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  • Bob Vierck, Trout Unlimited

Stream Habitat Improvement and Restoration – Dynamic Nature of Streams

Whether a headwaters trout stream or a larger river, all waterways have something in common; they are dynamic systems, which means they are ever-changing and reacting to other processes, both natural and man-made. This is a natural process as the waterway tends to seek equilibrium with a stable pattern, profile and dimension. If a stream is channelized and made wider, shallower and straighter, it will inevitably begin to narrow and deepen itself again and re-establish its natural meandering pattern.

As a stream changes, some features like deep pools, remembered as old fishing holes, may temporarily or permanently be lost, but they may appear elsewhere as the stream evolves through years of varying flows. The formation of split channels is also a natural process and often provides beneficial habitat variation for young trout and other wildlife.

Even though it is human nature to try to “stabilize” streams, their natural evolution causes their changing and even moving from one place to another across a valley floor. These changes can be subtle, taking decades to occur, or they can happen suddenly during a single high-water event. Successful stream restoration approaches should work with what the stream is trying to instead of working against the flow. (“Habitat Improvement for Trout Streams”, prepared by Karl J. Lutz, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)

The trout fishery in Spring Creek, like many trout fisheries in the mid and upper East, has undergone substantial alterations since the 1800’s, due to changes in the landscape brought about by ever-increasing perturbations from an expanding human population. Unlike many coldwater fisheries close to population centers, the Spring Creek fishery, though altered has persisted quite well and remains as one of the best trout fisheries in the Commonwealth. (“The Fishery of Spring Creek: A Watershed Under Siege”, Carline, Dunlap, Detar, and Hollender)

Some of Spring Creek’s resilience is a direct result of the karst geology which protects it. Other resilience factors include actions by the population taken to protect and restore it. Examples include both the Penn State and University Area Joint Authority wastewater treatment plants. Another set of examples are the many in-stream and riparian planting projects undertaken to keep the Spring Creek healthy.

An Interactive Map of Spring Creek

This map shows various stream improvement projects along the Spring Creek corridor from Milesburg upstream to the Boalsburg. To access the projects, open the interactive map by clicking on the map below. You may then zoom in on a section of the map by either by clicking on the "plus" icon or double-clicking anywhere on the map. As the screen enlarges, each project will become visible. You can also move the map around by holding the left clicker down and moving it where you wish. Blue Labels are intended to help you located sections of the map. Each GREEN PUSH PIN constitutes a project associated with the "ORANGE" title. If you click on a GREEN PUSH PIN, a text box will appear with a project description and a link that will lead you to details, video, slide shows, and information about the project. Click on the map below to make it an interactive map.

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