail lines, Amtrak is the sole passenger line. It has one stop (Middletown) in the watershed and less than 2 miles of rail line in the watershed. Norfolk Southern and Reading and Northern, are Freight Rail (Operating) and have 47 miles of rail line in the watershed. The Freight Rails (Other) category has 49 miles or rail line and contains the other operators.
Within the Swatara Creek Watershed there are several recreational walking and bicycling trail-ways. Some of these trail-ways have been converted from abandoned rail lines. This form of recreation has become increasingly popular as communities recognize the benefits to both economic and quality of life issues. Studies have shown increases in tourism and money spent in relation to the development of a trail system. In addition, property values and business support have been shown to increase with this form of recreation. The Swatara Creek Watershed will have a small portion of completed rail trail by the end of the summer. Acquisition and completion of the remaining 11 miles of trail into the City of Lebanon is scheduled for completion in 2001. A feasibility study for extending the trail to Swatara State Park is scheduled for the future as well (Wengert, 2000).
Assisting in the movement of people and goods into and from the watershed is a comprehensive system of air travel. Serving as a convenient and faster way to move items from one area to another, air travel is also used for medical emergencies and military transport. The Swatara Creek Watershed has four public airports within the study area and one privately owned airport, Rover Landing Strip in Lebanon County. As indicated in Table
2-11, Public Airports in Project Area, Lebanon County has three public air facilities and Berks County has one public facility, while Dauphin and Schuylkill have none located within the project area.
The Harrisburg International Airport is located in Middletown, PA adjacent to the Susquehanna River, just outside of the watershed. Two heliports are located within the watershed, one privately owned facility in Berks County, the Summit Heliport, and one public facility located at the M.S. Hershey Medical Center in Dauphin County.
Lebanon County has the only military use air transport. These facilities are located North of I-78 and East of I-81 in Lebanon County. The military airfields are West Grass Field, Muir Field and East Grass Field. A feasibility study for a public/private airport with FIG and Lebanon County is currently being completed.
According to 1995 PennDOT data, two other airport classifications exist, Statewide Airport (Special) and Other (Airpark/landing strip). These facilities are identified in Table 2-12.
In the last decade, the four counties that lie within the Swatara Creek watershed (Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks and Schuylkill Counties) have experienced varying degrees of growth in employment with a steady rise in the service industry and various degrees of growth in the manufacturing industry. Data for this section was acquired from second quarter unemployment compensation tax reports filed by employers (Pennsylvania County Industry Trends 1994-1998).
The study area in Dauphin County is located in the southern third of the county from Middletown, it skirts the City of Harrisburg to the east, and extends north to the Second Mountain ridgeline that separates the Swatara Creek watershed from the Stony Creek watershed. During the period from 1994-98, Dauphin County experienced a growth in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Mining; Construction; Transportation; Wholesale and Retail Trade; Finance, Insurance, Real Estate; Services, and Public Administration sectors. The county experienced a small (3.0%) decrease in the Manufacturing sector, more specifically, apparel products, furniture/fixtures, and primary metal industries over this period.
The study area within Lebanon County covers all but the northwestern corner and the southern most portion of the county. The primary employment in the study area portion of the county is manufacturing. Industry in the county experienced growth in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (16.7%), Manufacturing (7.1%), Transportation and Other Utilities (5.7%), Wholesale Trade (15.0%), Retail Trade (2.8%), Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (7.9%), and Services (9.2%) sectors.
The largest employer in the county is the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs with 1,200 employees. Three health care providers, the Veterans Administration Hospital (980 employees), the Good Samaritan Hospital (814 employees), and the Philhaven Hospital (396 employees) are major employers within the county.
The Swatara Creek Watershed study area covers only a small portion of Berks County that is located in the northwestern corner of the county. Berks County has a broad economic base, 28% of all jobs are in the Manufacturing Sector, and the remaining jobs largely consist of the agricultural, metal production, textile and apparel, and retail trade industries. During the period of 1994-1998, the county as a whole has seen an increase in the number of establishments for the following industry sectors: Agriculture, Forestry and Finance; Mining, Construction, Manufacturing; Transportation; Wholesale Trade; Finance, Insurance and Real Estate; Services and Public Administration. The county experienced a decline in Retail Trade during the same time period, primarily in General Merchandise, Food Stores, and, Apparel and Accessory Stores.
