The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Outdoors

October 5, 2012

Groups merge to improve waterways

JOHNSTOWN — Question: What do trout fishermen, one of the state’s biggest conservation organizations and a national power company have in common?

Answer: A keen interest in the well-being of a few small headwaters streams in Westmoreland County.

That shared sentiment brought the groups together during the past few weeks on yet another stream-improvement project in the Tubmill Creek watershed, completing an estimated 2,000 feet of erosion-control and habitat-improvement work on Hendricks Run.

“It’s probably our fifth or sixth year of working in the stream,” said Tubmill Trout Club President Lindon Gamble, whose group also has spearheaded work on Tubmill Creek. “We’re already planning six or eight more projects in the area and have landowners who are cooperative in letting us do it. Now that this one is done, we have 2,000 feet of stream that never held a fish before, and now will.”

That explains the willingness of both the trout club and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to invest resources into these tributaries. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s angle is less obvious.

Its interest can be traced to Tubmill Creek’s designation as an Exception Value water by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The conservancy has made a commitment to protect and improve the Tubmill Creek watershed through a variety of projects that dovetail nicely with the trout club’s work.

“The conservancy pretty much donates the expertise in procurement of materials and operators and equipment,” Gamble said. “They do this day in and day out, so they know how it’s done. They know how to install all the devices, and they can get the permits. We have common goals for the watershed. They’ve done other things like pasture fencing to keep livestock out of headwaters of a stream. We’ve done a lot of stream enhancement work on small tributaries like Hypocrite Creek, which runs into Hendricks Run. Where you would see rainstorms wash a gully down a dirt road, we build these crossovers to let water go out into a grassy area and deposit sediment in that way. Fish habitat and erosion control are a hand-in-hand deal.”

But such projects are both expensive and labor intensive, which is where GenOn Energy comes in. Although one of the country’s largest producers of electricity, the generating giant has devoted finances and manpower to stream improvements in the shadow of its Conemaugh and Seward plants.

Gamble said the stream improvements simply would not be possible without GenOn’s contribution. GenOn Director of External Affairs Karla Olsen said the benefits are mutual.

“This is a true partnership with the Tubmill Trout Club and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy,” she said. “Working with those groups provides an opportunity to do some good in an area that needed it. The creek needed shoring up, and our employees really enjoy working on things like that. It’s a win-win.”

It is hard to put a specific price tag on such projects, but the cost estimate for the most recent work on Hendricks Run was estimated at between $70,000 and $90,000. It required 50 hemlock logs from 30 to 35 feet in length, 660 tons of limestone boulders, two excavators, a skid loader, a rock truck and a backhoe along with as many as 30 workers on site at a time.

 Most of those workers were GenOn employees. Olsen said the company recognizes an obligation to the communities in which it operates, and appreciates the chance to make a contribution that will extend benefits into the future. But, she said, the company also sees value in employees working together for the public good.

“We look for projects like this,” she said. “It’s really a positive thing overall, not only for our environment and conservation. It’s a really fun thing for employees to get involved in. It’s just a neat opportunity.”

 And, it’s also something with lasting value. Clean water and quality habitat promote larger populations of small animals such as insects, which directly improves fishing.

“We’re trying to better the habitat not only for trout, but for all the aquatic life that is trying to survive in there – all the crayfish and minnies that feed the trout,” Gamble said. “It helps fish hold better and stay in those areas longer. These kind of improvements will give us multitudes more places for people to fish and for us and the Fish Commission to stock fish.”

Certainly, the improvements will enhance the streams for the traditional springtime stockings by the Fish Commission, but they also should significantly increase the holding power for the trout the club itself purchases from a commercial hatchery.

“I think this year we put in about $18,000 worth of trout,” Gamble said. “We do that basically through our club supporters, who donate money for buying trout or become involved in other ways. We have homemade aerators that we throw in the back of pickup trucks and can carry 700-800 trout in each one of them. We have teams that load the fish, and teams that stock them. We can do our 11 miles of stream in about two hours. It happens pretty quickly. And, that’s all for the general public. Anyone can fish for them.”

But, the Tubmill Trout Club isn’t a single-minded operation. It also picks up litter under PennDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program, and holds spring gobbler and coyote hunts and a large fishing derby for youngsters.

“We have a pretty good time with that,” Gamble said. “We work pretty intensely for a couple of months, then we get into the fundraising season again and it all starts over.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Outdoors
  • Local sports in brief 2/11/2014

    February 10, 2014

  • Pa. game commission asked to expand deer hunting

    Members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission are being urged to expand deer hunting opportunities in the commonwealth.

    January 27, 2014

  • Hough, Matt Hough chosen to lead Pa. Game Commission

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission named former Johnstown resident Matt Hough as its new executive director on Wednesday.
    The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Hough, who had been the agency’s deputy executive director.

    January 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • CWD found in deer killed on Bedford County highway

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission has reported that a white-tailed deer that was killed by a vehicle in Bedford County last fall has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
    The 1½–year-old buck was hit on Interstate 99 in November and sent for testing as part of Pennsylvania’s ongoing effort to monitor the disease, which is fatal to members of the deer family, but is not known to be transmitted to humans.

    January 2, 2014

  • 18-year-old girl attacked by bear while deer hunting

    A black bear attacked a teenager in central Pennsylvania as she hunted deer on a family farm, state police said Tuesday.

    December 10, 2013

  • Allegheny forest snowmobile trails to open Dec. 21

    The first day of winter will also mark the first day for snowmobiles in northwestern Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest.

    December 5, 2013

  • 750,000 hunters open 2-week rifle deer season

    Warmer than average temperatures and mostly clear weather was expected as an estimated 750,000 hunters take to the woods as deer rifle hunting season opens in Pennsylvania.

    December 2, 2013

  • 2 deer rescued after falling down NE Pa. well

    Game commission officials say two 8-point bucks were rescued after falling down an abandoned well in northeastern Pennsylvania.

    November 14, 2013

  • Russia Eagle Attack1.jpg Stunning images of eagle killing deer in Russia

    Remote cameras intended to monitor Siberian tigers in Russia instead caught a golden eagle’s fatal attack on a deer, snapping three photos as the massive bird dug its talons into the distressed animal’s back.

    September 26, 2013 3 Photos

  • Agency offering tour of Game Lands 108

    As part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s efforts to highlight its ongoing habitat improvement initiatives, the public has invited to take part in free tours of several state game lands.
    Among them is Game Lands 108 in northern Cambria County, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 6.

    September 18, 2013

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads