Johnson Creek Restoration Plan Final
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Johnson Creek Assessment and Restoration Plan
Johnson Creek Assessment and Restoration PlanDecember 5, 2014
Johnson Creek Assessment and Restoration Plan
Prepared by:Stream Masters Environmental GroupCory Sauv - Jesse Jones - Lacy Powers - Lewis Sick - Glenn Wolfe 5 December 2014
Table of ContentsExecutive Summary2Watershed Vision3Introduction4Watershed Background5Location5History5Geology and Soils6Wetlands7Land use & culture7Data Collection8Field reconnaissance8Historical Data9Precipitation during sampling9Sampling plan12Sampling Methodology13Water quality and flow measurements14Data Analysis14site descriptions14Restoration and Treatment18site 1: unt 1 18site 2: john 2 19Site 3: John 3 20site 4: john 421Project Summary22Appendix23historical data23
Executive SummaryThe Johnson Creek Assessment and Restoration plan was developed to assess issues affecting Johnson Creek and its tributaries, and prioritize restoration efforts to mitigate these impairments. The formation of this comprehensive assessment plan has been conducted by the Stream Masters Environmental Group. The goal of this plan is to provide initial field reconnaissance and assessment, develop a sampling plan, and develop restoration strategies. The Johnson Creek Watershed is located in Bloss and Hamilton Townships in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is located on the Blossburg and Cherry Flats USGS 7.5 minute topographic map quadrangles. The main towns that Johnson Creek flows through include Arnot and Blossburg. Although the overall goal is to assess and restore the entire Johnson Creek Watershed, the assessment and restoration plan will focus on approximately 2 miles of Johnson Creek and the tributaries located in the 2 mile stream reach. The reach will start at the Rt. 15 overpass east of the town of Arnot and end at the confluence with the Tioga River. The goal of this plan is to improve the biological habitat in Johnson Creek to promote increased fish and macroinvertebrate communities and recreational opportunities. This will be accomplished through the construction of passive treatment systems to treat abandoned mine drainage and construct structures to improve stream bank stability. The combination of these restoration efforts, along with public education, will allow for the aquatic health of Johnson Creek and its tributaries to improve to a level that will support fish and macroinvertebrate communities, and increase the recreational opportunities as well. In regards to education, programs will be established to increase community involvement and support for the project and in the future. Through interactive presentations from our organization and in conjunction with Mansfield University, the community will gain an improved understanding of the importance of the health of Johnson Creek environmentally and in the community. In the two mile section of Johnson Creek and the subsequent tributaries, 25 areas of potential pollution were identified and seven of those sites were considered significant to be included in the sampling plan. However, restoration projects will occur at four priority sites that were the most severely impacted from abandoned mine drainage and stream bank erosion issues. Several restoration techniques will be utilized to remediate the abandoned mine drainage and erosion impacts. In regards to the mine drainage impact, a passive treatment system will be constructed. Due to the low flow of the discharge, a passive system is the most economical option for treatment. In combination with the passive treatment system, reclamation of the exposed areas as a result of the surface mining operations will also be conducted. To address the stream bank erosion issues, structures will be constructed and riparian zones will be improved at several sites.Watershed VisionThe overall vision of this project is to restore the Johnson Creek Watershed through stream bank stabilization projects and abandoned mine drainage remediation. Specifically, our project will focus on a portion of Johnson Creek from the Rt. 15 bridge to the mouth at the Tioga River. From these restoration efforts, the goal of this project is to improve the water quality and aquatic habitat to improve the health of the fish and macroinvertebrate communities. This improvement will also increase the recreational opportunities found in the Johnson Creek Watershed for the community. Additionally, the reclamation of the abandoned, surface mining area found in the watershed will allow for increased recreational activities that can be utilized in the watershed. Finally, the project will allow for members of the community to have educational opportunities and be able to volunteer during the duration of the project. This will be accomplished through interactive activities that will increase the education of the community on the importance of the Johnson Creek Watershed and encourage stewardship for generations to come. IntroductionStream reconnaissance for the initial assessment of the Johnson Creek Watershed started in mid-September and continued until late October of 2014. The initial reconnaissance included a survey of the study area of Johnson Creek and its tributaries, approximately 2 miles from the Rt. 15 bridge to the mouth at the Tioga River. For each potential assessment point, GPS coordinates were recorded, field and habitat data were documented, and water samples were taken. Photographs of a majority of the assessment points were also taken as well and can be found in the attached, digital documents.The assessment and restoration project will be organized and executed by the Stream Masters Environmental Group. The employees of SMEG include Cory Sauv, Lacy Powers, Jesse Jones, Louis Sick, and Glenn Wolfe. Additional groups that have invested interest in the health of the Johnson Creek Watershed that will assist in the project include the Tioga County Conservation Group and Mansfield University. The efforts of project partners will assist in the formation and execution of the assessment and restoration plan to improve water quality and restore healthy fish and macroinvertebrate populations in the watershed.
