The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 9, 2012

Groups join to restore Flight 93 waterway

SHANKSVILLE — They call it one of the Flight 93 Memorial’s great untold stories.

But for the state and local environmental groups working to bring new life to this “hallowed ground” mine land, it’s the continuation of a job that began years before a hijacked airliner crashed here Sept. 11, 2001.

Today, efforts to restore the strip mine land and an iron-polluted stream that surrounds it are going hand-in-hand in many ways with those working to expand the Flight 93 National Memorial park.

“The land surrounding this park is really the memorial – the field, the hills, the sky above us,” said Jeffrey Reinbold, the National Park Service Western Pennsylvania superintendent who oversees the park.

And the crash site itself is far different than New York or Washington, D.C., he added, saying planners understood that when they picked a park design that highlights its pastoral surroundings.

“The decision was made to embrace this land’s history – and the fact it’s an evolving landscape, rather than try to keep the crash site frozen in time,” Reinbold added. “And all of this work being done here is a part of that.”

Efforts are under way to clean up three AMD sources polluting Lamberts Run, a highly iron-laden waterway that runs through the park property.

The stream is a major Stonycreek River polluter.

With help from state agencies such as the DEP Office of Surface Mining and more than $700,000 in grants, the Somerset Conservation District, Somerset County Conservancy and a long list of partners have added passive treatment systems designed to remove iron and other materials seeping into Lamberts Run. The stream is orange in many areas and nearly void of aquatic life, said Eric Robertson, an engineer with the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

“Iron is the major problem,” DEP Watershed Manager Malcolm Crittenden said, noting the stream has high alkaline levels because of it.

A treatment pond is in place upstream, wetland improvements to a separate pump well site are under way and other remediation efforts are planned.

Park Service planners envision the day will come when they can use Lamberts Run water for irrigation, restrooms and other Flight 93 park facilities, said Keith Newlin, National Park Service Western Pennsylvania deputy.

A separate well will be drilled for drinking water, he added.

 Robertson said existing treatment efforts are working, including a treatment pond designed to remove iron by giving it time to oxidize. He showed visitors an area that was once deep orange from iron now fading into a more natural color.

PBS Coals donated $2.2 million it received from selling the property for a trust fund that DEP now oversees to ensure ongoing maintenance on AMD projects, Crittenden said.

Meanwhile, project partners, led by the Park Service, have planted 20 acres of trees on the scarred land. Newlin said several dozen acres more will follow in the next two years.

Park planners envision visitors driving past a colorful, wooded area on the way to the impact crater, which will remain unchanged.

It will make the sudden sight of it that much more moving, Newlin said.

Reinbold described the effort as “a modern day barnraising.”

“So many groups have worked together to make this happen,” he said.

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

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

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads