The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 28, 2013

Growing concern: Vegetation overtaking protective river walls

JOHNSTOWN — Maybe it can be called the West End Water Wilderness.

Or the River Wall Forest.

Either name would be fitting for the abundance of greenery blooming in the Conemaugh River where it winds through Johnstown’s Cambria City and Coopersdale neighborhoods.

Trees, standing several feet tall, are rooted in the muddy and stony riverbed. In other locations, plants have found homes in cracks along the steep concrete walls that line the Conemaugh.

The result is an unintended miniature forest in the river.

“I looked at it and thought, man, you could have a whole herd of deer down there and nobody could see them,” said Johnstown City Councilwoman Rose Howarth, a West End resident.

But there is some concern about how the lush plants and trees could affect the protective walls, which were built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following the city’s devastating 1936 flood.

“We’re concerned, but I don’t want to overstate that,” said Dan Jones, public affairs specialist for the Army Corps’ Pittsburgh District. “It’s something we keep an eye on.”

Army Corps officials have requested money from Congress to maintain the walls in recent years. None has been provided.

On July 10, the U.S. House passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2014, which Pennsylvania’s 12th district congressman, Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, supported. The House appropriations committee recommended providing $62,000 for the Army Corps to use in Johnstown. The Senate version of the bill has been reported by committee.

“We ask for money for certain projects, and it’s really out of our hands what gets funded and what doesn’t,” said Jones.

The last major work on the flood protection system occurred in 2009, when the Army Corps made $3.4 million in repairs and upgrades along the Little Conemaugh River, according to Jones.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cawley Lt. Gov. Cawley pushes jobs plan during Johnstown visit

    Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley got to see firsthand many of the training tools used by Hiram G. Andrews Center students on Thursday and took some time to promote a program called Jobs for All, part of Gov. Tom Corbett’s JOBS1st PA agenda.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farrish, James State police make another drug bust on turnpike

    A Pittsburgh man was jailed Thursday after state police said they found about $120,000 in suspected heroin during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sisco, Ryan James & John Patrick Two brothers charged in beating at bar

    Two Johnstown brothers were jailed Wednesday after police said they beat a man so badly he suffered a concussion and may end up blind in one eye.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • path of flood Path of Flood entries due

    Anyone interested in participating in Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s  Path of the Flood Historic Half Marathon and 5K race will need to get in gear before the April 30 registration deadline.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 17, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/18/2014

    April 17, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads