McLaughlin Run Project
McLaughlin Run Watershed Restoration - A
by Jeff Wagner, Vice-president USC Citizens for
The McLaughlin Run Watershed Restoration Project
keeps growing. This project was first reported in an article in Upper
St Clair TODAY in the Spring of 1999. The partnership between the
Township and USC Citizens for Land Stewardship (CLS) as been so
successful that now Bridgeville Borough and the Municipality of Bethel
Park are joining in the effort to improve the water quality and stream
conditions within the McLaughlin Run Watershed (a tributary within the
Chartiers Creek watershed). As we add more stream to the original 1000
foot project, we increase the effectiveness of our effort to improve
water quality and create habitat in and along the stream.
We began our work with McLaughlin Run several
years ago with our first grant application to the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a small-scale planting
along a section of stream bank near the golf course. Since then, CLS and the Township have
gone on to apply for and receive three more grants, each designed to
allow us to continue the work from the previous. Together, we have
recently submitted a fourth for an upstream project that will include
These grants have been channeled from the state Growing
Greener program and the federal EPA-319
program administered through the Environmental Protection
Agency. In either case, the programs are designed to fund improvements
in watersheds to reduce pollution inputs, reduce stormwater impacts,
and improve water quality. The entire package of grants for McLaughlin
Run means, essentially, extending the total length of our work along
the stream and achieving better overall results.
The whole process of securing funds, working with
numerous partners, and keeping track of everything has been
challenging. The rapid pace of the grant programs has, in some ways,
made it difficult to finish one piece of the project before turning
attention to another. For anyone not familiar with the details of the
grants and the project plans, it's hard to see what work as been done
and what will be done.
A critical part of Phase I was to have a Watershed
Assessment Report written, first, to describe, classify, and evaluate
the entire stream corridor; and, second, to
prioritize the reaches of the stream, in order to determine the best
areas, and set the direction, for future restoration efforts. This
report is an invaluable, integrative tool that is already being used as
a guide to systematically improve the streambank stability and
waterside (riparian corridor) habitats of the McLaughlin Run watershed.
For Phase I through Phase III, the McLaughlin Run
WSR Project will focus on a section of the stream from the recreation
center bridge downstream to the bridge just upstream of the tennis
courts, give or take a few feet. In this section,
Skelly & Loy - the engineering consultants who developed the
assessment of the watershed - have begun to develop restoration designs
and from those designs, CLS and the Township will work together to
implement the plans. Phase IV involves a section of the stream on the
Upper St. Clair - Bethel Park border near the bridge crossing on
Already, there are many changes in the primary
project area. The streambed and
stream banks have been altered according to a natural channel design.
In that way a more natural water flow, even under storm conditions,
more stable stream banks (reduced erosion), and more riparian
plantings, with native plant species, will support better aquatic and
terrestrial habitats. In addition, pollution levels will decline and
the area will be more attractive for all to enjoy.
In all, expect to see in-stream rock structures
constructed, stream banks graded and planted, and other riparian
plantings established. The work that we
expect to do will be substantial and not be easily missed.
Many volunteers from the community helped with the
Gilfillan Farm planting and with some plantings in the upper terraces
along the golf course. These were both part of the Phase I activities.
will be needed to plant other sections along McLaughlin Run as part of
the restoration design. This activity began in Spring 2001, and will
continue over the next few years.
In conjunction with the restoration, CLS is
setting up a stream
monitoring program as part of the DEP's statewide Citizens
Volunteer Monitoring Program. That activity will be described in detail
as it evolves, and it will continue over a period of years. This will
also offer an opportunity for people to join in and contribute to this
watershed project. We will again turn to our friends in the community
for help in planting and monitoring. Keep you ears open for a call for volunteers.
On Community Day (May 19, 2001), we began an
education program to explain what has been done, why it is beneficial,
and what is planned for the future. This CLS and Township partnership
project represents a positive step forward in watershed stewardship.
The active awareness and participation in this community, and with our
community neighbors both upstream and downstream, will bring a better
understanding of, and cooperation in resolving, water quality and
management problems in the McLaughlin Run, and ultimately in the
greater Chartiers Creek, watershed.
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