During this period, a growth increase of over 10% occurred for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (12.7%); Transportation and Other Utilities (24.9%); and, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (14.7%).
The largest growth sector within Transportation & Other Utilities was Electrical, Gas and Sanitary Services, which grew from 38 establishments in 1994 to 57 in 1998.
The study area within Schuylkill County is located in the southwestern corner of the county and borders Berks and Lebanon counties. Schuylkill has experienced an increase in agricultural production including areas of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing. No other industrial sector experienced a growth over 10%. Decreases in the industrial sectors included Mining (-14.1%), Wholesale Trade (-3.6%), Retail Trade (-2.8%), Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (-4.6%), and Public Administration (-1%).
Workforce and employment figures show that the study area is located in an
area that is generally experiencing good economic conditions and employment
opportunities. These economic statistics show a region with a generally low
unemployment rate, with the exception of Schuylkill County at 6.2% (Table 2-13).
According to the 1990 Census Figures and the Department of Labor and Industry, the median household income for Berks County ($32,048) was higher than the state average of $29,069. Per Capita Income in 1994 for Berks County was $22,465 that was almost equal to the state average of $22,471 and higher than the national average of $21,696. The average weekly wage for persons employed in Berks County was $557 while the statewide average weekly wage was $594. Within Berks County there were a total of 8,014 firms in 1999 that helped to keep the 1999 unemployment rate around 3.2%. The unemployment rate for Berks County has varied from the 1970 rate of 2.9% to the high in 1980 of 7.4%.
Dauphin County™s 1990 Median Household Income ($30,985) was also higher than the state average. 1994 Per Capita income for Dauphin County was $23,277, higher than both the state and national averages. The average weekly wage for persons employed in Dauphin County, $589, was slightly lower than the state average.
In 1999 there were 6,361 firms in Dauphin County. These firms provided employment to residents and helped to keep the 1999 unemployment rate at 3.5%. The unemployment rate for Dauphin County has varied from a low in 1970 of 2.9% to the high in the 1980™s of 6.1%.
1990 Median Household Income for Lebanon County ($29,469) was lower than Berks and Dauphin Counties but still higher than the statewide average. The 1994 Per Capita Income for Lebanon County ($19,937) was lower than the state™s average of $22,471 and also the national average of $21,696. In 1999, the average weekly wage for the county was $479, which was lower than Dauphin and Berks counties as well as the statewide average. In 1999 there were 2,391 firms located within the Lebanon County, employing 40,690 persons. The unemployment rate for Lebanon County mirrors the previous two counties having a low unemployment rate of 2.9% in the 1970™s and the highest unemployment rate in the 1980™s at 6.6%.
When comparing Median Household Income, Schuylkill County has the lowest average of the counties within the Swatara Creek Watershed at $23,028 in 1990. The results from the comparison are similar when relating 1994 Per Capita Income as well. Per Capita Income was $18,031 in 1994, much lower than any other county within the watershed. In 1999, the average weekly wage was $412 for Schuylkill County and there were a total of 3,089 firms employing 54,207 persons. Schuylkill County currently has the highest unemployment rate of the four counties within the Swatara Creek Watershed. Since 1970, high unemployment rates have been found within Schuylkill County. In the 1970™s, Schuylkill County had an unemployment rate of 5.1% that rose to a high of 9.9% in the 1980™s.
Major Employers located within the Swatara Creek Watershed were identified as
those firms employing 100 or more persons. Tables 2-14 through 2-17 list the
names of the employer, general location within the watershed and the product or
service. Each table list firms employing 100 or more persons, except for Berks
County where the largest employer in the watershed is listed; but does not
employ over 100 persons. and the product or service. Each table list firms
employing 100 or more persons, except for Berks County where the largest
employer in the watershed is listed; but does not employ over 100 persons.
As stated previously, the Swatara Creek Watershed is an area that is experiencing economic growth. This is indicated by the increase in employees and corresponding low unemployment rates. Unemployment rates are generally lower than the state™s rate of 4.0% with the exception of Schuylkill County. This increase in employment can be attributed to rises in the manufacturing and service industries in the region.
As economic conditions improve, area wages and household income increases as well. Generally, the study area is above the state and national averages for Median Household Income, Per Capita Income and Weekly Wage. However, Schuylkill County once again falls below the state and national averages and lags behind the other three counties in employment and income earned.
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