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This section emphasizes the regulatory aspects of the Federal, state, county, and local governments that directly address conservation and development activities.

The atlas project is a living, growing database. If you would like to contribute, please contact us.


Encompassing a broad limestone valley and framed by forested mountain ridges, the Spring Creek watershed is home to abundant wildlife, fertile farms, historic towns, a large university, and bustling urban centers. Every year many visitors come to enjoy the region’s natural beauty, recreation, and vibrant quality of life.

The community of State College is located near the headwaters of the Spring Creek watershed, making it one of only a few growing metropolitan areas not situated near a large river or along the coastline. A number of distinct natural features characterize the Spring Creek watershed. Spring Creek itself is a legendary trout stream and one of the most productive trout fisheries in Pennsylvania. Emerging from the hemlock and rhododendron forests of Tussey Mountain and fed by the valley’s limestone springs, the creek draws people who come to wade, kayak, and fish in its cool waters. At the western edge of the watershed lies the Scotia Barrens, a pitch pine/scrub oak ecosystem. Groundwater in the Scotia Barrens area flows underground to Big Spring, which is located 15 miles away near the mouth of Spring Creek. The second largest spring in Pennsylvania, Big Spring discharges 14.5 million gallons of water per day into Spring Creek and provides drinking water for the residents of Bellefonte.

Conservation of the abundant natural resources of the Spring Creek watershed presents pressing challenges. The region is experiencing some of the most rapid growth in Pennsylvania. Rural areas surrounding State College, including the area near the Scotia Barrens, are experiencing intense development pressure. Without careful planning and management, growth and development threaten to severely impact the resources of the watershed.

  1. Help the public understand the historic and contemporary anthropomorphic factors that influence the quantity and quality of water resources in the watershed

  2. Highlight the natural features of the watershed and describe their importance to water resource

  3. Describe the regulatory safeguards and educational programs that are in place to protect water resource

  4. Bolster conservation efforts that have benefitted water resource

  5. Suggest geographic areas and natural features that merit further investigation and possible protection

  6. Identify emerging threats that may need to be addressed