Developing a Coldwater Stream Conservation Plan    

     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 examined 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 watershed. We partnered with Fishing Creek Sportsmen Association and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and received field assistance from students and community volunteers.
     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. A copy of the conservation plan is available below.
2011 Fishing Creek Watershed Conservation Plan

Continued Research:  Urban Stream Assessments

     Since 2015, we began studying the aquatic health of urban streams around Pittsburgh. 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.
2016 "A River Runs Through It" by Point Park University
 
Educational Impact

    The research from these studies is shared with partners and the community to assist them in managing their water resources. Case studies are also used in classrooms to teach students about freshwater conservation. To present students with images of Fishing Creek Watershed, GigaPan technology is used to bring the streams into the 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.
 

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