Watershed BackgroundLocationJohnson Creek is located in Bloss and Hamilton Townships in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Flowing through the towns of Blossburg and Arnot, Johnson Creek is a third order stream and a tributary of the Tioga River. The total drainage area of Johnson Creek is 17.4 square miles. The Johnson Creek Watershed can be found on the USGS Blossburg and Cherry Flats 7.5 minute topographic map quadrangles. The specific reach that our restoration project focuses on is approximately two miles of stream of Johnson Creek. This distance does not include the tributaries that flow into Johnson Creek. These tributaries include Bellman Run, Boone Run, Mills Creek, and several unnamed tributaries. The drainage area of the reach is approximately 5.6 square miles.
HistoryJohnson Creek is on the 303d list for impaired waters and is currently impaired for metals, specifically iron, manganese, and aluminum. These pollutants are a result of a history of coal mining operations in the watershed. The coal mining operations have been out of operation since the 1940s. However, the coal mining has created various abandoned mine discharges throughout the watershed. The Department of Environmental Protection has conducted benthic macroinvertebrate and habitat surveys on Johnson Creek to determine the impacts resulting from the metal impairment and stream bank erosion issues. The surveys showed high levels of tolerant taxa throughout Johnson Creek, one example being midges (Chironomidae). This low taxa diversity can be directly associated with the metal impairment and reduced habitat from sediment deposits in the substrate of the stream. In the habitat assessments, stream bank erosion and riparian zone width were the most widely seen factors in the habitat degradation.
Geology and Soils The geology of the Johnson Creek Watershed is glaciated material that is part of the Appalachian Physiographic Province. Most of the glacial material is unconsolidated glacial deposits that range from clay to boulders. There are also no dolomite formations in the watershed that do not contribute alkaline properties in the form of carbonates. From this, the geology and soils in the area are relatively acidic. NRCS data shows twenty-six different soil types found in the watershed. Three types of soil make up 49.5% of the watershed. The main stem of Johnson Creek is Alluvial land (ab). The seven most common soil types found in the vicinity of Johnson Creek include: Hippewa silt loam (CIB), 0 to 8 percent slopes and extremely stony, Volusia channery silt loam (VSD), 8 to 25 percent slopes, Lordstown very stony loam (LSD), 3 to 12 percent slopes, Mardin channery silt loam (MdB), 0 to 8 percent slopes, Chenango gravelly loam (ChB), 2 to 12 percent slopes, Wyoming gravelly sandy loam (WyC), 12 to 20 percent slopes, and Wyoming gravelly sandy loam (WyF), 30 to 50 percent slopes.
