Agriculture and Streams
Huntingdon County has a proud farming heritage, with nearly 30% of the county’s land area committed to agricultural production. However, these activities often have the potential to influence and alter stream ecosystems. Specifically, increased erosion, siltation, and nutrient runoff (nitrogen and phosphorus) can negatively impact streams and often result from poor farming practices.
The Huntingdon County Conservation District (HCCD) works with the farming community to promote the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to balance the economic needs of the farm while minimizing impacts to local waterways. BMPs that directly improve stream health on the farm include constructing restoration structures (i.e. mudsill, toe log, rock vanes, etc.), installing fence along the stream to limit livestock access, stream crossings, and planting riparian buffers. In 2019, HCCD worked with local farmers to implement 3,250 feet of streambank restoration, install 6,775 feet of streambank fencing, and plant 21 acres of riparian buffer. To learn more about what you can do to improve your backyard stream, please contact the HCCD.
A riparian buffer is the zone of vegetation between a stream, or other body of water, and an area of disturbance (i.e. agriculture, construction, mowing, etc.). These buffers play an important role in maintaining stream health by improving water quality, stabilizing streambanks, reducing erosion, filtering out pollutants and nutrient runoff (herbicides, fertilizers, etc.), and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat.
Multi-functional Riparian Buffers
Interested in growing and harvesting your own fruit, nuts, or berries? Do you have a stream flowing through your property? Then we have exciting news for you!
The HCCD is seeking landowners interested in planting multi-use riparian buffers funded through a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Riparian Buffer Grant Program. Interested landowners are encouraged to contact the HCCD for more information.
Abandoned Mine Drainage
Huntingdon County is affected by the remnants of historical mining operations including surface mining, deep mining, and coal refuse piles. These operations are often classified as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). AMD sites contaminate local waterways by leaching harmful chemicals into the surrounding land. These chemicals often interfere in natural biological cycles by changing waterways' pH levels and increasing the levels of dissolved metals. The acid and metals can be toxic to aquatic insects, fish, and other life in the stream.
Thankfully, only a few streams in Huntingdon County are affected by AMD including Shoup Run and Miller Run in the Broad Top area. The Shoup’s Run Watershed Association has worked to restore these streams by installing passive treatment systems throughout the watershed. At the district, the Watershed Specialist partners with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to continue monitoring these waterways for correct treatment.
For more information about how AMD impacts local streams and the restoration work that has been completed, please refer to the Coldwater Heritage Conservation Plan for Miller Run.