In 2010-11, we received funding from the Coldwater Heritage Partnership to develop a conservation plan for the upper reaches of Fishing Creek watershed in Columbia and Sullivan Counties, PA. Fishing Creek is a freestone stream that originates in the mountains, which are protected by state game lands. Our study examines the impact of acid precipitation and natural acidity from wetlands on aquatic life in the headwaters, as well as, the effects of agriculture and urbanization on the stream as it flows through the town of Benton. We are partners with Fishing Creek Sportsmen Association and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; and receive field assistance from students at Point Park University and community volunteers engaged in a citizen science initiative.

     The conservation plan includes the results of water chemistry testing, physical mapping of the streams, and measurements of the diversity and distribution of aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish. These conservation plans are used by agencies within the state of Pennsylvania to assess the risks and needs of watersheds. Follow-up studies on macroinvertebrates was conducted in 2012 to assess the impact of flooding from Tropical Storm Lee; and a 10-year study is planned to evaluate the watershed for changes in land use, water chemistry and aquatic life. A copy of the conservation plan is available below.

Fishing Creek Watershed Conservation Plan (2011)
     In addition to the Fishing Creek watershed study, on-going research on the biological health of urban streams around Pittsburgh is being conducted by students at Point Park University. Lowries Run and Bull Creek watersheds have been surveyed, using aquatic macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality and for identifying potential urban threats to stream life. A web story on students conducting water quality surveys around Pittsburgh is available below.
"A River Runs Through It" by Point Park University (2016)
     The research from these studies is used in classrooms to teach students about freshwater conservation. To present students with images of the research sites, GigaPan technology is used to bring the streams into a classroom. Students use these high definition images to practice completing stream habitat assessments and discuss management alternatives to control erosion among other threats to aquatic life. A link to the GigaPan images is available below.
GigaPan Images of Fishing Creek Watershed
 

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