WetlandsA survey using the National Wetlands Inventory Map (NMI) was conducted on the wetlands in the Johnson Creek Watershed. After reviewing the map, it was determined that there are a total of seventy-eight wetlands in the entire watershed, fifteen of which are in the area of our assessment. There are two freshwater ponds and thirteen were freshwater/forested shrub wetlands. The freshwater ponds take up 12.58 acres and the freshwater/forested shrub wetlands spread over 13.99 acres of land. The following is a list of the wetlands in the area of the assessment. This data is significant in determining wetland impacts in the construction of treatment systems and erosion projects. DescriptionTypeAcresCount
Freshwater/Forested Shrub WetlandPSS1E1.664
Land Use & CultureThe Johnson Creek watershed is dominated by forested areas. In the drainage area of the reach that we are focused on, there are no agriculture activities. Although forested land makes up a majority of the land use of the area, there are still residential and industrial impacts found in the watershed. These impacts can be found in the areas near the towns of Arnot and Blossburg. The town of Blossburg is located in the northwest portion of our reach and creates urban issues in the form of sewage discharges, increased erosion, and stream channelization and bank cementation. The point-source impacts from the industrial operations in the Blossburg area also adversely impact Johnson Creek and its tributaries. There are dozens of point-source discharges along Johnson Creek that result in higher stream velocity and harmful nutrients and chemicals being introduced to the aquatic ecosystem. The largest pollution sources in the Johnson Creek watershed are the abandoned coal mining operations. In our specific reach, a medium sized, strip mining operation that was poorly reclamated is impacting one of the unnamed tributaries of Johnson Creek. There are approximately 36 acres of abandoned strip mining areas in the drainage area. Currently, there are few recreational opportunities found in the Johnson Creek Watershed, mainly associated with the poor water quality in the watershed. However, there are relatively high hunting opportunities found throughout the watershed due to the largely forested area.
Data CollectionField ReconnaissanceField reconnaissance was conducted by all members of the Stream Masters Environmental Group during the fall of 2014 in the preparation of the assessment. Approximately two miles of Johnson Creek, as well as the tributaries, were part of the reconnaissance to determine the current conditions found in the watershed. In the two mile reach of Johnson Creek and the tributaries, a total of 25 areas of potential pollution were identified, and seven of those sites were selected for monthly monitoring. Field measurements, which included pH, conductivity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen were collected at points of interest. GPS coordinates were also taken and potential discharges were located and flagged. Flow measurements were also taken at the seven sites that were selected for monthly monitoring.
Historical DataHistorical data was obtained from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. The data that was received included benthic macroinvertebrate and habitat assessments. The data shows a high number of tolerant taxa present in Johnson Creek and relatively low diversity. In the habitat assessments, stream bank erosion and riparian zone width were identified as having the greatest impact at the assessment points. This data can be found in the appendix under historical data.
Precipitation During SamplingPrecipitation data was found by accessing climate.psu.edu to give accurate historical data of precipitation in the Covington area. Since Covington is near Blossburg, this data was found to be most comparable data to project area. The gauge station that obtained the data is the Covington 2 WSW station, located at the coordinates N 41.733, W -77.117. There was unavailable data in several months for snowfall. The gaps in the snowfall data are less significant than rainfall because it is difficult to quantify the amount of water in snow and how the amount would impact the water table level as a whole.Sampling for the assessment occurred through September 1, 2014 to December 1, 2014. During these three months, an average of 1.75 inches of rain fell and 2.00 inches of snow. For the year of 2013, the average annual rainfall at this station was 2.50 inches. The annual amount of snow is 3.28 inches. The daily precipitation in 2013 can be found in Figure 1.
Figure 1: 2013 Daily Precipitation in Covington, PaThis graph shows the amount of precipitation during the calendar of 2013. Snow fell during the winter months and seceded during the warm weathered periods with the largest amount deposited in December. Rainfall occurred throughout the year, having lower rates of rainfall during the months of February, March, and August. The largest amount of rain occurred during the month of July.When comparing our sampling period data with the information giving in the year of 2013, it was concluded that our sampling period was slightly drier than the previous year. The average amount of precipitation for our sample months was 11.26 inches, compared to 11.78 inches of precipitation in 2013. It was difficult to determine if the amount of precipitation affected the water table or underground mine pools because during testing the sample streams were at or near baseflow. Since there were only several days of precipitation that occurred during sampling, this should be taken into consideration when designing treatment system in the Johnson Creek Watersh...